Saturday, May 12, 2007
MANHYIA rocks to its foundation
“AS a religious festival, Adae is basically to remember the past leaders and heroes, who in a modern sense could be called saints. Though they are dead, their spirits are supposed to be alive and taking interest in the affairs of the living, watching their doings and consulting with them at Adae,” writes Emmanuel Kingsley Braffi in the pamphlet ’Akwasidae’ and Odwira festivals.
The official brochure- Asanteman Adaekese-published to commemorate the festival in 2004 says: “Adae is essentially a religious feast day on which Akan traditional rulers and leaders worship and perform rites in communion with the spirits of their deceased predecessors”.
According to the document, “the morning religious worship on an Adae (feast day) is followed by a public ceremony at which the traditional ruler sits in splendour and receives homage from his subjects and greetings, congratulations and respects from well-wishers and admirers. He is reminded of the exalted position he occupies and by implication, the responsibilities he shoulders, and the duty he owes his people to be a good leader.
“He is reminded through drum language, oral recitation by minstrels and court cries of the glorious deeds of his ancestors whose incarnate he is, by Akan custom and belief. He shares with his subjects and the community, the blessings and graces flowing from the morning religious worship and rituals by distributing the Adae nsa (offertory drinks) to those present and the assemble and cooked food to selected beneficiaries later”.
Sunday, May 6, 2007 was Adaekese and Asantehene Osei Tutu 11 celebrated the event in grand style. The day was his birthday and Nana marshaled his forces for a grand event.
After morning rituals which included a visit to the Royal mausoleum at Breman, there was a grand durbar at which people from all walks of life paid homage to the occupant of the Golden Stool.
Preparation for this event started early. By 8 am, members of the royal household were busily preparing the forecourt at Manhyia for the event. By 10 am most of the invited guests had already taken their seats.
A retinue of chiefs then began descending on the durbar grounds. There was Agogohene Nana Akuaku Sarpong. I spotted Asokorehene Susubiribi Krobea Asante, President of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, Bantamahene Baffour Asare Owusu Amankwatia V, Akyempimhene Oheneba Adusei Poku etc.
Bantamahene Amankwatia’s arrival wearing the traditional mourning cloth (kuntunkuni) on such a festive occasion, attracted attention. According to Ashanti folklore, the occupant of the Bantama stool during the days of Osei Tutu1, was captured and was to be sacrificed to the gods in one of the wars that helped to build the Ashanti Empire. He was freed by the Ashanti army and became one of the trusted allies of Osei Tutu. By tradition therefore, every Bantamahene is in perpetual state of mourning.
After most of the chiefs had taken their seats, the presidential motorcade arrived at the durbar grounds where Akyempimhene headed a welcoming party to usher Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor into his seat. Already sitting on the dais were a number of ministers of state.
The Head of State was in a rich kente cloth in national colours. After the President had taken his seat, a cacophony of drum beat and horn- blowing announced the arrival of the occupant of the Golden Stool. Otumfuo Osei Tutu11 rode in a palanquin at the head of which was a long retinue of courtiers.
“A significant aspect of the Adae assembly,” according to the script for the 2004 celebration brochure written by A.S.Y. Andoh, “is an exhibition by an Akan ruler of the wealth of his state as shown in the regalia on parade in his procession:.
The idea of exhibiting the wealth of state is to demonstrate that the ruler has not only preserved the wealth bequeathed to him but has also added to it.
“Many of the items of regalia are also symbols of power and authority and understood by the crowd,” according to Mr. Andoh. “As symbolic statements, they supplement the bards’ recitation of praise poems and the minstrels’ songs in re-affirming the legitimacy of the king’s dynasty and his right to rule”.
Otumfuo’s procession was led by a healer carrying the traditional Samanka, a brass pan containing talismans and herbs reputed to possess the power to drive away evil spirits.
Then came the carriers of the traditional sandals and Nsafoahene with bunches of steel silver and gold keys signifying that with Otumfuo out of the palace, all doors were shut up.
The atmosphere was electrified the moment Otumfuo Osei Tutu’s entourage entered the durbar grounds. The drum beat got louder with various performers animated by the arrival of the occupant of the Golden Stool. Resplendent in a rich kente cloth with gold ornaments decorating both hands, Otumfuo Osei Tutu came out dancing with a traditional sword in one hand and a whisk in another.
He acknowledged the presence of his Chiefs and subjects by bowing gently as the procession passed. The procession stopped in front of the presidential dais where Otumfuo Osei Tutu danced animatedly. The President and his Ministers acknowledged Asantehene’s gestures by raising two of right fingers.
After Otumfuo Osei Tutu had taken his seat at the head of the horse shoe formation on the royal dais, the President, accompanied by some of his senior ministers went to greet the king. That signified the beginning of the homage aspect of the ceremony.
As Mr. J.A.Kufuor, led by the Asante Regional Minister Emmanuel Owusu-Ansah, reached the royal dais, he danced gracefully to the sounds of Fontomfrom and kete before shaking hands with the king.
After the President, ministers and members of the Council of State took turns in paying homage. Ministers present included Dr. Kwame Addo-Kufuor, Minister of Defense, Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, and Minister for water Resources, Works and Housing, Finance Minister Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Trade Minister Allan Kyeremanteng and Minister of Local Government Stephen Asamoah Boateng.
There were a number of deputy ministers there as well. They included Kobina T. Hammond, Osei Prempeh, Osei Adjei and Ayiokor Botchwey.
After ministers had had a date with Asantehene, Members of the Diplomatic Corp, including the representatives for Britain, the United States, the Netherlands and Brazil took their turns.
There were delegations from Cote D’Ivoire and Burkina Faso as well as the Governor of the Benue State in Nigeria. They all took their turns to greet the Asantehene. So were members of local groups like the Vikings, the alumini association of the Mensah Sarbah Hall, where Otumfuo Osei Tutu 11 is an Honorary Fellow, and the local clergy led by Archbishop Akwasi Sarpong.
Apart from celebrating Akwasidae, last Sunday was Otumfuo’s birthday. It was the combination of the two landmarks in the story of the Asantehene that added drama to the event. I can add in confidence though that the event was more important than the two events.
Otumfuo chose the day to finally bury the wicked rumour that he the Asantehene and his mother, Nana Afia Kobi Serwaa Ampem, Asantehemaa had joined their ancestors. After Osei Tutu had taken his seat announcement went on the loudspeaker that the Asantehemaa was on her way.
The grand old lady arrived at the durbar ground riding gently in a palanquin attended to by a long retinue.
For the records, former head of state Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings arrived at the durbar grounds at 2:40 pm, long after the President had left at 2:20pm setting up lively discussion among those present that the former President might have deliberately timed his arrival to a time when he knew President John Agyekum Kufuor, who was to travel to South Africa the same day, had left.
The Ghanaian Times - Saturday, May 12, 2007 Page: 17