GNA feature by Dennis Peprah
Sunyani, Feb. 26, GNA - In 2005, I was assigned to cover a story involving women in leadership and governance organised by the Global Media Foundation (GLOMeF), a Sunyani-based human rights and media advocacy non-governmental organisation.
That was the first time I had the opportunity to engage the late Nana Yaa Nyamaa Poduo II, the paramount queen of the Sunyani Traditional Areal in a conversation.
Even though, I knew her in the 1990s because I was brought up at Area Two, a suburb in the Sunyani town centre, where Nana Poduo II lived in her family house, I had not had the opportunity to talk to her until I finally met her at that programme.
This, I believed was by divine providence. God had planned my meeting her because I learnt a great lesson from our conversation, as a young Journalist and writer by that time.
In fact, I will forever be grateful to the Ghana News Agency (GNA), which provided me with the opportunity to interact with this woman of substance.
I never suspected Nana Poduo II knew me before in the neighbourhood, until she broke the bombshell.
The countless pieces of advice she gave me sustained my interest to aspire higher in my profession as a Journalist.
Words alone, Nana cannot explain what you meant to us.
Who was she?
Nana Poduo II was the chairperson of that particular programme and she played her role of royalty, nobility and respect for customs and traditions.
She adjusted her lifestyle and kept her chin up always. She was an in-born leader with graceful features and a youthful beauty, which made her look younger than her age, but wiser in wisdom.
With all the power as a paramount queen, she always wore a welcoming, smiling face of humility, modesty, love, affection, self-confidence and humour.
Nana Poduo II, born on Sunday, April 24, 1955 to the late Opanyin Kofi Yeboah of Sunyani Atoase Royal Family and Madam Yaa Animah (Yie) of Boahen Korkor Royal Family was called Helena Yeboah.
By Akan tradition, she was called ‘Akosua’ according to her natal day, but her godmother whom she was named after pleaded with her father to call her ‘Yaa Boaa’, her godmother’s full name.
She was the fourth child, but first daughter of her mother’s 13 children and the fifth child of her father’s 52 children.
Nana had a full 10-year primary and middle school basic education at the Sunyani High Street School now Twene Amanfo Senior High/Technical School, starting at age seven in 1962.
Completing in 1972, she had a scholarship to continue with her education at Toase Secondary School in the Ashanti Region.
She was brilliant, articulate, respectful and very responsible for her age.
Nana, though an average pupil in school, was very smart, when confronted with practical everyday experiences.
It was during that same year that Nana’s grandmother, Nana Afua Yeboaa (aka Afua Fofie), the then Queen of Sunyani passed on.
The year 1972 became a crisis period for Nana because almost unforeseen, unexpected and unprepared she was virtually arrested for the stool.
She was surprised, scared and shocked over what was happening to her adolescent life.
At an early age of 17 she was made the new Queen on November 6, 1972 as a successor of Nana Yeboaa.
By some twist of fate, Nana touched the black stool of Nana Yaa Nyamaa I during her enstoolment rites, so she automatically became Nana Yaa Nyamaa II, hence her earlier name Yaa came to stay.
It took the likes of great men and women such as her grandmother Nammo, Kofi Yeboah (her father), Kwadwo Tweneboah, all of blessed memory and her mother Yaa Animah (Yie) to oversee and supervise her on her throne.
Nana grew up in her position as a Queen and gracefully ruled for 47 years.
Within this period, as a result of her position, it was required of her to get married of which she got married to the Late Mr. Frank Hall-Baidu.
They were blessed with two children; Regina and Frank. Nana played her role as a mother, wife and a traditional ruler.
She left that marriage and years later got married to the late Mr. Stephen Kwasi Agyemang, ex-Deputy Manager of Produce Buying Company (PBC) and a royal from Dormaa Tuntum clan.
The Most Reverend Mathew Gyamfi, Catholic Bishop of Sunyani blessed the marriage of 32 years at the Christ the King Catholic Cathedral on January 13, 2007.
They were blessed with two children, Maame and Junior. Nana did not marry again after the demise of her late husband.
Nana was survived by four biological children - two girls and two boys and did not only limit her love to her children, but was also a mother to her step children, siblings, nieces and nephews, grandchildren, adopted children and everyone.
Indeed her home was filled with love, togetherness and unity.
Nana was however, a woman of faith. Her Catholic faith never left her even until her last moments.
She became a mother and friend for most of the Parishners at the Christ the King Cathedral, where she worshipped, the Catholic Bishops of Sunyani, Techiman, Goaso and several others, Priests and the Religious.
She never missed any church programme, regardless of her position. Her humility and hard work were seen in her championing campaigns for the cause of women rights, the “Keep Sunyani Clean”, Virgins Club, Yaa Nyamaa Foundation, Sanitations at Nana Bosoma Market, Supports to the Needy, visits to the orphanages and the sick.
At the time of her demise, she was a dynamic member of the Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Regional Peace Council and was also a member of the Sunyani Regional Hospital Advisory Committee Board.
All these activities and roles in the society were so dear to her and she became a living symbol of togetherness as in her childhood name “Boaa”.
Nana was a living legend and an icon, and Sunyani will remember her warmth, humility and simplicity, which affected the lives of many people.
Nana has played her part and left to be with her maker, but her death came earlier than expected, indeed an oak tree has fallen.