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Sunyani-Memeneda ne FONKAR

Posted by Business in Ghana on July 31, 2011

By Sydney Casely-Hayford,

In the Akan tradition swearing a great oath is a marked feature of court procedure.  Employed as a way of bringing to the notice of a chief, for punishment of a wrong-doer, an offence that has been committed.  An oath usually alludes to a misfortune or disaster of the past, which involved a considerable loss of life to the tribe.

In Akwapim, the main oath is called Wukuda ne Sokode and refers to the great loss by the Akwapims in a town called Sokode about a hundred years ago.  The Great Oath of Ashanti is Kormante ne Memeneda.  It refers to the great loss of lives and defeat of the Ashanti by the Fante in Kormante on a Saturday.

Most oaths refer to tragic events of a kind in the history of an organized group.

For the National Democratic Congress (NDC), “Sunyani-Memeneda ne FONKAR” might come to be their great oath.  Party members who wish to declare or challenge truth and falsehood, could be compelled to swear Sunyani-Memeneda ne FONKAR in order to call executives to attention rather than the seizure of KVIPs, burning party offices or locking DCEs out of office.

The next seventeen months to December 2012 will determine whether or not the NDC will ingrain an oath as significant as this in their manifesto.  There was no loss of life but the incertitude regarding JJ Rawlings’ next game play creates a fall out that could cost them the next four or maybe more years.

Our society still believes that when individuals’ actions conform to the norms and values of the society, the Paramount Stool waxes strong. There is abundance of crop and meat, and women are blessed with many children. On the other hand, when individuals depart from the traditional rules of behaviour they defile the stool that is, the values that the Paramount Stool stands for suffer; the vitality of the stool falls; and, plagues, draughts and famines break out and endanger the life of the nation. This belief, that every social action has an immediate utilitarian result, binds all the segments of the nation into a single moral corpus in which the various parts owe it to the whole to conform to the ideals enshrined in the national symbol.

Let me illustrate this.

When the Asantehene purifies and honours the Golden Stool in the Odwira and Adae festivals, he evokes, and reaffirms the Ashanti Nation’s belief in, the ideals the observance of which is the condition of an ordered national life.  As might be expected, the acts that most seriously injure the spiritual life of the nation and therefore defile the stool are those that infringe the basic principles of social organization: principles that regulate interactions between individuals and categories of individuals.

The key regulator is of course the Great Oath.

As a society that preaches respect of the “presidency” as a first shout, we have elevated the position of the President, a purely western type institution and made that position to acquire the status of our great chiefs.

Our chiefs are the connection between the spirit world and us.  We depend on our chiefs to keep the moral compass pointing in the right direction, ensuring that we have a society organized on ethical lines, with respect and commitment to the whole.  The Chiefs are custodians of the stool lands for the people and the unborn children, implying that they will by default be more committed to their lands.  Of course it does not always work that way in the real world, which is also why our decentralization policy is such a challenge.  DCEs are neither seen as the moderators of our civility, nor are they seen as preserving our communities, because their allegiance is directed toward the Western structure and not to our own communal development.

We have somehow extended this obligation of respect by the people to the President, Parliament and Institutional heads.  The weak argument by politicians that the Presidency and civil heads MUST be respected, distorts the reverence we have for our Kings and Chiefs and confers on our leaders a right to assimilate authority through spiritual power without earning it.

Yet, where in our society the Omanhene can be questioned for taboo behaviour and can be removed from the stool for specific offences, our politicians have cloaked the President with shrouds from the BNI, National Security, the Police and the Attorney General.  And Fear and Panic.

When Nana Konadu Rawlings challenged the sitting President, she disturbed the communal NDC order.  Her boldness threatened an unforgiving establishment that was not ready to accept that the spiritually ordained President had committed a destooling offence of non-performance.

It caused an uproar.  It was not seen as a popularity contest for the leader of a party.  It became an affront to the deified Presidency we promote.

Sunyani-Memeneda ne FONKAR will write the history of the NDC party should President Mills not be re-elected.  It will loom larger than all previous NDC in-fights and the casualty list of still living victims could be countless.

