A Son Returns

On Day 7, July 13, 2012, MPAGErs met African royalty and were initiated into Gamoa clans in Cape Coast.

(A chief and queen mother look over MPAGErs during ceremoney)

Words cannot describe meeting the queen mothers of Cape Coast’s Gamoa region.  Not only were the queens’ regal in their mannerisms and appearance, but they truly evoked honor and respect from their people. What did I do to deserve the respect of queens? They treated us like children who have finally returned home.

(Paramount queen mothers address MPAGers before ceremony)

I have never received a warmer welcome than yesterday afternoon when I arrived at the Gamoa Darhom village, an hour north of Cape Coast. The van bumped along a dusty road as we entered the village. There were so many people surrounding our cars that it was difficult to step out the van, but once we did I felt at peace. Men, women, and children danced and chanted all around us as we followed the welcoming crowd. Women flapped fabrics and towels at our feet as a sign of reverence. One lady laid a gorgeous fabric on the ground for me to step on. It was the most humbling moment of my life. I felt unworthy of the marvelous reception.

(MPAGErs are welcomed by the entire community as they enter ceremony)

There was no escape from the rhythm of the drums. We danced to the center of the community where the paramount chiefs sat and greeted them from right to left. The rich Ashante gold and traditional clothing reminded my spirit of my ancestors.

(Kamau Grimes dances during the ceremony)

As we made our way to our seats, I finally realized that we were the guests of honor.  So many members of the community gave addresses, and each address had to be delivered in both English and Fanti (Fanti people’s version of twi) for the benefit of all attendees. As the people cheered and chanted in Fanti, I wished I understood the language.

The highlight of the day was when we pledged ourselves to the village and they to us. Ten chiefs lined up in front of us and we chose numbers from a hat to see which of the village’s ten clans would be our new family. I chose number 7, which was the Asona clan. I approached Chief Owusu in his light brown and orange robes and bare shoulder. He was different than the other chiefs—he wore no jewelry and he was very young. He looked to be around my age while the other chiefs were 30 years older.

(Chief Owusu, third to left, awaits for new clan members with some of Gamoa’s other chiefs)

The moment I joined Chief Owusu, his entire clan swarmed me with hugs, kisses, and cheers. In the arms of my mother and my aunts, I saw other MPAGE students being heaved in the air like each had scored a Super Bowl-winning touchdown. Even Dr. Livingston was airborne.

The chief and head of our clan sat me on his knee just as my grandfather used to do when I was a young boy. I felt like I was reborn. I will always cherish this memory and I will never forget my family. I made a pledge to them, and I plan on keeping my word.

Written by Kamau Grimes

Cape Coast, Ghana, July 13, 2012

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