Ashanti - Adjei Agyei-Baah


The edenic garden
On a desert of gold
Ashanti!

The empire whose boundaries were only penetrated
With treaties, never cannons
Ashanti!

The kingdom whose monarchy was furiously fissured
Yet could not be humbled into crumbles
Ashanti!

The people whose culture and tradition
Is a feast of smiling stars in their sparkling splendor
Ashanti!

The kingdom whose majestic steps always tame the troubled waters
Ashanti!

The empire whose gold has given the world a stool
Ashanti!

The kingdom whose installation of kings
Make the whole world walk to Manhyia
Ashanti!

The people whose hospitality
Turns strangers into natives
Ashanti!

The master weavers of kente
Tutored by no one but the legendary Ananse the spider
Ashanti!

The only people on earth united by a golden stool
Ashanti!

The porcupine warriors
Who never knows retreat or surrender
Ashanti!

The porcupine warriors
Who never run out of quills!

26 comments:

Darko Antwi said...

Very celebrative! The first four stanzas (and the 7th) are exceptionally thoughtful - it beats my imagination.

The rest are gimmicks and hollow, and need to be well-stuffed. Please dont take offence. Im an Ghanaian and an Ashanti too.

open mike poetry said...

JAbuu thinks its a good piece, wonderfully carved for the celebration of the tenth anniversay of the king. I love it the contents are a clear representation of the people you are talking about.

novisi said...

ok ok!

beyond the poetry...

it's about time for the KILL.

let us KILL this chieftian system. it's just redundant now and conflicts any serious attempt at promoting the equality of man and woman!

this system only creates a usless class system that makes a few so called royals too important than our common good!

If any chief claims to be worth our respect then let him open up the system for all to participate as eligible heirs by popular vote.

else i won't celebrate such! 'm totally opposed to any chief or queen birthed or enskined or enshrined or enstooled out of a so called royal blood. how superior is that blood to mine???

it's nauseating at best!!!

Mmenson said...

"Before Abraham there was God, before western civilization,there was chieftancy or kingdoms". Chieftancy may have its own problems like any other discipline but it can be too bad to be worst.Beauty may lie in the eyes of the beholder.But the eyes that look are many, those that see are rare.I think this work of Adjei-Agyei is a masterpiece which every poet should appreciate it beyond its chieftancy lines.I think the King must see this and give Adjei a pat on the shoulder.He is a king who share but not the one who starve.Hope the Novice will sit down and give it a second thought!!!

Darko Antwi said...

Lest Adjei is discouraged. I must confirm that 'Ashanti' is a fine piece of tribute - though parts of it are excessively exaggerative. I understand his zeal, however.

He should bear in mind that he is writing about a people, who inspite of their historic pride, are modest in customary or cultural practices.

novisi said...

before sanity there was insanity??? is that A (i did not say 'the') case??? questions!!!

i for one love poetry. the art or words is always amazing and that craft is displayed here some by Adjei.

but i chose to go beyond the poetry and indeed i did make that clear in my earlier comment!

and i will maintain the focus beyond the lines of poetry. after all we could have poetry celebrating the Holocaust Achievement of Hitler. so that is not the point here! God or bad poetry is not the point!

the point is that the subject of the chieftian system has come up for discussion!

and some like me believe it's about time for the KILL in CAPITAL LETTERS! This is clearly a system that is an affront to the common good of humanity and must be KILLED quickly.

and novisi (the noun in lower case and fine so) says let not the Novice (the noun beginning with caps and fine so) AND the Experienced confuse him/herself about WHATEVER SO CALLED western civilization!!!

don't the English have a queen? Don't the spanish have a King? haven't the French done away with their chieftian thing???

Let's go to Asia, haven't Nepal just recently kicked out the Monarch system?? Even the current Islamic state of Iran not too long ago had a chieftian system the ruled the whole nation! so what???

and so who says the chieftian system cannot be found in the so called western civilizatio??? or better still let no one be decieved that the chieftian system is so unique to Africa!

DON'T WE KNOW THAT THE IGBOS OF NIGERIA LARGELY DID NOT PRACTICE THE CHIEFTIAN SYSTEM??? dont we??? and isn't that a testimony to the fact that Democracy is not a 'western' thing only to be looked???

all over the world human beings have been trying to advance governance, to derive the best out of mobilization and so on!

