Otumfuo’s tribute to Asantehemaa…
Our great ancestors have left us a wonderful adage, “Wo ni wu a, w’abusua asa.” (“The departure of one’s mother to eternity terminates one’s blood relationships on earth.”). Your passing away leaves me homeless. I thank the Good Lord for giving you to me for 66 years as my mother. You have indeed been my all.
You did not only give me life; you gave me life that is worth living. You brought me up in the cultural traditions of our forefathers. You gave me the best of humanity to make me what I am today. You were a beacon of wisdom to me. You loved me and my siblings, and you did everything for us, except condone evil in our lives.
You were a disciplinarian to the core. You were the mother with whom I conferred. The members of our great clan and others always looked up to you. You were Agya on whom we wholly depended. You were a “killer of hunger” for us, our saviour; the slender arm full of kindness, the ruler whose strings were on all hearts. You taught us the value of hard work.
As a young boy, you did not want me to be pampered. How can I thank you enough for preparing me for a position of glory as the King of Asante, which you so generously and affectionately bestowed on me.
As your baby king, you continued to provide for me the pool of wisdom to drink from. You were with me in my moments of joy and fulfillment and moments of sorrow and frustration.
Ɔbaatan Pa, who used the precious Bodom Beads in cracking palm nuts, you have done what you can for Asanteman and Ghana. You have helped me as my mother in a double sense not to disgrace you in my function as Asantehene.
Ɔwoahene, Asanteman joins me in mourning the passing away of our Asantehemaa. You will in time be succeeded by a successor to be chosen by me, but in the meantime, I have lost that which cannot be replaced. I have lost the mother who gave me life, my fountain of advice and counsel and the anchor of my very existence. You were the centre of my life. I owe everything I have achieved in life to you, to the unbounded love that you always showed to me and to the gentle tutoring that I received from you. You have been the example that has guided me and the beacon by which I have steered through life.
You were not just my mother; you were also a mother to many others. With your passing away, many have lost a mother and a worthy example. To me you are irreplaceable. You have been my rudder and my guide; the mother of mothers. Without you, life will never be the same again for me.
“Old Lady” will forever remain unique to me. You made me proud by the example you set, and you gave me confidence by your very presence. It gave me immense pleasure to observe the very easy relationship that you struck with all people, including the famous and well-known and the insignificant and obscure. You instilled in me true pride in my ancestry and joy in my pedigree; but you also taught me to show respect to everyone, regardless of their status in life. I shall miss you every day of my life.
You were to me the very epitome of royalty and style. I was especially delighted and felt very proud when you were selected by my brother Otumfuo Opoku Ware II as Asantehemaa. In that capacity, you projected majesty and royalty. But to me, you remained special in many ways. As a source of advice and counsel, you were incomparable. As a loving parent, you were unmatched. As the example in my life, you have been without parallel. You have been the dependable pillar of strength on whom I have been able to rely all my life. You have been there for me in the most difficult situations of my life.
I particularly recall my early days when you used to visit my late uncle, Oheneba Mensa Bonsu, Hiahene, to check on me, without me knowing you were my mother, pretending you were visiting your brother and sister, Eno Amma Serwaa, at Ashanti New Town. In a similar way, Otumfuo Sir Osei Agyeman Prempeh II, Asantehene, my uncle, would also make visits from time to time to check on me.
On all these occasions, as you and my uncleƆOheneba Mensa Bonsu, were to reveal later, I was introduced as the son of my uncle. I became convinced that the training, the upbringing and the tutelage I had after being removed from the comfort of royalty at Manhyia Palace to Ashtown, all the way to Sefwi Wiawso, were all decisions that were taken in my interest. I am forever grateful to you, to my uncle Otumfuo Sir Osei Agyeman Prempeh II, Asantehene, and to a greater extent my uncle Oheneba Mensa Bonsu, your beloved brother.
As Asantehene, it was my duty to look after and care for you but you rather looked after and cared for me. You were always eager to find out from Yaw and Essau and my dear wife, Lady Julia, whether I had eaten or not. You would check with Sanaahene and Anonomsahene why I had sat for so long adjudicating over cases. Your worry was that litigation would never end in Asanteman. You always advised me not to sit for long hours because it was not good for my health. You enjoyed seeing me in the mornings after my return from playing Golf or after my exercise from the gym sweating because I was looking after my health.
You made it a point for me to phone you every morning when I travelled outside the country to enable you to know whether I was alright. I still remember when I delayed in telephoning because I might have had an early meeting only to be told upon telephoning later by either Agyeman Badu, Kofi Antwi or Akwasi, your attendants that you had not eaten your breakfast because I had not called. I still recollect the excitement you showed upon realising that I had called and the first query was why it had taken me so long to phone. Whatever answer I gave in reply was very satisfactory because you had heard from me. A loving mother indeed.
The two of us enjoyed our wheelchair rides as age began to take its toll, with me pushing you around your compound, stopping intermittently to have a chat and also enjoying the fresh air outside.
I remember you cautioning me that we should be very careful not to let any of the chiefs see us lest you would be reprimanded for letting the Asantehene push your wheelchair, and me responding that I was doing that for my mother as a son; you laughed about it. Surely, the caution was because of how you cherished and respected the position of Asantehene.
Even though you knew nothing about Freemasonry, you still enquired about when next was my Lodge meeting and when my brothers were coming for banquet. The reason, because you always prepared some traditional foods like Bosoa, Siwe, Atedua, to add up to the food to be served.
Your adoption of Sir Sam Jonah (Kwasi Kakraba) whom you affectionately referred to as “Me ba Obuasi” and Chief Sir Osawaru Igbinedion, Esama of Benin Kingdom (Nigeria), as your sons assures me that I still have brothers that I can rely on.
I am also forever grateful to you for my dear wife, Lady Julia. When I told you that I had met someone that I wanted to marry, you asked to see her first before I took a decision. You then asked me, upon her introduction, to leave her with you for a while, just the two of you, and should come back for her later, which I obliged. After a while, you asked for her to be brought back to me. Upon seeing you the next day and enquiring from you about your meeting with my wife-to-be, you said you were not ready yet to give me an answer and that I should come the next day.
You then asked to see me on the third day and said to me that you now had an answer for me. The answer was that the lady was my wife and that I would be at peace with her, a prophecy that has manifested throughout our marriage of peace, love, trust and understanding.
For all these, I thank you with a deep sense of gratitude.
Now I must navigate through life without your guidance and support and without your abundant love. I frankly do not know how I can do it, but I promise to do it because of the memory of your love for me and in recognition of the wonderful example that you have set by your life.
I am exceedingly grateful for the long life that God granted you and for the many good deeds you were permitted to do, for me and for many others. I shall never forget what you represented and all that you did for me and for my family. I also thank you for the motherly love that you gave to my paternal siblings Ama Agyeman and the rest, all of whom you looked after as your uterine children. I hereby give this vow: I shall remain true to your advice; and I shall forever remember and live by your words of wisdom.
I shall also love you for the rest of my life; and I shall neither forget nor ignore your many words of advice and the example of your life. Nor shall I ever forget what you have been to me and Nana Panin and my late brothers and sister. I shall always remember and live by your wise advice and helpful warnings.
Otumfuo Maame, Rest in Peace.
May you have the peaceful repose that you have earned.
I thank you for your many good works, For your shining example and for your words of wisdom
To me and many others. Nana Hemaa, Nante Yie.