In West African history, the story is told of the extravagant pilgrimage Mansa Musah I, King of the old Mali Empire, undertook to Mecca in 1324, and gave away so much gold that the price of the commodity fell on the international market for more than a decade.
On Thursday, October 16, 2014, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II became the first monarch of Asanteman to visit Awukugua, birth-place of Okomfo Anokye, who commanded the Golden Stool to fall from the skies and brought the nasal states of Asante together to create what became known as the Asanteman hegemony. Otumfuo Osei Tutu II never gave gold away, but the rich culture and tradition on display helped to deepen the understanding of Akan tradition, and cemented the cordial relationship existing between the royal houses of Okuapeman and Asanteman.
The Asantehene was invited to grace the double-headed ceremony of Odwira, and the celebration of 40th Anniversary of the coronation of Okuapemhene Oseadeeyo Addo Dankwa III at Akropong, a week earlier. The King of Asante though, was engaged on an equally important assignment on the Odwira day at Akropong on Friday, October 10, 2014, and re-scheduled his visit to last Thursday.
Being the first Asante King to pay a pilgrimage to the home of the legendary figure whose magical powers were instrumental in the creation of Asanteman and its expansionist policies spanning more than 300 years, Otumfuo Osei Tutu’s trip has tradition, culture and history all merged into the five or so hours the trip lasted.
Otumfuo’s retinue of Amanhene, sub-chiefs, horn blowers, praise singers and other royal courtiers was met at the Larteh junction by Ayokofo, leading members of the Oyoko clan in Akuapem. Traditionally, the Asantehene is the head of the Oyoko Clan in Akan folklore. Aburihene Otoobour Gyan Kwasi, who is also Adontehene of the Akuapem Tranditional Area, headed the traditional welcoming party.
A ram was slaughtered at Larteh junction to ease the way for the entry of the Overlord of the Asante Kingdom to Akuapem. Meanwhile, at the durbar grounds at Aheneboboano in Akropong, the large crowd was in expectant mood for the arrival of the occupant of the Golden Stool.
When Barimah Kwaku Duah was named the new Asantehene in April 1999, one of the first people he consulted for advice was Oseadeeyo Addo Dankwa II. The Okuapemhene also paid a courtesy call on the new Asantehene immediately after Otumfuo Osei Tutu II was officially out-doored in Kumasi.
Last Thursday’s pilgrimage was the Asantehene’s first official visit to the Okuapemhene since he ascended the Golden Stool. The visit also marked the first time in history when a sitting Asantehene has visited Akuapem since the Katamanso War of 1826, during which Akuapem forces captured a number of artifacts from the previously invincible army of the Asantes.
Like many such events, there were several false claims of the arrival of the visiting dignitary, until Otumfuo’s entourage finally arrived at the durbar grounds at 24 minutes past mid-day. Otoobour Gyan Kwasi and Akwapim Maawerehene Nana Egyrir Aggrey led the visiting entourage to the sounds of fontomfrom and other traditional drums. Firing of muskets heralded the arrival of the king.
Led by the Sumkwaahene, the traditional healer of the Asantehene, carrying his usual pot of herbs, the delegation of Amanhene, sub-chiefs, linguists and horn-blowers, with Otumfuo Osei Tutu II shielded by sub-chiefs, and courtiers in the background, the retinue wound its way to the durbar grounds with traditional drums and appellation singers extolling the virtues in the king. Otumfuo’s delegation went round to greet the Okuapemhene, his chiefs and subjects, as well as other invited guests, before taking their seats in the Asantehene’s usual horse-shoe formation.
On taking his seat, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II put his two feet on the skin of a lion, with its head preserved from time immemorial. According to Otumfuo’s Mawerehene, Nana Osei Hyiaman, the lion head tells the story of Kyeretwie, the capture of the lion, and its symbolic message that the Asantehene is the monarch of all he surveys.
After the Okuapemhene had sent his officials to welcome his royal guest, the function began with a prayer by Rev. G.O. Kwapong of the local Presbyterian Church. This was followed by the pouring of libation, an Akan symbolic prayer, to invoke the spirits of the gods and ancestors of the land to supervise over the success of the function.
Oseadeeyo’s welcome address told the story of the Okuapeman-Asante relationship from the era of the magical prowess of Okomfo Anokye, who aided the formation and expansionist policies of the Asante Kingdom. The message read on behalf of the octogenarian ruler, who has occupied the Ofori Kuma Stool since being installed on October 18, 1974, said the visit was one of the best things to happen during the 40 years of his leadership of the Akuapem Traditional Area.
