Asante king arrives for Emancipation celebrations

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II arrives at Piarco International Airport on Sunday. PHOTO BY ANISTO ALVES – Anisto Alves

THE king of the Asante/Ashanti people in Ghana arrived at Piarco Airport on Sunday evening to participate in this country’s Emancipation Day celebrations.

Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II is the 16th monarch of the historical Empire of Asante (1701-1901) and ceremonial ruler of the Ashanti people.

He was met by Samuel Yaw Nsiah, Ghanaian High Commissioner to TT (resident in Havana, Cuba), and Gabriel Woodham, Ghanaian honorary consul to TT. Government officialspresent included Foreign and Caricom Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne, Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon, Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell and National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds.

On leaving his jet, the Asantehene was greeted with a guard of honour.

Inside the airport’s old south terminal, he was treated to musical offerings by the National Philharmonic Orchestra and National Steel Symphony Orchestra, dancers Melanie Lawrence of the Shiv Shakti Dancers and Dominique Doyle of the Black Box Cru.

Nearby, Bobo Shanti group the Ethiopian African Black International Congress from Maracas/St Joseph paid tribute with drumming.

Gopee-Scoon told reporters, “We are so happy to have the Asantehene, the king of the Asante, visit with us in TT, particularly at this time.

“It’s a great honour and we are so pleased to welcome the king. I think all of TT is waiting to celebrate with him. Our Emancipation Day, colourful as it is, but this time with a king, it’s going to be pretty exciting.”

Hinds said people should feel inspired by the presence of a real king from Africa. He recalled the Prime Minister’s visit to Ghana plus a visit to TT by Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo.

“Now we have a king, no ordinary king…an African king,” Hinds gushed. “On this occasion we can welcome and entertain the Asantehene, an African king, particularly in today’s world when we know we still have issues around racial divisions and inferiority coming out of the whole enslavement process.

“I say, ‘Hail! Hail to the king! Welcome the king, as we celebrate in TT!

“It will build the self-esteem of those who need a little tweaking. Now they will understand the greatness of our history, the greatness of the places and the spaces from whence we came. And the 450-500 years of our enslavement is not our condition. We had a great history before that and it will continue into the foreseeable future.”

Mitchell said Emancipation Day was a major observance entailing an exciting marriage of tourism and culture.

“Special mention to the Emancipation Support Committee, who we support annually, in creating the festival grounds, the Emancipation Village, in the Queen’s Park Savannah.

“We in TT tout that emancipation celebrations held in TT are the largest celebrations outside of Africa, so we are very proud of that.”He recalled that an ancestor of the Asantehene built a signal station at Fort George in Tobago.

“This visit at the Emancipation celebration, I’m confident, will be extremely successful,” Mitchell said.