Thousands Mourn Boni Nii Amugi
The final journey of the late Ga Mantse, Boni Nii Amugi II, was marked at the weekend with a rich display of Ga tradition and culture at the Ga Mantse's Palace at North Kaneshie in Accra which was witnessed by thousands of mourners from all walks of life, including the Vice-President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama.
As early as 6a.m., Asafoatsemei (warlords) began trooping to the palace grounds amidst the booming sound of musketry and the chanting of war songs.
A large number of choristers from selected Anglican churches in Accra later went on a procession from the entrance to the palace in readiness for the funeral and church service which observers described as the biggest funeral fiesta in the history of the Ga State.
Then followed a retinue of Ga chiefs, all clad in red and black royal funeral clothes and led by the acting President of the Ga Traditional Council, Nii Adote Obour alias Nii Sempe, who sat in state to welcome the teeming number of mourners who thronged the palace grounds to pay their final respects to the departed King.
Among them were the First Lady, Mrs Theresa Kufuor; the Chairman of the Council of State, Professor D. Adjei Bekoe; ministers of state and some deputy ministers and other government functionaries.
The former President, Flt Lt J.J. Rawlings, who led members of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), including the party's flag bearer, Professor John Evans Atta Mills, joined the mourners amidst spontaneous cheers from the gathering.
The clergy, including the Most Rev. Dr J.O. Akrofi, Archbishop of Accra and the Primate of West Africa, and Most Reverend Dr Robert Aboagye-Mensah, President of the Methodist Church in Ghana, were also present.
At exactly 9.50 a.m., the sea blue and silver plated casket bearing the remains of the King was brought to the funeral grounds by the senior Asafoatsemei amidst the firing of musketry, drumming and dancing and incantations from the family heads.
It was placed on a special stand under a white tent decorated in black and white and surrounded by flowers.
Six young women wearing gold-coloured cloth stood by the casket to fan it with a fan made from pure animal skin.
On guard were some of the Asafoatsemei who intermittently fired their guns ostensibly to ward off the enemy who might attempt to whisk the body away.
Soon thereafter, Asafoatsemei from the various families and clans waved their flags and fired musketry as they ran round the casket several times.
While these went on, the traditional drummers were also on hand to constantly beat the drums.
Flt Lt Rawlings and his large entourage, as tradition demanded, went round to greet the chiefs and people of the Ga State as a way of expressing their condolences.
They were followed by the government delegation led by the Vice-President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, to also greet the families and chiefs seated in state.
Minutes before the church service was to start, the Okyenhene and his delegation appeared amidst drumming and dancing.
He was ushered in, and later, he walked majestically to express his condolences to the bereaved family of the late King, the Ga chiefs, politicians and other mourners present.
Individuals and institutions that paid tribute included the Government of Ghana, the Anglican Church, Ga Dangme Council, the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu; the former President, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings; Ga Traditional Council, religious bodies, the widow, Mrs Josephine Yartey, and the eight children of Nii Amugi II, among others.
They all described the late King as a peaceful person whose reign brought the Gas together and also upheld development during his 39-year reign.
The President of the National House of Chiefs, Odeneho Gyapong Ababio, on behalf of the House, called for a peaceful and smooth succession to the throne.
The solemn ceremony was nearly marred when some mourners expressed displeasure at certain remarks of Mr Stanley Nii Adjiri- Blankson, the Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive.
However, when the Minister of Tourism and Diasporan Relations, Mr Jake Okanta Obetsebi-Lamptey, began reading the tribute of the government, silence prevailed.
The climax of the service came after the church activities were completed. A huge cow was brought close to the casket bearing the mortal remains of the King and slaughtered.
Its blood, as per tradition, was then smeared on it before it was lifted and paraded in circles around the tent, where it was placed for several minutes.
At the time, the charged Asafoatsemei fired their musketry indiscriminately with each group trying to outdo the other. The drums sounded while others blew their flutes made from sea shells.
The casket was then placed in a special funeral hearse amidst wailing as some family members and mourners waved to bid the King their final farewell.
The teeming number of mourners led the hearse, which drove slowly through some of the principal streets of Accra.
They were led by the fierce-looking Asafoatsemei who were dressed in war clothes and continued with the firing of musketry.
While the hearse moved, stores and shops remained closed in line with an earlier directive from the Ga Traditional Council as a sign of respect for the late King.
As they moved, thousands of people lined the streets from Awudome Junction through to Ga Mashie in an attempt to catch a glimpse of the casket bearing the King.
When they reached an area called Kpayaafo (Stop Crying), a few metres away from the Agbogbloshie Market, another group of Asafoatsemei were waiting to collect the casket.
After it was handed over to them by the pall bearers, some traditional rites were performed and the casket was placed on a wooden carrier draped in red, tied with a blue rope and carried shoulder high.
From street to street, the casket was paraded amidst the singing of Ga traditional songs (jamma).
The casket was taken to all the various houses of the Ga chiefs such as Akumadzen Mantse.
At the Mantse Agbonaa, a thick crowd waited patiently to view the casket and also witness some rituals performed for the dead.
It was then moved to the residence of the Sempe Mantse who also performed similar rites. The final place was the Ga Paramount Stool House, where another cow was slaughtered and the blood smeared on the casket.
The process was witnessed by Dr Joe Blankson of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), who was selected by Nii Akropong, the family head of the Tackie Kome We, as the successor to the late Ga Mantse.
He stood on the balcony of the palace in a brown war dress and held a broom which he occasionally waved at the teeming crowd and then pointed it at the casket as the Wulomei (traditional priests and priestesses) performed their rites.
After about 30 minutes, the casket was taken back to the Ga Mantse Palace at about 8 p.m. Boni Nii Amugi, affectionately called 'Soosey', was later at mid-night interred at his family cemetery at Kpobiman near Amasaman to join his ancestors.
In a related development, some people who claimed they were under instructions of the AMA and the assembly member of the Madina Market area, Mr Zakaria, on Saturday assaulted people at the market who breached the directive not to sell because of the final funeral rites of the late Ga Mantse, Boni Nii Amugi II, reports Caroline Boateng.
While the solemn rites of the late Ga Mantse was ongoing at North Kaneshie, the people under the guise of the directive issued for no business activity in Accra, beat all and anyone who they saw selling.
The victims, mostly women and children, with some youth, fled in fright with their wares falling, while those who were not so fortunate and got caught had their wares seized.
Story by E. Kojo Kwarteng, Charles Benoni Okine & Naa Namiley Bentil