Photo Credit: Neil Turner / Anglican Communion
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was appointed an honorary Chief of the Oguaa people yesterday (Wednesday) during a visit to the supreme traditional ruler – Omanhene or King – Osabarimba Kwesi Atta II. Oguaa is the indigenous name for Cape Coast and the Omanhene heads a Council of Chiefs. The traditional rulers have no formal role in the governance of Ghana but retain influence over their traditional areas.
The Archbishop’s visit to the Omanhene was expected to be a short courtesy visit, slotted into a day at Cape Coast for members of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), which included a tour of the Cape Coast Castle – a former slave-trading post, and a service of reflection and reconciliation at the adjacent Christ Church Cathedral. But the Omanhene invited all members of the ACC to observe the proceedings.
Archbishop Justin and members of the ACC walked from the Cathedral to the Omanhene’s palace, led by local drummers, musicians, and dancers, including a young child performing acrobatic dance moves on stilts while wearing a British Union Flag dress. It was an opportunity for ACC members to experience something of the local Ghanaian customs and cultures.
Ghanaian and British flags adorned the walls of the courtyard where the ceremony took place; and flags were handed to members of the audience as they arrived. The proceedings began with the singing of the Ghanian and British national anthems.
Entertainers greet members of the Anglican Consultative Council as they arrive at the palace of the Omanhene – or King – of the Oguaa people, Osabarimba Kwesi Atta II, before a ceremony appointing Archbishop Justin Welby an honorary member of the Council of Chiefs with the name him Nana Kofi Canterbury I.
Photo: Neil Turner / Anglican Communion
A host of special guests were present, including Christian leaders from other denominations, a local Iman, the Ghanian government minister for the Central Region, Justina Marigold Assan, and regional police and military leaders. The Omanhene was seated on the main stage, underneath a decorative canopy, surrounded by his Council of Ministers.
The Omanhene the surprised the guests – and the Archbishop himself – by declaring that he was appointing Archbishop Justin as an honorary member of his Council of Chiefs. He moved to where the Archbishop was seated and dressed him with a robe or toga made of traditional kente cloth, and sandals made of silk and gold. He was also presented with the emblems of office, including a symbolic machete and a fan.
The Omanhene then gave Archbishop Justin a new chieftain name: Nana Kofi Canterbury the First. Nana is the means Chief in the Fantse language, and Kofi is a traditional name often used for boys born on a Friday.
The declaration of the new name and title was made three times, before a local choir sang an anthem based on it.
Responding to the acclaim presented to him, Archbishop Justin thanked the Omanhene for the honour, and described it as a great act and symbol of reconciliation – particular in light of the role played by previous Archbishops of Canterbury in the transatlantic slave trade.
After the visit to Osabarimba Kwesi Atta II, Archbishop Justin visited Bishopscourt, the home and office of the Bishop of Cape Coast, Victor Atta-Baffoe, and planted a tree as part of the Anglican Communion Forest to mark his visit.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby plants a tree at for the Anglican Communion Forest at Bishopscourt, the home and office of the Bishop of Cape Coast, to mark his visit to the region during the ACC-18 meeting in Ghana
Photo: Chris Cox / Lambeth Palace