Ebo Quansah at Kyebi
When Okyenhyene Amoatia Ofori Panin II, in concert with his divisional chiefs and people, decided to welcome their most famous son and newly inaugurated 5th Head of State of the Republic of Ghana to his traditional home, they did not do so over food and drinks. They did not choose to invoke the ancestral spirits either.
Rather, the Overlord of the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area and his elders settled on an inter-denominational church service to commit the reign of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, as President of Ghana, into the hands of God Almighty. In front of the Okyenhene’s Palace, where fontomfrom and other traditional drums used to extol the bravery in the ‘Amantuomiensa,’ prayers were said by leading clergy in the country, with readings from the Bible, the holy book of Christianity, and the singing of hymns.
It was a solemn occasion, interspersed with bountiful expressions of joy from the unusually large congregation of leading members of the incoming administration, New Patriotic Party faithful, and local enthusiasts gathered there to catch a glimpse of the newly sworn-in Fifth President of the Fourth Republic.
Kyebi was a sea of white, the traditional colour of victory, as well as the red, white and blue colours of the political party that propped Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to reach the pinnacle of his political carrier, after nearly 40 years of strife.
The atmosphere was a mixture of solemnity and euphoria. There was a total reverence from the congregation, when Pastor Owusu Agyei of the Church of Pentecost called the service to order, and asked everyone to rise to his or her feet to commit the proceedings into the hands of God.
The announcement of the next item on the programme, a song ministration by the Daughters of Glorious Jesus, was greeted hilariously, with the congregation singing and dancing.
The introduction of the dignitaries present was a verbal compilation of ‘Who’s Who’ in the NPP. There was former President John Agyekum Kufuor, the Gentle Giant, who is now the father figure in the party. The new Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Aaron Oquaye, drew wild applause. The new Chief of Staff, Ms. Frema Opare Osei, the first woman appointed to co-ordinate the offices of all ministerial positions in the country, as well as running the Presidency, was a visible presence. So was Secretary to the President, Nana Asante Bediatuo. There was the Ashanti Regional Chairman of the NPP, the ubiquitous Antwi Boasiako, alias Chairman Wontumi, and many more.
After the introduction of the long list of dignitaries, including members of the clergy, the church service continued in that atmosphere of euphoria. It is not at every church service in the country that party flags were allowed. This one was a huge exception. The NPP flag was waved at all corners of the improvised church auditorium, erected in front of the Okyenhene’s Palace.
The sermon touched on the onerous task ahead of the new President and all his men and women. Apostle Opoku Onyinah, Chairman of Pentecost, and Rev. Ansa Peasah reminded the new administration of the expectations of the Ghanaian public. The need for President Akufo-Addo to honour the many pledges made on the campaign trail, particularly, the promise to safeguard the national purse, echoed and re-echoed from the clergy on Sunday.
There were several references to the misuse of the state treasury by the outgoing administration through dubious contracts, inflation of contract sums, and the general misapplication of state resources, which impoverished this country further.
When the announcement went forth that the new President was to speak, excitement reached its peak among the congregation. Party flags were waved at all parts of the grounds. At that stage, a little amendment was made to the programme to allow the Okyenhene to welcome his senior brother, before Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was formally invited to the podium.
Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin traced the historic and brotherly bond between him and the new President of Ghana, as small boys growing up at the time Okyenman’s most renowned ruler, Sir Ofori Atta II, was on the Ofori Panin Stool. It is the sign of the past, that Ghanaians ought to forget in a hurry, that the illustrious chief was banished to Accra and forbidden from entering his own kingdom.
Okyenhene talked about the influence of Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah, grand uncle of the new President, the king himself, through the political activities of Mr. William Ofori Atta, a cabinet Minister in the Busia Regime of the Second Republic. The traditional ruler spoke of Nana Akufo-Addo representing the Akyem Abuakwa South Constituency for three consecutive occasions, before moving up to contest the presidency on two previous occasions, before winning it on December 7, 2016.
He referred to the influence of the Ofori Panin Stool on the lives of himself and his distinguished guest, as two royals growing up under the direct influence of the stool.
According to the brochure for the function, “the ‘Amentuomiensah, soldiers of the Ofori Panin Stool and the Council of the Three Counties, was institutionalised by Ohemaa Afia Dokua, the only woman to install the Okyenhene, to protect the counties and state from invasion. Its official members were drawn from the three main counties of Okyeman – Apapam, Apedwa and Asikam.
“The counties,” according to the brochure, “stand on the three main path-ways to Kyebi. Later, the towns of Afieasa, Ahwenease, Pano and Wirenkyeren were added to their ranks.”
“The Okyenhene,” explains the brochure, “presides over the Ankobea, Apesimaka and Kyidom, which form the Kyebi Executive Council. It has the jurisdiction to hear all civil cases. The Divisional Council can sit on all cases in their areas, except those involving the ntamkokoo, Okyenhene’s personal oath.”
When the new President of the Republic of Ghana was invited to speak, the congregation’s joy knew no bounds. There was much movement, as members of the congregation jostled for advantageous positions to catch a glimpse of the new President, who was resplendent in all-white apparel.
