Sompahene Nana Dr. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, Akwaaba

Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome”

Booker T. Washington


THE TRANSMOGRIFICATION OF A ZYGOTE to a full–grown person with all the attributes of a homo–sapiens was complete and evident last week at Bremang. The simple kobo – less Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, as a student, then as a gypsy – like itinerant hawker of spare parts  then to an honourable position, then emerging as one of the few people to earn the title ‘sompa-hene’ in Ashanti was as incredible as it was inexorable.

That Sunday, 26th November 2017 must be a day Dr Osei Bonsu will forever remember as a red – letter day in his life – story. The Bremang Park was electrified by the presence of all those who mattered in the scheme of things in Bremang, its environs, and the whole of Ghana.  Friends, colleagues, college/university mates, ASUA members, Nananom, party – men and women and other well – wishers were colourful in their attendance and demonstrated their love for the hero.

The Bremanhene, Nana Kotei Kutin Sraman II summed it all up when in his welcome address, he noted: “The distinguished personality that we are celebrating today has given practical meaning to our belief in Unity in Diversity…”  The chiefs and people of Suame Constituency recalled the many achievements of the hero:  “…in 1998, the Honorable MP initiated a scholarship scheme for brilliant but needy pupils at the basic schools in Bremang…  He built his first house in the Constituency and has a son at Kyerease.”  The Executive of the Suame Constituency NPP noted: “We the Executive live with you.  We know your worth,  … your competence … what you have achieved…. what is in the pipeline for the Constituency”.

The President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo set the tone right when he spoke: “I first heard the name Osei Kyei Mensah – Bonsu in the lead up to the launch of  the Movement for Freedom and Justice in Kumasi on 15th September, 1995… he was in the company of a group of young men in Ashanti who, on their own volition, had bonded and banded together in their opposition to the NDC government of the day. The group included Dr Asafo Adjei (of Crops Research), Mr. Kwabena Dwomo (current Bantama Constituency Chairperson), Mr Victor Owusu Jnr (of Energy Commission and former Regional Secretary, NPP) Mr. Kwaku Duah (1992 Asokwa East NPP candidate) Mr. Kofi Karikari (DCE Kwabre West), Dr. Kofi Akuoko (Snr. Lecturer, KNUST), Mr. Kofi Dua Adonten (Former M.D. Ghana Post), Dr Richard Anane (former M.P. Bantama/Nyiaeso and former Minister for Roads and Highways), amongst many others. Of course, the “many others” could not have excluded: Bosie Amponsah, Oware –Boateng, Kwadwo Gyasi, James Adjei, Adjei-Barwuah, my good-self and ‘many others’ That was Asante Students Union Alumni (ASUA) and in those days only Dr. Anane and Dr. Asafo – Adjei had private cars and at the close of meetings at the Cultural Centre, Kumasi, ‘some members’ were forced to walk from the venue to their homes, as far away, as Amakom and Patasi where Nana Osei Bonsu rented a flat.  That was when ‘men were men’ and ‘boys were boys’.

Honorable Mike Aaron Oquaye, the Speaker of Parliament summed up the personal attributes of our hero: “It is not easy summarizing the hallmarks of our eminent friend and colleague both within and outside the house in a few words but I hope, I will not be far from right to say that his unassuming and humorous nature, generosity, considerate and quick – wittedness are well –known and appreciated”.  Honourable Joe Osei-Owusu, the First Deputy Speaker was philosophical: “Every opportunity to serve in any capacity is also an opportunity to leave one’s own footprints in the sands of time”. The message from Dr. Alban S. K. Bagbin, Second Deputy Speaker extolled the character of our hero: “On the 7th of January, 1997, a group of 61firebrands were sworn into the second Parliament of the Fourth Republic… (they) were members of the NPP… Young, quiet, unassuming, Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu strolled the stairs, corridors and precincts of Parliament unnoticed… Typical of the people he represents, he ventured for more laurels outside the Parliamentary shores of Ghana into ECOWAS, Africa, Commonwealth and the whole wide world…”

Hon. Sarah Adjoa Sarfo recalled our hero’s versatile qualities, stressing: “…his sharpness, the debating skills and the in –depth analysis of the policies of the then ruling NDC dazzled most of us…” Hon. Haruna Iddrisu relished the contribution of Nana to the Parliament and the Republic:  “As a leader, he has shown extraordinary commitment to his constituents, his Party and Government. He has dedicated a considerable part of his life to serving Parliament and the Republic. He is a passionate campaigner for a stronger Parliament.”

Rev. Prof. Paul Frimpong-Manso, General Superintendent of Assemblies of God, Ghana, was as ecclesiastical in his message as he was eulogistic: in his praise “… a nation that does not honour its heroes does not endure … with prudence in his speech, experience in his actions, maturity in his examples, he has become a definition of hard work… To the amazement of many, his incomparable knowledge about Parliamentary Orders makes us wonder whether he is a lawyer by profession”.

The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs had a terse message: “Success is not measured by money, but by passion, beliefs, hard work, discipline and dedication … Mo ne osompa”. The congratulatory message from the St Peter’s Old Boys Association revealed that Nana used to be called Lawrence Kwasi Addae who “…showed foresight and intelligence … from Form 3, he was called Kwasi Nyansani… In line with the change in name, he had transformed into a true nationalist, and now the statesman we are celebrating”.

Honourable Cletus Avoka recalled his association with Nana and reminds us that he being a “de facto Lawyer and resourceful MP with a deep knowledge of Standing Orders, imparted tremendously on the floor of Parliament. He also has a good grasp of the English Language and used words such as ‘whimsical’ and ‘capricious’ to the applause and joy of the House… he could be jovial when the situation called for it. He believed politics is about having different ideas and not about conflict”.  Was Avoka not trying to remind us when Nana and I were the co – editors of ‘Mpomponsuo’, the ‘mouthpiece’ of Asante Students Union Alumni (ASUA) in the eighties and we were debating whether to describe someone else’s attitude as bordering on ‘whims’, ‘caprices’ and ‘idiosyncrasies’?  To us at ASUA, he is friendly, warm and tolerant.  His doors are always open. We forgive him for taking us to a place near Ayamfuri where our jalopy got stuck on the run-down road.  We were young, and we could brush our agony aside over a pot of palm wine and the stuff was plenty and went for a song in that village.  We are enthused that one of our own is receiving praise in the UK, USA, Canada, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Cameroon, Australia, Russia … name them.

While showing that she was “delightfully overwhelmed by the good will messages that have poured in for her husband…”, Mrs. Irene Kyei Mensah – Bonsu could not forget the significant role his Royal Majesty, the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II played in the organisation of the ceremony.  This is also “highly commendable and sincerely appreciated”…. Exeunt omnes. 

Africanus Owusu-Ansah