Otumfuo’s Jewel Thieves

Feature Article of Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

(Asante-Dwaben, Adanse ne Okyeniba, ne Asantehene Nana Okoampa-Agyeman, Asiakwahenenana Esuru Akwafo)

Ordinarily, I would have promptly contributed my proverbial five pesewas to last October’s media reports of the Asantehene’s heirloom having been criminally squirelled out of a Radisson Hotel lobby in Oslo, Norway, but for the fear of having my well-intended observations grossly misconstrued by my political opponents and detractors, as well as those mischievously looking to cash in on Otumfuo’s misfortune (See “Otumfuo’s Jewel Thieves Imprisoned” Ghanaian Times 4/5/13).

As a passionate monarchical partisan, I was also remarkably constrained by the risk of seeming to disparage this august and cardinal institution for which Akans, in general, and Asantes, in particular, have become globally renowned and admired, especially vis-a-vis the epic narrative of the Golden Stool.

And then just a little over a couple of weeks ago, I received a phone call from my paternal elder first-cousin, Kwamena (aka Frank Newton Acquah), who must be pushing very close to 70, and whom I have probably never met in my life, or perhaps I was too young to remember, telling me about a fortuitous discovery that he made some 16 years ago regarding the recent trajectory of our familial radix.

You see, I have always been of the firm view that both sides of my Kyebi paternal clan had migrated from Adanse/Adansi Kokobiante and Akrokyere (Akrokerri) to our present location sometime between the late 1300s and the early 1400s. And there, of course, is incontrovertible evidence pointing to this fact. Somewhat, that is. Well, now it also turns out, according to Cousin Kwamena, that the distaff, or female, line of my father’s clan is actually of Dwaben/Juaben Asona descent. This, of course, inescapably makes my father a bona fide Asante scion of no meaning standing.

My Syracuse-, New York, resident relative also informed me that he had actually met with our Asante-Dwaben kinsfolk and gone to the even more radical extent of purchasing several plots of land and building his main home there. He had also met with the Asona stool-head of our clan. Cousin Kwamena, who has been resident here in the United States for some 40 years, would also apprise me of the existence of an even greater stool belonging to our clan which is located at a place whose name I had never heard about all my life, but whose name any Asante-Akyem native to whom I mentioned the same readily lighted up with acute and delightful recognition.

The name of this evidently great ancestral township amused me quite a bit; but it also made me very proud, because it clearly indicated that my father’s mother’s ancestors had been both remarkably adventurous and industrious enough to have founded a settlement which they ethically and philosophically named Emmuanna (Do-Not-Go-To-Sleep-Hungry) somewhere on the great Pra river. Consequently, the township has come to be called and widely known as Emmuanna-Praso or Ammuanna-Praso. Being that Cousin Kwamena’s father hailed from Winneba, and also due to the fact that he had attended both Winneba and Apam (or Apaa) secondary schools, his Fante-Effutu accent made it a bit difficult for me to make out “Ammuanna-Praso.”

Still, the authenticity of his narrative seemed unmistakable. For, he had met and spoken to “live” relatives whose striking resemblance to their Kyebi kinsmen and women could not be forensically impugned. But what was even more significant was the fact that our Dwaben and Asante-Akyem relatives also knew the story regarding how one of their female ancestral relatives ended up in the Palace of the Okyenhene or Ofori-Panyin Fie sometime between 1860 and 1880, at the height of the internecine hostilities between the Omanhene of Asante-Dwaben and his distaff nephew, the Kumasehene and Asantemanhene.

Anyway, what I had wanted to observe in the wake of last October’s theft of Otumfuo Osei-Tutu’s jewelry – actually his heirloom – is that the next time that the Asantehene is extended an official invitation by any government, particularly one in Europe, to partake of any cultural festivities, he ought to prevail on his protocol officer to ensure that he gets put in a royal guest house, the palatial mansion of his host/hostess, or a state-owned residence with the provision of adequate security and privacy.

That the arrested culprits were of Peruvian nationality, may well have saved the Norwegian Crown and that country’s government a remarkable modicum of embarrassment. It may also have appreciably restored any modicum of confidence that the Asantehene may have lost in the people and authorities of Norway, in the wake of this flagrant attempt to disparage his remarkable standing among the comity of globally recognized chieftains and monarchs.

Indeed, the Peruvian government itself does not appear to have taken kindly to this dastardly attempt by three of its citizens to bring the image of their country into global disrepute. For as of this writing (4/7/13), two of the criminal suspects had been convicted and sentenced to a total of 44 months’ imprisonment by a Norwegian court, with a third runaway suspect reportedly held in the prison custody of the Peruvian authorities and in the process of being extradited to Norway to face the far-reaching and mellific music of justice. Globalization at its best, one is tempted to say.

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*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Department of English
Nassau Community College of SUNY
Garden City, New York
April 7, 2013
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