In preparation for his big 15 year anniversary celebration on May 11th, Otumfuo organized six weeks worth of events throughout the region to recognize everyone from fetish priests to educators and the local scientific community. On Tuesday April 29th, the traditional female rulers of Asanteman were given their turn, honored with a durbar at Manhyia Palace, dubbed Queen Mother’s Day.
After closing from teaching at noon, I rushed through mid-day Kejetia traffic to meet the Centre For National Culture’s folkloric troupe at the palace. I threw on my traditional white ntoma cloth and lathered on sunblock, not wanting to repeat my brutal one-shoulder burn from last month’s Kuntukunidae festival. The CNC drummers were playing Fontomfrom directly next to the high table where prominent politicians such as former Ghanaian president Jerry John Rawlings could be spotted. I picked up the dawuro iron bell, and joined the Fontomfrom ensemble, playing for the our folkloric troupe’s featured dance performance.
After the usual greetings and royal pomp and circumstance, the main program began, featuring plays, dances, speeches and presentation of gifts. The Cultural Centre put on an impressive display of choreographed Fontomfrom dancing, for which I played the drums. Then, as usual, I was pulled onto the dance floor, where I wound up dancing Fontomfrom for a crowd of thousands, complete with Otumfuo, all the Ashanti Region’s Queen Mothers, film crews, and former Ghanaian President JJ Rawlings… who filmed my entire performance on his iPhone!