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Opinions of Saturday, 29 May 2004

Columnist: Ghanaian Chronicle

When the Two Johns Met

When the two eminent Johns met, John Kufuor and John Rawlings, there was much to cheer about. There was the salute by one to the other. It was followed by a hand shake, which must have been very warm and cordial, for the two Johns openly acknowledged the presence of one another at the great gathering of chiefs and the people of Asante at the Kumasi Sports Stadium to celebrate the Adae Kese festival with the Asante King.

And it was beautiful. The crowd responded with a deafening applause which was quite ecstatic and frenzy-like. The echo of it hangs on for the rest of the afternoon. It was first in history, rather a cultural first, and the crowd approved of it intoto.

Where we had expected a boom of a thunder, and the lightening of it to blind and deafen us, we instead had a heart to heart touch that lent much colour to enrich the more that colourful occasion of the Adae Kese. Indeed, the Adae Kese would not have accepted anything other than the cordial presence of the two who make Ghana now, and can un-make it by their respective politics.

The crowd also had expected that much flow of that much unsolicited love cascading from the hearts of the two to a confluence at the festival grounds. At least their cultural belief was filled up by that show of cordiality.

The belief has been that the Adae Kese festival is a festival of physical and spiritual cleansing. And it did just that, by what we saw, cleansing the dirt of hatred from the hearts of the two Johns.

It is said that where there is no hatred; there is love naturally. We hold the two as the symbol of such a love.

Again, the frenzied response that burst out at the background confirmed our belief that not only the Johns had been cleansed but all the people around them who sort of represented all Ghana officially and unofficially. It was a piece of cultural miracle.

The entry into the Baamu (Mausoleum) by the Asantehene to commune with our ancestor kings and queens had not been vain. The singular prayer by libation had been accepted.

We have had the blessings we prayed for. The Johns' handshake has been significant of all that. It should deserve mention on the cultural drums by the Odomankoma perhaps by strains such as these. Love is good. Hatred is bad. Love one another, Love one another. and shame hatred and shame hatred, ever..... We always have been one ... by love by love by love

Our fortunes are such - Nananom did come home to bless us. They left behind them as lasting symbol of their presence in the statue of our immediate past King Opoku Ware II, which is sitting at the Suame Roundabout in Kumasi. The position of the statue that faces eastwards tells its own story of the facilities of the rising sun that ushers in the day, and dispels the darkness of the night.

And who doubts that the dawning day of the Adae Kese Festival has brought in the Two Johns together on a common platform for the exchange of greetings? There is always dawn after darkness, indeed. It takes two to make a day. We have all the basic truths here.

This was reflected also in the type of rich Kente cloths of various colours and, designs which our Chiefs put on for the festival grounds. Its beauty reflects the wisdom of our people to the effect that it taxes more than two threads of the weaver to make a cloth, and more than two colours to make a pattern.

In effect, one person cannot build a nation. And nations are built by men, and with men, and not buildings empty of men. This has been the common principle of all great nations that ever had been. And Asante holds that principle very close to her heart. And on that score Asante knows no discrimination!

It has been so, hence the Adae Kese Festival sort of brought in all manner of people to the stadium. Apart from the local crowd, there were visitors from Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast, Togo and Nigeria among our neighbours. Britain and South Africa representatives virtually brought all the Commonwealth of Nations to the festival grounds. It was historic.

The presence of the diplomatic corps in the country was amply ackwledged. At once, Kumasi became all the world, by the cultural courtesy of the Adae Kese festival. It has been great indeed.

Indeed, the symbolism of the occasion would have been lost if we had carried our political rivalry to the festival grounds. Our ancestors, from whom our blessings flow, wouldn't have permitted that. They had wished us well all along. Our little achievements have been their concern.

They are concerned that we continue to be responsible inheritors of the heritage they won for us. They are concerned that we grow in numbers and, in wealth and in wisdom. The realisation has been that wise people do not fight; wise people do not frown on one another; wise people do not give in to fits of madness. And wise men know when it is day, and when it is night.

