The ghost town of Kumasi yesterday
THE CAPITAL of the Ashanti Region, Kumasi, was virtually a ghost town yesterday following an order from the Manhyia Palace that residents should stay indoors owing to the funeral of the departed Asante queen mother, Nana Afia Kobi Serwaa Ampem II.
Shops, financial institutions, offices and even schools in Kumasi were closed yesterday.
Asanteman Traditional Council did it all – shops and schools were closed, half the city’s vehicles and food vendors were barred, streets and market places were deserted, offices were shut and majority of residents remained indoors as a sign of respect for the queen mother who was finally laid to rest at midnight at the Breman Royal Mausoleum.
It was to ensure that the occasion passed without any hitch, which development forced many workers to take a mandatory holiday.
A church service was organized for the queen to end a four-day burial ceremony at the Manhyia Palace yesterday. The programme was well attended by dignitaries from all walks of life.
When DAILY GUIDE visited Adum, the central business district, shops were closed and the streets were empty.
The situation was the same when the paper reached busy areas like Bantama and Krofrom.
The entire city was virtually empty with business activities grinding to a halt.
Some people who graced the Asantehemaa’s burial ceremony were even seen racing home after the burial service.
The Kumasi airport was equally closed as no flight was coming into the city, forcing mourners to race out of Kumasi for their various destinations before they were caught in any traditional row.
Thousands had converged at the forecourt of the Manhyia Palace – the seat of Asante chieftain – to witness the final burial rites and service of the late Asantehemaa.
Nana Afia Kobi Serwaa Ampem II died at age 111 late last year after reigning for 39 years, having succeeded Nana Ama Serwaa Nyarko II. She is the 13th queen mother of the Golden Stood which is being occupied by his son, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.
The city’s dwellers, who were determined to give the queen mother a befitting farewell, marked the occasion by thronging the Manhyia Palace in their numbers to partake in the burial service and pay their last respects to Nana Serwaa Ampem II.
In a tribute, the Asantehene told the mourners at the burial service that his late mother embodied “the slender arm full of kindness” and a “killer of hunger” for the royal family.
Read on his behalf by Oheneba Akua Achiaa, the king said, “I have lost the mother who gave me life, my fountain of advice and counsel and the anchor of my very existence. I owe everything I have achieved in life to you, to the unbounded love that you always showed to me and to the gentle tutoring that I received from you.”
The service, which was attended by dignitaries in and outside the country, began with hymns by the St. Cyprian’s Anglican Celestial Choir and followed by a prayer, Bible lesson, biography and other tributes.
The queen mother’s coffin was brought from her palace by members of the royal family in a procession and placed at the centre of the gathering for the burial service to take off.
Joining Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, other traditional rulers, thousands of mourners and the congregation were President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his wife Rebecca; Vice President Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and wife Samira; ex-Presidents John Agyekum Kufuor and Jerry John Rawlings as well as ministers-designate.
Also in attendance were members of the diplomatic corps, Acting National Chairman of the ruling New Patriotic Party, Freddie Blay; failed presidential aspirant of the United Progressive Party, Akwasi Addai Odike, among other politicians and people linked to the Asantehene.
FROM I.F. Joe Awuah Jnr & Ernest Kofi Adu, Kumasi