Aalto University in Finland and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), have come to a comprehensive proposal which was borne out of an Urban survey that was supported by the Office of the Asanteman Stool Lands to restore Kumasi as the Garden City of West Africa as it was initially known.
This arrangement is a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two Universities. Named ‘Kumasi Trees‘, the project has been designed to correspond with the 25th Commemoration of the rule of Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II who is also the Chancellor of the KNUST.
During a call on Otumfou Osei Tutu by the partners at the Manhyia Castle, Prof Saija Hollmen, the Professor of Practice in Humanitarian Architecture at the Department of Architecture at Aalto University said, a review directed ahead of the proposition’s drafting found occupants of the city long for their escaped view. Kumasi City is intending to retake its place of Green City.
“We know Queen Elizabeth herself named Kumasi as the Garden City of West Africa a long time ago: that it used to be a wonderful sight of luxurious gardens and wonderful trees provide shade for its people. Now that the image of the garden city has disappeared, people still seem to cherish it in their hearts. They have the garden in the hearts, their minds and memory and they are missing the trees.”, Prof Saija Hollmen said.
She also acknowledged that the enigma was a “long-term maintenance” strategy.
“What maybe has been missing so far is a long-term maintenance strategy so we are here today to propose a project to make sure that his effort is not wasted.” she added.
With this proposal, Prof Hollmen is extremely hopeful Otumfuo’s vision for Green Kumasi will be understood and pass on a drawn out inheritance in his possession. The project pointed toward commending the outstanding 25-years rule of the King, and is destined to create tree ownership by connecting to the cultural identities of the people in Kumasi.
Meanwhile, Aalto University suggested that Otumfou chooses 25 designated communities be it individuals, families or companies who have been his partners throughout his reign and 25 areas for these designated communities.
“The 25 will collaborate with KNUST where resides technical expertise and in collaboration with other universities and the Department of Forestry and Horticulture, the technical departments of the city, the Palace and all stakeholders.” she expressed.
If the proposal is accepted, it will be carried out in 2024 while the underlying stage will start with the Faculties of the KNUST after it has been given a go-ahead by the Asantehene.
Otumfuo also commended the project saying:
“I cherish this partnership. The whole idea is to educate people that ‘if the last tree dies, the last man dies’, else we will plant them and people will cut them for other purposes. People don’t appreciate trees.”
He guaranteed that the right partners and settings would be chosen for the project.
Prof Holman was accompanied to the Palace by the Project Expert and Senior Lecturer, Architect Taru Niskanen from Aalto University.
They were led by a delegation from the KNUST made up of Prof. Esmeralda Manful, Vice Dean of the International Programmes Office, Dr. Ing. Alexander Boakye Marful, Department of Architecture (Project Lead and Prof. Francis Appiah from the Department of Horticulture (Project Expert).