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Pomp And Pageantry At Akwasidae

Feature Article Pomp And Pageantry At Akwasidae
THU, 16 MAY 2024 LISTEN

“I will follow until I must lead. I will shield until I must strike. I will fight until I must heal.” - Margaret Owen: The Merciful Crow

Pomp and pageantry, tradition and custom, beauty and elegance are just few words a wordsmith might conjure to describe the Asanteman Akwasidae on Sunday.

That Asantes revere their King, is common knowledge and no Asante-qua-Asante rues that fact.

“Nana, wo nkwaso” (loosely translated (Nana, your life…) “Nana, nya nkwa daa” (Nana, long life) are what every Asante prays to bestow on Otumfuo Asante hene, Peaaw.

The 25th anniversary of the reign of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II came to pass on Sunday, May 12, 2024. King Osei Tutu, born on May 6, 1950 as Barima Kwaku Dua, sat in state to receive homage from his subjects and others from far and near, including the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. “Ese w'ani, naense wo kakyere” (you ought to have seen it, not to be told).

Of course, the whole planning was on the shoulders of the ever-green, ever-young Nana Otuo Serebuor II, the paramount chief of Juaben and the Chairman of the Council of State. Call it 'magnum opus' (great work). It was a joy to see NPP led by Nana Addo, Vice President Bawumia, NDC's Asiedu Nketia, free-flowing Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, Kwame Bediako, the new kid on the block, Ghana Bar Association led by Yaw Boafo, Esq. and Owusu-Sekyere, Esq.

Two days earlier that is, Friday, May10, 2024, the President and the Otumfuo had inaugurated the Prempeh I International Airport (named after our father-in-law). King Prempeh I, in 1896 had surrendered to the British forces and was exiled to Seychelles Island, passing through Elmina and Sierra Leone. After 28 years in exile, he was back to Kumasi in 1924 as a private citizen, aged 56 years and baptised into Anglicanism. He had been charged for breach of the Fomena Treaty, which had confirmed the breakaway of some vassal states from Asante.

The President, Nana Addo, in an address at the inauguration of the Prempeh I Airport remarked, “The transformation of Kumasi Airport to Prempeh I International Airport, Kumasi, represents more than just bricks and mortar. It embodies the spirit of renovation, excellence and collaboration that defines the Ghanaian people. Through meticulous planning, hard work and dedication, we have turned the vision into reality and today, we reap the fruit of our efforts.” The President concluded, “Let us work hand-in-hand to build a future that is bright, prosperous and full of promise for generations to come.''

It is significant that the inauguration of the Prempeh I International Airport, which coincided with the 25th Anniversary of the glorious reign of Osei Tutu II, had its roots in the beginning of his life closely supervised by the Hiahene, Nana Mensa Bonsu.

Imagine the precocious boy Kwaku Dua, a royal, not attending Prempeh College or Opoku Ware, Achimota, Adisadel or any of the 'popular' schools at the time, but rather being whisked off to Sefwi Wiawso for his secondary education. He would have enjoyed wearing the Achimota Sandals, his uncle, Nana Mensa Bonsu, Hiahene, knew what he was doing – to get Otumfuo to have a 'feel' of rural life, and prepare himself adequately for the great task ahead of him.

After obtaining his 'O Level' at Sefwi Wiawso, he enrolled at the Osei Kyeretwie Secondary school then proceeded to the erstwhile Institute of Professional Studies (now the University of Professional Studies). From here, he went to the Polytechnic of North London (now London Metropolitan University) for a Diploma in Management and Administration. In 2006, the Barbican Centre awarded him an honorary doctorate degree.

Nana Kwaku Dua was employed as a Personnel Officer at the HPCC Stonebridge Bus Garage in Brent, London; founded his own mortgage finance firm, Primoda Financial Services Limited located at Kilburn High Road, North West London. He returned to Ghana in 1989 and set up a transport business, the Transpomech International Limited.

In 1999, he was crowned the King of Asante, and he has distinguished himself in many aspects of his rulership. No wonder, soon after being crowned King of Asante, he was given the appellation 'King Solomon', and he has proved true to that name. He ordered all his subjects with land cases in court to withdraw them for settlement at his palace.

He is a recipient of several awards including the 'Pillar of Peace Award' in recognition of his role in restoring peace to the Kingdom of Dagbon which had seen the embattlement of the Andami and Abudu lineage for ages. As head of the 'Committee of Eminent Chiefs' he played a no mean role in resolving the Dagbon crisis. He established the Otumfuo Education Fund aimed at enhancing education in the Region. He later established the Charity Foundation.

The 25th Anniversary at Dwabirem saw delegations from Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Nigeria, Niger, South Africa, Morocco, Trinidad and Tobago from where Prime Minister, Keith Rowley, the guest of honour came. Mr. Rowley noted, “As we move forward together, we will see additional areas of collaboration and strengthen our relationship one step at a time… Do not let the Atlantic keep Ghana and Trinidad and Tobago apart….”

The Akwasidae was very significant. It marked 25 years of the reign of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II; it was Otumfuo's 74th birthday; it marked 100 years of the return of Prempeh I from the exile and also marked the 150 years of the Sagrenti War. In a thought-provoking speech on Ghana's democratic march, Otumfuo noted, “… we need to remind ourselves that we cannot take things for granted. We must be alert to avoid anything that has the potential to derail the electoral process.” Otumfuo would have liked to start the ball rolling by reading his speech in Asante Twi, but he had to 'poto' for the sake of the audience.

Mentioning 'Asante-Twi' reminds us of what happened on the University of Ghana, Legon campus in the seventies when the Asantes suffered a stand-off-ish regard by non-Asante students who looked down on the language Asante-Twi which is now finding its place, after we had formed the Asante Students Union and after graduating, we established the Asante Union Alumni. It was a hard fight, and you could guess how people like Dua-Adonten, Lawyer Asamoah (Amanaway) Prof. Akuoko, Baah Acheamfour, Victor Owusu, and other Asante students felt.

The durbar, displaying colourful traditional dressing topped by variegated kente, ended around 5:30pm and the gates to Otumfuo's official residence were opened after the King had entered. It was all solemn, and the heavens opened for a shower of blessing from 7pm to 8pm. It was a day Asanteman can hardly forget, especially seeing the Golden Stool invoked from the heavens by Okomfo Anokye for the first time.

Yes, it was Asante culture on display, and the spirit (sunsum) in the Golden stool (sika-dwa-kofi) was there to guide Asanteman and, therefore, Ghana, Africa, and the world at large.

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By Africanus Owusu Ansah

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