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Nana Owusu Mran, Mmɛntiahene
Mmɛntia (lit. short trumpets) are shorter and smaller than all of the ivory trumpets. Although mmɛntia have a wider distribution in the Akan area, Ɔkɔmfo Anɔkye created the Asantehene’s abɛntia as one of the regalia of the Gold Stool. However, the custodians, led by Nana Ako Amaning, relocated from Denkyira after the Asante had defeated Denkyirahene Nana Ntim Gyakari. During his formal introduction, he informed Ɔpemsoɔ Osei Tutu that he was the Mmɛntiahene for the Dɛnkyirahene so the King retained him for the same position. Ɔkɔmfo Anokye then gave him the abɛntia that is attached to the Gold Stool and the king asked him to play the phrase: Osei Tutu, Wo yɛ Dehyeɛ dada o (lit. Osei Tutu, you were already a royal). Considering his sojourn to Dɛnkyira in his teens, and Akwamu and all the subseɛuent incidents, Osei Tutu found his way back to take his rightful place in Kumase and Asante. This began the tradition where each succeeding Asante King creates his own statement for the mmɛntia to play for him. For instance, Otumfoɔ Opoku Ware II gave the mmɛntiafoɔ the following phrase: Opoku Katakyie, Wo maame wɔ he? (Opoku the brave one, where is your mother?). This phrase is in remembrance of his mother who unfortunately passed away before he became a king. The mmɛntiafoɔ first settled at Asawase but due to the intervening wars, the Asantehene relocated them to a place near Barekɛse which they named Mmɛntia and gave them the duty of Akwansrafoɔ (informants). As Akwansrafoɔ, it was their duty to report suspicious strangers, traders (merchants), or movement of troops in that part of the region to the Asantehene before the party arrived in Kumase. As time went on, some family members settled at Pankrono Atafoa while others settled at Tarkwa near present-day Suame Magazine. Mmɛntiafoɔ include additional types namely, kɔtononko (go and fight him), sɔkɔbɛn, and ɔkra (Soul) with respective chiefs, however, Mmɛntiahene is head of the mmɛntia fekuo. He uses the ahwebaa sword to swear his oath of office to the Asantehene. Unlike the ivory trumpets we have discussed so far, the Mmɛntiafoɔ are part of the stool room rituals. As noted above, the original abɛntia that Kɔmfo Anɔkye created is known as Sikabɛn (Gold Trumpet). It is never played but it is permanently kept in the nkonwafieso (stool room) where prayers are offered on it on behalf of mmɛntia trumpets. When the ritual is over, they play mmɛntia as a signal to the courtiers that the ritual in the stool room is over and that the Asantehene will soon be on his way to the Akwasidae gathering. For his procession, Mmɛntiafoɔ follow closely behind the king playing short and repeated texts. They also stand behind Asantehene when he sits in state. Although they are essentially part of the mmɛntia fekuo, kɔtononko and sɔkɔbɛn do not take part in the stool room rituals. Nana Osei Bonsu (Ɔbɔɔ Hyɛn, c 1800-1823) created kɔtononko when they were preparing for war with the Fante. His real name was Nana Osei Asibe; he added Bonsu after he defeated the Fante. He asked his men, “what is the biggest animal in the ocean?” They responded, “it is the bonsu (whale).” In addition to stool room rituals, Mmɛntiafoɔ, like other court ensembles, take turns playing their trumpets to wake up the king so that he can prepare for the early worship in the chapels in the palace.
Seated from left to right: Nana Adu Poku Boahen (Tarkwa Dikro-near Kumase), Nana Owusu Mran (Mmɛntiahene), Nana Akwasi Boateng II (Kɔtononkohene/Pankrono Atafua Dikro), Nana Mensah (Mmɛntia Dikro-near Barekese Amanfrom)
Standing from left to right: Yaw Antwi Boasiako, Kwamena Opoku, Opanin Yaw Sarfo (Kɔnenonko), Kwame Kumi, Kwaku Owusu Ntem, Akwasi Nyamekye