Asanteman and Ghana bid adieu to a great queen
by Kwabena Opong
Manhyia Palace, Kumasi
Ghanaians from the spectrum of society joined Asanteman and the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II to bid farewell to Nana Afia Kobi Serwaa Ampem II, Asantehemaa at the Manhyia Palace last December at the ripe age of 111. The four-day elaborate and very cultural and traditional burial rites, unprecedented in the history of the ancient Asante Empire and Ghana was held at the forecourt of the palace and climaxed by an Anglican ritual amid the firing of musketry by the royal guards at the Manhyia Palace.
Significantly the Manhyia was a precursor to a the event marveled at proper funeral to be performed after a new queen has been installed. In Asante or Akan tradition, the actual funeral would be performed by the next queen in consultation with the king. The queen was expected to be buried at the Royal Mausoleum at Breman at midnight of Thursday, January 19 under a pall of secrecy after centuries-old rites have been performed. The Palace warned residents of Kumasi to observe a strict curfew from 7:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. Friday.
The funeral showcased Asante and Akan culture never before seen in modern times. Many spectators and mourners who were interviews at the event marveled at the scenery and the rituals, some of which were performed at the grounds. The queen mother was the biological mother of the reigning Asante overlord who was visibly dis- tressed by his loss as he sat in state receiving homage from his subjects, friends and visi- tors. He was dressed in black cloth worn in the toga style with headgear that symbol- ized his emotional state and condition.
The funeral was a national event as chiefs, high and low, from all over the nation descended on the Asante capital to mourn with Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the namesake of the founder of the Asante Empire.
Among the mourners was President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo who was joined by all the living former presidents and other government officials. Also at the event were delegations from Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland, Benin Republic, Uganda, as well as diplomats who represented their various countries. Persons who attended the funeral ceremony, including chiefs, were enjoined to wear black and women in particular were warned to wear their hair in either the traditional style called dansinkran or headgear that hid their hair. None was expected to appear at the funeral wearing jewels, including watches. Foreigners were exempted from the dress code.
Wreaths were laid by President Akufo Addo and on behalf of the Asantehene and his wife, Lady Julia and the St. Cyprian’s Anglican Church.