WE CANNOT THEREFORE BE TRUE TO NATURE TO CLAIM THAT AN IDEA CAN ONLY BELONG TO A GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION OR A SKIN TYPE (and isn't that what they call racism?)! so much so that WE ARE BLINDED BY A SO CALLED WESTERN CIVILIZATION!

it is easy to be blinded on this facts because most people have come to accept (including myself) that this current Asantehene has done good for his people!

but surely that can only be an individual difference! Another King in Swaziland by name Nswati is not liked by a good number of people all over the world. AND SO WHAT???

THE POINT AT STAKE HERE IS THAT WE MUST REALIZE THAT THE CHIEFTIAN SYSTEM ONLY CREATES A CLASS SYSTEM WHICH DOES NOT GIVE OTHERS THE RIGHT TO GOVERN TOO EVEN THOUGH THEY CONTRIBUTE RESOURCES. this cannot stand the test of time!

and that is why novisi says both the Novice and the Experienced MUST GET READY TO KILL IT!!!

KILL IT!!!

L S said...

I think this poem works better as an oral piece as the writer himself indicated. The moment you put it on paper, you open a can of worms.

Darko Antwi, I fail to see how some parts of this poem are gimmicky and excessively exagerrated. He's allowed to use hyperboles in his work isn't he? Besides praise poetry by its nature deliberately sets out to exagerrate. It either works or it doesn't.

The problem for this poem is that it sits rather too squarely within the Negritude (neo- Negritude?) canon, and that idea of a romantic past has long been discredited. There were real philosophical & ideological reasons for that kind of work, then.

Novisi, I understand your critique, but please stop shouting.

I don't think there's anything wrong with a writer setting out to create or sustain a myth in his work, or indeed combine history and myth, which is what I think he's doing.

novisi said...

@ L S, thanks for understanding!

but i actually thought i was only 'whispering' yet! lol.

cheers!

Prince Kwasi Mensah said...

The biggest detractor of a sound argument is an extreme position. I totally understand where you are coming from, Novisi. However, the chieftancy has been an integral part of our varied cultures as Africans. The question arises as to whether it has served its purpose in advancing us as a people or has been a dead weight on our odysssey to equality. I am an Asante and proud of it. I honor the heritage of my fathers. Yet I will arise to question that heritage if it is obsolete, in tangent to what our evolving societies require. Certainly, one person cannot be the reason why a people live in a stagnant state of mind and motion.
Adjei has touched one of the glorious, and gutting, subjects of our common experience as Africans. The cocktail of myth and legend give his poetry a nostalgic spice that is, at once, appropiate to the tenth anniversary celebrations by Otumfuo Osei Tutu II. All that I ask of Nana is to become a king who completely understands the needs and concerns of a constantly evolving world. The stool is not an excuse for dictatorship; it is an example of dexterity. He who sits on the Golden Stool is accountable to the glorious past and future of Asanteman. The question about the relevance of chieftancy shall never die. However, we must celebrate together as a people, that which continues to define our heritage. I rest my case at the feet of my brethren.

novisi said...

Hi Prince, you speak with such eloquence of a linguist! nice!

certainly extreme views are not necessarily bad in as much as they may incur the displeasure of others!

and in fact we need to challenge ourselves as we live for it's said that the unexamined life is not worth living! (and i don't know what that really means anyway!)

i hope i do not sound too much like a 'dead-block' extremist anyway! or maybe like L S said i was shouting to make too much beyond the 'allowed' din. or maybe the word kill (i don't want to shout so no caps now).

but i do provide a mid-way which is that the chieftian system could be 'modified' somehow by allowing everyone to participate in determining the leadership (the chief) by popular vote! indeed i did make this point in my first comment!

and i know the debate will continue.

cheers!

Prince Kwasi Mensah said...

I truly appreciate the maturity shown in this discussion. This is true criticism, the ability to understand where the other opinion is coming from and trying to find a middle ground. The truth is that Darko is right, LS is right, Novisi is right and Adjei is right. We are all looking at the same issue from differing perspectives. If we understand this fundamental premise, we can critique each other with enough objectivity to merit our time on this ezine.


