Today In History — February 26, 1999 — Asantehene Otumfuo Opoku Ware II Died

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Today in 1999, Asantehene Otumfuo Opoku Ware II died at the Ashanti Palace in Kumasi. He was 79-years-old.

The announcement of his passing was given without specifics. Elders and members of the Ashanti traditional council were told the Otumfuo died after a short illness.

Born in 1919 into the Ashanti royal family as Jacob Matthew Poku, he ascended the throne in 1970, after his uncle, Prempeh II, died.

As one of several candidates eligible for the kingship at the time, Nana Opoku Ware II was chosen to ascend the Golden Stool due to his legal and political successes after establishing himself as a lawyer who had attained great respect in Ashanti politics.

As king, Nana Opoku Ware maintained a good relationship with then president of Ghana Ignatius Acheampong and later Jerry John Rawlings.

Although he commanded about 30% of the population, whose support has always been with the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), the king focused on the implementation of traditional justice of the Ashanti tribe rather than becoming involved in national politics.

Like his predecessors, he rarely appeared in public places and mostly had a spokesperson represent him at functions. Whenever the Otumfuo did appeare in public, he was mostly covered in gold and wore an intricately woven kente cloth, as tradition demands.

The funeral was held from Sunday, March 21 to Thursday, March 25 in Kumasi. He was survived by a son and two daughters. His wife, Lady Victoria, had already passed in 1996.

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