By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
PARAMARIBO, Suriname — The king of the Ashanti nation of Ghana, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, will visit Suriname from November 22-26 to mark the country’s 43rd independence anniversary.
Many Surinamese trace their origin back to Ghana and Benin, and the Akkan language is still spoken today by some in Suriname, and especially among thousands of Maroons who escaped Dutch enslavement and lived a free life under semi-autonomous African traditional village leadership in the interior of the country.
The king will arrive in Suriname on Thursday with a large 40-person delegation.
King Osei Tutu has a PhD in philosophy, and is known for his role in the reconciliation process in his region, which lasted for centuries, and which he has been able to resolve. And because of his economic understanding, the king has been able to develop areas by stimulating local entrepreneurship, a government statement said on Wednesday.
Minister of foreign affairs, Yldiz Pollack-Bheigle, told the media that “Suriname is going to formalize membership with the African Union”.
She added, “This visit is significant for Suriname, because of our culture and Surinamers that have affinity with West Africa, especially Ghana.”
“We need to maintain better ties with African countries. The African continent is on the rise, so we have to take the opportunity to see how we can achieve sustainable development cooperation,” the deputy director of foreign affairs, Miriam Macintosh told the National Information Institute on Tuesday.
According to Macintosh, the Akkan king is a man that “wears many hats” and who can share knowledge about Ghana’s cultural heritage especially with the local traditional authority of the indigenous peoples and Maroons of Suriname. He is schedule to meet local African Maroon communities of Suriname and their tribal chiefs on Sunday.
“He is one of the most respected chiefs, and has pushed for good education and healthcare for his people who are highly valued by him, and we can learn a lot from this,” Macintosh said.
Macintosh referred to the visit of King Osei Tutu as “a historic moment in the history of Suriname because of Ghana’s international role, especially within the African continent.”
When the king arrives on Thursday, he will visit several places and will be the chief guest of Suriname’s 43rd independence celebration.
Macintosh also said that the minister of foreign affairs of Ghana, Dr Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, is expected to visit Suriname in the near future.
King Osei Tutu will participate in a lecture entitled “The Role of a Traditional King in a contemporary Modern Nation State” at the Anton de Kom University.