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Historynotes Thousands Mourn Ghana King - Otumfuo Opoko Ware II

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    10:49 AM ET 03/26/99 Thousands Mourn Ghana King By KWASI KPODO= Associated Press Writer= KUMASI, Ghana (AP) _ The grieving subjects of Ghana s most powerful
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 30, 1999
      10:49 AM ET 03/26/99

      Thousands Mourn Ghana King

      Associated Press Writer=
      KUMASI, Ghana (AP) _ The grieving subjects of Ghana's most
      powerful traditional ruler have paid their final respects, lamenting
      that ``a mighty tree has fallen.''

      Thousands of mourners gathered Thursday in Ghana's second city
      for the state funeral of Otumfuo Opoko Ware II, the 15th
      Asantehene, who died Feb. 25. They wailed and sang dirges as they lined
      the streets to catch a glimpse of the funeral procession. Others fired
      muskets and played drums. Hundreds of women dressed in red and black and
      bearing torches to ward off evil spirits, wished the king ``a peaceful
      journey home'' as the cortege passed.

      When his coffin arrived at the gates of the Bantama royal
      mausoleum where it was handed over to royal guards and traditional
      kingmakers for a secret burial later that day, a solemn hush fell
      on Kumasi, the Ashanti capital. `Indeed, a mighty tree has fallen,''
      said mourner Opanyin Attafua, an Ashanti chief, wiping away tears.

      The Asantehene's body is buried alongside his predecessors at the
      sacred mausoleum permanently closed to the public. Opoko Ware's body had
      lain in state at the royal palace in Kumasi, 135 miles northwest of
      Accra, since Monday. As tradition demands, it was forbidden to take
      photographs of his body.

      The burial was preceded by an interdenominational service at St.
      Cyprian's Anglican Church. he coffin, draped in a green and black flag,
      was placed on a pedestal decorated with the Ashanti colors of gold,
      black and green.

      The country's most important traditional leaders, government
      officials, as well as delegations from Ghana's neighbors attended the
      funeral. Scores of foreign dignitaries _ including Pope John Paul II and
      Britain's Queen Elizabeth II _ sent tributes.

      There is still no word on a successor to the late Asantehene, who died
      at the age of 80 after a 29-year reign. Although the position of
      Asantehene does not figure officially in the political structure of
      modern Ghana, the king of the Ashantis is a major figure in this West
      African nation. The Ashanti, members of the larger Akan ethnic group,
      are among the African peoples most instantly recognized by outsiders.
      Their visual culture _ kente and adinkra cloth, gold weights and
      graceful wooden stools _ have become synonymous in the West with
      traditional Africa.

      The late Asantehene, who in private life went by the names of
      Barima Kwaku Adusei and Jacob Matthew Poku, was an attorney whose
      hobbies included golf, tennis, gardening and photography. He served in
      the British Royal Air Force as a surveyor and was the first president of
      the African Civil Aviation Commission.

      REality Ausetkmt

      "Live Patiently in the world; know that those who hate you
      are more numerous than those who love you" {african proverb}

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