09.12.2016 Feature Article

Fare  Thee Well, Odeefuo Boa Amponsem III

Fare  Thee Well, Odeefuo Boa Amponsem III
LISTEN DEC 9, 2016

AGONA PIESIE aka nkyene agu; ɔkɔ n’akuraa. Odeefuo Boa (Bɔ) Amponsem III, Dankyirahene has passed on.

Nana Ama Ayensua Saara III, damirifa. AGONA PIESIE (Dankyiraman), damirifa; AGONA MANU (Akyem Kotoku) damrifa; AGONA MENSA (Asante Bodwesanwo) damrifa; Nana Nkawiehene damirifa; Nana Tafohene damirifa. Nana Asuonwunhene, damirifa, Nana Fumasuahene, damirifa; Nananom Agonafuo nyinaa yɛ ma mo damirifa. Odeefuo Boa Amponsem III, due, ne amanehunu.

As a member of the AGONA (Clan) Abusua , it is with a heavy heart that [we] speak of the passing of Odeefuo Boa (Bɔ) Amponsem III, Omanhene of Dankyira. His passing was officially announced at Dunkwa on Friday, November 2, 2016. And, Efiada Dankyiraman happens to be the Great Oath of Nana Dankyirahene, probably recalling the sad day at Feyiase in 1701.

It was at Feyiase that the decisive battle of the Asante-Dankyira War was fought in 1701. Feyiase subsequently gained the accolade, Akoyɛmu (i.e. the battlefield). It is said in the Twi language that, Odeefuo Dankyirahene “Ntim Gyakari asoa ne man akɔbɔ no wɔ Feyiase." Literally, that he had led his nation into battle at Feyiase, and witnessed its complete destruction.” Truth be told, Odeefuo Ntim Gyakari, convinced of an easy victory, was not at the battlefield. He was rather playing the Akan traditional game of ‘Oware’ with his favourite wife, all bedecked in gold.

Until 1701 when the Kingdom of Dankyira was defeated by a coalition of fighters of Twi speaking Akan states, who resented the despotic rule and other indignities meted to them by Dankyira, Dankyira was the most powerful Kingdom in the land. In an oft quoted statement, a contemporary Dutch official named Bosman observed in the 1680’s that, ‘Denkyira, elevated by its great riches and power became arrogant that it [Dankyira] looked on all other Negroes with contemptible eye, esteeming them no more than slaves.’

Such was the confidence of Dankyira, and the contempt it held for the vassal states that, when informed of the preparations being made by a coalition of his subject people to fight for their independence, then Dankyirahene Boa Amponsem I contemptuously dismissed the coalition as a faction that would eventually amount to nothing, while insisting that: ‘Ɔsa nti, na ɛyinom aka wɔn ho abom yi,’ (the coalition had formed to merely fight, and would be no match for mighty Dankyira).

The war of independence took place during the reign of Odeefuo Ntim Gyakari, successor to Boa Amponsem I. The faction won, and the terminology ‘Ɔsa nti’ was turned into Asante, and, as it is said, the rest is history.

Asante remained a threat to Dankyira and its capital Abankesieso near Dunkwa. In the Gyaman War, Dankyirahene Kwadwo Tibu I had initially gone to assist Gyamanhene Kwadwo Adinkra, but belatedly moved back when he saw the might of the Asante Army under Asantehene Osei Tutu Kwame (Osei Bonsu Panin). Kwadwo Adinkra was soundly defeated in the Asante- Gyaaman War, of 1817-1818, much of Gyaaman territory is currently located in the Ivory Coast with its capital of Bontuku or Bondukou. The war is also remembered for the style of cloth “Adinkra,” named after the defeated Gyamanhene.

It was to forestall any further Asante harassment that Dankyira wisely moved its capital from Abankesieso, further south to a location which was described as ‘Ɛha dwo kwa’ because they found the settlement so peaceful and calm. It became known as DWOKA, later anglicized as JUKWA (closer to Cape Coast).

In the 1940’s Dankyirahene Odeefuo Owusu Bore II contemplated moving the traditional seat Dankyira “Ahenkro” from Jukwa to Dunkwa, the administrative capital. Unfortunately, he abdicated, reportedly pressured by the government of Prime Minister Nkrumah because of his vehement anti-CPP stand. Nana Owusu Bore II later became Nkawiehene in Asante. Nkawie and Dankyira royalty have a very intimate family bond within the Agona Clan. Therefore, it was left to his successor, the young Odeeduo Boa Amponsem III to complete the move from Jukwa to Dunkwa. Today, the Chief of Jukwa, who is of the Oyoko Clan, is the Kyidomhene of Dankyira.

In spite of the history, Asante and Dankyira remain the best of friends. The arrival of Nana Dankyirahene and Nana Dankyirahemaa to any event in Kumase is perceived as the highlight of the occasion. Riding in palanquin to the beat of Denkyira traditional drummers and Dankyirahene Ntahera horn blowers, Odeeduo Boa Amponsem III and the Dankyirahemaa (also riding in palanquin) were a sight to behold at the funeral of Asantehene Opoku Ware II in 1999. There is mutual respect and admiration. Odeefuo Boa Amponsem III was enstooled in 1955. He served as the President of the National House of Chiefs for a term beginning in 1999.

When in the 1990’s it became government policy to move the National Cultural Centre founded in Kumase, to Accra; attempts were also made to move the seat of the National House of Chiefs from Kumase to Accra. Odeefuo Boa Amponsem III eloquently opposed the proposed move, and convinced the government that the seat of the National House of Chiefs, belong in Kumase for ‘cultural, traditional and historic’ reasons.

Nana Ama Ayensua Saara III, Ahi ne Aha Nana; Ako Nana; ‘Adawu, Dawu Denkyira, mene sono; Fɛntɛmfrɛm Ɔmene Ɛsono; Agona Piesie, Nanahemaa, wo nananom se kosɛ…

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