We started the day with a lecture from a queenmother, Nana Amba Eyaba, and a chief, Nana Kwame Edu VI Tufohen of Oguaa Traditional Area. The idea of modernity and the reconciliation of modern ways with traditional ways played a major role in both of their lectures, both directly and indirectly.
Nana Amba Eyaba has two positions, one as Queenmother of Efutu, and the other as Krontihemaa of Oguaa (Cape Coast) Traditional Area. She discussed her duties as Queenmother, including settling civil cases (not criminal), acting as a guidance counselor for her people, representing both the living and the dead, being responsible for the socialization of the children in the community and the general well-being of the community, and making new government policies understandable for people in the community.
Nana Amba Eyaba discussed how her greatest challenge is dealing with social change and balancing this modernity with traditional ways. For example, with the exception of being ill, the Queenmother is expected to be available when called upon for help by a member of the community. This becomes difficult, as she pointed out that just by being with us for the time of the lecture, she was not available to her people. The Queenmother is also not supposed to eat or drink in public, but she acknowledged that she sat in front of us with a bottle of water, as current ways make this traditional rule increasingly impractical to follow. Additionally, traditionally the Queenmother is not supposed to be exposed to the sun or the rain, nor is she supposed to travel alone, however as she travels to give lectures and travels abroad, it is not practical for her to constantly have someone with her to hold her umbrella or carry her seat cushion.
The idea of modernity came up again with Nana Kwame Edu VI Tufohen. This modernity appeared more indirectly in his lecture, as he started the lecture with his cell phone in hand and excused himself momentarily to take a call when it rang as he was speaking. At the end of the lecture, he also provided us with his email address for further contact, as well as his WhatsApp number. In this exchange I saw that just as modern ways can impede traditional practices of the Chief and Queenmother, they also allow for further contact, connections, and education.