Thursday, April 5, 2007
Akwasidae brings Manhyia Alive
By: KINGSLEY E. HOPE -Ahwiaa
In those days, when General Kutu Acheampong and his colleagues in uniform sat in state at Burma Camp and decided the fate of this nation, pronouncements came forth form of decrees. They were laws crafted by mid-night advisers and made public through good old Ghana Broadcasting Corporation and the three print media institutions owned by the state – the Ghana News Agency, the Daily Graphic and Ghanaian Times.
The Newspaper Licensing Decree ensured that there were few media houses that did not sing the praises of the usurpers of state power. It is interesting to not that the source of the power itself went under various metamorphoses.
When the dawn broadcasting was made on January 13, 1972, there was confusion about the identity of the broadcaster. It was not the rank that was the source of confusion. He was a colonel in his own right. What was not so clear was whether the self-proclaimed leader of the nation was Kuti or Kutu. For a considerable length of time, the media identified the leader of the usurpers as Colonial Ignatius Kuti Acheampong where upon the runour will was busy churning out information about a possible Nigerian link.
It took quite a while for Ghanaians to be told that the man the media was referring to as Kuti was in fact Kutu, a full-blooded Ghanaian national who cut his academic teeth with a typewriter at a commercial school at Agona Swedru.
The regime he established changed from the National Redemption Council Mark I to SMC II. By the time SMC II burst on the scene, the leader himself had been deposed by his colleagues and banished to Trabuom, his holy village.
For ordinary Ghanaians though, the significance of the change in name and content was the degree of brutality that went with the metamorphosis. With no external wars to be fought, the military regime hit on a brilliant idea of turning our university enemies.
With students and some of their lecturers opposing Union Government, a political concept under which the military had hoped to extend their occupation of Government House, the Acheampong regime turned our campuses into battle grounds.
Day in and day out the military and police poured unto campus in a search and destroy operation. One group of non-conformists they went looking for, were runour mongers. Like the era of Herod in the Bible when a decree went forth making it an offence to harbour a male baby as soldiers hunted down the baby Jesus, a decree was promulgated banning the spread of rumours, a first degree felony at the time.
The decree was necessary to seal the lips of okro-mouthed Ghanaians who had apparently discovered that the men who violently curtailed constitutional government of the Second Republic with the explanation that certain amenities enjoyed even under Nkrumah were denied the military, were gradually replacing big business tycoons.
Like wild fire, rumours were doing the rounds that a number of mansions rising in new suburbs owe their origin to the men in cross belts.
On campuses of the three centres of higher learning at the time – University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and the University of Cape Coast, students were openly defying orders.
“As for rumour, we shall monger”, was a popular refrain on campus.
On Sunday, March 25, I was a member of a delegation of Mensah Sarbah Hall Alumni Association who called at the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi to pay homage to the occupant of the Golden Stool.
As Otumfuo Osei Tutu II sat in state to the sounds of Fontomfrom and praise singers in full voice, my mind took an excursion to the residence of a prominent lawyer in Kumasi earlier in the day.
After the function, dinner was served with a live band
rendering good old highlife music from the afternoon till late in the night.
Against this background, it is a mystery that rumour mongers are still speculating on the
Asantehene’s health. The occupant of the Golden Stool is alive and well!
The lawyer had offered tea to Mr. Kofi Dua Adonteng and my humble self as we waited to make the journey to the Just then the mobile phone of our generous host rang. As our host narrated later, the caller wanted a confirmation or otherwise of a rumour said to be circulating in Accra.
No one knows the origin. But it was rumoured that the occupant of the Golden Stool could not perform the Adae Festival, for which many had no basis and that he was about to leave for the palace with a delegation of Vikings for the ceremony.
The Akwasidae itself was a grand affair.
The eleven member delegation of the Mensah Sabah hall Alumni Association was led by Prof. J.Y. Opoku, Mensah Sarbah Hall Master. In tow were Senior Tutor, Dr. J.K. Adomako, Dr. Kofi Ohene-Konadu. Nana Amo Adade-Boamah, alias Tom Sawyer, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie (Sir John), onetime President of the JCR (Junior Common Room), Mr. Kwasi Ofosu, executive member of the Ashanti Regional Sarbah Hall Alumni, Mr. Obeng Boateng, Ashanti Regional Manager of the Ghana Water Company, Eunice Boateng of the Attorney-General’s Department, Mr. Kofi Dua-Adonteng, Managing Director of Ghana Post and my humble self.
The delegation presented a ram, a carton of schnapps, two bottles of whiskey and one million cedis. The gifts were to thank the occupant of the Golden Stool for receiving and organizing a big dinner for the association at the Manhtia Palace late last year.
The delegation also presented a painting of Mensah Sabah, one of the most renowned lawyers this country has ever produced and one of the early advocates for self-government in then Gold Coast. In 1963, when the first mixed hall at the University of Ghana was inaugurated, it was named after the man whose name has become synonymous with the Aborigines Rights Protection Society of the 19th century.
Asantehene Osei Tutu II is an honorary fellow of the Mensah Sabah Hall.
Two years ago, the Asantehene donated ¢100 million to the association towards the proposed Annex C project at the hall.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu also received a delegation of the Ashanti Students Union and advised them to take their lessons seriously. The occupant of the Golden Stool told the delegation that the great Kings in the past went to war to conquer territories to strengthen the Ashanti state. In the absence of wars in the modern era, the greatest weapon available to mankind is education.
“With education, we fight wars against poverty and conquer. We would eliminate ignorance and empower people to take their destiny into their own hands. Education is the most effective tool against all manner of diseases. Learn hard for yourselves, your family, Asanteman and for Ghana as a whole”.
A cross section of people of Asante origin called in to pay homage and take inspiration from the spiritual head of the Asante state.
As the Fontomfrom drums beat to royal rhythm, Nana Akwasi Agyeman and number of other royals danced majestically.
Hawkers of royal literature and other paraphernalia had a very busy day. With a number of tourists mingling with the crowd, business was good for the hawkers.
According to literature on Akwasidae, it is a day for remembering the departed ancestors and purifying the various stools. Earlier in the morning of Sunday, March 25, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II went to Breman on a visit to the royal mausoleum.
After the function, dinner was served with a live band rendering good old highlife music from the afternoon till late in the night.
Against this background, it is a mystery that rumour mongers are still speculating on the Asantehene’s health. The occupant of the Golden Stool is alive and well!
THE SPECTATOR - Thursday, April 5, 2007 Page: 20