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29.01.2007 General News

Accra goes dead for late king

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Accra has never been this quite and empty, not even at night. Driving through the streets of Accra last Saturday, almost every place was empty. Apart from some few vehicles, and a few outlets that were open, commercial activities were at a complete standstill.

As expected and demanded by the Ga Traditional Council, residents in the capital city stopped all activities to give the late Ga Mantse Nii Amugi II a befitting burial.
One Emmanuel Fletcher, a retired Civil Servant, said the quietness in Accra on Saturday was not only enjoyable but showed the great respect the people had for Nii Amugi, whose reign was very peaceful.
A Ghana News Agency survey revealed that shut down of businesses also affected transporters. Kwame Abotsi, a driver at the Accra-Tema Station bus terminal said the funeral had affected his business.
"I have not made any money today and this is not normal on a Saturday," he said.
Most passengers at the terminal said it took a long time before the "trotro" commuter buses got full to transport them to their destinations.

Some shop owners in the Central Business District, who were interviewed by the GNA in front of their closed shops, said although they were counting their financial losses, it was also good they did not engage in any commercial activity to give an opportunity for criminals to come and loot their goods.

At the funeral itself, the GNA reports that a near stampede, loud cheers and a sea of waving hands with red handkerchiefs and cloths characterized the scene at the Ga Mantse Palace when former President Jerry Rawlings arrived at the funeral grounds on Saturday.

Spotting a shirt sown with the official funeral cloth with elephant symbols, Jerry Rawlings and his entourage, which included the NDC flag bearer for Election 2008, Professor John Evans Atta Mills, were escorted by men on horseback to the entrance of the funeral grounds.

The entourage went round to greet the chiefs and people of the Ga State after which they were led to sit among the dignitaries.

The government delegation was led by Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama. Also present at the funeral were the Okyenhene, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin II; some Ministers of State; Members of Parliament; political party leaders; Members of the Diplomatic Corps and heads of some State and private institutions.

Several chiefs and Asafo groups (warriors) from various communities in the Ga State also filed past the body amidst drumming, dancing, singing, shouting and musketry. Amazingly some of the groups were accompanied by brass bands playing gospel songs instead of the usual cultural troupes that accompanied such groups.

The biggest stir was caused by the Osu Alata Asafo Group, who entered the central arena of the funeral ground wielding muskets, which they fired on the orders of their commander as part of the funeral activities.

Another major attraction on the funeral groups was a large banner, which captured the migration of the Ga people, led by Nikoi Olai from Israel to Ghana.

The banner chronicled the Biblical history of the Nicholitans, referred to as Nikoi Olai We Bii, as recorded in various portions of the Bible and the original Jewish book of Psalms.

The Ga people, according to what was displayed on the banner migrated from Israel through Egypt, Libya, Nigeria, Benin, Togo and finally to Ghana.

The funeral brochure captured a brief life history of the late Ga Mantse, who until his enstoolment was an Accountant at CFAO and an organist at the Anglican Church.

The brochure had a list of 13 officiating ministers for the funeral; 14 tributes; a poem on and pictures of the Ga Mantse and some local and international dignitaries; including President John Agyekum Kufuor; Ex-President Rawlings; two former Nigerian Heads of States, Sani Abacha and Ibrahim Babangida; Pope John Paul II and Otumfuor Osei Tutu II.

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