Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby today welcomed the King of the Ashanti Kingdom in Ghana to Lambeth Palace, hailing his visit as “a symbol of reconciliation”.
His Excellency Otumfuo Nana Osei Tutu II, who is an Anglican, is on a private visit to the UK and requested an official visit with Archbishop Justin.
The King, who was greeted by Ghanaian drummers and dancers, was accompanied by senior chiefs and the Ghanaian High Commissioner, H.E. Victor Emmanuel Smith.
He was also joined by ecumenical Ghanaian priests based in the UK, and many members of the local Ghanaian community who danced in the courtyard of Lambeth Palace as they waited to meet the King and the Archbishop.
During his visit the King received Communion from the Archbishop before being anointed by him – a powerful moment in which the Archbishop called upon the Holy Spirit to guide the King in his leadership.
Later the King and his wife joined the Archbishop for a private meeting. In a welcome speech the Archbishop said the King’s visit to Lambeth Palace was not just a great honour, but also “a symbol of reconciliation”.
Having made much progress towards reconciliation in the aftermath of colonialism, he said, Ghana’s political and traditional leaderships have made it “one of the beacons of Africa” and “a shining hope for the future”.
He added that the “dark period” of the 19th century had seen wars fought between the British and West Africans – “and yet here we sit, and that itself is a symbol of reconciliation, of the peace that Jesus Christ brings to those that turn to him. The peace that he offers us not only with God, but also with each other by breaking down barriers.”
He continued: “I am deeply and profoundly grateful that you should come here. This has often been, as a Palace, a symbol of power and authority. Today we are seeking to make it a symbol of service and love for the blessing of the poorest in the world, and the communities of struggle and difficulty.”
The King said he was very touched by the warm reception, and described the role that traditional rulers play in African society to maintain amity and peace among the people. He added that he was looking forward to welcoming the Archbishop and his wife to the Anglican Province of West Africa in the autumn.