I miss Kyebi because, by custom, my branch of the Asona royal family, on my father’s side, of course, is entitled to quite a decent share of the punitive fine of 72 sheep and 36 crates of Aromatic Schnapps which the Okyeman Council recently imposed on Odehye, or Prince, Kwame Boateng, who had allegedly presumed to cavalierly bring the name and reputation of the Okyenhene, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori-Panyin II, into abject disrepute (See “Okyenhene’s Accuser Fined 72 Sheep” Ghanaweb.com 11/25/11). On my mother’s side, we occupy the Nkronso stool, which makes us custodians of the Banso royal mausoleum and overseers of all Akyem-Abuakwa royal stool-lands, a cabinet position; and so I may not be totally out of order in supposing that my mother’s people may also be entitled to a decent share of Mr. Boateng’s “punitive largesse.”
Anyway, Mr. Boateng, it may be recalled, was recently reported to have accused the Okyenhene of hypocritically supporting galamsey, or illegal mining, activities in Akyem-Abuakwa even while also vehemently maintaining a public and national stance against the controversial practice. What is interesting about the obviously humongous fine – some have even called it “unpardonably primitive” – has far less to do with the fine itself, for the Okyenhene’s reputation, or anybody else’s reputation, for that matter, is priceless, as the famous American Express credit-card commercial’s voice-over maintains. Rather, it has to do with how fast many Ghanaians may be losing our hitherto proud and intimate knowledge of customary protocol, especially where human dignity and hard-earned reputations are concerned.
In essence, Citizen/Prince Kwame Boateng was charged by the Okyeman Council on three counts of one, failing to accurately recite the Okyenhene and Okyeman’s Great Oath, otherwise known as “Wukuada Ne Kwanyarko.” What the JoyOnline.com reporter left out of his/her report, is the fundamental fact of oaths invariably referencing moments of apocalyptic tragedies in the history of the state or pre-colonial polity to which such an oath pertains. And, of course, such moments are typified by epic, albeit unexpected, defeats on the battlefield, often resulting in the death of a Paramount King at the hands of his enemies and/or political opponents. And, needless to say, it is because of such raw reminder of an event of great national disgrace, or blistering humiliation, that the invoker of any Great Oath is invariably required to promptly report the same to the respective royal court.
In the case of Citizen Kwame Boateng, the failure to promptly report his invocation of “Wukuada Ne Kwanyarko” immediately and direly undermined the well-being of Okyeman, metaphysically speaking. Such failure, it is significant to observe, criminally cheapened the tragic and historic event that led to the creation of this Great Oath and, by extension, the reputation and dignity of Okyeman as a whole.
As for Citizen Boateng’s alleged excuse for having failed to promptly justify his apparently vain and vacuous invocation of “Wukuada Ne Kwanyarko,” on grounds that his life might be in danger, while, indeed, at another time in the past this most definitely would have been the case, the stark fact remains that the Okyenhene’s false accuser, allegedly, of course, knew full-well what it entailed long before presuming to bring the name of the Okyenhene and Okyeman into abject disrepute.
In the past, it would have been Nkronso Adehye like Kwame ’Koampa, Adansi Pipim Nana, who would have meticulously and systematically conducted this presumptuous “Asona Bayie Ba/Ba Bone/Busuoni” into the sacred groves of Banso Koroansan!
Anyway, the lesson that Odehye Kwame Boateng’s apparently felonious gaffe teaches us is the need for Ghana’s Ministry of Education and Culture (I prefer the old designation) to infuse a salutary dosage of the progressive aspects of our cultures and customary rites into the curriculum, beyond the routine and embarrassingly superficial practice of drumming and dancing. Indeed, making the teaching of our indigenous languages a curricular requirement could also be of great benefit. And by the latter is unmistakably implied the fact that our languages are organic vehicles of our cultural values.
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (iUniverse.com, 2005).
The opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views or have the endorsement of the Editorial Board of www.africanewsanalysis.com