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Diasporian News of Friday, 3 May 2013

Source: E. Ablorh-Odjidja

Remembering King Tackie Tawiah III, a Diasporan King

I have always admired Dr Blankson since I first met him in the early 70s. He was every inch a leader, except I was blind to the fact back then that one day he would be king of the Gas - King Takie Tawiah III.

The then Dr Blankson never bragged about his bloodline to the circle of friends we shared. Rather, he struck me as a very humble man in his inclination to serve his fellow man.

The future king at this early stage impacted, in diverse and very positive ways, communities of Ghanaians in the Diaspora, especially those in the New York City area. He travelled all over North America answering calls to officiate at “out-doorings” and other ceremonies of tradition for Ghanaian families in need. He was the genial, resourceful and helpful gentleman with that natural aura that set one apart in a crowd.

Dr. Alfred Clayton Bannerman, a friend and a contemporary in the US once said of Dr. Joe Blankson that “he was a man who had culture running as blood in his veins.”

In 2005, I visited Ghana from the US. The man who would be King (and his wife Lady Faustina) had invited me to dinner. Much to my surprise on arrival at his house, I saw a string of beads on his wrist. He was still Dr. Blankson back then; a man of culture and an intellectual whom I knew was not prone to empty symbolism. I knew instantly that the string on his wrist had a purpose. I was told later that the process for his enstoolment as the Ga Mantse had begun.

Suddenly it dawned on me that Dr. Blankson had been a king in the Diaspora all along. The veil that blinded me from seeing the full worth of the man dropped. What had seemed opaque was now clear on account of those little beads on his wrist.

The mild mannered Dr. Joe Blankson, now late King Takie Tawia III, was a leader who for a frown would choose to wear a smile. But the visceral toughness in him was always there and could respond at critical times as answer to appropriate situations.

But more so than the smile and the toughness, there was that combination of street smarts, eloquence, sharp intellect and the calm manner approach to things that assured the worrier that all would be right.

The nation and the Ga state have lost a great leader. Death has robbed us of a man, King Takie Tawia III, who had the temperament and all the qualities of a philosopher king.

King Takie Tawia III enstoolment was in 2006. A chance encounter brought us together in December 2008. The occasion was the opening of the new presidential palace. I had gone with a crew to cover the event for use in a documentary film I was producing on the subject of the presidency of Mr J. A. Kufuor and his consequential transition from office in 2009.

The king was at the event in full regalia. I asked his linguist permission to approach him. When the word got to him, he looked in my direction and flashed an instant recognition. He motioned for me to come to him. He was the king but still the same affable Joe that I knew.

The king, at my request, rewarded me with an impromptu speech on camera right there at the Presidential Palace. The clip can be seen in the documentary film, President Kufuor, A New Face for Africa.

Later, I visited the king at the Ga Manste palace at Kaneshie. I took the opportunity to request his guidance and help in an intended production of a documentary on “Chieftaincy in Ghana through the years”. I followed that visit with one interview of the king on camera and another for coverage of a traditional event at the stool house. There was the promise of more such filming to come.

I returned last year, hoping to continue filming, but I was to learn to my regret that King Tackie Tawiah III was gone after a protracted illness. He had gone to the land of the ancestors. The memory of him, though, would long remain among many of us who were with him in New York - a brilliant, kind man and a gentleman who was born to serve as king.

I wish to repeat here the same words of good will that he, King Takie Tawiah III, said for a departed soul to wish him well also:

“Our prayer is that the promise of God for eternal rest will be granted ….., just as it is hoped that the earth would rest with deference upon the remains of this soul of merit.”

On behalf of the many mutual friends we shared back in the 70s – Dr. Alfred Bannerman, H. E. Kobina Annan, Winston Davis, Edward and Victor Adom, Rudolph Dodd, Dr Clarence Addo Yobo and all their families – I say farewell to you King TakieTawiah III.

May God your creator give you eternal rest and peace.

E. Ablorh-Odjidja Emerging Media Institute, Accra, Ghana

May 04, 2013

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