Barima Okyere Boateng goes home
The Eastern Regional capital, Koforidua, welcomed a cross-section of personalities from all walks of life who joined the chief and people of New Juaben to bid farewell to the Mmrontuohene and Ayokohene of the traditional area, Barima Okyere Boateng, who passed away at 83.
Known in private life as Dr Joseph Felix Otchere-Darko, who passed on in April this year, he was the father of lawyer, journalist, entrepreneur and politician, Mr Gabby Otchere-Darko, and others.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his wife, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo; the Vice-President, Dr Mamudu Bawumia, and his wife, Mrs Samira Bawumia; the Chief of Staff, Mrs Akosua Frema Osei Opare, and the Chief Justice, Justice Anin Yeboah, led the state dignitaries who joined the Omanhene of New Juaben, Daasebre Professor (Emeritus) Oti Boateng, and the families to send off Barima Boateng in a grand style.
Politicians, mainly of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) stock, ministers of state, Members of Parliament (MPs), the President of the National House of Chiefs, Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi; representatives of the Asantehene, the Okyenhene and the Okuapehene, among others, were also present to sympathise with Daasebre Oti Boateng.
Other dignitaries present included the former Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye; the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen; the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, and the MP for Assin Central, Mr Kennedy Agyapong, with the celebrated hiplife artiste Sarkodie leading the showbiz gang.
Mourners filed past the remains to pay their last respects before the funeral service was held at the St George Roman Catholic Cathedral. It was officiated by the Most Reverend Joseph Afrifa Yeboah, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Koforidua.
The funeral service was replete with pure tradition and cultural display from the royals of the New Juaben Traditional Area.
The sheer number of dignitaries that graced the occasion caused traffic congestion on almost all principal streets of Koforidua, including its entry points.
Hotels and guest houses were equally filled to capacity from Friday, while security was at its height.
While mourners used the face mask, the COVID-19 social distancing safety protocol was hardly regarded under the circumstance of the overflowing crowd.
Tributes poured in from various sources, many of them restricted to the pages of the thick brochure for the funeral.
In one of them, Mr Okyere-Darko traced his father’s lineage from the Oyoko Clan of the Akan and celebrated the strong bonds between the Akyem and the Juaben, as well as their relations with other ethnic groups.
“From Okyenhene Nana Dokua in the early 1800s to the incumbent New Juabenhene, Daasebre Oti Boateng, who also married from Kyebi, the Akyem and Juaben have been good neighbours and partners. It is this ancient marriage between the two peoples that bore me.
“So even as we mourn the death of my dad, we must also celebrate this enduring bond that was struck between Queen Dokua of Akyem Abuakwa and King Boateng of Juaben some 200 years ago.
“It reminds us of a oneness between the Asante and Akyem, which on a broader scale also reflects the beauty, sanctity and unity of our nation, a sacred communion of states and peoples, which must never ever be lost on us,” Mr Okyere-Darko wrote.
He described his father, a medical doctor who also lived in Europe for the better part of his life, as “a good man”.
Mr Okyere-Darko said if he were given the opportunity to choose his dad “it would be him again. Not the lovey-dovey kind though, but genuinely kind”.