Statement by His Majesty Otumfou Osei Tutu II on COVID-19

The second Akwasidae of the year 2020 falls at a time when not only our country but the whole of the human race is in the throes of an epidemic never before experienced in history. The corona-virus epidemic has plunged Ghana into a situation akin to a state of war against a ferocious enemy with every potential to destroy the health and social well-being of our society.

Last week-end, the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo announced a series of measures aimed at mobilising the nation to combat the pandemic. In response, I cancelled the planned council of Asanteman and directed all Traditional Councils within Asanteman to suspend all meetings until further notice.

For our second Akwasidae on the coming Sunday, Nananom have been directed to restrict themselves exclusively to their traditional rites and to avoid all associated public sittings. We go further than that. In recognition of the enormity of the crisis facing the nation, we are directing Nananom to assume full responsibility, in concert with other agencies of state, for the enforcement of all state directives aimed at combating the pandemic. The ultimate objective we have set for Nananom is to ensure that each can, working with local government, security and medical authorities, protect their areas of traditional authority and keep them as CORONA-FREE ZONES.

The World Health Organisation which is leading the global fight against the pandemic, has made it clear that the only option open to the world today is to suppress and prevent the spread of the virus. All the scientific brains available in the world are also agreed this can only be achieved principally through social distancing, isolating people from each other, and by strict observance of personal hygiene emphasising regular hand washing and controlled coughing or sneezing with tissues.

In line with this advice, the greatest nations in the world, the bedrocks of democracy, liberty and fraternity, are currently in complete shut-down. Religious worship, from the Vatican to Canterbury, have been brought to a halt. That is the extent of the paralysis Covid-19 has wreaked upon mankind.

It was in line with these directives that our President too ordered the closure of all schools and prohibited the assembly of more than 25 persons. I do not get the impression however that the seriousness of the President’s action is matched by the actions of the people on the ground. In fact, the load of traffic in Kumasi suggests to me that we have not grasped the full gravity of the crisis and are assuming we can continue to go about our business as usual. I am particularly alarmed to see a number of school children who were sent home to protect them from the spread of the virus freely roaming the streets. Leaders of some churches too are surprisingly grumpy.

With all the moral authority we can muster, I implore the people of Ghana—-every citizen of this great nation, young and old, men and women—-and everyone who lives within our shores to wise up and recognise that this is not a matter to be trifled with and certainly not a matter for government alone to deal with. It is a matter of life and death for each one of us and for the entire economy of our nation.

If we fail to contain and suppress Covid-19 at this point and allow it to get out of hand, to the levels of Europe and Asia, no African country can survive the consequences. Our health service will be over-run. Hundreds, even thousands of our loved ones will die. Our entire economy will collapse and with all other nations already on their knees as a result of this pandemic, there will be no one to turn to to bail us out. This is calamity as the world has never seen and every Ghanaian must recognise it for what it is. In the face of such pandemic, all political, religious, traditional and social norms must be set at zero and all our energies and actions focused on one thing—the suppression of this brutal enemy.

For this reason, I ask for a moratorium on normal political activities for the next four weeks at least so that the nation can focus all its attention on beating the corona. And I appeal to the media to turn off the heat of political discourse and devote the bulk of resources to the coverage of the global struggle against the pandemic and to a national campaign to help Ghanaians stay away from the virus.

I ask all our sons and daughters to stay home and avoid all travels and all visits except for the most essential purpose. Parents and guardians must pay particular attention to the schoolchildren who have been sent home to ensure they stay home and do not go roaming about.

The history of Ghana and of Africa tell us that the colonial authorities relied on our traditional rulers during the period when we were under subjugation to rally our people behind their war efforts during both the first and the second World Wars. Today when we are free and managing our own affairs, there can be no question that every traditional ruler has an obligation to place himself and the authority of his office at the behest of the sovereign state in times of crisis. On the eve of Akwasidae, Nananom at all levels must stand shoulder to shoulder with all the agencies of the state for the defence of the country and the protection of the health of our people in this historic war against corona (Covid-19)

Long live Ghana, long live Asanteman !!

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