“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”
“Lord, protect me from my friends, as for my enemies, I can take care of them.”
IT WAS A GREAT DAY, and a great day it was. Consider meeting Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Asantehene, and some of the great chiefs of Asante including Nana Otuo Serebour, Juabenhene and Chairman of the Council of State, Daasebre Osei Bonsu, Mamponghene, Kantankrakyi, Dr. Prempeh, Adontenhene, not in cloth, but in black suit and bow tie. They could recall their youthful heydays – the halcyon days. It was an occasion to remember, and the prayers were for longevity, vivacity and liveliness of Otumfuo and Asanteman as the King celebrated his 68th birthday and the 19th year of his enstoolment on the Golden Stool. It was “Nana, nya nkwa daa.”
The MC for the occasion, Kwame Adinkra, had demonstrated his bilingual skills when he had a word for the guests from La Cote d’Ivoire: “… souhaite une cordiale bienvenue a les invites distingue.” With great humor, he guided the festivities, and mentioned the names of most of the invited guests: we, and I mean myself, Lawyer Oppong, Lawyer Koffie, and Lawyer Kofi Addo, were hiding “our somewhere” and Kwame’s intrusive and prying eyes could not ferret us out. But Kwame was in his elements, getting to the middle part of the celebration, and he had to undo his coat, sweating profusely despite the cool air-condition of the dome. The stuff he had consumed was taking a toll on him!
This time, unlike last year, the uncle of Otumfuo, Dr. Donkor Fordjour’s toast was short, only twenty minutes, and we had to let the air blow over before Otumfuo’s reply to the toast. Otumfuo was all-praise for his Akyem wife, adorable Lady Julia, who supervised the preparation of all the meals. Like ‘Akwadaawesoa’ in Amakye Dede’s musical repertoire, her ‘tuntum – black’ was the outward show of inner virtue and culinary adventurism, savoured by the high-class guests. The South-African based mobile phone company, MTN, provided basic support to the deft hands of Lady Julia.
Asantehene Osei Tutu II nearly made public his income and the sources but Asantes call him “the one who sits on gold”, so what need he say to convince anyone about the sources of his wealth? He owns all Asante lands and all sales of land including those in other regions are accounted to him. Besides, he is a businessman and has many business outlets. Have you forgotten about royalties? Ah, Nana, disregard those malevolent elements!
What cooled the hearts of many of us was the statement that he is not in competition with anyone. Who dare challenge King Solomon? “Aboa biara rebeye kesee a, osua prako.” So let the others try and grow fat; the pig is already fat. That was an occasion for merry-making, and it called for conviviality and joviality—the Shakespearean way.
You know, the clown (or the fool) in Shakespeare’s plays provided comic relief to the Kings and to the audience. Take the grave diggers in ‘Hamlet’. The clown remarked: “… if this (Ophelia) had not been a gentlewoman, she should have been buried out o’ Christian burial (because she committed suicide); and the Porter in ‘Macbeth’ soliloquizes in a tipsy manner: “Here’s a knocking indeed! If a man were porter of Hell-gate, he should have old turning the key” Macbeth had killed King Duncan, and Macduff wanted to call on him and Macduff was standing at Hell-gate! You see, a king needs composure and sobriety to rule well. Otherwise… but one would advise other Asantes who have been irked about certain developments to let things pass as if nothing had happened. Agyenim Boateng could have been pugnacious in his speech and so are a lot of Asante people, but as the King himself has noted, in times of old, Nananom were warriors, and he as leader would lead them to war. Now, he leads his people for education and development, not war.
Who is talking about tribe against tribe, and specifically, Asante against Akyem? Are we not all Akans? Are we not all Ghanaians? And the King has repeatedly made public his association with President Nana Addo as his counsel in times past; and that lawyer Nana Addo would do some of his cases gratis. No Ghanaian would forget that the virtuous lady who sings lullabies to the King’s daughter at bed-time is an Akyem. Oh, my… where are my Akyem friends? Both male and female? I love them, no, the male ones; I love all other Ghanaians who are not my tribesmen. Come on, let us think about other important issues and not be bothered about peccadiloes. Who said kingship and ‘chiefship’ have no place in modern politics. Tell that to the marines. Tell that to King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain or to King Philippe of Belgium or to Queen Margrethe II of Denmark or to Emperor Akihito of Japan or to King Letsie II of Lesotho or to King Muhammed II of Morocco or to King Mswati of Swaziland or to Queen Elizabeth II of England.
OR even say this to the Emir of Kano, Muhammed Sanusi II or to the Zulu king of South Africa, Goodwill Zwelithini Kabhekuzulu. And Otumfuo is above politics. He could serve the government of the day, or at least that is what he is expected to do. No one should shove him into that dirty game called ‘politics’, especially in our part of the world where we have made politics an unwholesome venture, where people get smeared when it is noticed that one is veering towards one side of the ‘political divide’.
To retrace our steps to the original story, it would be recalled that Amakye Dede, rather Nkosuohene Amakye Dede and good old Pat Thomas gave a good account of themselves by the ‘oldies’ they rendered, and the King made intricate syncopations with his steps – one could recall the old times of ‘cha-cha-cha’, ‘mambo’, ‘calypso’, ‘rock and roll’, ‘swing’, ‘merengue’ and of course, ‘highlife’. We have had our days, the good old days.
Both Kofi Boakye and Ken Yeboah, policemen-cum-lawyers could not hide their faces. Their huge presence could be felt. They had done enough for Asanteman and their footprints could not be erased. (We welcome the new boss of Asante Police; DCOP Kwasi Mensah Duku who is not new in the Ashanti Region).
If I could not send birthday wishes to Otumfuo, the one sent by Gabby Otchere Darko on twitter relieves me: “Happy Birthday Otumfuo Osei Tutu II – May you live long and healthy to impact wisdom, offer leadership and promote the rich culture and heritage of our nation, Ghana”, the twitter intoned. I could only say ‘Amen’ to this.
At a sermon at Saint Paul’s Catholic Church, Amakom one day, Archbishop Emeritus Kwasi Sarpong said it is ‘insults’ with words like ‘stupidity’ that has made his belly bulky. Some people would want to believe Otumfuo would ‘copy’ and ‘paste’. And we hear President Nana Addo had dashed to Kumasi to assure Otumfuo that he as President would not “undermine Asanteman”. Reassuring, you would say!
Lest I forget: just like last year, I shall not celebrate my 68th birthday on August 18. I have had a vicarious birthday bash from the one I had at Manhyia Palace.
Africanus Owusu – Ansah