That was the story of Samuel Quamina Gyatekuma on 12th October, 1946, the day he was enstooled Oma Odefe of the Effutu Traditional Area. He said “I represented the pair of scissors owned by God through the Methodist Church. Now the Church is lending me to the State. Let it not happen that on the day my master needs me, the State, like the cat, would say Quamina Gyatekuma is not here; he is lost”. Neenyi Ghartey V, formerly Reverend Samuel Quamina Gyatekuma Ghartey of the Methodist Church of the then Gold Coast was the last son of King Ghartey IV of Winneba, first President of the then Fante Confederacy and a traditional ruler of gigantic stature. His mother was Mrs. Sarah Efuwa Betse Ghartey.
Neenyi Ghartey V, was born on Saturday, 8th June, 1889, at 5 minutes past 12 noon. He was baptised on the 8th day of October, 1889 by Rev. J. Anaman at Winneba. At the age of eight, Gyatekuma had become an orphan, his father had died in 1897 and was sent to his uncle, Rev. Markin to take care of his upbringing. He attended and completed the Wesleyan Mission School in Cape Coast and as he put it, “it was there the birth of my call into the Holy Ministry of the Lord originated”.
On leaving the Wesleyan Mission School at the age of 18, he started teaching in some mission schools in Ashanti. Some of the students that sat at his feet were the late Nana Osei Agyeman Prempeh II, Asantehene and Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia, Prime Minister of Ghana (1969 – 1972). While he was teaching he came into direct contact with some missionaries who encouraged him in his preaching, and soon, became fully convinced of his calling to preach the word of God. Gyatekuma entered into training for the Ministry at Richmond College, now Mfantsipim.
Having successfully accomplished the Ministerial training, he was ordained by Rev. C. W. Armstrong, then Principal of Wesley College and later Chairman of the then Gold Coast District of the Methodist Church and Rev. Alec Sneath, then Principal of Mfantsipim School, Cape Coast.
This was on 24th January, 1914. As a Minister of the Gospel of Christ, he served the Church faithfully for 31 consecutive years. Praise be to God that in his 31 years of service to Him in His Church, no one pointed a finger at him and in each circuit he served, he always left indelible marks of great credit by God’s own grace. Thus, Bartels in his book “The Roots of Ghana Methodism” describes the enduring landmarks in Gyatekuma’s career as an exercise of “Splendid Ministry” from 1914 to 1946. He served in the following circuits: Axim, Ashanti Akim. Techiman, Dunkwa-on-Offin, Tarkwa, Agona Nyakrom and Elmina, spreading the word of God, building schools and opening new societies.
The turning point of his life came in 1946. In August that year he was forcibly grabbed and brought to Winneba to occupy the ancestral stool of his late father, King Ghartey IV. It was during the struggle to capture him that he fell from the staircase of the Elmina Methodist Mission House and injured his thigh-bone. This was the injury which, incidentally, kept Gyatekuma in the wheel chair for about a year and plagued him until His Master called him on the 2nd September, 1977.The claim of the Effutus for preferring him to his predecessor was that they needed a change from tyranny and oppression. They also wanted to straighten the line of succession to the stool of Winneba which, as authenticated by history, should be patrilineal as it is with other Guan communities.
There were shouts of great jubilation as he was brought into Winneba. The colour, pomp and pageantry that characterised the installation was as spontaneous as it was natural. Of course, it was an acclaimed welcome relief for all and sundry in the Effutu State.
But Gyatekuma had accepted the stool on principles and conditions:
Upon agreement, written and signed by the Elders, he occupied the stool as Oma Odefe. The Methodist Church, convinced that he Gyatekuma would keep his faith had released him to serve mankind in another sphere and he ruled the Effutus with kindness and understanding, facing the realities of life for 31 long years.
One first thing he did immediately he assumed office was to seek the release of those 45 people who had been imprisoned during the Winneba riots of 1941 and also to observe the funeral rites for those who died during the riots. Out of the 45 imprisoned, all but one, returned to their families with tears of joy. The one who never returned had passed away while in jail. Among his achievements, it is recorded that he attended to the communication needs in the Effutu Area, hence the bridges linking Nsuekyir and Gyahadze were constructed.
He was also concerned about the health of his people, and so built public bathrooms and other places of convenience for their use in 1953. He made married women cover foods sent through the streets to their husbands and ordered them to remain in their matrimonial homes till 6 am by which time they would have tidied their husband’s rooms and taken advantage of sanitary facilities he had constructed in all suburbs. He also advocated for the use of wax prints by all women instead of the use of textile printers’ blankets popularly known as “obuulu”.
Above all, he emphasised the education of the people of his state. Indeed, he was instrumental in the establishment of the Specialist Training College, formerly the Winneba Teacher-Training College, where he also served as a member of the Board of Governors for a considerable number of years. During his reign, primary and middle schools increased in number and sizes. Several educational institutions sprang up in Winneba, among others, the Winneba Secondary School, the Advanced Teacher Training College, formerly the Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute, and the Ghana National Academy of Music. Little wonder that Winneba ranks so high among important educational centres in Ghana! Of course, the proper spiritual upkeep of his people was also a major preoccupation of his. He preached in all churches in Winneba and encouraged many into accepting the Christian faith and practices.
For him it was an apt opportunity to serve creditably as a chaplain on the then Joint Provincial Council of Chiefs and the present Central Regional House of Chiefs. He believed in the equality of man and woman and the proper care for each other, and therefore many who brought their marriages to him to be dissolved left for their homes more united than before. On 30th April 1952, Neenyi Ghartey V abdicated with the reason that he thought his training and philosophy of life were not the type wanted by the Effutu people. But in 1953 he was recaptured and re-enstooled.
From then on, he ruled peacefully until 1971 when the tide turned against him. A section of the people, in his absence, declared him destooled on the charges that he had allowed the introduction of matrilineal inheritance; that he did not performed fetish rites, and therefore had broken the oath he swore to his people. This was the beginning of chieftaincy trouble which lingered for seven years. On April 19, 1977, while the issue was pending in the court of the National House of Chiefs in Kumasi, after a sordid trial in Cape Coast, the Ministry of Local Government issued a bulletin withdrawing Government’s recognition of him.
At this point Neenyi Ghartey V, advanced in age, weak and ill, tendered in an Instrument of Abdication to the Royal Kingmakers of Winneba. As a Reverend Minister, he was humble, patient, sincere, kind and God fearing. As an Odefe, he remained still humble, simple, unassuming and sympathetic.
He was admirable for his singular tenacity of purpose and importunity even in senility. Gyatekuma died at 89, the oldest Odefe to have reigned in the history of the Effutus. It is significant to observe that as if by human design but rather by God’s own grace, Gyatekuma gave equal slices of his active life to the Church and State: thirty-one “splendid years” to the Methodist Church and thirty-one determined years to the Effutu State. He was baptised into life on 8th October, 1889 and also baptised into eternal rest on 8th October 1977. In the evening of his life as the storms roared beside him he faithfully kept one text from Scripture:
"I know whom I have believed and I am persuaded that He is able
to keep that which I have committed unto Him till that day"
Reverend Ghartey loved singing and his favourite song at the close of his life was:
“How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear!
it soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds and drives away his fears”.
He was a man who stood for what he believed. Gyatekuma stood for truth and lived by it; lived and died in it.