I am loving the fact that every week there is a powerful poem onsite that acts as an intellectual stimulus to us all. We have to talk about ourselves with no holds barred. The wounds of our struggle will fester unless we expose it to the medicine of truth. In fact, truth hurts but it hurts you in order to make you a better specimen of yourself.
I believe that the acquiecing of one's poems to the criticism of kindred intellect is a needed step in the path to an illustrious career in writing. You might not want to pander to everything everyone says. However, you will have gotten enough feedback to assist you in doing a better job.


Count yourself blessed, Adjei. I highly regard your effort to etch the Ashanti story into the stone of immortality. Novisi, you are not wrong to be fed up with the thousands of abuses conducted by the chieftancy. Darko is not wrong to demand a higher art form from Adjei, because Adjei is capable of doing so much more. LS is great at putting things into perspective and it pays to pay attention to her comments. We are all here because we love our Ghana and we pray that these chats by our computers will grow into a bastion of national consciousness.


Let us not stop writing (and talking); the goldsmith always hits the most important spot.

Darko Antwi said...

Brethren, it's no wonder you are all writers.

Novisi's firm objectivity, Prince's wisdom / healthy moderation, L.S' broad-mindedness, and Mmenson's intellectual analogy bear witness to that.

It's high time you lead the crusade for tolerance (among opponents) in the political sphere of Ghana. Many thanks to you and Mr Agyei-Baah, our poet.

novisi said...

Oh Prince!!
your are such a unifier!

i could just recommend you to sit between the US, the rest of the west and Isreal on one side and Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez and North Korea on the other side.

lol.

@Darko Antwi, i'm 100 with you on crusage for tolerance! we must realise how much we could achieve more with tolerance! sadly not a lot of people see it. well...

and yes, I agree that Adjei should be proud. we must continue learning!

cheers!

open mike poetry said...

Novisi just want to talk about something which is irrelevant. He should know that he who waits for a dead man's shoe walks bare footed all his life. Present yourself as important as you can be and people will respect you and that is clearly what the King has shown and if all chiefs were to do this, the dignity and the respect attached to royalty would have been impeccable.
Novisi should know that such statements do not encourage the message of unity preached by all. You should consider the positive side of what the king did than to give such derogatory remarks. Chieftaincy cannot be wiped form our system. Royalty will continuously be significant as it has always been in our life.

What Novisi should do is to kill the ideas he has for they are negative as per culture and its development. if he thinks chieftancy should be abolished then the culture of our people should be discarded. this is because traditional rule has been an embodiment of our culture and the way of life of our people. This makes us unique and therefore can never be abolished.

The reason why certain kingdoms collapsed were due to some reasons which i think Mr Novisi should have found before making such a hasty conclusion. But all the same i think he has retracted his statement some how. I have enjoyed the various views expressed on this matter and i think such forum should be created often .

To the Poet Adjei Baa BIg UPPs for such a great work and i am looking forward to reading more interesting stuf from you

novisi said...

@open mike poetry,
i appreciate your points! i appreciate it more so because i believe it's RELEVANT (pardon my shout! L S, respect!) to the debate as opposed to you seeing mine as irrelevant.

but please know for the records that i've not retracted any point i've made here! to be fair to all there's absolutely no reason why i should do so.

i have not attacked any personality in my comments! i have not insulted anybody! so don't take me out of context. indeed i seek unity for mankind and that is why i'm against chieftiancy!

L S rightly pointed out that i was shouting and sure i needn't do that so i accepted it was out of place perhaps. Prince also beautifully (and i repeat, beautifully) asks for what i would call the 'middle-way' as opposed to the extremes which i fully support in building consensus! and indeed you would find that in my very first comment i did pose an alternative. so don't misconstrue that to mean i retracted my points.

i never did that. not even somehow. in fact if i have the opportunity to meet any open-minded chief, i'd let him know my view of his position and challenge him to be the first to open up the system or call for it's demise himself.

what i've sought to do is raise (reminder!) more awareness (which awareness has been with us long long long ago before i was born anyway!) to the fact that chieftiancy as an institution is an affront to the unity of man and woman! and the proof is that it excludes others from ever being leaders too simply because of their lineage which they have no hand in deciding anyway.

