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Opinions of Thursday, 4 November 2021

Columnist: Charles Yeboah

What the old Bono warriors have to teach today Ghana's security recruitments

Charles Yeboah Charles Yeboah

The youth of today want to serve their country. They want to be part of the military, the immigration, the police service - the institutions that will make use of their mental and physical strength. But they're disqualified for reasons that leave much to be desired.

They're not giants, they have wobbling buttocks, they are bow-legged, and many inhumane descriptions in the reports seem to ridicule the prospects.

Just because they want to serve their nation? Well, the old Bono warriors have a blueprint in the following story for recruitment into the forces, that's still preserved pristine in the Goka palace for today's captains' schooling.

The Chief warrior of the Adonteng group from Goka that fought and defended the Suma Ahenkuro stool and Bono heritage had his wife brought to bed a baby boy.

It was during the time the Ashantis were aggressively waging war against other states that occupied today's Ghana. With their radical guerrilla warfare insurgencies, the nomadic Ashanti army has attacked and overpowered their Denkyira cousins lately, and their next move it was announced, to the Bono land.

Men were needed to up in arms to quell these unprovoked attacks from the Manhyia palace that's causing instability amongst the different tribes.

So the news of a baby boy born to him was a happy one to the Chief warrior of Goka.

He dispatched with haste his duties at the camp where the Bono warriors were preparing their muscles to square it off with the Ashanti invaders so he'll see the face of the newest addition to the family that'll possibly be weaned from the mother's breast and be trained for war as it was the custom for all young boys then.

However, happiness turned to uneasy disbelief and anger towards the innocent wife that beget the innocent boy. The baby boy was lame, and according to the physicians, his legs will not grow, and all his life, he'll crawl on four limbs.

He can't walk to the battlefield let alone pick arms to defend or attack when the Bono state is under siege, as all men for patriotic reasons relished.

Unwelcome health report it was.

The Chief warrior had only two options under such circumstances. One is to "escort the boy" (kill it by poison), or two, allow it to live and "bring shame to the family."

As it was deemed taboo and shameful for a Chief warrior to give birth to a cripple then.

But when night fell, and he was still brooding about this unhappy news, he went into a dreamlike trance, and a voice assured him from the Good Heavens how his son will be of use to the Bono state. And that the boy should be named _Nyameama_ (God's gift).

This the Chief warrior did, the boy was christened Nyameama, but as he crawled still above the toddler age when he was expected to walk on two, his peers started calling him _Kwame Frɔɔ_ (cripple).

Nyameama came of age, and more time isolated himself from the crowd. He examined images and drew their features in the sand.
He carved a wooden semblance of nature's creation too.
At times his artworks looked beautiful than nature's own.

And one day, as all hopes were lost by the Bono army as they heard the Ashantis were bending their course towards Buoyem with leopards heard fiercely roaring at their lead, something dramatic happened.

Buoyem is a Bono enclave of natural impregnable security haven that housed the Bono Kings' golden stools that must be fended off from heist through all means against the Ashantis. Yet the arsenals of the Bono warriors can hardly do any harm to an unfamiliar trained canine as such approaching.

Nyameama out of the blues presented an armory that worked magic and paralyzed the Ashantis.

In his observation of insects, he saw _Ntasuboba_ (bombardier beetle) that spewed some itchy and corrosive liquids on its predators to defend itself or kill the attacker.

And with his crafty hands, Nyameama created a wooden bombardier beetle that was mobile, and the corrosive liquid chemicals that it unleashed on the enemy soldiers, not even the napalm gas that was sprayed on the Vietnamese citizens by the American troops during their civil war that burns painfully and lethally.

The Bono warriors didn't have much work to do. They only carted Nyameama (the cripple) onto the apex of the high Buoyem rocks with his wooden bombardier beetle, and when he started canonizing the chemicals on the onrushing Ashanti army, they begged for water to wash off the burning liquid, but the wholesome water aggravated the pains, and they had the only options to retreat or surrender.

None they had a peaceful mind to decide on, so the Bono warriors demobilized them, and to their surprise, there was no beast that was in the Ashantis' fleet.

There were bronze shields, cutlasses, truncheons, and a drum.

As captives, they were forced to beat the drum, and it sounded shrilly fiercely like a prowling leopard. The secret was unraveled thus.

The Bono warriors ceased the drum and kept it in Buoyem as a war bootie.

For the Ashantis to cover up this shameful drubbing, fearing if something is not quickly done, or else those they've defeated cunningly before will seek revenge.

When they signed a truce with the Bono warriors to be freed because they have repented of initiating future attacks, they carved another drum on their way home in place of the one plundered by their new Bono masters.

Today, at their Manhyia palace museum, that fake drum stands. It only bears a story of sounding like a leopard, but no one has ever heard it sounded, or seen it beaten.

Ending on the Bono side, Nyameama was the hero of the war. And after receiving the highest military honor of the Bono land, his armory (the wooden bombardier beetle) was retired to the Suma Ahenkuro palace. It's only brought out for public viewing during the annual _Akwantukɛseɛ_ (festival).

And history has it that it's that wooden bombardier beetle that influenced the invention of the water cannon used by the police today during crowd control at demonstrations.

Nyameama died many years ago, and his burial place at Goka became a shrine that people entered and learned that _" all men are born with abilities worth harnessing".

Nyameama was born cripple, but his invention was useful in defeating a formidable enemy.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) was wheelchair-bound, but in times of war (WWII), he led the most powerful nation on earth, the United States of America, as a president, and was victorious against the evil axis.

If we can look beyond physical appearance in recruiting people into the security services, we can create future Nyameamas in the defence apparatus of mother Ghana.