Dr Richmond Adusa-Poku, PSGH Executive Member, CEO of Garrison Pharmacy, Kumasi writes

A fair-skinned lady probably in her thirties with a low-cut hair caught my attention as we walked to the reception area. My presumptuous thinking that the ladies there would be garbed in Muslim shawls suffered a reality check. Her fine figure was wrapped in a traditional piece of cloth up to her chest and her bare hands hanged idly as she stood by.

Several simple single-storey round buildings stood dotted on the compound. We were informed that they were inhabited by the wives of the Na-Ya. I spotted some of the King’s wives of same fashion as the woman l had earlier seen.

A bigger building composed of several rooms beckoned us with “Gbewaa Palace” lettered on the front wall below the facia board. An adjacent signage board carried the picture of the Ndan Ya-Na, Abukari ll and an accompanying descriptive note, King of Dagbon.

Having been informed by our emissaries that we needed to remove our footwear before greeting the Ya-Na, we were apprehensive about the timing. We didn’t want to offend any cultural and traditional sensibilities. So we kept asking whether it was time to remove our footwear and we were assured that feedback would be given at the appropriate time. A military soldier holding his Automatic Kalashnikova model 1947 assault rifle aka AK-47 at the gate of the Gbewaa Palace motioned us to come in. A short wave of trepidation ensued in me, come to think of it that soldiers were still around long after the installation of the Na-Ya to maintain security. Imaginary visuals of March 27 conjured up in me as we rose up.

In the outer chamber as we entered, stood 2 horses in black and brown hues on the left side. On my right side, we removed our shoes as directed by the soldier. The PRO went into the inner chamber as l saw a flurry of activities by Palace courtiers. All was set and we were signalled into the inner royal court of the King. Another soldier in military camouflage uniform visually screened us as we entered the presence of His Majesty.

About eight courtiers dressed in smock sat on the floor in front of His Majesty. The Lion King sat on an elevated platform adorned with a beautiful oriental carpet with fine details of wrinkles, drapes and fine lines in their designs, symbolic of the traditional skins sat on by chiefs from northern parts of Ghana. We were offered chairs to sit on as we stood in conformity to custom and tradition.

The PRO acted as a linguist and translator as we spoke no Dagbani except “Ka Wula?” (How are you?) and its themed response of “Alafee” (I am well).

What happened next will fill pages. The art and flow of conversations were moving and beautiful. The King’s hospitality was very warm as he accepted our invite as informed earlier by PSGH emissaries. However, as he mourns the passing away of one of his chiefs and heir apparent Mion-Lana, Abdulai Mahama, he could not step into the public space as tradition demands. However his chiefs would represent him for which we were grateful. After every few statements made by the King, a very unique sound generated by the snapping of fingers were made by his courtiers. Watching how they did it, l tried to replicate the sound in my hotel room but failed miserably.

The King was happy that as Standing Executive Committee members of PSGH, we had worn smock over our PSGH shirts. President Donkoh turned to me and his eyes connected that my advice was worth it and l mentally noted that a good leader is not only a good doer but a good listener too.

The King then announced that he was going to put another smock over what our president was wearing. Excitement filled the room as a subject went through the back door to bring the smock. Prez Donkoh was helped to put on the smock and a accompanying traditional hat was also put on his head. The hat stood straight on his head but the Na-Ya motioned him to come forward and he flattened the top of the hat to the right. That was a cultural lesson for us. In Dagbon Kingdom, it is only the King’s hat that stands straight.

There was a thunderous clap as the King announced that not only is our President dressed by him but he was going to do same for “your beautiful lady who accompanied your President”, Naana Aboagye, our Strategic Head. Naana was taken to one of the rooms of the King’s wives where she changed into a beautiful light pink and white wrapped traditional cloth with her head gear nicely wrapped snd tucked in. Courtiers’ fingers snapped as she entered in.

The King gave PSGH a ram and several tubers of yam as customary gifts.We never expected anything like that. Thank God that we brought the PSGH pick-up. How could we have carried this big ram along? No way will it escape the intended pepper soup! We thanked the King, and asked for permission to leave as our courtesy call came to an end. Grace was extended and we exited from the King’s presence and stepped back into the compound, I couldn’t help taking a last look at his picture on the signage board. Another statement written on it, “Suhudoo n’nye lebginsim” which means “Through peace, there is development”. How apt!

It is worth noting that Yendi is the traditional Seat of the Dagbon Kingdom where the Overlord of Dagbon stays and has his Gbewaa Palace though Tamale, the regional capital which is more metropolitan lies an hour’s drive away in his kingdom.

As we sat in our car and prepared to leave, my heart rejoiced at the goodwill we experienced here and silently prayed that the Gbewaa Palace will continue to stand without fires in the future and experience peace so that whenever we greet Dagbon from any part of Ghana saying “KA WULA”, their resounding response would be “ALAFEE”

Long Live Dagbon Kingdom
Long Live Yendi
Long Live Gbewaa Palace
Long Live Ndan Ya-Na
Long Live PSGH