His introduction by Nana Asante Bediatuo, Secretary to the President, was an excursion into this country’s political history. There was reference to the role played by the late Joseph Boakye Danquah, universally referred to as the Doyen of Ghana Politics, in the formation of the United Gold Coast Convention, the first political party ever formed in the run-up to independence in Ghana.
It was Dr. Danquah who suggested the name Ghana to link the new emerging nation on the West Coast of West Africa to the old Ghana Empire, which thrived in the Western Sudan, and universally acknowledged as the original place from where the Akans of Ghana especially, trace their roots.
A short history of the Doyen of Ghana Politics in the brochure spoke of him as also called Kwame Kyiretwire. “Dr Danquah dreamed of independence for the Gold Coast, a British colony in West Africa, and laid the path for the hour of liberation. He proposed the name Ghana for the independent Gold Coast.”
The new President and grand nephew of Dr. Danquah did not disappoint, when called to speak. Most members of the congregation were thrilled at the idea that the new Head of State spoke in Twi, the local dialect of the people, and thus making his statement understandable to all manner of people present.
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo traced his roots to the great Ofori Panin Stool and its kingdom, and was particularly thrilled at the idea that he had ascended to the Presidency of the Republic at a time his junior brother is the Okyenhene.
He recalled the era when the two of them were boys growing up, at the time when, the man universally acknowledged as the most accomplished ruler of Okyeman, Sir Ofori Atta II, was the ruler of Akyem Abuakwa.
He traced the illustrious path taken by his great uncle, Dr. Danquah, his uncle, William Ofori-Atta, and his father Mr. William Akufo-Addo, towards the formation of the UGCC, and the fight against foreign domination, which finally led to independence of the Gold Coast from British imperial control on March 6, 1957.
He paused for a while in memory of Dr. Boakye Danquah, who died in detention in 1965, and asked Ghanaians to avoid the re-emergence of tyranny. He traced the history of his own fight to lead this nation, right from the age of 33, when he was appointed General Secretary of the People’s Movement for Freedom and Justice in 1977, to oppose the introduction of the obnoxious Union Government concept.
Re-echoing his inaugural speech at the Black Star Square in Accra on Saturday, during which he asked Ghanaians to stand tall in the fight to re-energise and re-tool this nation for development, the new President demanded dedication to the national cause from all Ghanaians, who are required to contribute significantly to the re-emergence of the Black Star.
Nana Akufo-Addo ended his address by asking for God’s favour and direction in the gargantuan task to restructure this society.
Taking cognisance of the mood of the occasion, the clergy directing the service created a congenial atmosphere for members of the congregation to let their hair down a bit. The NPP victory song – Nana is a Winner – echoed from the public address system. The solemn occasion gave way to a joyous mood, as the congregation, mostly drawn from various NPP groups across the country, took to the floor and danced their hearts out.
Most people were still dancing when the announcement went forth that Most Rev. Samuel Asante-Antwi, one-time Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church, was to offer special prayers to the new head of state.
The former Presiding Bishop asked Ghanaians to be worthy sons and daughters of the Creator of Heaven and Earth. He was emphatic in demanding a clean break from the cronyism, nepotism and corrupt deeds which had come to characterise the affairs of state of late.
He asked for God’s protection for the President and all his men, and asked Ghanaians to live and work in righteous ways.
The announcement that members of the clergy were to greet the new Head of State effectively ended the service, as most people joined the queue to fraternise with the new leader of society.
People were still dancing to tunes extolling the virtues in the new leader and his NPP, long after Rev. Ansa Peasah had said the closing prayer, and the clergy had marched off.
It was one church service that left Kyebi, the ancient capital of Akyem Abuakwa, completely swarmed by visitors from all parts of the country. Most left with warm memories of an event that would serve the Okyenhene and his elders well. Unfortunately, there were a number of indigenous Akyems who were never happy with the fact that their overlord spoke in English, considered a foreign language to the people.
They embraced the new President’s speech in more ways than one, especially when Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo spoke in Twi, the local dialect. To most of the people, the President resonated with the spirit of his ancestors.
Unfortunately, not everything about the route to the ancestral home of the people of Akyem Abuakwa needs to be recommended in our efforts at re-building our society. The indiscipline on the road, which has been a major problem for some time, manifested itself once more.
When the National Democratic Congress and its officials were shown the exit at the polls last December, many people thought the indiscipline on the road, orchestrated by some officials in government who seized the road and drove past at top speed, was over.
On Sunday, not only was the President’s entourage to Kyebi oversubscribed by a number of unauthorised vehicles, party officials returning from Kyebi in the evening seized both sides of the road, and drove at top speed with their hazard lights on. Surely, this is a form of indiscipline that must be nipped in the bud very early, or risk alienating most Ghanaians from the kind of leadership of the party now emerging.
The fact that voters have entrusted the fortunes of the nation in the hands of the NPP for the next four years does not mean the emergence of new overlords. This country belongs to all Ghanaians!