- Title: Ghana's Ashanti queen mother honored with eleborate four-day funeral.
- Date: 19th January 2017
- Summary: KUMASI, GHANA (JANUARY 18, 2017) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF CHIEFS AND ELDERS DRESSED IN BLACK WALKING IN PROCESSION/ LARGE UMBRELLAS
- Embargoed: 2nd February 2017 15:39
- Keywords: Ashanti Kingdom. Queen Mother Asantahemaa Asantehene Politics
- Location: KUMASI, GHANA
- City: KUMASI, GHANA
- Country: Ghana
- Topics: Arts/Culture/Entertainment,Royals
- Reuters ID: LVA0015ZQXF13
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Dressed in black traditional robes and a variety of regalia, thousands gathered in Ghana's second city, Kumasi this week to pay their respects and celebrate the life of the Ashanti Kingdom's longest-serving Queen Mother.
Nana Afia Kobi Serwaa Ampem II, who died at the age of 111 in November last year was the mother of the Asantehene - King of the Ashanti, an ancient empire that has reigned in Ghana for over 300 years.
Her son, the King, Osei Tutu II is the absolute monarch of the kingdom and leader of the Ashanti people.
The Queen Mother's funeral was no doubt the country's biggest in years - it went on for four days. Funerals are at the heart of Ghana's political and social culture.
Former president, John Dramani Mahama was among many senior government figures that attended the funeral.
"Because of the attributes she possesses, the kingdom has actually lost a gem. We hope the almighty God will give her a peaceful resting place. But our hope is that by divine grace we shall find a suitable substitute who will have the attributes of the past lady, that's our wish," said Barima Offe Akwasi, an Ashanti traditional ruler or Omanhene.
Also known as the Asantehamaa, the Queen Mother is considered paramount to the success of the kingdom. Her role is to provide counsel to the king and to rule over the women of the community, mobilising them and speaking for them when needed as well as acting as a symbol of unity for all Ashanti people.
Ashantis are among Africa's most advanced civilisations. The community had a defined governance system and a respected constitution before British colonisation in 1874.
While the culture of many African communities slowly fades due to modern influences, one of the key roles of the Ashanti leadership is to preserve the cultural heritage of the kingdom.
"The historical influence of the kingdom puts it in the right perspectives, that yes, they occupy about half the size of the present Ghana, so that cannot be taken away. And than it is also a kingdom that has preserved the culture of Ghana as well as Africa, because there are very few African countries that have been able to preserve their culture," said Nana Otuo Acheampong, head of the Osei Tutu Centre for Education and Research.
Ghana was hailed as a shining example of democracy after elections last year in which President Nana Akufo-Addo defeated John Mahama in a rare peaceful transfer of power in a region plagued by political crises.
The Ashanti King's influence exists alongside the country's modern democracy.
Kumasi is the capital and seat of power for the kingdom. It also holds some of the country's largest gold deposits, but like the rest of Ghana it has suffered through a period of economic instability that Akufo-Addo has promised to reverse.
"The reality on the ground was that there was a real hardship on us. I don't know if the previous government couldn't detect that or not, so we are expecting the Nana Addo government to make sure that there is a massive change," said Daniel Kper-Ung, a salesman in Kumasi.
After the Queen Mother is laid to rest on Thursday (January 19) the Asantehene is expected to announce her successor from a long list of relatives. She died at 111 years old.
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