On 16 September, staff and students gathered to hear from the Honourable Otumfuo Nana Osei Tutu, King of Asante, whose keynote address was followed by a reception in Lower College Hall.
As part of a three-day visit to Scotland, including a meeting with Professor Dame Sally Mapstone, His Royal Majesty spoke on ‘Traditional Leadership in a Modern Society’, and provided fascinating insight into the Kingdom of Asante itself.
The King explained how the Ghanaian state has evolved and rebuilt in the aftermath of colonialism and slavery, and spoke about the stereotypes of Africa that dominate discussions about the continent to this day. What followed, however, was a discussion of hope and ambition – embedding democratic values into African soil, balancing the roles of elected and traditional leaders, and organising the economy to improve quality of life via social services.
This visit reflects the Asantehene’s established commitment to education, demonstrated by the work of the Otumfuo Osei Tutu II Foundation which aims to increase social mobility by giving young Ghanaians access to quality education. His Majesty has also advocated for sustainable policies, working with UNESCO to plant trees and protect bodies of water in the Asante Kingdom in an effort to reduce the effects of climate change, and been active in promoting and preserving Asante-British relations over the years through diplomatic links to the royal family.
To St Andrews, the King of Asante brought a heartfelt address, acknowledging the past and future challenges faced by the African continent while emphasising that policy and government are tools to overcome them. His Majesty further discussed how the Kingdom of Asante and other African nations can use policy and government to contribute to global development and “advance global peace and harmony”.
Though the visit is over, students and staff alike are encouraged to reflect on His Majesty’s hope that, “[G]reat institutions like St Andrews, through forums such as this summit, will be part of the quest for the requisite positivity, rationality and integrity in the study of African affairs”.
You can keep up to date with SAASUM and their student-led work to promote a versatile discussion about Africa, Africans, and African Affairs by following them on Facebook and Instagram @standrewsafricasummit, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or reading The SAASUM Review
His Majesty’s speech can be viewed in full here.
Image: Wikimedia Commons