The pomp and beauty of the Asante royal funeral was at full blast on day four of the 15-day final funeral rites of the late Asantemaa, Nana Afia Kobi Serwaa Ampem II.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, dressed in the ‘Batakarikese’, the warrior dress, said to have been worn by the founder of the Asante Kingdom, King Osei Tutu, led a funeral procession from Pampaso to his Manhyia Palace.
It was the second time the Asantehene had put on the wardress. The first was during his coronation.
The air was filled with the sporadic firing of muskets as he rode in a palanquin under a canopy of big umbrellas and accompanied by a large retinue of court couriers, chiefs and mourners clad in black.
Amid the singing of dirges, throbbing of the ‘Atumpan’ and ‘Fontomfrom’ drums and cluttering of the executioners’ swords, the funeral procession snailed to the Manhyia Kwaekese (a forest which has been kept just behind the palace), where the king came down from the palanquin to fire four shots from a short gun.
He then climbed back into the palanquin and headed straight to the Dwabirem, where he distributed palm wine to the mourners. Everything had been so choreographed that as he made his way into the forest, he was met by the Mamponhene, Daasebre Osei Bonsu II.
President Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his Vice, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, joined the tall list of dignitaries who were on hand to sympathise with the Asantehene and Asanteman at the ‘Ayikese’ (grand funeral).
Also, there was former President John Agyekum Kufuor.
Ministers of State, Members of Parliament (MPs) and the Diplomatic Corps would not be left out of the event that virtually made Kumasi stand still.
The roads running through Adum – the nerve centre of economic activities, often clogged with bumper-to-bumper traffic – were all empty. The hustle and bustle was completely absent as the stores were all shut. Basic schools in the metropolis and the Asokore-Mampong municipality did not open.
The late Asantehemaa was the biological mother of Otumfuo Osei Tutu and died at the ripe at 111 years.
She reigned for 42 years and passed on last year.