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Asantehene's arrival for Memphis in May festival

BY: Kwame Asare Boadu
Asantehene's arrival for Memphis in May
Asantehene's arrival for Memphis in May

The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II is in the United States of America (USA) for Memphis in May, an international festival which this year is themed "Salute to the Republic of Ghana" and dedicated to Ghana.

Otumfuo Osei Tutu II arrived to a massive welcome in the city of Memphis, Tennessee, USA on Tuesday evening to participate in the 'Memphis In May International Festival ' which is being held to honour Ghana.                      

Graphic Online's Kwame Asare Boadu who is travelling with the Asantehene reports that wearing a dark ash suit and beaming with smiles, Otumfuo touched down at the Wilson Air Centre  at 7.18pm on Tuesday where he was met by the Mayor of Memphis, Jim Strickland. The Asantehene was presented with a bouquet by little Gabby Josiah, a Grade 2 pupil.

The week long festival is dubbed , "Salute to the Republic of Ghana."

Otumfuo Osei Tutu is accompanied by a host of paramount chiefs, business leaders from Ghana, courtiers, and other officials of the Manhyia Palace. Among the paramount chiefs are the Juabenhene Nana Otuo Siriboe II and the Omanhene of Kenyasi Number 2 in the Ahafo Region, Nana Osei Kofi Abiri.

Significance 

The Memphis in May International Festival  is the largest annual international festival in Tennessee, USA. It was founded in 1977 in the city of Memphis to celebrate the culture and the citizens who laid down their lives to build the glory of the city. The festival has since grown in several dimensions to incorporate the international community.

Each year, the organisers devote the festival to honour a particular country and it fell on Ghana this year.

The E ON 3 Group, which was given authorisation by the Bank of Ghana to mint the Otumfuo Commemorative Gold Coin, the KGL Group and the KGL Foundation are facilitating Otumfuo's participation in the Memphis festival.

Otumfuo's participation in the festival marks only the second royal participation in the 44-year history of the Memphis in May International Festival, the first being the visit of the Maori Queen at the Salute of New Zealand in 1991.

Activities 

The line up activities to be performed by the Asantehene include meetings with high-ranking government officials and business leaders in Memphis, to promote investment opportunities for Ghana.

He will also visit the National Civil Rights Museum, the STAX Museum of American Soul Music and Graceland, home of the Memphis legend Elvis Presley.

One of the events lined up to celebrate Ghana is an exhibition dubbed Beautiful Metals of Ghana, Adornments and Wearables which will feature a beautiful selection of jewellery and other articles of precious metals exploring the culture and craftsmanship of Ghana. 

This exhibition, which is curated to give an authentic glimpse to the tools and jewels of Ghanaian life and culture, is being organised in collaboration with the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board.

In celebration of his 72nd birthday, the king will also attend the Black Star Black Tie Gala on May 6.1.

A number of Ghanaians living in Tennessee were also at the airport to welcome Otumfuo. 

After the brief welcoming event, the King was driven in a motorcade to his hotel.

Otumfuo's visit

Otumfuo’s visit will highlight some of Ghana’s culture and traditions and as part of his visit, he will meet with government and business officials and visit areas of attraction in Memphis.

The Asantehene arrived in the U.S. on Saturday, April 30, 2022, and was met on arrival at Washington Dulles International Airport by Ghana’s Ambassador to the U.S., Hajia Alima Mahama and some officials of the Embassy of Ghana in Washington D.C..

The Asantehene left Washington for Memphis on Tuesday.

The King is also scheduled to attend a Ghana Live Riches and Rhythms performance at the Orpheum Theatre on Thursday, May 5 with some of Ghana’s top rap musicians, including Okyeame Kwame and Sarkodie in performance.

Then on Friday, May 6, Otumfuo will also attend the Black Star Black Tie Gala which will celebrate his 72nd birthday and also honour Ghana’s Ambassador to the United States, Hajia Alima Mahama.

The King will also address local college students in a public speech, whilst in Memphis.

The climax of the week-long programme in Memphis will be a traditional durbar on Saturday, May 7. Activities of the week will then conclude with a Church service on Sunday, May 8, 2022.

Each year, Memphis in May International Festival aims to bring the world to Memphis and Memphis to the world. While the honored country is visible in all event themes, a whole week is dedicated each year to honor a country during the International Salute — Ghana was picked for 2022.