Tribute to the King – Ga Mantse Abiasuma King Taki Tawia III by Ade Sawyerr

Tribute to the King*

Ga Mantsɛ Abiasuma King Taki Tawia III

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1. Kwɛ bɔ ni maŋ ni kulɛ emli bii fa babaoo lɛ ta shi ekome too! Kwɛ bɔ ni etsɔ tamo okulafo; lɛ maŋ ni kulɛ eje agbo yɛ majimaji ateŋ lɛ. lɛ ni kulɛ lumɔ ji lɛ yɛ maji ateŋ lɛ, ŋmɛnɛ etsɔ mɔ ni atsuɔ lɛ onia.

2….” She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies.”

(Lamentations 1:1-2 KJV)

I pay this tribute to the late Ga Mantsɛ Abiasuma King Taki Tawia III, a great king, of the Ga State, who has gone on to the village to be with the ancestors and who will forever remain a link between his people and their God.  Though a private person, he was born royal, nurtured as a royal and he served his people well as a king.   If anyone brought respectability and dignity to the Ga throne in this past century, it was him, as he followed in the footsteps of his great grandfather King Takyi Tawia I whose title was aptly bestowed on him.

If I a republican Ga, a commoner (from lowly Lagos Town) is paying tribute to the late Ga Mantsɛ it is not because I have warmed up to the concept of monarchies, it is more because the person who occupied the office was cultured and dignified and lent reputability to the institution.

King Taki Tawiah III was always serene and calm; he was patient when answering my endless questions about the critical conflicts between the Ga view of things and the general world order of modernity.  He explained to me, on numerous occasions, before and after he was king, how my perceived paradoxes could be integrated into the reality of the urbanisation of the Ga State within a republican Ghana.

When my quest, as an ardent lifelong student of Ga culture, history and customary practices, had been about an arcane issue of dualism of our Ga persona, his focus was always on the strategy for restoring the influence and authority of the institution of chieftaincy and the mechanisms for engendering development and progress in the Ga state in particular and our country Ghana.

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His knowledge of the culture, history and processes of the Ga State was phenomenal, and every declaration he made or action he took was grounded on long laid principles.  It was as if knowing the issues that confronted the state, he had prepared himself for office; and I was further impressed when I learnt that he had started his career as a lowly messenger but because of a natural enquiring mind had been motivated to advance himself by studying for a degree in Economics.  . He went on to top it up with a doctorate in Law and then to forge a career as an insurance broker undertaking both technical and policy work. It was clear that he was most suited for the office of king and best reflected the wishes and aspirations of all who wished for true empowered development in Ga.

It is said that many are called, but few are chosen and in that regard when King Taki Tawiah III was chosen to lead the Ga people, it was not only because he came from royalty, he embodied royalty!  He achieved so much to help restore nobility to the state within the short period of time and when duly selected, as was customary, there was a certain urgency in his manner as was expected from someone who had spent several years imbibing the customs from the elders.

At his coronation, he swore an oath to the people that he upheld till he passed on, that he would be a different type of king, that he would use his authority as Ga Mantsɛ to transform the office for the development of his people.  He immediately set up a foundation and there were several other initiatives dedicated to the education of his people, provision of structured activities for pupils, employment for the young people, and he initiated a different type of liaison with businesses to align their corporate social responsibility with the principles of enlightened self interest.

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The late King Taki Tawiah III was strategic in his thinking. He was a philosopher-king as well as a lawyer-king who was committed to resolving conflicts via the judicial process. Where others opted to flex their muscles and resort to intimidation and present as fundamentalists; he preached against violence and other acts that would further destabilise an institution under siege by interlopers.  He used the courts as he should.

The lessons of his actions in calling for the elevation of several divisional chiefs as  paramount chiefs  in the Ga State is just a minor testament to the plans he had for the root and branch restructuring of an institution that may now collapse under its own weight because of corruption, of practices and usages.   Nevertheless despite much resistance from his own, he persevered to correct those ills.

There was too much to do – the long period after independence, when the processes of the institution had been allowed to atrophy, had taken their toll on the Ga State; correcting most of the wrongs was near impossible in the face of opposition from those who saw the status quo as the only way they could benefit personally – a familiar story as told in John 1:11 “He came unto his own, and his own received him not”

When the history of the Ga people is re-written, there should be a testament to power and warrior kings who won battles for their people, there should be a testament to docile kings who cooperated with the colonisers and there should also be those who accepted the position without knowing how to use the benefits that came with it to enhance the lot of their people. King Taki Tawia III will certainly stand out amongst the greatest who was cerebral and true to his word.

When he was crowned as Ga Mantsɛ with the antelope hat, the symbol of the Ga State, he lived up to the motto: that the route to the top is not based on size or physical and military strength but on wisdom which is why the elephant may be the largest and strongest animal in the forest, but the smaller and wiser antelope will always stand on top of the elephant – manko ta manko nɔ

And now with your permission I will share with you what I wrote on FaceBook on the  GaDangme Virtual Forum when I learnt of his passing

Nii Ga, Afɛkɛdi Borkete Afadi
Abiasuma!
Osa tso ko, osa nyanyara
Amena, Amena, Amesu, Amesu,
Nii Nyiɛmɔ
Nanti, Nanti, Nanti
Owula mli Owula,
Nilelɔ ni otsɔ wɔ gbɛ
Sane nɛɛ edɔwɔ
Shi Nii Ga, ofee he eko
Nii Ga, kpoo, Nii Ga, kpoo
Oseɛ moko baanye aba lo?

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And so to the family at large, the widow, children and siblings who are bereft but have been unable to mourn till now, your father gave hope to many withthe conviction that there is surely a way out of most crises and that persevering to resolve the wrongs of the past has its benefits.  We all mourn with you, your loss is our loss and we should be able to continue to comfort you.    Let us recall  these words from the classics.

Here was a Caesar! when comes such another?

Nii yaawɔ ojogbaŋŋ, Nii yaawɔ ojogbaŋŋ, Nii yaawɔ Ojogbaŋŋ

Ade Sawyerr – London March, 2013

*This tribute  appears in A 100 page commemorative brochure celebrating the life and work  of Ga Mantse Abiasuma King Tackie Tawiah III.
The brochure contains pictures of his life and tributes from people and organisations honouring his work over the years particularly during the period when he ascended the throne as Ga Mantse of the Ga people of Ghana.
The brochure will be available at the pre-burial service of the late King and also at the reception.
It has been tastefully put together by a specialised design team from Ghana and is available for a token price of £10.00.
To pre order a copy please phone
Nii Aryeequaye VI –    07934269524
Mr Rupert Annan  –     07951017179
Naa Tsotso Soyoo I – 07411106347
Nii Boi Abbey          –  00233343676686

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