Ghanaians welcome returned head

2009-07-25 14:20

Accra - The severed head of Ghanaian King Badu Bonsu II, who was executed by colonialists in the 1880's, was flown back home late on Friday to a solemn traditional ceremony.
A group of tribal leaders who received the bottled head from Dutch authorities a day earlier, were met at Kotoka international airport by government officials and members of the beheaded king's clan.

Traditional prayers were said and libation ceremonies staged by tribal leaders to welcome home and invoke the spirit of a hero of the colonial era.

"Finally the soul of our great ancestor and a warrior will rest peacefully because he is at home now," sai Nana Estin Kofi, chief of Ahanta Aboade, who led the traditional leaders delegation.

Tribal elders, including a descendant of the king, held an emotional ritual during the handover at the Dutch foreign ministry in the Hague on Thursday.

The king, who was leader of Ghana's Ahanta group, is believed to have been decapitated in retaliation for the killing of two Dutch emissaries.

His head was taken back to the Netherlands and has been preserved for 170 years in formaldehyde, among the anatomy collection of Dutch's Leiden University Medical Centre.

After tracing its whereabouts, Ghana went to claim the head last year saying if it remained unburied, the king would be incomplete and therefore "hunted in the afterlife".

"At long last the much awaited period is here. The great son of Ghana is back home to have eternal rest," said Chieftancy and Culture Minister Alexander Asum-Ahensah.

A big funeral is planned for Cape Coast, Ghana's region formerly notorious for its slave trade. The date is yet to be announced.