Odwira Rocked By Heavy Presence Of Police, Military Personnel

 

 

Story by: News Desk

 

The celebration of the Odwira festival by the people of Akuapem Akropong in the Eastern Region, this year, was rocked by the heavy presence of armed military and police personnel.

Indeed, many of the residents of Akuapem Akropong and patrons of this year’s Odwira were panic-stricken at the sight of the very armed-to-the-teeth security officers.

That development saw some of the young people describe this year’s Odwira festival as a “War Festival” and not Odwira festival which symbolises peace and unity of the people.

On the Monday, September 12, 2022, which marked the beginning of the celebration, some of the armed military and police personnel accompanied the Akuapem Banmuhene, Nana Afari Bampo, to the sacred forest (Powmu) where kings and queen mothers have been buried.

That was not all; the heavily armed soldiers and policemen also accompanied the royals to the sacred forest and in the procession, a development that has been labelled as a bad omen which had destroyed the whole essence of the purification rituals.

The presence of the armed military and police depicted the insecurity in Akropong due to the protracted chieftaincy dispute which the citizens blame on the political influence of the Akufo-Addo administration.

Many of the people narrated how the people of Akropong celebrated the Odwira in peace and joy in the past with very minimal security presence to check thieves who normally took advantage of the festival to commit crimes.

According to them, Akropong had never experienced such a situation in the celebration of Odwira festival.

“We have never experienced armed police accompanying our royals to the sacred forest to usher in the Odwira festival.

…This is a bad omen which will be accompanied by curses,” one elderly member of the royal family warned.

They, therefore, called on the government to bring lasting peace to Akropong by remaining neutral in the chieftaincy issue and to stop the open support for Kwadwo Kesse as the Okuapemhene.

They also demanded justice for Eric Kwadwo Boafo who was shot by Prince Mantey, one of the assigns of the Akuapem Banmuhene who stormed the palace of Okuapemhemaa on the 6th of August, 2022, when she was observing the 40th day of her Abusuapanyin.

Contrary to the normal celebration where the Akropong people lined up by the road side to hail the procession that returned from the sacred forest with the Odwira, in the situation of this year, majority of the people of Akropong became passive onlookers when the Akuapem Banmuhene who was under heavily armed police guard led a procession from the sacred forest.

An old lady who said she had observed the Odwira festival for the past fifty (50) years lamented that she had never experienced Odwira where armed policemen who are not royals entered the sacred forest and joined the Odwira procession from the sacred forest.

According to some opinion leaders, this year’s Odwira lacked the spiritual, social and most importantly the sense of unity of the people.

In view of the statement of the Akuapem Traditional Council that there will not be a durbar of chiefs and that no chief will mount a palanquin because of the chieftaincy conflict, this year’s Odwira was devoid of the colour and pageantry associated with Odwira festivals.

The statement by a frustrated indigene summed up the armed military/police presence in a graphic way that, “even Ukraine will not have this level of armed military and police presence.”

The people of Akuapem Akropong, which happens to be the seat of the paramountcy of the Akuapem people, have been celebrating Odwira, which is a festival for purification and the unity of the people for many years.

The history of the Odwira festival credits the 19th Okuapemhene, Nana Addo Dankwa I, who ruled from 1811 to 1835 as the Chief who initiated the Odwira festival.

As the name of the festival depicts, Odwira is a festival for the spiritual purification and cleansing of the Akuapem people so that they can live in peace and unity in the coming traditional year.

Historically, the Odwira festival was first celebrated in October 1826, to mark the victory of the people of Akuapem of the Ashanti Army in the Katamanso war in 1826.

And since then, the people of Akuapem have been celebrating Odwira to date. The festival attracts people and tourists from all over the world.

And it has become a symbol of unity and joy for the Okuapeman, especially people of Akuapem-Akropong which is the seat of the paramountcy.

The celebration of the one-week festival starts on the Monday of the Odwira Week with the clearing of the path leading to the ancestral burial grounds by men of the royal families for the ancestors to travel home safely to join in the celebration.

This ceremony, which ushers in the Odwira festival, is a highly revered ceremony performed to mark the beginning of the whole Odwira festival.

As part of the ceremony to usher in the Odwira festival, men from the royal families return to the sacred forest to fetch the sacred symbol in the form of a prepared sacred mixture, and present it to the paramount chief to symbolise the permission of the ancestors to celebrate Odwira. Pl

However, the enstoolment of the current Okuapemhene known in private life as Kwadwo Kesse has been marked by violent conflicts and litigation and the Akufo-Addo-led government has been blamed for supporting the enstoolment of Kwadwo Kesse and its associated violence.

There is a litany of violence against the opposing faction of Kwadwo Kesse’s enstoolment as Okuapemhene including arrests of powerful Chiefs such the Akuapem Asonahene, Nana Kwasi Omenako II, and attacks on the Okuapemhemaa, Nana Afua Nketiaa Obuo II, including the burning of her car and her palace.

Recently, the Banmuhene of Akuapem led thugs to attack the Okuapemhemaa whilst she was performing a ceremony in her palace to mark the death of a prominent member of her family.

In the course of that attack, one of the thugs of Banmuhene by name Prince Mantey shot one of the Okuapemhemaa’s drummers, Eric Kwadwo Boafo, leading to the amputation of his left leg.

This violence that preceded this year’s Odwira has marred the beauty and purpose of the Odwira festival.

Source: www.thenewindependentonline.com

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