BETWEEN THE FOREST AND THE SEA – AKWASIDAE OF ASANTEMAN ON OUR MINDS
“We make haste to register the cordial relationship between the Anlo and Asanteman in times past and now. We further desire to put on record our respect and honour for the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II and Asanteman.”
Anlo Youth Council
TORGBUI SRI III, the Awoamefia of Anlo was the toast of Kumasi and Asanteman when he honoured Otumfuo Osei Tutu's invitation to be the Special Guest of Honour at the final Akwasidae for the year held at Manhyia Palace last Sunday, the 16th day of December, 2018.
The day was unique, and by 1:00pm, the grounds were covered by a sea of people (including tourists) and chiefs resplendent in their colourful kente. There were exchanges of greetings. The dignitaries were there; Honourable Hajia Samira Bawumia, Second Lady, Honourable Osei Mensah, Regional Minister, his Deputy, Elizabeth Agyemang, Honourable Osei Assibey, the Mayor and the indefatigable Honourable Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Agriculture.
Around 2pm when Torgbui Sri and a retinue of over 200 people touched the grounds, the place went agog with traditional Ewe music and dance. The higher the voices of the Asante traditional kete and adowa singers, the higher the pitch of the Anlo singers. The greater the energy exerted by the Asante dancers, the more vim the Ewe dancers displayed.
It was particularly the agbadza dance which enthralled the audience. Space was created at the centre for the Ewe dancers, and it was interesting to watch the well-drilled men and women wielding machetes and whisks dancing in various formations. It was: 'Call: Se se looo; Response: Ahoo Aho Ahooo'. With music accompanied by drums, rattles and gong gong, it was slow steps first; fast steps next; forward movement first; backward movement next. It was for writers to note just as in Shakespeare's 'Midsummer Night's Dream' Theseus recalls: “The poet's eye in a fine frenzy rolling; Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven; And as imagination bodies forth, The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing A local habitation and a name.”
Otumfuo Osei Tutu arrived on the grounds in a palanquin, bedecked with gold ornaments and jewelry. Come and see! Tradition at its best! A long retinue of subjects, palace servers, and an entourage of subordinate chiefs. The difference in the wearing of kente was in the fact of the Ewes wearing underclothes- call them jumpers; the Asantes had to show their broad chests.
Togbe Sri's address was terse, brusque and elegant; he recalled the bond of friendship between Asanteman and Anlo – to the extent of Asantehene Kofi Karikari in the 1870's giving the Anlos a piece of Kumasi land to settle, called Anloga –the Asantefo call it 'Anwonaga'. (Anloga used to be the carpentry hub for Kumasi till it was moved to Sokoban Wood Village to make way for the major link road between the Kumasi Airport and Asokwa Interchange). He advised his people to be respectful and law- abiding.
The response by Otumfuo Osei Tutu Ababio was powerful and emphatic. He insisted that to Asanteman, discrimination was an anathema. The bond of friendship between Asante and Anlo was solid and firm. He urged all Ghanaians to see themselves as one, and keep politics that tends to divide us out of the window. Inter-marriages have even made the path to unity easier and more relishing. (there should not be 'mefiri ha, weinom firi ha').
The historic visit by Torgbui Sri III was not without a demur. The Anlo Youth Council registered their protest at the decision. In a release headed “The Awoamefia's decision to go to Akwasidae is ill-timed and must be rescinded”, the release stated “…At the time his subjects are battling to come to terms with the real motives and rationale of the NPP government's insistence on dividing the Volta Region… The Referendum to destroy the unity and peace of the Volta Region is slated for December 2, 2018…” Let everyone speak his mind: The President of the Anlo Youth Council has every right to register his protest about the Awoamefia travelling to 'wine and dine' with the Asantehene. Others see the situation differently: at least, the former Deputy Chief of Staff, Alex Segbefia, is not likely to toe the line of the Anlo Youth Council. If ace Lawyer Anaglate had not been summoned home at short notice, he is likely to have been part of the Awoamefia's entourage.
Perhaps there should have been a referendum on the visit; to go or not to go to Asante. When Asantehene decided to pay the historic return visit to the Ofori Panin Fie in August this year, there were a few murmurs, but the visit took place amidst pomp and pageantry. That was the second time in 300 years that an Asantehene had paid a visit to Okyeman! And was that not remarkable? And has anyone forgotten that the potentate took Lady Julia, a pulchritudinous and statuesque Akyem for his bride.
Article 270 of the 1992 Constitution gives due recognition to chieftaincy in Ghana. Paragraph 2 of Article 270 (2) (b) states: “Parliament shall have no power to enact any law which in any way detracts or derogates from the honour and dignity of the institution of chieftaincy.” Should we be proud of this noble institution or should we delight in seeing the internecine wars between two brothers as in the Yendi Crisis? What do we want our Ghanaian world to be? Otumfuo Osei Tutu has constantly stated that his great grand uncles got their fame through wars; he would get his fame through development. And he is feverishly working at it.
Some people have still not forgotten the Apollo 568 in which Professor Kofi Abrefa Busia dismissed 568 public servants; nor, the 'No Court' mantra, when Busia remarked about the Sallah case; “No court can compel me to work with people I do not feel disposed to work with” (paraphrased) pursuant to Section 9 (1) of the Transitional Provisions of the 1969 Constitution. Nor, have they forgotten what Victor Owusu is alleged to have said: “These people (?) are inward looking.” Even after he had rendered unqualified and unalloyed apologies. Some learned men, professors and all – would want us to go along that path of Akan-Ewe schism. Is that useful to us as a nation?
We cannot continue to live in the ancient times, not even the pre-independence times with the bitter antagonism of the Action Troopers (CPP) and Action Groupers (NLM). Any act or action that will generate peace and unity should be hailed. Negative acts or actions must not be condoned.
We can build and develop our country like present-day Rwanda without going through the horrific 1990-1994 Civil War emerging from the Hutu-Tutsi dispute. In jest, calling the Tutsis 'nyenzi' (cockroaches) might not have been harmful, but in a country bedeviled by fear and jealousy, one needed to have been more careful in one's choice of words – and the mass media (including radio) did not help, but rather exacerbated the feud.
Are we not tired of Arusha and other Declarations? Are we not tired of seeing refugees? Are we not tired of United Peace-keeping Missions?
You think Otumfuo Osei Tutu II will decline an invitation to attend the Anlo Hogbetsotso? We wait and see…
The picture of Professor Kofi Anyidoho dancing gingerly to his English class, vividly comes to mind, and we can recall: “Klopatse menye Azorlinye Bude lawodome… Bude lawodome… Bude lawodome.” (The tortoise goes slowly… it will reach its destination).
From Africanus Owusu – Ansah
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