Ghana mourns queen

Revered and much-loved ma­tri­arch of pow­er­ful Ashanti kingdom passes on at ven­er­a­ble age of 111

African Independent - - NEWS - STACEY KNOTT

Dgrief. coun­tries. rel­a­tive. son. tra­di­tion. RESSED en­tirely in black, Tina Owusu Panin joined thou­sands mak­ing their way to a Ghana­ian palace to mourn their “mother” – the revered queen of the pow­er­ful Ashanti kingdom. Nana Afia Kobi Ser­waa Am­pem II died on Mon­day last week at the ven­er­a­ble age of 111, plung­ing the West African na­tion into Built on the wealth of gold re­serves, the Ashanti empire was the rich­est in Ghana. At its peak it even ex­tended into neigh­bour­ing The empire has wielded power in the re­gion for over 300 years and put up fierce re­sis­tance to Bri­tish colo­nial rule. The Ashanti peo­ple trace their lin­eage through the fe­male line, so the Asan­te­hene, or Ashanti king, is ap­pointed by the queen. Tra­di­tion dic­tates she has to choose a male “A very im­por­tant per­son has died,” 47-year-old Panin said, speak­ing at the Man­hyia Palace in Ku­masi, the Ashanti cap­i­tal in central Ghana. “Our mother, our men­tor. She is all to us and all for us. She is Asan­te­hene’s mother so we have to come,” Panin said, watch­ing dancers deftly move their hips to tra­di­tional drums. The mourn­ers spurned the tra­di­tional colour­ful “kente” cloth for all-black out­fits – ei­ther toga-like tra­di­tional gar­ments or T-shirts and trousers. King Otum­fuo Osei Tutu II is the de­ceased queen’s bi­o­log­i­cal Although the queen died last Mon­day, her death was not of­fi­cially an­nounced un­til Thurs­day, in keep­ing with Mourn­ers in­cluded tra­di­tional chiefs as well as Pres­i­dent John Dra­mani Ma­hama and op­po­si­tion pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Nana Addo Akufo-Addo, who took time out of their cam­paigns to visit the king. The Ashanti king was car­ried into the grounds on a throne by court at­ten­dants, shaded from the blaz­ing sun by an um­brella held above his head – higher than all the other para­sols in def­er­ence to his sta­tus. For­mer pres­i­dents Jerry Rawl­ings and John Ku­fuor also at­tended the cer­e­mony. Although the Ashanti king does not play a par­ti­san role in pol­i­tics, they none­the­less help shape pub­lic opin­ion. As the sym­bol of the na­tion, the Asan­te­hene re­ceives sig­nif­i­cant def­er­ence rit­u­ally as they are seen to be a sym­bol of the peo­ple – liv­ing, dead or yet to be born. The Ashanti monar­chs pre­side over an area that is 10 per­cent of the coun­try’s to­tal area and home to at least five mil­lion peo­ple. Apart from nom­i­nat­ing the king, the Asan­te­he­maa – or queen mother – tra­di­tion­ally also re­solves con­flicts and dis­putes. A court of­fi­cial, Nana Boakye Frim­pong, 66, who has worked in the palace since 1997, said the de­ceased queen mother, whose reign spanned 39 years, had held court twice a week but had scaled down her ap­pear­ances in re­cent years. Most of the dis­putes re­lated to land or in­sults and noth­ing of a crim­i­nal na­ture was heard, Frim­pong said. “When­ever the judg­ment is given, peo­ple re­spect it,” Frim­pong said. It is up to the Asan­te­hene to choose the next queen, who will have to be a re­la­tion on his mother’s side. Sev­eral palace in­sid­ers told AFP the new queen would be an­nounced by the end of De­cem­ber. Mod­ern-day Ghana is a repub­lic with a demo­crat­i­cal­ly­elected govern­ment, but most Ghana­ians are proud their royal his­tory has been kept alive. – AFP

PIC­TURE: AFP

PAY­ING RE­SPECT: Chiefs of the Ashanti re­gion at­tend the tra­di­tional rites fol­low­ing the death of Nana Afia Kobi Ser­waa Am­pem II, the 13th queen mother of the Asante Kingdom, on Novem­ber 24 in Ku­masi.

PIC­TURE: AFP

IN MOURN­ING: Chiefs and mourn­ers ar­rive to at­tend the of­fi­cial cer­e­mony af­ter the death of Nana Afia Kobi Ser­waa Am­pem II at the age of 111.

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