The marriage between Ghanaian Prince (Ohenenana) Kwasi Denkyem Anthony Bart Appiah Cordoba of Akwamu and H.E. Kayra Harding, Vice President of Panama’s National Assembly, seeks to redefine South-South ties through cultural and trade relations.
It was a cool Sunday afternoon by the waterfront of the plush Westin Hotel Playa Bonita. Overlooking one of the calm, pristine beaches of a country that unites the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as North and South America, the essence of that day’s activity was not lost on any of the A-list guests. The low tide from the morning had turned into a high tide and the sun’s shimmering reflexion on the sea created a natural photogenic splendour.
As impeccably dressed high level political and business leaders from across Latin America casually strolled into the carefully manicured gardens, took their seats, sipped cocktails and nibbled on canapés, live music played in the background. It was a happy mood, and presidential security details blended in, as some of the most influential people in that continent waited for the union of what would become one of its Black power couples.
The President of Panama, Laurentino Cortizo, former president, Martìn Torrijos Espino, Vice of Costa Rica, Epsy Campbell Barr, were all spotted in the first row. A few Peruvian and Colombian politicians were also present.
The highly connected Ohenenana Prince Anthony Kwasi Denkyem Bart Appiah, nephew to the overlord to the Akwamu stool (throne) in Ghana’s Eastern Region, was the man of the moment. His entourage featured a panoply of American and African business moguls, including Asma Chaabi, heiress and vice president of Ynna Holdings, a multibillion dollar Moroccan conglomerate.
“Today, Africa heaves a sigh of relief”, Asma said as she got ready to join the bridal trail in her colourful Moroccan taqchita and mdama alongside former First Ladies and female ministers clad in elegant Ghanaian slit and kaba in all patterns of Kente. “The reconnection has been made,” she beamed.
Standing in wait by the officiating mayor and sporting an elegant Nigerian style burgundy lace dress and a headdress to match, godmother of the first royal wedding in the country, H.E. Selvia Miller, Panamanian Ambassador to Trinidad & Tobago and the Republic of Surinam, was joined by godfather of the event, Crispiano Adames, President of Panama’s national assembly and Chairman of PRD, the ruling party.
A few hours prior to the official ceremony, grandmother of Prince Anthony and the oldest serving Queenmother of Akwamu, Nana Afrokuma II, had bestowed unto H.E. Kayra Harding the title of Nana (Princessa) Akua Adobea through an emissary. The ceremony would later be repeated at the wedding reception.
The significance of the meticulously choreographed ceremony was palpable. Just before walking up to join the officiating panel, the visibly moved H.E. Selvia Miller had announced to a group of high level guests that “the direct ties created by this marriage have brought us closer than ever before to our African heritage”.
But Panama was not the only Latin American country on the menu. And Miller recognises that “the impact of the wedding goes beyond Panama. It speaks to the unification of Africa and Afrodescendants across Latin America in areas such as culture, education and trade.” Miller has been advocating for a rapprochement between Afrodescendants and Africa over the last two decades.
Ohenenana Prince Anthony Appiah’s union to one of Latin America’s most respected black politicians, H.E. Vice President of Panama’s National Assembly, Kayra Harding, “is nothing less than the highest political and cultural statement that bridges Africa and Latin America through our black heritage”, said Gloria Karamañites, a US-based shipping mogul and Panama’s first black beauty queen (1980) who also won the Miss Universe title.
“This is the first wedding I am witnessing with First and Second Ladies and ministers in a bridal trail. And they all wore the colourful kente fabric”, said Jazz Singer and Afro-descendant campaigner of mixed Panamanian and Jamaican origins, Idania Dowman. “About 60 percent of Panamanians identify as being of black heritage, and so this wedding means a lot to us.”
The love-struck couple intend to ensure that their union marks the beginning of a real south-south cultural cooperation that speaks to Africans and Afro-descendants while leading to longterm trade relations. That Her Excellency Kyra Harding has become the poster child of Panama’s reconnection to Africa is a no-brainer.
Barely a week after their union, Ohenenana Prince Anthony Appiah facilitated a first-ever meeting between Pro-Panama (investment and export promotion agency for Panama) and Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC). For Yofi Grant, CEO of GIPC, this is a relationship that “transcends traditional investments relations because it is, above all, a family reunion”.
Following a discussion on future collaboration with H.E. Kyra Harding, the GIPC CEO tweeted: “Welcome home and to our fold, H.E. Kayra Harding, now Princessa (Nana) Akua Adobea of Akwamu, married to Prince Anthony Bart Appiah — Ohenenana Kwasi Denkyem Appiah. We are one”.
That same week, H.E. Kayra Harding, announced that Pro-Panama — accompanied by investors and Panamanian businesses — will be visiting visiting the Ghana Investment Promotion Center in Accra.
With GIPC’s leading partnership role in the recently announced Kwahu Summit 2022, which is to take place towards the end of October 2022, Yofi Grant says that plans are underway to receive a large delegation of black Latin American investors and businesses into the country.
Since the marriage between Prince Anthony Appiah and H.E. Kayra Harding, about four Latin American countries have expressed interest in connecting with Ghana through the Kwahu Summit 2022.
“But that is not all”, says Prince Anthony. “In October, we intend to organise the biggest music festival featuring big names in the west African and Latino entertainment scenes.” Dubbed Afrotino, the music festival will tour Panama, Colombia, Costa Rica among other Latin American countries. “And why not Africa in the coming years?!”, he says.
Royal and political unions have a longstanding historical relevance in the building of alliances, whether cultural, economic or political. And so moving away from “just another intellectual appreciation of the historical ties that bind the two countries to a relationship that translates into growth opportunities is important”, said Asma Chaabi, as she reflected on the wedding.
A new dawn has broken on the famous Panama Canal as the newly married couple embark on a voyage to translate their union into a bridge that unites their two continents through trade and culture.
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