On Sunday, April 26 in Kumasi, many hundreds of Ashanti chiefs, their elders and their supporters assembled at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium to pay homage to Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the King of the Ashanti Nation and to celebrate the tenth anniversary of his enstoolment on the Golden Stool. I was one of the chiefs, now a participant in an event instead of being an observer. The change in roles brings with it a much different perspective.

Five years ago, my wife and one of our daughters and I sat in the bleachers of that same stadium with the thousands of people who came out to witness and offer support through their presence when the fifth anniversary was celebrated. From that vantage point we could watch as the Omanhene entered under their brightly coloured durbar umbrellas, attended and surrounded by Queen Mothers and lower chiefs and supported by drummers beating out their encouragement and horn blowers offering their praises.

On Sunday morning, the Edubiase Division of the Adansi State made our way to Kumasi. We entered the stadium through the entrance designated for the chiefs. In a crush of umbrellas and drums and humanity, with okyeame juggling for the best position for their chiefs and followers, the chiefs pushed their way into the stadium. The air was filled with a sense of excitement and expectation, in anticipation of the spectacle that we had all knew was about to unfold.

The Stadium holds 50,000 people – the crowd was large, made up of the King’s subjects plus Ghanaians from other parts of Ghana and foreign visitors and dignitaries, seated in the bleachers around the stadium. The various paramount chiefs and divisions of the Ashanti were assembled on the playing field in designated areas. Seating was at a premium and late comers were sent scuttling around for chairs and when successful in finding them, had to jockey for room to place them.

Rains had come earlier in the week, leaving clear blue skies out which the sun beat down on those unable to sit under an umbrella. In spite of the heat, the assembled crowd showed no sign of leaving until the last speech had been delivered.

Large spectacles are difficult to capture in their entirety. The selected photos provide slices of the whole and a sense of the event.

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