The plan yesterday was to sightsee in Accra. Unfortunately for me, it was also the day for the Ga Mantse funeral. The Ga-Mantse is the paramount king of the Ga-Adangbe people who are the native inhabitants of Accra. Several sub-chiefs serve under him. There is no Ga-Mantse now though. The last one, Nii Amugi II, who ruled for 39 years, died two years ago and since then there has been a disagreement among the Ga royal people about who to install as the next king. For that reason, Nii Amugi II has been waiting all this time to be buried! Apparently, some time last year, one of the Ga royal houses installed Dr Jo Blankson under the stool name King Tackie Tawiah III, but the other royal houses have challenged that installment saying it is not legitimate. So the Ga people are without a king as this mess is being sorted out in Ga traditional court.
It was recently announced and confirmed that the burial of the late king would be January 27th 2007 and thus a two-week period of mourning has been imposed in the Ga state as part of the funeral activities. That means no one else is allowed to be buried within the Ga state in that time period. The Ga traditional council also placed a ban on all trading and commercial activities within the Ga state yesterday.
Now this may all seem innocent enough but you must realize Accra is the national capital of the country Ghana. As such there are people from other ethnic groups and countries here who do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Ga King. So, for a traditional state to impose rules on the greater Accra region, you must realize the sensitivities involved. So yes, there have been complaints. One could argue that we are all living on Ga land, so if their king is dead we should honour him even if he died all of two years ago. So for the most part, the government of Ghana has allowed themselves to be directed by the Ga traditional council.
Anyway, on a personal level it meant that my sightseeing was going to be hampered. Many places were closed but I did get to go to the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum and the National Museum.
As an added benefit, we drove through a few real Ga villages and got to see them mourning their king. Thousands of people, dressed in red, overflowing the streets, and having a ball of a time – dancing, drumming, firing guns, and banging on our car (ok that part was slightly scary). I told you funerals in Ghana are not a solemn affair. Traffic in Accra was minimal. Makola, the main market, was closed. There were no hawkers to be seen. It took 20 minutes to drive from Osu RE to Teshie – a trip that usually takes over an hour because of traffic and human congestion. It was so amazing that Ghanaians actually abided by the Ga laws – as the ban didn’t come from the government. It was all very respectable and peaceful.