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Tradition a la Oguaa

botchway October 2, 2018


Written by Nkrabeah Effah-Dartey   .

Even though the white man first stepped foot at Elmina, it was Cape Coast, at the Castle, which served for a long time as capital of  the Gold Coast until 1875, when the British Colonial masters moved the seat of the Colonial Administration to the Christiansburg Castle at Osu, in Accra.

Over the years, Cape Coast, traditionally called OGUAA, became more popular for the plurality of top grade educational institutions – Mfantsipim, Adisadel, St Augustine’s, Wesley Girls, Holy Child, Aggrey Memorial… and many more.

Now, Cape Coast has additionally two public universities to make the city more cosmopolitan than any other part of Ghana, some, of course, the capital, Accra.

Many years ago, in the 17th Century, a certain KWEDUA MANSAH settled at a village called EBUBONKO, which, today, is an integral suburb of Cape Coast, though about 10 kilometres from the city.

Following the death of their chief, Nana Kweku Ampeh II, a bitter feud arose, and yours truly, in pursuit of my daily bread through the courtroom, found myself as lawyer for the newly-installed but embattled chief, a qualified US-based medical doctor, Nana Kweku Ampeh II.

His mother, the Queen mother, Nana Kweidua Mensah III, died in June, and as is consistent with all royal funerals, she was chilled in the morgue for four months, and the funeral set for Saturday 29th September 2018.

The other side of the Royal Family, fighting tooth and nail to supplement the current chief, miserably failed at the last minute to put an interim injunction on the funeral.  They tried it though, earlier, through the back door, as a relief pegged to an application for contempt, but the High Court Judge ruled that what was before him was contempt, not application for an interim injunction.

I know the Queenmother very well, having given me fried fish on countless occasions anytime I went to court in Cape Coast, so, come Saturday 29 September 2018, I left Accra for EBUBONKO, Cape Coast.

The drive to Cape Coast was uneventful, and I arrived to see that the funeral service had just began, officiated according to Catholic rites.

The sermon was superb. You know, reader, I keep saying that most pastors deliver their best sermons at funeral services. They often times use the dead body in front of them to remind the mourners of bitter have-truths about life.

Preaching the sermon, Rev Fr Isaac Essel told us that God will not admit you to Heaven just because you are a Catholic, Presby, Methodist or Pentecostal – the religious denomination does not matter. The issue is how serious is your faith, your commitment to His Word, your adherence to His laws?

He told us that everything is just by grace – it is all by grace – your marriage? Your work? your riches? Everything is just by Grace.

When he finished, I was not surprised when he was given a thunderous applause by all of us.

Tributes were read, and I was called upon to read my tribute, and I sang my personal anthem “M’atwen Awurade Anim.

You know, reader, among almost all the Akan communities, going to church for the burial service is only the introduction to the funeral proper. Usually, the family sits down after the cemetery for “final funeral rites”, where donations are received, plenty of handshakes, and chiefs arrive amidst exaggerated pomp and pageantry.

In Cape Coast, it is different. Funerals in Cape Coast are concentrated on the church service, after which everybody goes to chosen places for refreshments and disappear.

With this mindset, after the burial service, I just said let me go and greet the chief, my client, only to fall into a different cultural experience.

A few metres to the palace, I saw the traditional bodyguards of the chief, about 20, dressed in similar costumes, coming up, and who escorted me to the palace grounds, where I saw two distinct groups seated, directly opposite each other – the Royal Family, led by the Head of Family, Ebusuapanyin Kobina Atta, and the other group, chiefs and guests, led by Nana Ampah III, the Medical Doctor.

The SIWDO Fontomfrom was on hand to play cultural drumming, with fully dressed cultural dancers rolling out staccato steps to tickle the imagination.

Suddenly, we heard traditional horns announcing  the arrival of His Majesty the King, Osabarima Kwesi Atta II, Omanhene of the Oguaa Traditional Area, tall, very noble looking and imposing, taking majestic steps.

I noticed that immediately the Omanhene arrived and sat by the Medical Doctor Chief, my client removed his crown as Chief of Ebubonko – I did not understand, so I asked a chief seated to my left, and he explained that when the Paramount chief is around, all divisional and sub chiefs must remove their crowns, save he alone.

When I formally asked for permission for me to leave, through the linguist, Nana made all of us laugh uncontrollably when he said he had not seen me for a long time, so I should spend the weekend in Cape Coast.

But you know, reader, anywhere I see Osabarima I remember a funny experience I had with him at the Shell Shop at Airport. I was then a Deputy Minister. I needed some purchases, but my budget was very tight. I squeezed my budget though and picked the most essentials, then innocently went to the counter to pay.

Just as I was bringing out money to pay, I heard a voice behind me: “Lawyer, don’t worry. I will take care of your bill.” And who was it – the Omanhene of the Oguaa Traditional Area, Osabarima Kwesi Atta, in simple costume.

“Oh God, if I knew somebody were to be paying my bills, how I would have picked them!!!”

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