Yaw Akumasi Williams et.al.
Funeral of the late Dr. Ayieta Azantilow, Sandemnaab and Paramount Chief of the Bulsa Traditional Area
The Statue of Ayieta Azantilow in front of the chief's compound
(27th - 30th April, 2011)
Sources: A report by Yaw Akumasi (Wiaga),
The photos are published with the kind permission of Mrs Atinlie Amata
By early April of 2011, a big aluminium statue in memory to the late Ayieta Azantilow was erected in front of the chief’s compound (see photo).
On Wednesday, April 27th, many of the Bulsa village-chiefs (e.g. the Wiaganaab, Siniensinaab, Gbedemnaab and Fumbisinaab) accepted the invitation of the Sandemnaab’s family and went to Sandema for the first day (Kalika or Kuub Kpieng) of the funeral. Many guests and participants, among them Afoko’s, Anaankum’s, Akankisi’s and Asekabta’s families, assembled in and around the kusung (a roofed meeting place in front of the compound) where they were offered millet beer (daam).
The ritual part of the first funeral day took place according to Bulsa custom. Azantilow’s death-mat was placed in the cattle-yard (nangkpieng) near the main grainstore (bui), singing elders went from the kusung to greet this mat and gunshots were fired.
On Thursday, April 28th, the second day of the funeral (Tika Dai or Kumu Guika Dai), the death-mat was “thrown away” (yugi basika) and burnt (tiaka juka). People from all over Ghana arrived at Sandema. Among them was Jerry John Rawlings, former President of Ghana, who said in his speech that the deceased chief had been one of the key figures in the pre- and post-independence development of the Northern Region. Dressed in the garment of a Bulsa warrior, Rawlings joined the war-dances and the drumming.
Mr. Jerry John Rawlings, former President of Ghana among Bulsa war-dancers
On the next day of the funeral (Friday, April 29th, 2011), traditionally known as Kpaata Dai (sheabutter-day), residents from Sandema, especially the Fulani and Yarisa (people of other ethnic groups living among the Bulsa) came to the funeral house and contributed cattel and other foodstuffs. Many people, including those of neighbouring villages, wore clothes with the picture of the late Paramount Chief on them.
In the night women prepared beans with sheabutter as a meal for the mourners and as an offering to the wall of the compound (parika kaabka) on the next day (Gbanta Dai).
On this final day of the funeral (Saturday, April 30th, 2011), the president of the Republic of Ghana, his excellency John Evans Atta Mills, along with a delegation of the National Democratic Congress as well as the former vice-president, Mr Alhaji Aliu Mahama, arrived and presented gifts to the chief mourners in support of the funeral.
In his speech, President Atta-Mills stressed that the Sandemnaab was a kind leader who was not afraid to make difficult decisions. Alhaji Aliu Mahama held his speech also on behalf of John Agyekum Kufuor, the former president of Ghana, and of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party.
Mr Robert Asekabta, a relative of the late chief, valued the life of his late “father”, who had been the longest reigning paramount chief in Ghana. He represented the Gold Coast (now Ghana) at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, was president of the Builsa Traditional Council in 1931, vice president of the Northern Traditional Council and Chairman of the Upper Regional Agricultural Council. For his outstanding role in education he was awarded the honorary doctorate of letters by the University of Development Studies (Tamale) in 2005.
From the beginning of the funeral to its conclusion, all of the events took place without any conflicts and problems. However, but after the president and his convoy had left Sandema at about 3 o’clock p.m. and when they were leaving Sandema the military patrol cars had an accident and one of the soldiers lost his life. Others were injured and sent either to Navrongo War Memorial Hospital or to Bolgatanga Hospital for treatment.
The conclusion of Ayieta Azantilow’s funeral paved the way for the election of a new paramount chief of the Bulsa.