Asanteman Association of Chicago
The Asanteman Association of Chicago and the Midwest started modestly in the late 70s on the south side of Chicago. During this time, the only cities that boasted of such associations were New York and Toronto. Chicago would follow suit. Spearheaded by Wofa Kojo Renner who volunteered to use his house as the meeting grounds, the chapter was born.
Wofa Kojo was selected the interim chairman during this trying period. The immediate members included but not limited to Nana Alex Prempeh, Mr. Victor Owusu, Barima Osei Abeberese, Mr. Akwasi Mensah Sarpong, Nana Atakora Amaniampong, Nana Bonsu Wiafe and others. The chapter had difficulty in recruiting members partly because demographically, the Ghanaians and particularly the Ashantis in Chicagoland were scattered. The only associations at that time were student unions and a few Pan-African organizations. These groups did not participate wholly in the affairs of the communities at large. They parlayed in their own circles. The idea of meeting monthly to discuss the welfare of non-members and to offer help to those that needed them was a new concept and did not jell well.
Some people were encouraged. Others were deterring. Wofa Kojo and his cohorts slowly and gradually got the word out and the association began to grow. Like and not like minded individuals were coming together for the first time for a reason and they loved it. Of their objectives, helping members in time of need was top objective. Also creating a wing at Okomfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi in addition to sending and donating hospital supplies to the facility was on their priorities. With a constitution in place and enough members to partake in their deliberations, the chapter did not look back.
Soon after, Mr. Adu Darkwa was elected chairman. He organized the first formal gathering in the name of Asanteman. The huge crowd signified a new beginning. The Asanteman Association was here to stay.
Nana Atakora Amaniampong succeeded Mr. Adu Darkwa. It was during this transitional period and under his leadership that the organization slowly shifted to becoming a ceremonial traditional entity. He would present himself as a true Asante King. Nana Amaniampong served one term.
Nana Wiafe Bonsu was elected chief afterwards. There is no doubt that Nana Bonsu would leave an indelible mark on the position and subsequently those that would follow him. The first inauguration in Chicago occurred under his watch.. It was around the same time that the Asanteman Council of North America (ACONA) was formed. He elevated the organization to its pinnacle and travelled around the country in the name of Chicago pitching his ideas and recruiting more people. The outspoken Nana Bonsu used his perceptive public relations expertise to double the membership and became one of the most popular chiefs in North America during his era. After being elected to the second term, Nana Bonsu suddenly stepped down during the first year of the second three-year term paving the way for Nana Akwasi Appiah.
Suddenly thrown into the spotlight, Nana Appiah filled the shoes majestically. He put together a council of elders like none before him. After serving the remaining of the Nana Bonsu’s term, Nana Appiah was elected to the first of two terms. The association put on a massive inauguration to welcome their new chief who reciprocated by using his serviceable personality and his mastery of the Twi language and Asante culture to recruit more members. For the first time in its history of the association, its coffers gradually mounted.
He organized the association’s first black-tie dinner at the Marriott Hotel downtown Chicago. The sold-out crowd included personalities from around the country. Nana Appiah would represented the association in every major North American event that featured Asante traditional chiefs. He led a delegation to Detroit to meet with Otumfuo Osei Tutu during his visit to the United States. Chicago it turned out had the most people of all the chapters that attended. Just as he has sworn during his oath swearing-in never to abandon the association, he had lived truly to his every word. He served faithfully and credit is given to him for his dedication and sincerity. At the end of his second term, the chapter now boasted of an investment club. He had established himself as a true icon of the association. Dedicated to the foundation, he is still instrumental in its affairs.
Nana Akwasi Addae who served for one term succeeded Nana Appiah. During this time, membership growth was steady. Nana Addae added to the coffers of the association by organizing another successful black-tie affair fundraiser. He was succeeded by Nana Addai Baffour who is the current chief.