or can you tell us you decided with your own 'mighty power' into which family you should be born???

tell us that chieftiancy promotes fundamental human equality! and prove it. don't tell us about culture! you and i know that anything all could be culture! aint there hip-hop culture???

are you aware that female genital mutilation is the "culture" of a number of human beings on this earth??? would you uphold that in the name of culture??? ever heard of the 'trokosi' system that was practiced by some Ewes??? would you uphold that in the name of culture??? would you say any comment against these too are irrelevant???

if we understand what culture is then we won't be making it a camouflage only to promote dehumanising practices and institutions such as chieftiancy!

you say i should find out what led to the downfall of some kingdoms??? that is fine. but whether good or bad, how would that prove that chieftiancy is not discriminatory???

maybe we should research and find out how the chieftiancy institution came about and see whether we won't find out that it was all about power play and human beings wanting to dominate other human beings??? what virtue is there???

i appreciate that it's a tricky one that i make these comments at this time when most people i believe (my believe!) are 'blindly' jubilating over the achievement of the Asantehene!

but is it not true that even Osama bin Ladin's Al Quaeda could (again, could!) come building schools and hospitals and setup educational funds for us while they continue to perpetuate the murder of innocent people???

would you say we should promote Al Quaeda on that basis even though they do wrong???

what is wrong is wrong!

and i've not preached any message hear that should not encourage unity! in any case do you reckon that i could smile at you and still incur your wrath for just smiling at you? why not seek tolerance like Darko preaches instead???

my point is that the chieftiancy needs to reform to allow all to participate in leadership else it must be killed! (note that the chieftiancy institution is not a human being so the word killed should not confuse you)!

so while we continue to debate....

peace and unity and love and oneness!

Adjei Agyei-Baah said...

I have been keenly following the various comments expressed by my fellow poets after the poem ASHANTI was display. Commentaries have ranged from appreciation to indifference down to lampooning . The poem has actually brought people in high authority under scrutiny not leaving the politicians out of the picture although not hinted.

Novisi actually caught my attention and I will beg to zero in on some of the issues he raised.Novisi may have his reason as to why he thinks chieftaincy is must be KILLED .But what he failed to highlight was what exactly lead to the toppling down of those monarchies he spelled out. What about the positive side of these chieftancy institutions?

The French monarchy fell as a result of excessive imposition of tax on the people by then kings who enriched themselves to the detriment of their own people. King Swati was also criticized for his opulent lifestyle and also his continuous plucking of the finest flowers to the detriment of the young men.

My bruda novisi, how would your trumpet might have sounded if you had appeared a royal. I see chieftaincy as the embodiment of African culture and advocating for its wipe out will take our Africanness away.
I think we can at least bluff with our chieftaincy and festivities (culture) which has become one of our tourist attractions if we cannot boast of technology like the others do. Chieftancy might have bred confusion somewhere down the lane. There are instance where chiefs have sold the same piece of land to about 3 or 4 different people only for them to battle till the last man standing. Chiefs at a point in time have divided their own people instead of uniting them. But no matter what, their pluses exceed their minuses. That is why God’s in his own wisdom created it (kingdoms) and compelled people to respect their kings and chiefs.

I think Otumfuo has distinguished himself and performed with a touch of ├ęclat which other chiefs should emulate. We as African should not advocate for its fall. Why would the Britain respect their queen more than their prime minister? Why did the British refused to join the European Union? Maybe for fear of losing their queen’s head on pound to the new euro. So if they themselves have held theirs in firm grips to their monarchy, why should we advocate for crumble of ours.

All the same kudos to novisi for playing the role of a devil’s advocate to let see some minuses which has bedeviled our chieftancy institution. But will suggest that he doesn’t need to roar to put his words on tour!

novisi said...

