Jamaican Enstooled as Queen in Ghana

The title of Queen should only be bestowed upon someone who has truly lived and experienced life in all its imperfections, to be able to have empathy for the people she has been entrusted with to serve. What other qualities should such a person possess? If you’re thinking resilience, resourcefulness, determination, compassion, empathy, fearlessness, impartiality, grace, regalness and philanthropism, then you would have found your true queen in Ohemaa Boafoyena Hoyen Mpese Tsuru 1 of the Ga tribe.

Formerly known as Vivalee Lilieth Hoyen, this queen’s qualities are so intrinsic that with or without a title, she would operate the same. What is extraordinary about this Jamaican born sovereign is that she has gained this prestigious position after having lived in Ghana for just a little over one year! Upon speaking with Ohemaa Boafoyena Hoyen Mpese Tsuru 1, she had no affected accent like that of someone who has lived outside of Jamaica for over 4 decades. Ohemaa Boafoyena Hoyen Mpese Tsuru 1 is as Jamaican today as she was when she left Jamaica in the 1970s. Her first words to me after I outlined the parameters of the interview were, “I have no fear.” She said it with such conviction, such ease, that it connected solidly. If this is not the perfect manifestation of the potential of that old adage, I don’t know what is.

Naa Boafoyena Hoyen Mpese Tsuru 1 at her coronation

Growing Up in Jamaica

Vivalee Lilieth Hoyen aka Moy was born and raised in Jones Town, Kingston, Jamaica, one of 5 children. After her parents split, she was raised by her brilliant, well spoken mother; but then her mother remarried. Her father still supported her financially however she points out that her stepfather was the one who showed her love.   Early life was challenging for the young girl, both at home and at school. At home she assumed many of the responsibilities, taking care of the house and her siblings because her mother was sickly. Bullied at home, it spilled over into her school life with children cutting her hair and doling out merciless teasing because of her lighter complexion, even breaking her hand on one occasion. She changed schools often and never felt settled; developing and maintaining friendships was impossible. Her only respite was spending time with her mother’s close friends during the holidays, even returning with gifts that she would share with her siblings.   Her mother and stepfather eventually separated and Moy was sent to live with her father who had also remarried. She endured more abuse before being sent to live with her father’s brother who lived in Irish Town with his wife, who was the principal of the Craighton [Secondary] School. Her life changed for the better, which she described as the “best days of her life”. She had friends and cousins who loved her. She was educated. She had passed external exams to attend St. Mary’s College. Life was good. This peace, however, would not last long as she would be thrown into turmoil that would last several years.  Ohemaa Boafoyena Hoyen Mpese Tsuru 1’s story reads like a best-selling novel which coincidentally, she is in the process of penning. Several times during this interview, the writer’s mouth fell open in shock and awe as she recounted her story with many twists and turns. Her story is one of intrigue, heartache, forgiveness and triumph over many obstacles.   During the 70s and 80s, Jamaica experienced great political and social upheaval. Jamaicans left in droves for the United States mainly because of new tax regimes, fears of the implementation of a socialist agenda, far left radicals, the introduction of high powered weapons between warring political factions and of course being told to go, with the now infamous “five flights a day line” by former Prime Minister Manley. Moy left Jamaica to the United States because of an attempt made on her life. She was stabbed 5 times by her then husband’s mistress. There was no report filed. In fact, instead of fighting or prolonging any dispute, she left her four (4) children and her husband, and returned to Jamaica years later only to offer a meal to her then attacker while fêting her family on one of her visits home.

Naa Boafoyena surrounded by guests at her coronation

Moving to Ghana

After having lived in the United States for many years, remarrying, having 2 more children and establishing businesses, Moy went to Ghana on an invitation from a long time friend. Upon arrival she was immediately struck by the similarities between Jamaica and Ghana and fell in love with the country. The landscape reminded her so much of her childhood that she instantly bought 2 lots of land and vowed to return on a more permanent basis.   On her return to Ghana, she set about building her house. She followed the traditions she saw in Jamaica before such an undertaking – she killed a goat on the land and sprinkled white rum before breaking ground. One of the locals observed her ritual and commented that she was the only non-Ghanaian he saw who paid tribute to the ancestors in this way. Many traditions currently followed in Jamaica, sometimes mindlessly so, can be traced back to its African ancestral roots.  While building, she encountered locals who helped her settle and those who were in need of help. Having always been a selfless person, a quality she possessed even as a small child, Moy set about providing – with cash or kind. She became a fast favorite among the locals not only because of her philanthropy but due to her magnetic personality and news of her spread far and fast. By her deeds, she became somewhat of an unofficial ambassador by also encouraging the African Diaspora to come to Ghana, to resettle there and to invest. Things took an upward turn when she was interviewed by YouTube blogger Ekow Simpson, and it piqued the interest of even more people who were curious to find out who this Jamaican was. She would receive numerous visitors – people seeking advice on how to settle in Ghana or just dropping by for a chat. Moy welcomed them all. She loves to entertain and cooks often, bearing in mind that any number of persons could drop by unexpectedly.

