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06.02.2006 General News

Chiefs at War: Oyeeman's Funeral Nearly Marred

Chiefs at War:  Oyeeman's Funeral Nearly Marred

The royal funeral of the late Nana Wereko Ampem II, the Chief of Amanokrom, was nearly marred at the weekend, when the Asafo company accompanying the Okyenhene, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, fired into the umbrella of the Tepahene, Nana Adusei Atwenewa Apem I, who was representing the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.

At the solemn gathering in honour of one of Ghana's most accomplished royals of peace and development, trouble began just on the arrival of Osagyefuo Ofori Panin, the Chief Mourner who, together with a his entourage, had dressed colourfully amidst drumming and dancing and the firing of musketry.

As the Okyenhene proceeded in his majesty, all except the Tepahene ,rose as a sign of respect for the Omanhene of Akyem Abuakwa. His well armed Asafo group from Kyebi, wielding pistols and guns, interpreted the Tepahene's action as a sign of disrespect and fired continuous shots into the umbrella of the Tepahene, destroying it in the process.

Some of the gunpowder smeared the rich cloth of the Tepahene, who, with the assistance of his elders, dusted it off.

The shooting, which lasted for about 15 minutes, drew a crowd and a group of unarmed security personnel made of up the police and soldiers, who took positions in readiness to intervene should the incident develop into a clash.

As they felt threatened by the incident, the elders around the Tepahene ordered their subjects to engage in some traditional wailing and the subjects obliged, blowing their own flutes as a sign of protest to symbolise their displeasure at the scary act.

In the end, Osagyefuo Ofori Panin continued with his majestic walk past the Tepahene without acknowledging his presence.

In a clear display of their displeasure at the whole incident, the Tepahene and his entourage also refused to greet the Okyenhene and the Okuapehene, Oseadeeyo Nana Addo Dankwa III, the Overlord of Akuapem State, when they finally sat in state.

One of the followers of the Tepahene expressed outrage at the behaviour of the Asafo group of the Okyenhene and described it as unfortunate.

“If the Asafo company of the Otumfuo were to be with us here, it would have been a bloody clash because they would not have sat down for this to happen to their chief,” he said.

He said the Tepahene and his elders believed that they were not at the funeral grounds to fight but to mourn an illustrious son of the state.

Earlier, thousands of mourners from all walks of life lined up to pay their last respects to Oyeeman Ampem, who was also the Gyaasehene of the Akuapem Traditional Area, Chancellor of the University of Ghana and Member Emeritus of the UN Investments Committee.

Clad in their traditional red and black apparels, the mourners solemnly formed a long queue to file past the body of the late chief, which was dressed in full traditional regalia made up of rich kente, with gold ornaments around his arm, wrist and feet.

Born Emmanuel Noi Omaboe to Madam Mary Opeibea Awuku of the Royal Asona Family of Amanokrom and Mr Peter Nortey Omaboe, a goldsmith of Osu, Accra, Oyeeman Wereko Ampem, the distinguished statesman and Chief Patron of Accra Hearts of Oak Sporting Club, was laid in a large hall on a specially constructed wooden bed with the emblem of the Gyase Division engraved on it.

As a sign of respect to the accomplished chief and statesman, no mourner was allowed to enter the hall, which was richly decorated like a palace, with his/her footwear.

While people filed past the body, there was rich display of cultural activities as the traditional drums and flutes sounded dirges amid dancing of adowa and the firing of musketry.

Among the large crowd of mourners were the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who wore a black mourning cloth and a black band around his left knee with a pair of dark spectacles to march, Shiekh I.C. Quaye, Greater Accra Regional Minister, Mr Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, Minister of Tourism and Modernisation of the Capital City, Nii Ahele Nunoo II, Abola Asafoatse and some members of the Diplomatic Community and people from the Diaspora.

The occasion also served as an opportunity for people to make some money as they displayed a lot of funeral wares for sale.

On display were beads of different colours and shapes, ready sewn funeral shirts, traditional sandals (Ahenema) and scarfs with the picture of Oyeeman engraved on them.

To most of the ladies, it was time to showcase an array of 'kaba' styles and hair-do, while the men displayed their cloths and ahenema.

The whole area was littered with cartridges from the firing of musketry and to the mourners, it was not rubbish but a clear display of culture at its best.

When all had finally dispersed, a curfew was declared at 9 pm in preparation for the private burial ceremony. Oyeeman Ampem was given a private burial at the royal mausoleum around midnight.