The fading sound of the dirge was sorrowful and soulful. The sound of the Odurugya flute was a constant reminder of the death of the great king of the Asante kingdom, Nana Asasehene. One must have a deep involvement in the Asante society in order to decode the language of the flute and talking drums. “Tomorrow, Tomorrow,” Nana Yaa whispered as she slipped into sleep. Drenched in water from her own sweat, she heard the footsteps getting closer. Barefoot, she trampled over weeds, stones and dried twigs that pierced her soles. The masked warriors pur sued her as she made her way through the unfamiliar surroundings of the forest. She slipped and fell in front of the Odum tree. Her mother, the Queen mother of the land, had once told her that the power of the Asantehene was equated with the Odum tree; the largest tree in the forest. Right at that moment one of the masked men pointed his spear at her. She woke up with a start.
The morning air was so still that one could hear the sounds of birds from miles. She quickly took her bath, tied her black cloth “berese” beautifully around herself and a small piece of red cloth “koogyan” on her forehead as she slipped her feet into her ahenema. Nana Yaa Sarpomaa was the twin sister of the Great king. Her role in the affairs and management of the Asante kingdom was not under estimated as she was the personal advisor to the king. She took long strides along the road marked with laterite huts and thatch roofs. Lizards scuttled out of her way with every step she took. She was eager to get to the shrine where the Queen mother and elders were going to consult the gods and ancestors. The spirits medium was being consulted to reveal the cause of the death of the king. If the death was not an act of God “Otwedeapon”, then certain rituals were performed to appease the gods and cleanse the land. What baffled her was the piece of information her brother told her the night before he was murdered. Her brother had informed her that some members of the community were planning to kill him because of the golden stool. The British colonial masters had offered guns, gun powder and Rum to some members of the community to hand over the golden stool. Her brother had protected it until his last breath because the loss of the golden stool meant the collapse of the great Asante kingdom. It was believed that the golden stool contained the soul “sunsum” of the Asante kingdom. On countless occasions their mother had told them the story of the great fetish priest Okomfo Anokye. She had seen the golden stool on only few occasions especially during festivals. A picture that remained vivid in her mind. The golden stool had a history dating back to the finding of the Asante Kingdom. Okomfo Anokye, the chief priest of Osei Tutu conjured the golden stool from the sky.
On arrival at the shrine, she admired the architecture that had been erected as home to “Obosomfie” the spiritual abode of a deity who manifested itself through the fetish priest “Ano”. Human and animal skulls, strings of goat and sheep vertebrae hung at the entrance of the shrine. “Nana Ano, Nana Ano” one of the elders called but there was no response. They took off their slippers and entered backwards as a sign of respect. Searching further they found the body of the fetish priest breathless. Opanyin Ano was dead. There was a sharp wail from the queen mother “eeeiii”. At that moment Nana Yaa was convinced that the murderers of her brother had killed the chief priest in order to protect their little secret.
Aa the British! Where had they come from with their alien culture? Nana Yaa had seen and heard enough. The young men who stood as warriors in times of trouble had all migrated to the south to engage in the booming trade. The resounding voices of the men who sang war songs with such bravado had disappeared. Men had turned into cowards at the sight of the weapons of the white man. She gently shook her head as she tried not to remember the brave warrior “Yaa Asantewaa”. She led a group of men to fight the white man “Obroni”. The cowardice of the men had been so immersed that women had to take the place of men at war front. Not to talk of the constant raids that happened in the deep forest or at night. Strong men and women had been turned as slaves and were taken to a land beyond the seas. The journey back home was a reflective one as she thought about how long her people were going to resist the white man’s culture. The sight at the palace was one she was not prepared for. The white men had surrounded the whole place and the golden stool had been placed in the middle of the compound. The glistening beauty shone with such statement. A silent statement no one dared mention. She had hoped they would come to a respectful understanding for her people’s sake. She watched as one of the white men walk towards the golden stool with a look of pride. He turned and sat on it. It was too late! No one was allowed to sit on the Golden stool.
The clouds quickly gathered and darkened. The white men were in a state of shock. It was as if the sun and moon were at loggerheads. The red moon appeared; a mishap had befallen them. This was a sign of a baggage of calamity. They were powerless.
Author: Elliott Abakah, threesixtyGh Writers Challenge Participant