My bruda Adjei,
thanks for the comment! it's nice.

i might say other things that would detract from the core of my argument so let me just hammer it home again first before any other matters.

and the main point is:
chieftiancy is a discriminatory institution! it is not different from SA apatheid or the US segreagion in that respect! (again, in that respect!) and i'd be glad if anyone can prove me wrong!
-------------------

now, let me start by quoting you, you said: "I see chieftaincy as the embodiment of African culture and advocating for its wipe out will take our Africanness away."

i wonder how come you would say that while acknowledging that chieftiancy exists outside Africa too. you even tell us why the French brought theirs down and that the British are not letting theirs go! and that means you know chieftiancy exists outside Africa. so chieftiancy is not unique to Africa! it is not an African thing!

this whole idea of chieftiancy being an African thing was flawed even before it germinated long long long ago before this generation. so why keep at it???

the argument about me failing to tell what lead to the downfall of some kingdoms for me is neither here nor there! even within Africa, we can find that the Ewes left their chief Agokorli in nortsey (i don't know the spelling man!); doing away with him that is. but that did not stop them from continuing chieftiancy! in fact they found other chiefs to perpetuate this discriminatory institution!

i've already mentioned the Igo's of Nigeria who largely have not practised chieftiancy! are they not Africans??? and there are the Masai people too!

by the way (just by the way!) some people even think that the way we were cloth is just about Africa, yet that could only be untrue! even in modern day today, don't we see the Daila Lama in cloth???

still by the way, if we watch some old chinese movies, we would see chiefs being carried on the head or shoulders like we have people carrying our chiefs. there's hardly a difference. most people all over the world used to carry their chiefs like that! there's nothing unique about it. even 'juju' (believe in spiritism) is not unique to Africa!

all these talk about Africa this, Africa that does not help much when it is evident that we are not unique with these ideas!

then again there is that argument that it is the wrong that some chiefs do such as sale of land to multiple people which is bad but not the institution itself! my counter argument to that is simple. and it is the fact that the institution as it is is discriminatory!

the institution does not respect the equality of human beings that is an affront to all. let us be bold to accept this basic fact!

let us not be blinded by the 'personal' good of chiefs who do well for their people like the Asantehene or the Okyehene or Afede.

for the sake of argument, a thief may use his booty to build a hospital for a whole country and that 'good' act cannot absolve him from the very wrong upon which he/she stands!

as for the point about God, i don't want to go there! i don't believe anyone can beat his/her chest and claim to know the decisions of God! can anyone??? to the extent that we would say God instituted chieftiancy in this discriminatory form!!! i won't go there!

for example, for the people of Dagbon, the Ya Na title is shared between two gates (discriminating against the rest) in turns! why can't that be expanded to include all other families and similar done for The English throne as well???

so let's not be confused, i'm not saying let's abolish chieftiancy because some chiefs are doing bad. in fact you'd notice that i did not go on that road.

what i'm saying holds whether chiefs do good or bad. and that is the fact that the institution is discriminatory in nature!

PS.
bruda Adjei, i hear you! i will do well to ensure i don't "roar" to put my words on tour like you put it. you would notice that i've actually taken that point well from L S. however i notice you are going against you suggestion to me. i see one or two "roaring" in your comment.

peace on Earth!

novisi said...

bruda Adjei,

just one more point, issue of us sticking to our chieftiancy to 'show-off' (my words!) perhaps as tourism as against technology for others is erroneous indeed! if thise was computer progrmming; i'm sure you'd have recieved a gigantic "error" message for that point!

why?
because 1. There's technology in Africa! (example is Osofa, Kwadwo Sarfo the Kantaka car man) 2. take the Japanese (leaders in technology), they have chiefs while they are still edging ahead in technology! so also the British with their queen! so also the Spanish with their King!

i've already made the point, that ideas in this world cannot be limited to geological space or skin collour our such!

it would amaze you to know the technological advancements of black people!

Darko Antwi said...

For the fear of hurting someone's feelings, I usually refrain from commenting on such a sensitive subject. I could either be pro or anti-royal. Not both.

So, i have to betray my innate will to remain passive. Dear folk's, like Novisi (my brilliant colleague), i am for the 'kill'. As i agree to all his convincing but objective points, i wont digress. Just a point:

It must be observed that the creation of local governments have rendered the traditional role of chiefs less insignificant in modern African society.

The British Monarch is maintained because it's functioning as head to its state.

*'kill' should not be taken literal as it's used playfully. Novisi, i like how you weave some dramatic humour around this revered subject of discussion.

Darko Antwi said...

CORRECTION:
to a phrase in the 3rd paragraph of my last comment. 'less significant' replaces 'less insignificant'.

Thanks

L S said...

