Written by Nkrabeah Effah Dartey .
In the early part of the 18th Century, Otumfuo Opoku Ware succeeded his uncle, Osei Tutu, as Asantehene. He was the greatest military ruler in Asante history. At the time of his death, the Asante Empire was twice as big as the size of modern Ghana today.
One day, Otumfuo Opoku Ware sent for the Chief of Asokore and told him that the people of Jaman and Dormaa are very troublesome, so I want you to send a team of soldiers to build an espionage base at a strategic location, so that you can give Asanteman early warnings of Jaman Dormaa troop movements.
The Asokorehene, in obedience to the order, sent his direct biological brother, General Osei, to lead the military expedition, and that led to the establishment of Berekum, which, today, is populated by 100,000 people.
In 1974, 32 years old Patricia Kyeraa was installed Queenmother of Berekum, and she ruled for nearly 43 years. I knew her personally. When I was MP for Berekum I interacted with her on several occasions
She died in November 2017, and as is done according to Akan culture, extremely very elaborate arrangements were put in place for her burial rites, which took place from Wednesday 1st August 2018 through to Sunday 5 August 2018.
Reader, it was Asante culture at its apogee.
Wednesday night was wake-keeping, but a wake-keeping with a difference. Orders went out via radio stations and rumours from word to mouth that all economic activities and the bustling market should cease at 12 noon. The traditional executioners were going to perform “custom”, so, reader, by 4pm, Wednesday 1 August, Berekum became a ghost town – absolutely no movement – offices were closed and everybody forced indoors.
All that could be heard was continuous firing of musketry at the Palace, all through the night till day break.
Mourners went to pay their last respects to the Queenmother, Nana Akua Amaihene II, as she lay in state in traditional manners – a miniature forest grove, with palm trees, cocoa trees, grass everywhere, from this corner to corner, pass here turn right – oh, my goodness.
On Friday, all the divisional chiefs of Berekum, each of them, without exception, marched through the principal streets of Berekum, led by my younger brother, Nana Amo Tema Gyan II, Twaafohene. He fired over 200 rubber bullets into the air, dressed as a traditional war leader – Recce Commander. The Paramount Chief, Daseehene Amankona Diawuo, rode in a majestic palanquin.
That Friday, the current Asokorehene, Nana Dr SKB Asante, a lawyer, who wrote the 1992 Republican Constitution for Ghana, was in town to personally supervise the secret burial of the Queenmother – in the dead of night
Saturday was a big funeral gathering at the luxuriously walled Omanhene’s Palace, with the Asantehene’s personal representative, the Asokore Mamponghene, arriving in a palanquin.
I was part of the Regional Minister’s entourage, full of New Patriotic Party (NPP) faithful, and the local member of Parliament (MP), Doctor Nuamah, and the District Chief Executive (DCE), Kofi Adjei. Of course, all members of the Regional Security Council (REGSEC) were in the entourage of the Regional Minister, Lawyer Asomah Cheremeh, a native of Jinijini.
It took us two solid hours just greeting those at the funeral grounds. I saw the Member of the Council of State Lecturer in Accounting at the Ghana Law School, former Inspector General of Police Nana Owusu Nsiah, dressed as Mawerehene of Berekum, surrounded by his elders.
Seated on the rostrum was the Asokorehene, Nana Dr SKD Asante, old Achimotan, directly next to the Omanhene of Berkum, confirmed as such by the Supreme Court on 14th December 2017, Nana Dr Amankuna Diawuo, Regional Surgeon at the Sunyani Regional Hospital.
On Sunday morning, all of us, in white, attended a big rounding off Thanksgiving Service held at the Omanhene’s Palace, organised by the Berekum Local Council of Churches.
In the year 2000, when I was NPP parliamentary candidate, there were as many as 110 churches in the Berekum Municipality. Today, almost 20 years after, I won’t be surprised if the number has reached 150.
The people were there in their numbers, all in white, and one of the pastors, Rev Boateng, gave a ringing biting sermon entitled: “Everyone is looking for you!!!”
He told the story of how Jesus arrived at a place and he was told why the delay, because “everyone is looking for you.”
He said anytime you get a visit in the house, it is one of three things: either to give you a good message, or to ask you for something, or to arrest you for some wrongdoing. Everyone is looking for you, reader, for what? Good or ill?
You, the politician, the President, Ministers, Member of Parliament, DCEs – everyone is looking for you – for what?
You, pastors of the gospel – making by force prophecies – it is not compulsory to prophecy!!! Everyone is looking for what?
You, Nananom, traditional rulers…everyone is looking for you…
Reader, it is one of the best sermons I have heard so far. Everyone is looking for you – the standard was Jesus, to heal the sick, to preach the gospel, to do good. Everyone is looking for you!!!!
At the tail end of the service, just before benediction, I was called out of the multitude to come and read once again, King David’s Psalm 40 – I waited for the Lord. In the course of singing, an extremely very beautiful lady, dressed as a Queenmother, with a royal umbrella over her head, walked majestically to dance the chorus of the song with me.
Council of State Member His Excellency Agyenim Boateng seated next to me at the high table quizzed me: “Kwame, do you know that lady?” No, I said. Who is she?
“The wife of Council of State Member Nana Owusu Nsiah former IGP” – I beg oh, I don’t want problem. She is a no-go area…