The Ga Mantse, King Tackie Tawiah III, has died in a London hospital after battling a short illness.
With the formal announcement of his death in Accra, a state of mourning is likely to sweep the Ga State and the entire nation in the days ahead.
The Ga Dzaasetse, Nii Tetteh Kwei II, confirmed the death of the 20th Ga Mantse to some journalists at a briefing yesterday, saying, "we want to say to you with all the sorrow in our hearts that a really mighty oak tree has had its roots blown off this earth."
He said details of the arrangements for the interment of the late King Tackie Tawiah, who was known in private life as Dr. Joe Blankson, would be announced later.
Present at the briefing were a corps of traditional luminaries from the Ga State, including the Gbese Mantse, Nii Adu Mensah Tackie, who is also the Head of the Teiko Tsuru We; the Ga Seitse, Nii Tetteh Ashong V, and an Elder of the Ga Dzaase, Nii Tackie Komme Hammond.
According to Nii Kwei, King Tackie Tawiah was flown to London some time last year to undergo medical treatment, "but as God wanted it, he never made it".
"We are here to let you know that the Paramount Chief of the Ga State has kicked the bucket honourably," he said.
Rumours about the King's passing had been rife long before he was pronounced dead by medical doctors in London, according to the Ga Dzaasetse.
Nii Kwei expressed the hope that with the formal announcement of King Tackie Tawiah's death, the rumours would die too, adding that people must learn to investigate and speak the truth at all times and not just say anything in the name of freedom of expression.
According to Ga history, King Tackie Tawiah is the fourth Ga Mantse since 1863 to have died while on the stool.
His three immediate predecessors — King Tackie Tawiah I, King Tackie Tawiah II and Nii Amugi II — all died while occupying the stool.
On June 11, 2006, King Tackie Tawiah, a royal from the Teiko Tsuru We, one of the four royal houses of the Ga State, was installed as the 20th Ga Mantse to succeed Nii Amugi II.
His installation was followed by a colourful coronation on April 14, 2007, the first time in Ga history that such a grand crowning ceremony had been held.
His coronation went peacefully in spite of threats of mayhem and a court injunction after the Greater Accra Regional House of Chiefs had dismissed an ex parte motion for an interim injunction by the acting Head of the Abola Piam We, Joseph Yahaya Addy, against the event.
But that was not the end of what became a running battle over the legitimacy of the great grandson of the famous King Tackie Tawiah I, as his installation sparked a wave of disapproval from some members of the royal household who described him as an illegitimate occupant of the stool.
Under the circumstances, some members of the opposing factions also nominated a variety of rival Ga Mantsemei, including Nii Tackie Obli II, aka Henry Nii Ayitey Ayitey; Kelvin Nii Tackie and Nii Tackie Adama Latse II, aka George Tackie.
Some of the aggrieved persons subsequently dragged King Tackie Tawiah to the Greater Accra Regional House of Chiefs, seeking to dethrone him, but for more than six years of legal tussle, his challengers did not succeed in their action, as he continued to occupy the throne until his death.
Before his installation in June 2006, King Tackie Tawiah had been a member of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) since 2002 and former member of the Law Review Commission.
With a solid educational background in Political Science, Economics and Law and a wealth of experience at the NDPC, King Tackie Tawiah had ascended the Ga Stool with a lot of promise to accelerate the development of the Ga State.
He famously said that although every child develops by learning first how to sit, them crawl, then walk and run, the situation in which the Gas presently find themselves demands that, "we run immediately because we are lagging behind."
With his ambition well defined, the late Ga Mantse announced during his coronation the establishment of a Ga Development Corporation (GDC) to raise funds for the speedy development of the Ga State.
Holding a BA degree in Political Science (Pace University, New York) and an MA in Economics (New School for Social Research, New York) and was well disposed to lead the effort to renew the political clout of the Ga State and the economic empowerment of his subjects.
And with a PhD in Public Law (New School for Social Research, New York), an LL.B and a Diploma in Law (La Salle University, Chicago), he surely had a deep insight of the legal boundaries within which to operate as he pursued the people’s aspirations.
With his death, it is not clear whether the rival claims to the Ga Mantse Stool will end or fester.