Culture May 09, 2022 at 03:30 pm

How the city of Memphis celebrated Ghana’s Asante king on his 72nd birthday with gold coin

Mildred Europa Taylor | Head of Content

Mildred Europa Taylor May 09, 2022 at 03:30 pm

May 09, 2022 at 03:30 pm | Culture

Ghana's Asante king in Memphis for the Memphis in May International Festival. Photo: Facebook/Manhyia Palace

Ghana’s Asante King Otumfuo Osei Tutu II has been in Memphis for the Memphis in May International Festival, a week-long series of programs to learn about the festival’s “honored country,” which is Ghana this year.

The king of Ghana’s Asante Kingdom (or the Ashanti Kingdom) in the country’s city of Kumasi, participated in a Beale Street procession after his arrival in Memphis last week and presided over the Asanteman Durbar Ceremony in Handy Park. At the Beale Street procession durbar, various Asante associations, groups and individuals in the course of the display of Asante culture paid homage to Osei Tutu II.

The king attended several events last week for the festival but perhaps the most exciting was his birthday celebration on Friday, May 6, at the Peabody Hotel. Osei Tutu II celebrated his 72nd birthday as honorary Duckmaster, ABC24 News reported. Some of the guests present were traditional rulers from Asanteman (Ashanti Kingdom); Ghana’s Ambassador to the United States, Hajia Alima Mahama; business leaders from Ghana and the U.S., and members of the Ghanaian community in the U.S.

Dinner was also held at the Renasant Convention Centre to celebrate the king’s birthday and that ceremony was crowned with a special presentation of the Otumfuo Commemorative Gold Coin to the city of Memphis, according to Graphic Online. The gold coin was minted recently to celebrate the Asantehene “for his outstanding contribution to peace and national development,” the outlet added. During the dinner at the Renasant Convention Centre, the 24-carat gold coin was presented to the Chairman of the 2022 Memphis in May International Festival, Charles Ewing.

The mission of Memphis in May International Festival is to promote and celebrate Memphis culture, foster economic growth, and enhance international awareness through education, it says on its website. Memphis in May first picked Ghana as the honored country in 2020, but the pandemic shifted the celebrations to this year.

Osei Tutu II, who is the 16th Asantehene, was specially invited to participate in the Festival’s Salute to Ghana while highlighting some of the West African country’s culture and traditions. The Asantehene, before his birthday celebrations, gave a speech Thursday afternoon at the University of Memphis, where he highlighted the importance of education.

“It has been a policy, wherever our leaders have taken us, to seek to engage the youth in the educational system. Not only as a reflection of the priority we have put in education, but also because of our recognition that creating understanding in the youth is the surest way to ensure the future of the world,” the king said in the speech titled “Contemporary Challenges in United States and Africa Relations.”

“Citizens of Memphis, you can be proud of this city for its foresight in establishing the Memphis in May International Festival,” the king said. “We have traveled several hundred miles from across the oceans, in the very heart of Africa, to celebrate with the city this year and it is only right that we make the most of the opportunity to foster greater understanding as a contribution to the continental relations of the people of our two countries.”

The king also educated people present about the history and culture of the Asante kingdom and Ghana. Osei Tutu II is a direct descendant of the first Asante King, who founded the Asante Empire in 1701. The empire fought British colonization until the end of the 19th century. Its region is now part of modern Ghana, which is a presidential republic. The Asantehene still wields king-like influence over his subjects and helps to foster peace and development.

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