“What kind of peace do I mean? … genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind of peace that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children…”
John F. Kennedy, 35th US President (1961-1963)
IT WAS OTUMFUO’s day. The sun shone brightly and there was not the slightest sign of rain. That was Tuesday, April 26, 2022. The Amanhene and Amanhemaa of Asante were there; so were the politicians (Regional Minister, Simon Osei Mensah, Mayor of Kumasi, Sam Payne) Judges (Justice Akrowuah, Diawuo…), lawyers, security personnel, and laymen.
Those who were absent must have had genuine excuses – but the number of invitations was “restricted.” The occasion: The 23rd anniversary of the ascension of Barima Kwaku Dua to the throne – Golden Stool as the 16th occupant. The venue was St Cyprian’s Anglican Church, Fanti New Town, Kumasi.
It was all white clothing, save Otumfuo’s variegated Kente cloth. By10:00am, the superfluity of priests was set for the mass. These included Rev. Oscar Christian Amoah (Anglican Bishop of Kumasi); Most Rev. Dr. Cyril Ben Smith (Archbishop and Anglican Bishop of Asante Mampong); Most Rev. Prof. Daniel Yinkah Sarfo (Retired Archbishop and Retired Anglican Bishop of Kumasi); Rt Rev. Dr. Festus Yeboah Asuamah (Anglican Bishop of Sunyani); Most Rev. Dr. Peter Akwasi Sarpong (Archbishop Emeritus, Catholic Archdiocese of Kumasi Diocese); Rev. Benson Osafo Kantanka (Asante Presbytery, Chairperson of Presbyterian Church, Ghana); Rev. Fr. Richard Boateng (Acting Precentor, St Cyprian’s Anglican Cathedral).
The entrance hymn was “Now thank we all our God…” and the introit hymn was “O worship the King…” The scripture readings were: 1 Kings 1:32-40; Psalm 100; 1 Timothy 2:1-4, and the gospel was Matthew 25:31-46, “When the son of man shall come in his glory and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory…”
The sermon was preached by Most Rev. Dr. Cyril Ben Smith. He charged Otumfuo to continue with his good works which have resonated with the people of Asanteman and Ghana as a whole. He extolled Otumfuo’s Solomonic virtues in running the affairs of the Ashanti state and beyond, including the chance offered to feuding parties to state their cases.
The vote of thanks was gracefully rendered by Nana Osei-Bonsu, Mamponghene, who was nudged to re-mount the podium to acknowledge Asamoah-Gyan. The final song, Alleluia Chorus, was beautifully rendered by the mass choir, with Samuel Obimah on the organ, and with James Osman Adjei coordinating affairs.
Around 1:00pm, the service came to an end, and the second phase of the conviviality was continued at Manhyia Palace. There was non-stop music by the Bassey House of Music, led by Daniel Bassey: The band reminded us of Pat Thomas (Sika Ye Mogya) and C.K. Mann (Adwoa Yankey). Gospel singer Kwaku Gyasi was on top with his gospel repertoire (Nyame Aseda Ye Bebree).
The Oyokohene, Bantamahene, Bompatahene, Kenyasihene were invited to join Otumfuo and his beautiful wife, Lady Julia, to cut the cake. The cake did not reach our end, but we were glad that those who got slices of it demonstrated it in their smiles and cheerfulness, wishing Otumfuo “Nana, wo nkwa so.” The Mamponghemaa spared no time to pop her champagne, and this one too passed us by, just like the fufuo, ampesie, omo-tuo, and jollof rice, but we were happy that it helped to exude happiness and delight in the eyes of the recipients.
Kantinka Donkor Fordwour proposed the toast, and he appeared more comfortable in English than Twi. He will be 90 years next year, and reckoned that “time is not on my side” to see Otumfuo’s Silver Jubilee in 2024. He exhorted all Asantes to put in greater efforts to uplift Asanteman, and Asante will never “fade away.”
Mamponghene, Nana Osei Bonsu II, known previously as Saint Oswald Gyimah-Kesse, responded to the toast, extolling the exemplary leadership of Otumfuo, and pledging the readiness of ‘Nananom’ to contribute their quota in developing Asanteman. He was all-praise for the ‘Ahemaa’, and stressed the point that modern ‘Ahemaa’ were imbued with “Sagacity” to assist ‘Nananom’ to rule effectively to make Asante thick.
Chubby-looking Kwame Adinkra displayed his dexterity at “emceeing.” He had not forgotten his French … Kwame, “Nous vous saluons.” He hinted that Otumfuo would travel to Memphis (U.S.A.) as a guest at a luncheon in honour of world leaders.
Observing all these events and seeing the delightful eyes in everybody present, we were tempted to ask with Ayikwei Armah: “Why are we so blest?” Professor A.A. Sackey, in a critique on Ayikwei Armah’s book, fancies the African way of doing things: “The African way is unity and amity, rather than division and hostility.” Sackey quotes Ayikwei Armah: “Our way knows no oppression. Our way is reciprocity. The way is wholeness. Our way knows no oppression. The way destroys oppression. Our way is hospitable to guests. The way repels destroyers. The way produces far more than it consumes. Our way produces before it consumes. Our way creates. The way destroys only destruction.”
We said good-bye to the Manhyia Palace and returned to our homes and hovels. The world news was still gloomy. Russia was still bombarding Ukraine, despite the message of peace from the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterrez: “… But it is my deep conviction that the sooner we end this war, the better – for the people of Ukraine, for the people of the Russian federation, and those far beyond … We urgently need humanitarian corridors that are truly safe and effective, and that are respected by all to evacuate civilians and deliver much-needed assistance.”
Putin, in a defiant tone, noted that the UN Scribe had been “misled” by Ukraine – and that Russian and Ukrainian negotiations had been derailed by claims of atrocities… there was a provocation in the village of Bucha, which the Russian army had nothing to do with.”
The question is: Where are the Ukrainian civilians going? Why should they leave their homes to become refugees in other people’s countries? What happens to their homes in Ukraine? Such questions should tickle any critical Ghanaian, and for that matter, Asante observer to be thankful to God for giving us the peace we are enjoying now. Let no one take this peace for granted … let us all pray for our families, Otumfuo, Asanteman, and Ghana. Amen.