Sunday, May 25, 2008

Ghanaian "Enstoolment" Ceremony

Here is another installment of my cultural adventures living in Washington, DC. This story starts back a few years with the meeting of our friend, Nana Frimpong, the world class drummer and musician from Ghana. Fast forward to last night, and his invitation to us to join him at the "enstoolment" or enthroning of a Ghanian queen mother, Nana Gyamfuaa Pokuaa II at an event in Silver Spring. MD. Not knowing what this entailed but quite intrigued, we heartily agreed to see what it was all about. Knowing that Ghanian time runs on a different clock than DC time, we planned on being out very late.

The three of us arrived at approx. 12:30 pm at the high school gym which was decked out like prom night. The room was filled with round tables festively decorated. Lovely Ghanaian ladies wearing their finest handwoven fashions with towering head wraps and elegant gentlemen were sitting patiently. Some of them were nodding off. Men were scurrying around wearing miles of gorgeous kente cloth textiles wrapped around the body and over one shoulder like togas. They were constantly hoisting the fabric up. It didn't seem logical to have to carry all that fabric around, and it looked like they were trying to carry a whole roomful of heavy draperies. I guess the reason is to show the status of the wearer.

We kept debating about leaving since it was already so late and there seemed to be no time table. Finally, large numbers of people appeared dressed in more finery and a small group of musicians started drumming. The MC announced the queen's arrival. All the guests stood up like the arrival of the bride at a wedding. A long line of men in their colorful togas, two female dancers in bare feet wearing gold fabric and a line of women with colorful skirts and white eyelet cloth draped over their bare shoulders made their way into the gym. The women clustered into a tight group and inched their way around the open area at the front as the drummers' rhythms got faster and faster. The queen found her place on the "stool of authority" and the women sat closely around her. As things settled down, we checked our watches and it was close to 1:30 am. Time to slip out. I don't know what I missed but I was thrilled to get a glimpse of a very important event for a wonderful, friendly, community of people I am privileged to have met. Not to mention all the fabulous handwoven cloth all around me.

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