Naa Boafoyena with her nephew Teron Fraser

From Settlement to Elevation

A friend visiting Ghana from Jamaica paid her a visit and brought with him to her home, dignitaries, chiefs and kings from Accra. This was a complete surprise as she was not expecting additional guests and was only meeting them for the first time. Moy, being a natural hostess, fêted them and had them sample Jamaican fare such as ackee and saltfish, dumplings, green bananas, etc. After the meal, they suggested going outside to take photos to mark the occasion and it was then that her guests started to sing, chant and powder her.   Thinking it was a ritual to express gratitude to their hosts, Moy thought nothing of the ceremony but was gracious at the expression. At the end of the ritual she was told that she was now initiated queen and that she would be enstooled. In the West, we use ‘installed’ to refer to the placing of someone in a new position of authority, especially with ceremony. In Ghana, however, Akan chiefs possess elaborately carved stools that are incorporated into ceremonies as icons of their authority.  These stools are of great symbolic importance and as such, the installation of a new chief is referred to as an enstoolment. An enstoolment is an African and African Diaspora tradition of bestowing the title of Queen Mother upon esteemed women as a recognition of past, present and future service to the community. Ohemaa Boafoyena Hoyen Mpese Tsuru 1’s enstoolment took place on May 28, 2023 however, her coronation took place on August 13, 2023 at the Sowutuom Palace in Accra, with different royals came to pay her homage. She was crowned under the Mpesempese Diaspora Queen of Ghana and is the first queen to ever hold this position, that of Diaspora Development Queen. The program was graced by the Royals from Asebu Cape Coast, the Ga Traditional Council and many more. It was broadcast on the Royal Star Television in Ghana and other mediums. The turnout at her coronation, with family and friends journeying from all over the globe to witness her ascension, demonstrated how much this Queen is loved. Family is important to her including her friends, who she classifies as family. “Blood doesn’t make you family. Blood makes you related. Friends make you family. Loyal people who give you love.” Her views on family are testament to the community she has built in Ghana since settling there. In her short time in Ghana, she has also legally adopted a young man who lost his mother.

Sister Joan McMaster poses with the newly coronated Queen

Looking Ahead

Her life has changed significantly since her enstoolment as she now has security, staff and a driver. She will now have documentation to reflect her title, her own letterhead and an official seal. Her official duties now consist of, but are not limited to, resolving conflicts of the diasporas in Ghana and abroad, securing lands for the diaspora in Ghana, representing diasporas in Ghana, advising on resettlement into Ghana, acquiring a livelihood and providing information on investment, particularly sanitation, among other things. Her function would be perfect as she goes along to continue her Gazette and be accepted into the National House of Chiefs.   So what’s next for this trophy winning domino player, race car driving, mechanic who is now Queen in Ghana? Plans are already in motion for an initiative which seeks to help teenage girls who have fallen pregnant with no support. The land for this facility has already been acquired, which will employ nurses to provide healthcare to the young mothers and their newborns and trainers to educate the charges to be able to be self-sufficient and support themselves. The aim is to have a facility in each of the 16 regions. Naa DeiDei Omanduro Mpese 1, a high ranking queen in Ghana, sent these words as part of her tribute at Ohemaa Boafoyena Hoyen Mpese Tsuru 1’s coronation – “May your reign be blessed with wisdom, love, grace, strength, protection, and an abundance of good works. May you continue to shine as the beacon of hope and inspiration for our Mpesepese and the world at large.” With the impact she has made in such a short time, Ohemaa Boafoyena Hoyen Mpese Tsuru 1 is set to do just that. Follow @naaboafoyena on social media for updates on her current and upcoming projects.

Photo – Monica Shakespeare

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