I was researching a story on Youtube, when, out of the blue, I came across a short ceremony at Manhyia Palace, in Kumasi, held by Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Asantehene, to welcome the Vice-President of Colombia, to Asante.
The Otumfuo has been doing a yeoman’s job in recent months, popularizing Asante culture in “hidden” African cultural outposts, such as the West Indies and Surinam. Mema no ayikoo! [I doff my hat to him!]
Now, I didn’t know much about Colombia; certainly, I didn’t know that it had a beautiful black woman as its Vice President.
Asante DNA is amazingly strong, for the woman I saw in the video could just have been straight out of Kejetia to greet her King at Manhyia! Everything about her showed that in spite of the fact that her ancestors were kidnapped from our shores and taken to Colombia hundreds of years ago, her DNA was intact! Except that she now spoke Spanish. Hmmm!
But that didn’t seem to matter. The intellect she betrayed was solid Asante: she affirmed that her people in Colombia wanted passionately to reconnect with their folks in Ghana, for, (she wittily demonstrated) “In Colombia, whenever we want to say that we are ‘strong’, we say “We are Asantes!”
Wow! The gathering at Manhyia palace received that with warm applause. Even Otumfuo himself allowed a smile to be seen on his lips.
But as I watched the scene, I wondered: Suppose this Colombian Vice-President (Madam Francia Marquez) whose country has unfortunately experienced years of violence and death from a campaign by armed “FARC” bandits, glances down from her plane on her way back to Accra, and she gazes at the landscape beneath her, what would she see? Will it not be a landscape that reminds her of the devastation that had occurred in Colombia’s coca-forests? Will her mind not be sadly taken back to Colombia’s murderous anti-drugs war?
“How will Madam Francia Marquez explain to her proud, fellow Asante descendants, an indigenous Asante heartland ruined by gaping craters; chocolate-coloured rivers and streams; and ridges that make walking impossible?”
How could she explain to her Cabinet colleagues that despite the outward signs of warfare in Ghana, there is not even a “state of emergency” in force in the country? Would she not wonder and wonder and wonder? Would she, in good conscience, be able to try and convince “Asante” descendants in Colombia to visit Ghana and be inspired to recharge their “Asante spirit”?
She obviously had read her Asante history; she would know about the Golden Stool and the valour displayed in the past by its owners to defend their territory. Where had that courage disappeared to? If she was told that the devastation was caused by illegal mining, would she not be justified in asking: “But Asante produced so much gold in the past that the entire country of what is now Ghana, was christened ‘The Gold Coast’ by the European imperialists?”
What had happened to turn the modern Asante people from the “strong” people (admired by their Colombian kith and kin) into [sebe o!] a feeble band of ceremony-lovers who folded their arms and sat down to watch their drinking water being destroyed on a daily basis; their forests laid to waste; their food farms turned into dangerous no-go areas – by sons of the soil who had been “drugged” by the taste of gold into employing Chinese foreigners to come and helm them kill their own nation? (whilst China itself became more economically strong with every passing day?)
Again – if the Colombian Vice-President was properly briefed about what was going on in Ghana today – as regards galamsey – would she have any positive news to relate to her “Asante” people, when she returned home to Colombia? Or would she shrug and say, “Don’t think of going to Ghana. They’ve got problems in that country!”
As I said earlier, the untiring Otumfuo Osei Tutu was to be seen in Trinidad and Tobago the other day, beautifully putting himself and his entourage on display for Trinidadians. Trinidadikans, like the Colombians, have read about the great deeds of Asante in years gone by. So, what the Otumfuo said fed into a historiography that was easily acknowledged by them. Indeed, the role played by people of Asante descent in the so-called “Maroon” wars (that are widely commemorated in places like “Akompong”, in Jamaica) is proudly propagated, not least by the “Rastas”.
But are we Ghanaians ourselves not convening to such people, a feeling that we are actually short-changing them when we boast that Ghana and Asante are STILL as respectable as ever? If we do that, we are cheats! FOR WE DEFINITELY ARE NOT! No, not while we continue to tolerate galamsey.
If Jamaica were Ghana, would the “Blue Mountains” (for instance) continue to exist as something worth celebrating?
We have lost our pride. We have lost our honour. We must hang our heads in shame when we compare ourselves to other countries.
Don’t tell me I am being too morose. For the evidence is there, staring us starkly in the face. Go to see Rivers Tano, Offin, Pra and Ankobra; go also to see Densu and Birem. Even the Black Volta is no longer safe! Google “Bui dam” and see what you will find.
We no longer have any NATIONAL VISION. Otherwise, would we not realise that we are condemning our children and grand-children to a future when, in an age of unrelenting climate change, our nation (as inherited from us) will NOT HAVE ANY UNPOLLUTED RIVERS LEFT to give them good water to drink?
Shameful, isn’t it? What in hell’s name will they think of us?
By Cameron Duodu