Ghana is replete with a powerful history and rich culture having it headquarters in the Ashante Kingdom specifically in the capital Kumasi as some aspects of the town history are embedded in monuments speaking volumes. Monuments in public spaces don’t just emerge out of thin air. In the strictest sense, monuments we see everyday are products that speak to us about cultural roots and traditions.
Many of us have been to Kumasi Central Prisons within the beautiful roundabout at Adum, one can't miss to see the age-old statue of a man in a traditional cloth standing on a leopard beating gong-gong in a well-kept lawn.
I know you will say yes but the man is standing on lion and since when did leopards become spotless and grow so much hair around their heads and necks, you are hundred percent right.
Many individuals have being confused about this historic monument while they ask; do we have leopard even here in Ghana? Yes Ghana is relatively rich in animal life, although it has been reduced by hunting and the spread of human settlement. Large mammals include lions, leopards, hyenas, antelope, elephants, buffalo, wild hogs, chimpanzees, and many kinds of monkeys. Leopards roam widely in Ghana and tolerate human presence to a surprising degree; they readily inhabit the margins of towns and villages.
This monument has something to do with the birthday of Otumfuo Osei Tutu Agyeman Prempeh II. History has it that on August 1892, a mysterious leopard invaded Dominase in Kumasi, killed two and wounded five.
The then Asantehene, Nana Kwaku Dua III, asked the gong-beaters to summoned his warriors and skilled hunters with clear instructions demanding they catch the leopard ('ɔsebɔ') alive. While the hunters were searching to capture the leopard, Nana Abakoma of Edweso Besease, a princess and granddaughter of Asantehemaa Nana Afua Kobi I and wife of Nana Kwaku Owusu was heavily pregnant and due to give birth.
Finally the leopard was captured alive, as at the time they returned home with the good news to the Asantehene, the mmagyegyefuo (royal nannies) also came to announce the delivery of a royal baby by Nana Abakoma at Edweso.
Nana Kwaku Dua III was on record to have said the baby would be called Barima Kwame Kyeretwie, meaning 'catch the leopard'.
The monument therefore represent an occasion in which Otumfuo Osei Agyemang Prempeh II (14th Asantehene or king of the Ashanti) was born and named Barima Kwame Kyeretwie because a LEOPARD was caught alive on his birthday. The controversy surrounding this specific monument is the animal used — instead of a leopard, the artist used a LION.
The elders know the animals very well, Its the designers of the statue that got it wrong. What we see is a male lion. Probably we may need a new statue that will properly gives the real meaning of the history.
As an authentic records of history, citizens sometimes take these historical monuments for granted. I must say I am a victim to that, too. What about you dear reader? I guess we’re in the same boat together.
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