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Asantehemaa Goes Home

The late Afia Kobi Serwaa Ampem II

The late Afia Kobi Serwaa Ampem II [/caption]The Dead speaks not. The Dead sees not and the Dead hears not. When we literally smell something up in the air, we get the sense that something’s cooking. When we hear ‘Fontonfrom’ drums throbbing louder, the trumpets blaring and the deafening sounds of the gong-gong amid wailings and dirges we have the idea that something is wrong—‘Odupon atutu’.

What‘s amiss?
Asantehemaa who passed away on Monday 14, 2016 at the age 111 had made her final journey home.

Kumasi and the occupant of the Golden Stool –Otumfuo Osei Tutu II had been mourning the Asantehemaa Afia Kobi Serwaa Ampem II whose burial took place on Thursday night. The four-day event had drawn people from far and near, regional and continental. The city wore black and red, the clouds showed their anger and the sky appeared morose.

And Kumasi wept, she danced and pranced but she also had time to pay her last respect to ‘Abrewatia’, Asantehemaa. From Manhyia to Bantama and finally to Breman—the resting place, the Old Lady was welcomed by her ancestors.

The sight and sound in Kumasi remain a topic across the country and even beyond. The eyes that came from Togo, Benin, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, the UK and the US got served fully-satisfied. And the ears got their share too. Kumasi witnessed former presidents, Jerry John Rawlings, John Kufuor, John Mahama and current President Akufo-Addo. Former UN Boss Kofi Annan was at Manhyia to mourn with Otumfuo.

Certainly, the retinue of kings and queens the displays of impeccable culture, pomp and pageantry at the funeral of the Queen mother has since left many mesmerised and awestruck.

They’d come to mourn, pay homage, and bid ‘Obaahemaa’ Goodbye but they’d more than that.

The spectacle was breathtaking. And one of the numerous sights that left many openmouthed was the cloth worn by Akwamuhene from the eastern region of Ghana. It’s understood 400-year-old garb was made from lions’ hide/skin. He and his entourage trooped into Manhyia like an army of lions ready to devour their preys.

And for once the dead spoke these words: ‘It’s all well and beautiful. It’s all well and colourful. Indeed it’s all well with my soul. You’ve accorded me the greatest respect and given me what I never witnessed in my life time on earth.”

I make this mysterious journey today with great pride, with great joy and with great appreciation to all who came to mourn with Asanteman and my beloved son Otumfuo Ababio Osei Tutu II. I think I will sleep well and I’m hopeful I will forever rest in perfect peace. “

But of course the beautiful tribute paid by Otumfuo titled: ‘To My Dear Mother’ cannot fall through the cracks. It grabbed my attention. There’s something unique about the tribute. It is Otumfuor’s repetitive usage of the ‘You’ pronoun.

The pronoun ‘You’ is the second-person or personal pronoun used in both singular and plural form. The word ‘You’ appeared almost 100 times in Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu’s tribute to his late mother and Asantehemaa Afia Kobi Ampem. It accentuates the bond between a mother and son, the love, her kindness to humanity, the upbringing she gave to him, the values and morals the mother instilled in her adorable son and many more.

Not only that but also the king views his mom as a pillar and fortress, a disciplinarian, a virtuous woman father figure and a killer of hunger.

He begins his ‘You’ binge from the second paragraph: “I thank the Good Lord for giving you to me for 66 years as my mother. You have indeed been my all.”

And as if he was pitching Otumfuo opens the third paragraph with you: “You did not only give me life, you gave me life that is worth living. You brought me up in the cultural traditions of our forefathers.

You gave me the best of humanity to make me what I am today. You were s beacon of wisdom to me. You loved me and siblings and you did everything for us, except condone evil in our lives.”

You were a disciplinarian to the core. You were the mother with whom I conferred. The members of our great clan and others always looked up to you.

It is believed that single moms are tough and they raise their kids with tough love. That noted I suspect young Kwaku Dua got many whacks from his mother. Also in that paragraph we see Otumfuor’s mom as a counselor and adviser not only to him growing up but to many in the Oyoko clan.

“You were Agya on whom we wholly depended. You were a killer of hunger’ for us, our saviour, the slender arm full of kindness the ruler and whose strings were on all hearts. You taught us the value of hard work. As a young boy you did not want me to be pampered.”

Had he (Otumfuo) read the tribute by himself, I could see him break down or shed tear drops here, referring to paragraph thirteen (13). “Owoahene, Asanteman join me in mourning the passing away of our Asantehemaa. You will in time be succeeded by a successor to be chosen by me, but in the meantime, I have lost that which cannot be replaced,” he said.

Indeed who can mend a broken stone (‘Obo payea yenpam’)? When undying death (Bamoa wuo) lays its icy hands on one, it means the end of time. It means we are making the ‘no-return-journey’. It means we have finished our work here on earth. It means we are bidding our loved ones and good friends the final Goodbye to eternity.

As the lamentations took centre stage the mind got focused on the Home-going of the queen mother. Yes, it was all about his mother (‘you’). But Otumfuo had something up on his sleeves as he shared his love affair with his better half-Lady Julia. He recalled how his mother Asantehemaa drilled him and literally set him on pins and needles.

“I am also forever grateful to you for my dear wife, Lady Julia. When I told you that I had met someone that I wanted to marry, you asked to see her first before I took a decision. You then asked to see me, upon her introduction to leave her with you for a while, just the two of you, and should come back for her later, which I obliged.

After a while, you asked for her to be brought back to me. Upon seeing you the next day and enquiring from you about your meeting with my wife-to-be. You said you were not ready yet to give me an answer and that I should come back the next day. You then asked to see me on the third day and said to me that you now had an answer for me. The answer was that the lady was my wife and that I would be at peace with her, a prophecy that has manifested throughout our marriage of peace, love and understanding. For all these I thank you with deep sense of gratitude.”

The powerful king also reveals this in the tribute: “Now I must navigate through life without your guidance and support and without your abundant love. I frankly do not know how I can do it because of the memory of your love for me and the recognition of the wonderful example that you have set by your life.

I thank you for your many good works, for your shining example and for your words of wisdom. To me and many others, Nana Hemaa, Nante Yie.”

On that note I will also draw the curtain down and join Otumfuo, Asanteman and Ghanaman to say Goodbye to Asantehemaa. Nante Yie Odehyie!!!

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