As my friend who told me about the event noted, were it not for the neatly manicured grass in Del Mar Park this past Saturday, you wouldn’t have been able to tell you weren’t in Ghana. Because, while everyone else in the city was busy greeting September with college football, the Asanteman Association of Colorado was celebrating both its fifth anniversary and its first-time hosting Asante Day, a gathering of all the Ghanaian Asante people in North America, or the Asanteman America Council of North America, as they are formally known.
“The association was developed to showcase our culture to the people of North America and for our children who are born here to stay in touch with it,” explains President of the Asanteman Association of Colorado and treasurer for the North American entity, Kwabena Agyarkwa-Boansi. “It’s also a way to once a year bring all the Asante together to organize.”
This year’s theme was, Picking Our Projects: From Vision to Reality, and member associations from New York, Toronto, Washington DC, Dallas, Houston and Chicago traveled with their various chiefs and queens to Aurora, to solidify their current mission of building clinics and hospitals across the Asante Kingdom in Ghana, (Ashanti, as it is know in English) for which they are raising funds at http://www.asanteman-co.org/Home.html.
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About 100 Ghanaians gathered beneath portable tarps to escape the heat, clad in vibrant, tribal robes and garments. But much of the afternoon centered around waiting; sitting, chatting, gathering, but waiting. Until finally the man they were expecting arrived: Nana Adusei Atwenewa Ampen, an ambassador sent on behalf of the Asante King of Ghana specifically for this occasion. Ampen arrived in a black SUV and was quickly dressed in a bright sea of colors and numerous golden bracelets, before joining a line of other chiefs and queens on a short but slow procession to the stage. A man twirled a pink umbrella above Ampen’s head, shading him from the sun for the entire trek. Curious gawkers marveled at the ceremony, drawn in by the pulsing rhythm of traditional drummers that echoed across the park.
“It was a big weekend for us,” says Agyarkwa-Boansi, noting that the gathering actually lasted all weekend. “We are a very young organization so for us to be able to host something like this was a great honor.” -- Adam Cayton-Holland, Photos By Mark Manger