I said earlier that this poem opens a can of worms. Agyei, you can't control your reader's subjectivity, and believe me answering back every reader/critique would wear you out, to the extent that you may abandon writing altogether.

I believe Novisi has a genuine critique of the chieftaincy system, now whether that applies to the Otumfuo or not is another matter.

As a Ga, I don't think the chiefs of Accra are anything to be proud of, and maybe Novisi has a similar experience. The trouble with chieftaincy is that it is out of touch with 21st century notions of what it means to belong to an ethnicity or a nation.

Agyei, it's excellent that you touch on kingdoms of the past. They collapsed because of revolutions and uprisings, from the French to the Czars of Russia. The British, Spanish, Swedish and other European monachies have survived because they have had to adapt to modern times.

Under the guise of uniting us, these chieftaincy systems still discriminate as Novisi correctly pointed out. One branch is designated royal and another designated something else. Can you assure us that the Ashante system does not practice this? What percentage of the crown's earnings from gold and timber goes to developing Ashanti itself? I mean, apart from the unity meme? If I had my way the chiefs of Accra would not exist.

You see the moment one begins unpicking, one realises that all the chieftaincy systems are the same. They stay on their thrones because of our allegiance, because we give them chance after chance; whether they be Ga, Ashanti, Ewe. Whether they be in Ghana, Togo or Swaziland.

Maybe we should stick with the poetry. And Agyei I fail to see the lampooning you mentioned. Thanks Prince and Darko Antwi, for thinking so highly of me.

Adjei Agyei-Baah said...

Will like to take this opportunity congratulate you guys:novisi, Darko Antwi,L S,Open Mike Poetry etc for drawing o your database of Knowledge and critically scrutizing this chieftancy institution.I must confess that most of you have ope my eyes to some of the flaws ad loophole which come with chieftancy which i cannot gloss over any longer.I must say it has been a inflammatory issues which some of you might have restrain your emotions in order not to hurt a feeling.

By the way i say it was all good for satiric and lesson purposes.Had wish our chiefs would get the chance to read these comments about them in order for them to conform world trend but not to "enjoy" at the expense of their own people.

Will entreat you my creative friends to continuously let your comments flow any work which might surface.Must confess some of you have the eyes which can pick a droplet of water i a river.Lets commend and criticise together.A man is not a man but the mind of a man is man.

L S, i might have used lampooing because to me novisi choice of words like nauseating etc were quite harsh and biting! Big uppss to all.

Prince Mensah said...

Agyei, your poetry is your beautiful opinion on chieftaincy. However, others may beg to differ and they must be allowed to voice their views. All of us have differing perspectives about the same thing and it is important for us to listen and understand where people are coming from. Especially, in the 21st century, where the gift of technology has given people access to tons of important information about history et al. We, as the new generation of Africans, must begin to think and relate in 3-D: from the top-down, from eye-level and from the ground up. We must not allow the hang-ups of yesterday to rob us of the potentials of today and tomorrow. We must be receptive to contrarian ideas because they enable us to assess and adjust our beliefs. I think One Ghana, One Voice is a gift to intelligent Africans; a stadium of ideas from where everyone can go home feeling like a winner.

