Unless King Faisal’s owner, Alhaji Karim Grunsah’s comment on Asante Kotoko’s 2022/23 season’s jersey, which has a watermark image of the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, is echoing concerns from the hallowed Manhyia Palace, it should be dismissed. Alhaji Grunsah essentially suggested that, imprinting the club’s owner and life patron’s picture on its jersey amounts to a sacrilege.
Alhaji Grunsah’s views and other radio and social media remarks I’ve seen are interesting. The occupant of the treasured Golden Stool, at any time, is revered. We must first note that. The Ashanti Kingdom has kept its chieftainship and its associated traditions inviolable for over three centuries. Some of us – whether Kotoko fans or not; whether or not we are Ashantis would always uphold the well-preserved customs of the Asanteman, which is headed by the Great King, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.
I believe Alhaji Grunsah perhaps wanted to do same. What he however overlooked is Kotoko’s inalienable association with the King, who in principle is Asante Kotoko. In one of his wise admonitions to the club’s Board in August 2013, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II stated: “Asante Kotoko is me. When you touch Asante Kotoko, it’s me you’re touching” he counseled the then Paul Adu Gyamfi-led Board at their inauguration.
Respectfully so, if the Asantehene is Asante Kotoko, why can’t the club have his iconic image on its jersey? What’s the desecration? What’s the taboo particularly when it’s his own esteemed property that’s employing remarkable imaginative ways not only to eulogise him but also appreciate his august presence and authority over the club? The Asantehene has total, immutable right to anything Asante Kotoko.
His image has historically been used on various paraphernalia of Kotoko – including the team bus, billboards, magazines, adverts, etc. I recall how fans mobbed club agents when a Kotoko key holder was released 10 years ago with Nana’s image nicely cast on it. For me, the new jersey design is a matter of heritage. It’s about identity. It’s the pride, prestige and origins of Kotoko. We must be proud of our origins.
The NYA-Management for three seasons now has stayed on an apt course to place Asanteman, its colours and identity well within in Kotoko through creative ways. “Otumfuo’s image on Kotoko’s jersey is a perfect blend of heritage and modernisation” says University of Ghana, Museums and Heritage Studies student, Kwame Yeboah.
“The Porcupine, which’s Kotoko’s emblem was adopted by Asantehene, Nana Kofi Osei Tutu in 1701. Then in 1935, the emblem was given to the club by the Asantehene, Nana Sir Agyeman Prempeh as it represented Asanteman’s identity” he explains. In football, it’s alright for a jersey design to stir controversy. It has to be said again, that, Otumfuo’s image on Kotoko’s jersey is excellent. It’s a stony affirmation of Kotoko’s identity.
It depicts the greatness of the club's ancestries. It speaks to Kotoko’s heritage and uniqueness. No football club in Ghana has rich historical ties with the Asantehene. Generations unborn would be told of it. The design imbibes Nana's prominence and honourability into the team. It's a positive artistic work we must adore.