Jesus said: “A prophet is not without honour (respect) except in his own hometown and among his relatives and in his own house hold” - Mark 6. 4.                       

Nana Owusu-Ansah Kokroko II, a.k.a. Rex Owusu-Ansah, the late Krontihene, and former clerk of Parliament of Ghana, whose death was announced in  August 2023, burial and funeral events are scheduled to take place between 19 and 22nd January, at Wenchi, in the Bono region. 

Nana Owusu-Ansah Kokroko II was and remains an unsung hero of the Wenchi Tradition. Similar to other influential figures, his respect and reputation were greater beyond the borders of Wenchi than within. This divide heightened when controversy surrounded him, fueled by a few individuals, including within the community. Their discontent stemmed mainly from Nana Kokroko's principled stance on matters of fairness, equity, unity, and peace in Wenchi.

Known privately as Rex Owusu Ansah, Nana Owusu Ansah Kokroko II (hereinafter referred to as Nana)was a household name in Wenchi during my upbringing as a child. As a graduate—a distinction for locals with a university education—he embodied prestige, inspiring children like me to aspire to their level. Nana, possessed unique skills and charm, effortlessly building friendships across the traditional polity's lines of cleavages, transcending rivalries among the three royal families. This positive trait, however, was sometimes misunderstood by simpletons.

My closer encounters with Nana occurred outside Wenchi, particularly between 2004 and 2007. During this time, as a Senior Legal & Policy Advisor appointed by the UN, I was sent to Zimbabwe to, inter alia, investigate and help “ fix”  the human rights situation there. Nana then held a prestigious position as the clerk of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) in Midrand, South Africa. My duties frequently took me to South Africa, and Nana ensured I visited him. His reputation among representatives (MPs) from across Africa was evident, with resounding praise for his brilliance and excellence as a clerk of parliament. Most MPs will tell me in  English and French that my brother, Nana “ is good “bien”. During his visits to Zimbabwe, where I was stationed, he conducted training sessions for the clerk and staff, consistently receiving acclaim as a "brilliant and likeable person."

Following his South Africa assignment and elsewhere, Nana established himself as an independent consultant on parliamentary work, showcasing his expertise on the international stage between 2010 and 2011. During my tenure at UNDP and later when I use to act as the Executive Representative of the Secretary General (ERSG) (during the absence of the substantive) of UN in Sierra Leone, Nana applied for a consultancy, and an international panel of experts selected him as the best candidate for work with the parliament of Sierra Leone. This was reported to me. His delivery met high professional standards, making Ghanaians, including myself, proud.

Despite being hailed as a top-notch professional in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Ghana and many other countries and international forums, Nana remained un-honored in Wenchi—a common fate that usually befalls great figures in their own homes. Expectedly, the few short-sighted emotional parochial simpletons, who have learnt nothing to forget nothing, with no exposure to the complexities of the world out there, maligned him.

My close relationship with Nana in Accra and abroad allowed me to understand him better, appreciating the lessons learned from him and enjoying the company of his entire nuclear family, Gita, the wife, Kofi, the son, and his siblings. Whenever he and the son visited Sierra Leone we could discuss issues of Wenchi and Ghana over a drink from evening until dawn. Having read the memoirs of the wife of a District Commissioner (DC) in Wenchi, between 1913 and 1923, Nana in his classical open-mindedness, saw Nana Kwaku Manu (described by reputable historians as a great Wenchihene, and father of the founder of present Wenchi)  as one of his heroes, because of the account given of his reign by the DC’s wife.

Nana's international exposure informed his broad outlook on Wenchi's issues. He was, as the French will put it “evolue” very “enlightened” and ahead of his time and many of his contemporaries.  He was objective, a good writer and reader, with a sharp analytical mind detached from parochial emotional view of things, including issues very close to him. He had no room for small talk and “ pettiness”; and such and treated the false narratives about him with contemptuous laughter.

Small wonder, he was a strong advocate for a win-win solution to the protracted chieftaincy problem through a rotational system and shared authority. Unfortunately, some short-sighted individuals, without exposure to the world's realities, maligned him. Nana, being human, acknowledged some errors, yet history and common sense favour his side. Soon, he will be vindicated and recognized as a hero, akin to his ancestors like Nana Yaw Taku, Krontihene, of the 1920s who stood for truth with a visionary perspective for Wenchi.

 Truly, Nana was a “ prophet” with honour except in his hometown and among some of his relatives in his household.

Nana (Asst Prof) K. A. Busia, Jr
Research Fellow & Guest lecturer
Public International Law,
School of Advanced Studies, University of London & Former Senior Legal & Policy Advisor, UN.

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