As LS said,’ Maybe we should stick with the poetry’, because there are strong points against, and for, chieftaincy in the 21st century. I am an avid student of history and the concept of monarchy has been criticized for its lack of equality, legality and fraternity. The Bible states a compelling case against monarchy in I Samuel 8: 6 – 18
“But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights."
10 Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, "This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the LORD will not answer you in that day."
1 Samuel 8 (Today's New International Version)
The institution of chieftaincy was an enabling factor to the continuance of slavery and colonialism; two historic incidents that assisted the retardation of Africa’s progress. Remember the chiefs who sold their servants and invaded other people in order to get more slaves for the slave-traders? Remember the chiefs who made a bond in 1844 with the British without consulting their own people? Do you know that the chiefs were in cahoots with our colonial oppressors to derail the march of independence in Ghana?
First of all, they are supposed to be called kings /queens, yet they accept the condescending name of ‘Chief’. So for the purposes of clarity, I shall use the word, Chief, for African royalty. The fact is that the kings of Asante, Ga, Ewe, Brong, Dagomba and any place in Africa are on the same pedestal as the kings/queens of England, Spain, Holland, Thailand et cetera. Yet they have subjugated their positions to the European crowns. Do you know that accepting a knighthood from the British monarchy makes you a subject of the crown? Counting from pre-colonial times, how many African chiefs have rushed to accept a knighthood, an MBE and OBE from the British monarchy? In essence, they accepted their subservience to the British crown. Their actions affirm the notion that we are not really independent from imperial puppetry. The sad fact is that they drag the respect and reputation of their tribes with them, while they commit these mistakes. So, the question is this: is chieftaincy relevant in our national pursuit of equality or is it an archaic concept that must be gotten rid of?
If you have read Ghanaian history, you would know that in the olden days, whenever you found gold, diamonds or any precious metal, you had to give it to your chief or else you would be beheaded. How does that count for freedom and equality? You could not dress better than the chief. Your wife could be taken away from you by the chief. The land you lived on was for the chief. The chief did what he liked, even though there were elders, supposedly, to keep him in check. Chieftaincy creates a condition that breeds oligarchy; ‘Kokofu balle bo’ as the Asantes call it. It is undemocratic because the premise on which it exists, states that only one family is fit to rule an entire group of people.
My humble opinion is that chieftaincy must be attuned to the modern times. It is important for people of a common heritage to have a leader. However, that leader is to be the first among equals, not an overlord. The dynamics of our time render obsolete and obnoxious the very essence of chieftaincy. However, it remains today a platform for our glorious heritage. Truly, traditions must not be abandoned. They must be adjusted to the changing times.
So, once again, as an African, Ghanaian and Asante, I bask in the ingenuity of our culture. However, I shall not be silent when the conversation arises as to the introduction of change to things that need it. Thank you, Adjei, for honoring a great king. As L S said, you have opened the Pandora’s Box of controversy. Yet the value of a great poem is the kind of conversation it evokes. Well done, Adjei.

novisi said...

Dear Adjei,

i chose to go beyond the poetry alright but i have given thumbs up for your poetry!

I will do that again and again without any problems at all. because as a lover of poetry myself, i understand some of the motions one needs to go through before coming out with a piece of work like this.

i see, that L S says 'maybe' we should just stick with the poetry! but i'm very clear in my mind that we are strong and and open enough (especially as lovers of poetry) to confront differing opinions with tolerance. we are not afraid, like the Ashanti chant says, wo kom apem a, apem be ba, (kill a thousand and a thousand more will come!).

i know i've used strong words here like you rightly said but as you could tell none of those words attack any personality. i did not negatively attack your art!

i just felt like attacking the system. that's all. and my 'nonsense' might have overflowed into the 'nauseating' cry there by me! just my feelings! i just felt like sharing my feelings!

and if i may just narrate an experience:
a colleague was complaining about the devil the last time, so i just asked her whether she would ever listen to a 'good' music done by the devil. her answer was no! then i looked at her and probed further. "would she ever sit on a chair that the devil ever sat on if that was the only chair available?" and her answer first was no! but she thought of it again quickly and said, well, she would do it if she has no option.

just food for thought! that is all i sought to do with the opportunity your poem provided. i'm one who is just perhaps 'overly' enthusiastic to promote tolerance in the face of clear 'bitting' views.

while i hold my opinion on the my 'core' argument, it should not supprise you that should i see and hear you perform this poem on any platform i'd perhaps be the first to scream for more! i'd love to hear you at an open mic!

so i believe we should continue challenging ourselves! we would only make the world a better place than we met it.

and seriously, i must admit that i'm learning a great deal from these discussions.

PS.
@Darko, waiting to read more on your blog.
@open mike poetry, i've visited you too. and i'd keep coming back. sharing is good.

@L S, i'm sure one could hardly go wayward with you around. Respect!

@Prince, wow! i'm learning some diplomatic skills from you. beautiful! i could literally feel all the forces uniting around you!

and dear Adjei, one love!

Mutombo said...

Love the echo of the word 'Ashanti' that runs through the poem..Nicely delivered

Anonymous said...

Think what skipped the eyes of most commentators was that, they forgot that Adjei poem ASHANTI was a pure appellation which make use of nothing but Hyperboles.Hence he cannot be criticize much since works like that tow such pattern.