In reply, Otumfuo Osei Tutu was grateful for the warm welcome. The Monarch of Asanteman recalled Okuapeman’s contribution to the growth of the Asante Kingdom through the magical powers and wise counseling of Okomfo Anokye, a proud descendant of Akuapem.
The Asantehene said he had decided to visit Akropong to greet Oseadeeyo on the 40th Anniversary of his ascension to the Ofori Kuma Stool, and go on a pilgrimage to the historical sites of the birthplace of Okomfo Anokye at Awukugua.
As a symbol of his visit, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II presented a ram, 12 bottles of Schnapps, several bottles of whisky, rum and other assorted drinks to his host. As traditional demands, Okuapemhene Addo Dankwa II responded by presenting a variety of drinks to welcome his guest.
In a very short speech, Eastern Regional Minister Antwi Boasiako Sekyere alluded to inter-tribal marriages in Ghana as a positive contribution to the peace and unity of this nation.
When the time was called to signify the end of the durbar, the large crowd waved, sang and danced in praise of the Asantehene, as his entourage as wound its way through the main streets of Akropong on its short journey to Awukugua, birth-place of the legendary Okomfo Anokye.
Oral rendition has it that before Osei Tutu I succeeded his uncle, Obiri Yeboah, as the Chief of Kwaman, modern day Kumasi, the young man was sent to Akwamu to learn the intricacies of traditional leadership. While at Akwamufie, he met and befriended Okomfo Anokye, who agreed to go with him to Kumasi, when his uncle visited his ancestors.
After Okomfo Anokye’s magical prowess had helped the Asante army defeat the perennial enemy – the Denkyiras – a meeting of all nasal states of Asante at the time was called at Dwabrem in Adum, near the spot where Ghana Post has its regional offices in Kumasi, one Friday in 1701.
At this historic meeting, Okomfi Anokye commanded the Golden Stool to appear from the skies and landed on the laps of King Osei Tutu I. The stool was named Sika Dwa Kofi, because it was laden with gold and arrived on a Friday. The Golden Stool is widely recognised as the symbol of Asante unity.
Okomfo Anokye’s magical prowess is widely regarded as the catalyst for Asante unity and the expansion of the Kingdom. Today, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II has dominion over 59 to 62 paramount areas. At the peak of its expansionist era, some 300 years ago, the Asante Kingdom covered an area which far exceeds the present landmark of modern day Ghana.
Okomfo Anokye was born at Awukugua in the Okere Division of the Akuapem Traditional Area, where he performed several miracles. As a boy, Anokye allegedly poured palm wine on the ground. Instantly, an oil palm tree grew at the spot. Up till now, the oil palm tree stands by the Anokye Shrine at Awukugua.
Okomfo Anokye was said to have climbed the palm tree wearing sandals. His footprints are etched on the palm tree till now. He is said to have carved out Oware holes (a traditional Akan game) on a stone. It is said that Okomfo Anokye commandeered water to pour from a rock in front of his house at a time of an acute water shortage.
It is these relics that Otumfuo Osei Tutu II decided to see for himself. The sight of the Asante Monarch at Awukugua was exciting news for residents of the Akuapem Hills. The journey from Akropong to Awukugua moved at a snail pace. The sheer volume, in terms of vehicular and human traffic on the road, was a sight to behold.
On the durbar grounds at Awukugua, every available space was occupied, as the people waited patiently for the arrival of the entourage. Otumfuo though, did not make it to the durbar grounds. He went straight into the Anokye household, escorted by the Member of Parliament for the Okere Constituency, Mr. Daniel Kwaku Botwe, and some sub-chiefs of the area.
By the time the pilgrimage to the Anokye Shrine and other relics in town ended, darkness had threatened to settle in. The next day, Friday, was Fofie, reckoned in Akan folklore to be a bad omen for the Asantehene to take to the road. The entourage, therefore, had to return to Kumasi before the break of day.
The large crowd at the durbar grounds was disappointed to learn that they were not going to see the Asantehene, and began dispersing when the motorcade of the monarch of Asante started on its journey onward to Adukrom, on its way back to Kumasi.
Nevertheless, the visit was historic and culturally instructive. Next time you visit the museum at the Manyia Palace in Kumasi, be prepared to see the pictorial and video accounts of the first Asantehene to visit the birth-place of Okomfo Anokye, whose magical prowess was the catalyst in the establishment and expansion of the Asante Kingdom.
It was a royal pilgrimage with a historical antecedent!
Source: The Chronicle
|Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the writers and do not reflect those of Peacefmonline.com. Peacefmonline.com accepts no responsibility legal or otherwise for their accuracy of content. Please report any inappropriate content to us, and we will evaluate it as a matter of priority.|