12 Responses to “Sunyani-Memeneda ne FONKAR”

  1. Sid:

    Good job trying to link traditional norms to contemporary situations: “Sunyani-Memeneda- ne- FONKAR” is quite culturally evocative!!
    Unfortunately, you fail miserably in your claim that : “The Great Oath of Ashanti (sic) is Kormante ne Memeneda. It refers to the great loss of lives and defeat of the Ashanti (sic) by the Fante in Kormante on a Saturday.”
    That is patently UNTRUE!!! Also, the Fante NEVER NEVER defeated Asante in any of the pre-colonial wars. In fact in 1807, Asantehene Osei Tutu Kwame was triumphant in Fante, and he signified that by dipping his sword into the sea at Cape Coast, whereupon, he became known as “BONSU” a reference to the act of splashing his words into the Sea (‘obonsuo’); and also as the whale known in Twi as “BONSU”. Osei Bonsu as he became known was the recognized Monarch of both land and Ocean thereafter!!! There is of course a Fante town called Kormantse, and you sadly think that is the origin of a so-called oath, WRONG!!! There was no battle at Kormatse either!!
    There is a reference to “Kormante ne Memeneda”, and I say that with trepidation. In the Asante-Akyem Abuakwa War of 1817, it is said that the great founder of the Asante Nation, Otumfuo Osei Tutu Opemsuo I and his forces were ambushed by the Abuakwas while crossing the River Pra. It is claimed that Osei Tutu I ‘lost’ his life in that action. The Asante returned to Kumase,
    and it became a TABOO to mention what happened in that war! So when returning warriors were asked what happened in that war, they responded “Me koo bi, nanso mante hwee”, in everyday Twi it became “Me koo bi nso mante or Kooe mante!” That is where you wrongly get your “Kormante from, Sid!“ It may be translated into English as “Well, I was present at the battlefield, but I did not hear (meaning I was not PRIVY to) everything that happened there”! People REFUSED to admit to what happened at the battlefield (i.e. mainly the claim that Asantehene Osei Tutu ‘died’) It was a TABOO to admit to that (and still is!!); and those who did admit to what went on in that war, could surely lose their heads! Of course in 1841-42, Asante returned under Otumfuo Opoku Ware Katakyie I, and handily defeated the Abuakwa!
    The Oath of Asante is called “Otumfuo’s Great Oath or Ntamkesie Mmiensa or Otmfuo Ntamkesie”. I do not have a bottle of Schnapps handy so I cannot explain to you which oaths constitute Ntamkesie Miensa’! Perhaps we can sort it out over chilled Nasaafuo when I meet you in Accra. Asantefuo take their history and culture seriously, and should investigate before you write in order not to face summons, Sid, before you run afoul before a lowly Ahenkwaa!!! No harm will befall you Sid, I will make the proper sacrificial propitiation on your behalf.

    Nananom monfa nkye no!!!!Yenkye Sdyney dedua!!!!!

    (I am Kofi Ellison and I approve this message!)

    • Kofi, you got things right ,except that the war was with Akyem kotoku,not Akyem Abuakwa. That ambush occurred when the Asante army was crossing the Pra river. It is believed that the body of that great king was washed away by the river and never found. the Akyem Abuakwas were allied with the Asantes during that period, and may have betrayed them to the kotoku army

      • Correction the Asante-Abuakwa war was in 1717 NOT 1817; and Opoku Ware katakyie defeated Abuuakwa in 1741-42 not 1841-42!

        (I am Kofi Ellison and I approve this message!)

  2. This article -overwritten, as it is – has given me some food for thought. Rawlings must be sure that Mills is going to lose the election, hence the choreographed dance around FONKAR, a suicide mission if there ever was one, and the threat not to campaign. Clearly, if Rawlings plays no part in upcoming campaign and Mills loses, the lesson will be “don’t mess with Rawlings”. Time will tell whether this move was astute or stupid, but present trends seem to say that a Mills loss is practically a done deal, and that Rawlings has read the tea leaves right.

    • Gye Nyame said

      But don’t you think it is the stupidity of the Rawlingses that may cause the NDC to lose badly in the next cycle of elections? Sure, Ghanaians are dissatisfied with Mills’ dismal performance but the Rawlingses magnified the issue by the constant bashing of his government.

      I have heard people say that JJ did not make an impact in 2000 and 2004 elections; therefore the JJ factor may not be as important in campaigns as some may have us to believe. My personal view though is that in politics you need a big tent and so you have to marshal all the troops and use all the tricks in the bag to win, including the Rawlingses being brought into the fold. Do you think McCain would have lost badly if folks like Colin Powell and other Republican defectors have stuck to their party nominee instead of bashing McCain? Or do you think Obama would have won BIG without the Clintons involvement?

      My point is if NDC loses, the Rawlings would be a contributing factor to the loss. Although I have heard that Rawlings would rather the NPP win than his “greedy bastards”. Basically if he can’t get a piece of the pie then no one in his party should. Well, let us wait and see what happens.

  3. Ghana 4 US said

    Syney Casley-Hayford,

    Where from you?

    And who told you that the Great Oath of the Ashantis is “Kormante ne Mmeneda”?

    Go to Manhyia Palace and learn more about Ashanti history before you attempt to write about Ashantis.

  4. Such scholarly writing has only eleven commenters. Ghanafo mpe adesua
    FONKAR be it known to you that Agyeman RAwlings lost massively cos of her character. Even her roots rejected her. This is a woman who had the audacity to declare “she regrects being an ashanti ans we aashanti willforever remember her statement. Toget ashanti votes..tafeakwa

  5. KK said

    A good article but massive errors, Akyem Abuakwa fought Ashantis in the war you talk about and not fante. Next time research well on your topics before you write,it is quite embarrassing to distort history

  6. […] time for revenge.  I am sure they will not make the same mistake twice.  Readers should read this link to my article “Sunyani Memenenda ne Fonkar”.  Both parties are well equipped to fix the […]

  7. […] time for revenge.  I am sure they will not make the same mistake twice.  Readers should read this link to my article “Sunyani Memenenda ne Fonkar”.  Both parties are well equipped to fix the […]

  8. […] time for revenge. I am sure they will not make the same mistake twice. Readers should read this link to my article “Sunyani Memenenda ne Fonkar”. Both parties are well equipped to fix the rigging. […]

  9. […] time for revenge. I am sure they will not make the same mistake twice. Readers should read this link to my article “Sunyani Memenenda ne Fonkar”. Both parties are well equipped to fix the rigging. […]

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