When the African King came calling at Essex County College, Newark, USA

Essex County College (ECC), Newark, New Jersey, United States of America (USA) played host to African Royalty with all its color, glamor, drumming and dancing on Friday, April 21, 2023, as a renowned King from one of the ancient dynasties of Ghana came calling.

It was not, however, all pomp and pageantry as the College’s staff and students as well as distinguished personalities and other participants in the historic event drank deep from the fountain of knowledge of His Majesty, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, Okyenhene, King of Akyem Kingdom of Ghana, and the 35th occupant of the Ofori Panin Stool, which was established by Atta Apeanin Kwaframoa Woyiaonyi in 1362.

The Mayor of Newark, Ras Baraka and his wife, as well as Deputy Mayor Ligia DeFreitas were on hand to welcome the King into the great and historic City of Newark while the Ghana born President of ECC, Dr. Augustine A. Boakye and the Director of the Africana Institute of ECC, Dr. Akil Khalfani ensured that the landmark visit went without a hitch.

The King was ushered into the Smith Hall venue of the program by a colorful entourage of eminent personalities including Mayor Baraka, College President Boakye, the featured Speaker, Rev. Dr. DeForest “Buster” Soaries and Royal Drummers and dancers, evoking memories of typical African Royalty on parade.

Preliminary formalities over, Rev. Dr. Soaries took the stage and started off by paying glowing tributes to Amiri Baraka, a leading Black Nationalist who founded the Black Arts Movement (BAM) that had such internationally renowned writers like James Baldwin as members. The legendary Amiri Baraka is the father of Newark’s Mayor Ras Baraka.

Rev. Dr. Soaries acknowledged that the injustices and oppression of the past are still continuing in different forms and decried the situation where African countries with all their endowments have literally become dumping grounds for finished products, the raw materials for which are from Africa.

Rev. Dr. Soaries, an African-American Baptist Minister, who became the first African-American male Secretary of State of New Jersey and who frequents Africa, also paid tribute to the new style of traditional African leadership represented by Kings like His Majesty, Osagyefuo Amoatia, who he said are now committed to the education and economic development of their people, who fight illegal mining and miners, who sensitize their people on environment-friendly practices and who lead the way in debunking myths relating to health issues by being in the forefront of making themselves available for testing and vaccinations.

He confirmed to the audience that King Amoatia Ofori, who he said always speaks truth to power and is Godly, represents creativity, resilience and integrity, and contrary to stereotypes, respects women and has only one wife. (This elicited much applause, especially from the ladies in the audience, some of who stood up to cheer the King).

Stressing that the event was not just a celebration or glorification of the past for its own sake, Soaries, a celebrated author and public advocate in his own right, noted that the program was, instead, a celebration of the hope that the future of Africa will be better than the past and a celebration of the hope of the coming of a future where Africa will belong to Africans and will flourish for the benefit of all. “Ain’t no stopping us now,” he quipped.

Mayor Baraka warmly welcomed the King to Newark and looked forward to more collaboration with African countries for the benefit of all, acknowledging that Newark was host to a vibrant population of Ghanaians and other African peoples who were contributing their quota to the progress of the City.

When His Majesty, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, Okyenhene, went to the podium and took the microphone (he declined the privilege of speaking from his seat), it became immediately clear that he represents a new generation of progressive, development-minded African traditional leadership which wants the continent to leapfrog into a glorious future.

He insisted that leadership is about ensuring that there is change for the better, noted that colonialism undermined African traditional leadership by installing stooges who worked against their people. He recalled, however, that some traditional rulers played positive roles in the independence struggle, but wondered to what use the independence gained was presently being put.

The 72-year-old Monarch said that the traditional institution was presently being sidelined, that Kings are not being allowed to play critical roles, are not being funded to impact the people at the grass roots as they should, but insisted that notwithstanding, traditional leadership must continue to courageously speak truth to power and communicate ideas that would transform the lives of the people for the present and the future.

Admitting, for instance, that Africans’ forebears knew about the environment and the need to take care of it, the King said that it was now part of the responsibility of today’s traditional leadership to sensitize their people on the compelling need to address the current climate crisis. He said that the issue of endemic poverty, the type that is ravaging Africa, which he called poverty without options, must also be frontally addressed and redressed, wondering why Africa should be resource rich and dirt poor at the same time.

The way out, he insisted, is education, especially science and technology education, to equip the children and youth to be able to compete in today’s world and in the world of the future.  He stressed that the greatest legacy that can be bequeathed to Africa’s children is functional education; education that will liberate them from the shackles of debilitating poverty.

He also insisted that women must be carried along, noting that they have been denied access to participation in development through, among others, deprivation of education and equal rights with their male counterparts. The system, he contended, must support them in the interest of all, he stressed.

The King equally called for international collaboration for the benefit of the people, inviting ECC particularly, to partner with his Kingdom.

Expectedly, the King got a standing ovation at the end of his stirring presentation, and as with his grand entrance into the venue, he and the dignitaries on the stage were again, ushered out with royal drumming in a sober but graceful procession.

Before his grand exit, however, there was exchange of gifts from the King to the College and to the Africana Institute as well as from the College and the Africana Institute to the King and his Queen to the admiration of all present.


Posted by on Apr 27 2023. Filed under top stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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