Advance Party arrives in Trinidad ahead of his Royal Majesty...
Story by Sandra L. Blood
Last Wednesday August 26, one of The Asantehene's Princes and T&T's Honorary Consul to Ghana arrived at Piarco Airport at 10:11 pm with an advance party in preparation for the arrival of The Asantehene's inaugural state visit, scheduled to occur from July 30 to May 4.
As Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) gets ready to celebrate the 185th anniversary of Emancipation Day on August 1, for its Pan African Festival TT 2023 under the patronage of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, organized by the Emancipation Support Committee Trinidad and Tobago (ESCTT) under the watch of executive chairman Zakiya Uzoma-Wadada, state plans are winding down in preparation to welcome His Royal Majesty of Ashanti Kingdom, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II (Asantehene), for the celebration and other interests.
His Royal Majesty received his official invitation and state agenda on June 30 at his Manhyia Palace in Kumasi, Ghana, from T&T’s High Commissioner to Ghana, His Excellency Wendell De Landro (H.E.), for his inaugural visit from July 30 to August 4, as invited by the prime minister of T&T, the Honorable Dr Keith Rowley (PM).
In accordance with the Asantehene’s protocol, H.E. addressed the State Linguist to the Ashanti Kingdom and handed over the document to him, on the behest of the PM. He said he also brought greetings from both the PM and the President of T&T, Christine Kangaloo.
At the 12-noon (GMT) occasion, the emcee, Royal Prince Nana Poku Agyeman, advised that this invitation was initially extended by the PM in March 2020 when he was a special guest for Ghana’s Independence celebrations, but the visit was postponed owing to the pandemic.
For the occasion, H.E. was accompanied by T&T’s Honorary Consul for Ghana, Hilton John Mitchell, who arrived in T&T on Wednesday night (July 26) with an advance party that included the Royal Prince, to ensure the Asantehene’s visit proceeds well.
Given the Asantehene’s deep passion for golf and its related activities, part of his agenda includes a bit of golf, revealed H.E. The Asantehene is the pivot for the Asantehene Gold Cup Golf Tournament. Similar to the executive chairman of the ESCTT being excited to meet the Asantehene and his party, so too, is the Asantehene to meet T&T. In his acknowledgement of the invitation, he thanked H.E; asked him to convey his gratitude; indicated that his office was prepared for the visit, and they’re all very eager to visit T&T.
“We are all very eager to visit Trinidad. I feel it will be a part of me; my people are there; my brothers and sisters are there, therefore, it’s more of an excitement to see where they are. In my own personal view, Asante means that I’m going to meet my people to also relate to them in terms of our cultural identity, and therefore, we all look forward to the visit.”
Among other profound words, the Asantehene said it’s time that the Caribbean linked with Africa more than other places, and therefore, true collaboration is something that should be looked at. He’s particularly pleased with the signing of the Gas deal between Ghana and T&T, and is “truly looking forward to an enjoyable visit".
"I heard I will be visiting the Yoruba Village, so I’m looking forward to visiting the Ashanti Village.”
H.E. told the gathering he thinks the Trinidad people will be looking forward to the Asantehene’s visit, and to have a true African King come to Trinidad for the first time to celebrate with the country; Emancipation, but not just Emancipation, but emancipation of the mind. He said he felt emotional coming to Ghana because he was there in 2020 when the first invitation was extended by the PM. It was during dinner, so now, to host the Asantehene in Trinidad – to show what it is to see true royalty, the Royal Majesty coming to Trinidad to celebrate with us – he looks forward to that. He said his experience at the palace would be a memorable one for him.
T&T's Emancipation Celebrations
T&T’s Emancipation celebration is said to be the greatest celebration of Africa out of Africa. This year’s theme is "Creating Opportunities to Fulfill our Greatest Potential", and tail-ending the two months of activities from the launch on May 25, African Liberation Day is today (July 28) the Lidj Yasu Omowale Emancipation Village and Marketplace will open at 10am until August 1, when our "Emancipation Day" (which was the first in the world) will be celebrated.
Events happening at the Village:
- July 28: Rhythm and Voices of Africa (3pm), Shikamoo, Lord Relator’s calypso concert (8pm).
- July 29: Rhythm and Voices of Africa (3pm), Remembering Mark Nottingham, Rapso concert (6pm), Unity Reggae Fest (8:30pm).
- July 30: Youth Pan Extravaganza/Rhythm and Voices (3pm), Jazz with Kay Alleyne (6pm), Pan by Moonlight (8pm).
- July 31: Youth Day (10am-2pm), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Symposium: Hilton Trinidad (1-4pm), Rhythm and Voices of Africa (3pm), Pan African Concert (8pm).
- August 1: Remembering Our Ancestors: All Stars panyard (4am), Freedom Morning Come: Treasury Building, Port of Spain (6pm), Yedassie – Tribute to Our Ancestors: Treasury Building (8am), Kambule Street Procession: Brian Lara Promenade up Frederick Street, Port of Spain (9am), Rhythm and Voices of Africa: Lidj Yasu Omawale Emancipation Village (1pm), Flambeau Procession: from the Village to All Stars panyard (7pm).
- The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Symposium: The Asantehene is also the Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), and he will be the Feature Speaker at the 21st Annual Transatlantic Trade and Investment Symposium. The Minister of Trade and Industry, Senator the Honourable Paula Gopee Scoon will bring Opening Remarks.
- Kambule Street Procession: His Asantehene will bring greetings from Africa at the start of the Kambule Street Procession, and will Address the Celebrations at the Lidj Yasu Omowale Emancipation Village at 2:30pm.
Executive chairman Wadada said, “Every year, from its birth in 1992, we at the ESCTT have taken great pride in hosting what has become one of Trinidad and Tobago’s premier heritage festivals. We welcome the increasing numbers of visitors from abroad who join hundreds of thousands of our citizens to remember and celebrate a great victory of our African foreparents”.
About the Asantehene and Ashanti Kingdom:
- The Asantehene was born Barima Kwaku Dua and is the fifth and youngest child of the late Nana Afua Kobi Serwaa Ampem II, Asantehemaa (Queen mother of Asante). He’s the 16th Asantehene, enstooled on 26 April 1999. His name Otumfuo Osei Tutu II reflects direct succession to the 17th-century founder of the Ashanti Empire, Otumfuo Osei Tutu I. He is also the Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). His Royal Majesty is the Grand Patron of the Grand Lodge of Ghana and the Sword Bearer of the United Grand Lodge of England.
- He ascended the Golden Stool (Sika ‘dwa) with a natural gift of calm and radiance, which instantly inspires loyalty and motivates people around him. His Royal Majesty is married to Lady Julia Osei Tutu, known among the Asante people as the First Lady. Since ascending the throne, he has amplified the profile of the Kingdom, focusing on education, economic development, and peace-building. He’s a visionary and great leader of his Kingdom preserving cultural heritage as well as combining modernism to promote peace and stability, education, health, and economic development of his people.
- The Ashanti (or Asante) Empire was a West African State of the Ashanti, the people of the Ashanti Region. The Asantes are part of the largest ethnic group in Ghana, the Akan. They historically created an empire that stretched from central Akanland to present-day Benin and Ivory Coast, bordered by the Dagomba Kingdom to the north and Dahomey to the east. Due to the empire’s military prowess, sophisticated hierarchy, social stratification and culture, the Ashanti Empire had one of the largest historiographies of any indigenous sub-Saharan African political entity.
Among the 10-point courtesy protocols for The Asantehene is: Gentlemen are to bow whilst exchanging a handshake with the Asantehene with both hands, and ladies, curtsy.