Nana Yao Opare Dinizulu 1st
Nana Yao Opare Dinizulu I, made a journey through space and time
connecting the past, present and future. This was the year that he met Nana Akua Oparebea, Okomfohene (chief priest) of the Akonnedi Shrine in Larteh, Ghana. This meeting functioned as the completion of a circuit, like an electrical circuit, that supplied the energy or current, fueling the fires that brought us to the year 2006. In the year of 2011, we celebrated 40 years of Akan priesthood in the Americas. Nana Yao’s vision was to build institutions based on our traditions, history and culture. Many of our actions, thoughts and feelings, as a people here in the Americas, came straight from our West African heritage. Often these were things that sustained us through all adversity but often we were not consciously aware of them nor did we recognize their origin and special affinity to us. Nana Yao’s vision was to create institutions that reflected our history, our heritage and us. He wanted to establish a system of empowerment to give the spiritual, physical and intellectual foundation which would allow us to know who we are, why we are here and where we are going.
In 1965, the late Nana Yao Opare Dinizulu I, whose research had revealed to him that his ancestors came from Ghana, traveled to the Akonedi Shrine in Ghana for an oracular consultation, which was done by Okomfohemmaa Nana Akua Oparebea’s mother. Nana Dinizulu was directed to his ancestral home through divination. He was completely overwhelmed. He was initiated and upon his return brought to the USA, Nana Asuo Gyebi, Nana Esi Ketewaa and Nana Adade Kofi shrines. In 1967, he established the traditional African religious and cultural organization, Bosum Dzemawodzi in New York.
In 1971, the late Nana Dinizulu requested, received and established the Akonedi Shrine in the U.S.A. Nana Dinizulu was given the titles of Omanhene (king) and Okomfohene (chief priest) of Akans in America, as he was the first to introduce Africans born in America (African Americans) to the Deities of Ghana, West Africa. He also invited Okomfohemmaa Nana Akua Oparebea to visit the USA.
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©Photograph of Nana Yao Opare Dinizulu I taken by Yaa Nson Opare