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Opinions of Thursday, 20 September 2007

Columnist: Aidoo, Ato

Beyond a dance - the Asantehene and ex-president Rawlings.

There is one thing about the Ashanti culture that still resonates in the minds of all those who cherish culture as a means through which the true identity of a nation is defined -it is unique.

So at the funeral of his late brother held recently, I was enthused by the show of respect extended to ex-president Rawlings and his wife by the Asantehene ,Osei-Tutu II, amidst drumming and dancing. Showing respect is a "two-way" traffic.

Needless to say, culture and sensibilities were placed at their very best.

But once again, through a great King, the Ashanti Kingdom’s rich culture has been amplified, beautifully showcased as a force that has been permanently kept as part of the Ghanaian culture.

I am not an ethnic basher, hence I cannot be faulted for saying what I believe represents the truth. For the records, I am also not an Ashanti.

This is just enough to prompt another son of Ghana to analyze the step taken by the Ashanti King without any ethnic bias, motivated by the fact that -"I also believe in Ghana" - thanks to Nana Addo Akufo-Addo, the frontrunner in NPP's presidential race.

What is good, they say, is always good.

This is because when viewed from the surface the bigger picture would be traditionally subdued and sacrificed on the altar of ethnic confusion.

Through the “dance”, my joy was prolonged, subsequently validated by how the Asantehene invited ex-president Rawlings to the traditional dancing floor, winning the admiration of those assembled to bid the King’s brother farewell from this world that we live in.

A world in which people still fight over the control of power, of pettiness and tribalism.

The “dance”, though traditionally symbolic, has a national significance, and should serve as a reminder to all Ghanaians - that we are one people, one nation with a common destiny, a nation not ready to be wrapped up by tribalism and artificial division.

The Asantehene shows the way, backed by his “Asafo” group (warriors).

This is because the era when the King had to lead his people during wars is over.

Interestingly, it has been replaced with the war against ignorance, illiteracy, indiscipline, underdevelopment, malice, hate, poverty, and disease.

Indeed, the “ Asantehene –Rawlings dance” was a remarkable exhibition of an enviable culture, rich in texture and presentation.

I have written that before, and would repeat – that the Asantehene is not an ordinary King, he controls part of the national psyche- this is my opinion, with no intention to invite insults from the “uninspired” and politically confused Ghanaian, as well as those who are abhorrent to divergent views.

The Ashanti King demonstrates, and continues to justify why he is a "unifier" of all people, something that politicians are still grappling with, as division grows amongst the populace with no end in sight.

Through the Asantehene, “Asanteman " did not keep the attributes reserved for greatness to themselves.

They showed it respectfully without any political or tribal connotation. They praised their King and the immediate past President of Ghana. This is good for Ghana.

To the “Asanteman”, it rallied behind its great King to show Ghanaians the way to live in harmony with all people through kindness, respect and peace - the “dance” with ex-president Rawlings is another example of that commitment.

When the baton changes from the traditional realm to the political, it is my hope that all those working very hard to be entrusted with the leadership of our homeland would learn from this shinning example .

These politicians should explore the means to unify our people with no reference to political and ethnic leanings, though some pundits, as well as “latter day” political/social commentators would disparage the important components of reasoning, and argue – “What is in a dance?”.

These people are free to do so, because they continue to exercise their right to free speech, which they conveniently tranform into insults, a personal vendetta they boldly unleash in shameful proportions.

That notwithstanding, it is also true that not all of us understand culture/tradition the way they are presented to us. I respect every Ghanaian culture, but can I grasp all of them? No.

A percentage of the citizenry still find themsleves in a group loosely branded as “disciples of narrowism” - depicting people who are either averse to change, or adjusting to change had become a daunting task.Where to drift is submerged in confusion and frustration.

I have disentagled myself from that confusion to understand that the Asantehene through effective leadership skills, and symbolically, a traditional dance, has presented a proverbial premonition which when carefully digested with an open mind (or frankness), qualifies as a “sermon” to all those leading the campaign to rid our homeland of unnecessary tension and divisiveness.

Through a drumbeat, the King is telling us, that we share a common national pride that cannot be exchanged with “foolishness”, as being portrayed by some of our politicians and so-called commentators of doom and false prophesy.

Not a surprise, we have to be mindful of those in our midst who still have much to do about nothing, as they pray for chaos, and shamefully work towards achieving that goal. A friend calls them "modern day pharisees".

For those who just saw the “Asantehene-Rawlings” dance as a mere “dance” may be deceiving themselves, for in Ghana , traditional drums “talk”, and they do make sense.

Until the popular video-sharing website -“You Tube” presents another clip, preferably, featuring President Kufour and ex-president Rawlings on a “ mutual dancing floor”, all that I can say is that the Asantehene is showing politicians and Ghanaians the right way, though some believe, it may take a long time for them to learn from a traditional admonition, or never.

Others also say we have to wait for another “Nana” to become the next president of Ghana to make that happen in a little over a year.

When I quipped: Are you referring to Nana Kwandoh Brempong III, Chief of Adum-Banso in Western Ghana, I was told chiefs do not meddle in politics.

Until then, let’s applaud the Ashanti King, after all the path to ethinic disengagement and unnecessary political squabbles was not nurtured with the productive Ghanaian in mind.

"Happiness in diversity" is our hallmark.

Author- Ato Aidoo, formerly of the features desk, Daily Graphic, Accra, Ghana.

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