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Opinions of Thursday, 30 August 2007

Columnist: Ayitey, Nelson

Ashanti Chiefs are Confused, Dazed & Hypocrites

There is a saying, "If you can't do the time, don't do the crime", literally translated as, if you can't handle the repercussions of your actions, don't do it all.

The once great Ashanti chieftaincy institution, the envy of the White colonialists and the other tribal enclaves in Ghana, has come under scrutiny. The paramount overlords are utterly confused about their own folkloric beliefs. They have since the creation of the world believed that the departed souls proceed to another world called "Asamando", that is, the Underworld. The dead therefore are to adorn in the best of clothes and everything when buried. This sparkling burial or the lack of it indicates to those in "Asamando" how best or worst the person lived in the world. Hence, the nonsensical display of opulence at funerals by some families.

Now, the Ashanti chiefs have realised the indebtedness resulting in economic hardships to some families after funerals. They have then come up with quite autocratic rules and regulations meant to curtail, if not to stop completely, the unnecessary funeral expenditure. Bodies are no longer to be showered with expensive clothes and things before burial. Then again, the many previously accepted clothes from friends, relatives and sympathisers put in the coffin as gifts for the dead are abolished. The dead now goes to "Asamando" almost naked in line with the biblical phrase, "Naked I came, naked shall I go"

My beef here is, their assigned reason for burying the dead almost naked contravenes their own twisted beliefs. But it is good that they are extricating and elevating themselves from and above the intricacies of folklores. Their other vouched reason that such affluent burials cause economic problems in Ghana is a complete absurdity. But to deny the financial constraints it brings in its wake upon some bereaved families is outrageous. And to deny that fact amounts to lying before God and man. Or else, the money spent is still changing hands in the same country, creating employment for others especially, those in the funeral industry.

Are these chiefs, the custodians of our beliefs and the proponents of modern changes not confused? For argument sake, excuse me for being more precise mentioning names to better explain my points which I would otherwise not. It has come to my attention as following: The Ashanti Regional House of chiefs has lent Kumawuman Six Hundred million old Ghana Cedis (C600, 000,000) equivalent to Sixty Thousand New Ghana Cedis (GHC 60,000) for the burial of their Paramount chief, Barima Asumadu Sakyi II, who has passed about a month ago. This money, I understand, is for the preparation of the place he will be laid in state, his burial ground, the funeral celebration ground, and drinks to serve to the sympathisers attending the funeral. Good. Are the chiefs not being dazed and hypocrites here? To them, what is good for the goose is never good for the gander. Here are they banning others from opulent funerals but are never ashamed to lend or borrow to spend over what is reasonable, when it has to do with their kind. This hypocritical behaviour leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I should have said they are acting stupidly but for the little respect I have some of them, I wouldn't. However, I will advise the individuals to reduce their funeral expenses in order not to jeopardize the welfare and well-being of their family members. But should any chief intervene to dictate to you when you feel to have money to spend, slap them, for they don't lead by example. They preach virtue while at the same time practicing vices under the cover of darkness and also in broad daylight. What an insult to our intelligence!

Why at all should they spend that much money on someone who had been a liability to his town and people while alive and continue to be a greater liability when dead? He was a voracious money squanderer with no foresight. He could not even plan for his funeral in advance. How the money is borrowed going to be paid if I dare to inquire? The queen and the elders are of the opinion that should sympathisers come to find the deplorable place he is to be laid in state, it will be a big shame to them. This is childish! You are borrowing to ensure he is not disgraced in death but you and your entire town have been disgraced beyond redemption. Many years of inaction by all of you and many years of misuse of position by your chief, queen and Member of Parliament have scuttled Kumawu down the abyss. What else are you up to? As I have been made to understand from some Kumawu citizens here in Canada, any Kumawu person that goes to the hospital for a medical test has germs in their body. This is all because of the water borne diseases you have been compelled to suffer due to bad administration which never bothered to ensure you got disease free water to drink.

Otumfuo Osei Tutu II should not have presided over the lending of the money to Kumawuman for the funeral except though, he is himself the biggest hypocrite. He is swift to order the destoolment of the Asomfohene but dragging his feet when it comes to issues involving Kumawu because of the alleged influence the queen has over him. Though he has not an iota of power over Kumawu, he should not have authorised the money to be lent, to teach their future chiefs a lesson. Or, is it for the pressure exerted upon him by the queen of Kumawu? Or, could it be that the queen cleverly connived with the Ashanti Regional House of Chiefs, by asking them to pretend the money was from the House when she did present with her elders whereas actually, it was her own money deposited with them?

How far true is the allegation that Otumfuo Osei Tutu II has made it incumbent upon Kumawuman to select a person with at least a first University degree to succeed their departed chief? He is said to have offered that flimsy excuse that Barima Asumadu Sakyi II was a graduate and also that, all his elders at the Regional House of Chiefs are graduates. In the light of this, their next chief should be a graduate. His suggestion sounds good in the ear but very silly in practice. Are their deliberations at the Regional House of Chiefs held in English instead of Twi, though all of them being Akans? Then I wonder from which planet he comes from. He should have said somebody who speaks minimum English to be able to assist in the National House of Chiefs' meetings where the chiefs come from different tribal backgrounds. Anyway, the truth is, he is conspiring to impose the queen's preferred candidate on you. She has gone to see him secretly with one Dr. Frimpong or whoever, a medical practitioner, as her candidate knowing her children will vehemently be rejected by her subjects. This woman is playing smart to outwit the passive Kumawuman people. Now that I have revealed their plot, the choice and the next line of action to take are yours. You can help someone so much and that far.

I am disgusted at the incompetence of Hon Sampson Kwaku Boafo whose Ministry of Culture and Chieftaincy Affairs should have regulated or sought to stamp out the excesses of our traditional chiefs. What can this myopic but corrupt womaniser do? He is presiding over a white elephant ministry created only to provide jobs for Kuffour's errand boys but nothing else. Sorrowfully, the good intentions of President Kuffour to incorporate chieftaincy into the administration for the smooth running of the country are daily being undermined by the very chiefs he is trying hard to help. But as visionless as he is, with the only dream of travelling the world in eighty days, hopping into different airplanes as butterfly jumps from flower to flower sucking their nectar, he is unable to castigate these erring yob-chiefs. Please President Kuffour, "roll in your penis, to roll out your scrotum", to get longer balls to deal with our truant chiefs who are abusing their positions; embezzling money at the same propensity as voracious swarm of grasshoppers will feed on newly discovered field of green vegetation, as if tomorrow will never come. In a nutshell, roll up your sleeves to deliver the proper punches. Anyway, excuse my vulgarity. As an Englishman will phrase it, "excuse my French".

My Ga people are also into that stupid frenzy of "Homowo", making hues and cries for nothing. Let them kill themselves and be pushed into the sea to feed the fish. Why can't they wise up a bit to stop this heckle over "Homowo" though, with the actual intention of demonstrating against Nii Tawia Keteke as the Ga Mantse? Long live Ghana! Long live her few dynamic sons and daughters.

Nelson Ayitey (Canada)

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.