And "old" John and "new" John have made our day. The darkness of the night should be over. We have all grown wiser by the kind promptings of the last Adae Kese festival. John Rawlings and John Kufuor are our witnesses.

They must have witnessed too the gold ornaments that adorned our Kings and his Abrempon. They speak one language of humility and patience without which nothing of gold can shine to be so admired.

And gold lasts for ever with its brilliance and quality, and all, which should not persuade our two Johns in particular to dare to so shine in love and in peace.

Of particular significance are the cuffs and bangles at the angles and knees of the Asante King. They tell the silent story that. "his people will not want, there is money at home." And the rings on all the ten fingers of the King add that, "the Asante King is generous indeed." He gives generously to his people.

And which of the two Johns would ever deny that their political objectives, individually and severally, have not been to give abundantly to us, and protect us in the process.

That does not call for fit-cuffs of the gun nor of the bombs to kill the very people they swear to protect. It never happens to us when wiser men rule us.

Our achievements have been little as compared with those of Asante of old whose empire at the zenith of Asante power was larger than the size of political Ghana today. It was that much heritage, which was on display that Sunday. One should feel humble before it and reconcile oneself with it as obviously did the two Johns of our reference.

And if Asante had that much to show, the singular lesson has been that Asante came with it by a united front, like the fingers of the outstretched hand in some hand shake or in some salute. We saw the two on p1ay and we became so delighted by it all.

There is calm, after all, after the storm. The storm that overtook Asante in the run up to the war of 1900 with the English People nearly tore Asante apart. But the awareness that all Asante is Asante never waned, fortunately. Asante once again by one kind design or the other came together again to put up that show of cultural wealth unknown before in recent times.

The two Johns have had similar storm in their way which they must have survived to reach for one another's hand for a cordial handshake. It should be to the credit of their now mature statesmanship. But greater credit should of course go to the Adae Kese festival, which brought them together on a common platform in the first place.

Asante should have much to teach them, and they must care to learn.

If Asante once wielded the gun and the Batakari Kese, their war dress, for their survival and continued survival in peace, Asante by the wisdom of their present King are now wielding the pen and the paper for Asante's continued survival in the global world of much advancement in scientific and technological achievements. It is real.

The Otumfuo Education Fund is our witness.

The turn of events in Asante fortunes definitely should infect the two Johns to turn round to dialogue by the facility of our common humanity for a new face of politics in Ghana today. The politics of the sword must be off, and so should be the politics of divide and rule, which destroys us. It is the teaching we are getting from cultural and social Asante of today. And the lesson must have gone to the entire world too through the international dignitaries who came to see us at the festival grounds. Ghana is a cultural peace, and politically so, too.

They all have their respective politics to bother them, yet they accepted due invitation to be with the Asantehene for what they must have heard of his great promotion of education among his people.

And education is the key to virtuous life. Imperceptibly, the Otumfuo's education promotion efforts should remotely lead us to virtuous politics now and in the future.

The two Johns should be upholding that ideal, for which we so commend them. The Asantehene's personal commendation has reached us in the form of about four Honourary Doctorate Degrees awarded him by universities at home and abroad. The awards have been commendable indeed. The "pen" and the "paper" have firmly ousted the "word" and the "shield" from our midst.

Nations are built with and by people in the circumstance of peace and calm. Fortunately, our country is gradually building the reputation as a peaceful country. The leading architects should first be our political leaders who should claim the credit for it. The two Johns of our story must be listening, and their fanatic followers too.

We do not shoot to any political fame overnight. The process is gradual. Asante made it in her hey days. Asante continues to prosper, which prosperity is symbolised in the Asante King Otumfuo Osei Tutu II and his achievements so far.

We progress by peace and love. Asante has shown the way by the celebration of the last Adae Kese festival.

The responses fortunately have been given by the two Johns. We pray they take us further beyond what we saw of them last Sunday in Kumasi on 9th May, 2004. Let it be love and peace ever for all.