Ghanaian King Nii Guate Asuasa Ekasee Ako II will be staying in Easton from June 29 to July 15, Mayor Sal Panto announced today. He went by John Quartey when he attended Easton Area High School in the late 1990s.Easton will be in the company of a dignitary from Ghana when he pays the city a homecoming visit for a little more than two weeks this summer, Easton Mayor Sal Panto Jr. said today.
Panto announced the visit by Nii Guate Asuasa Ekasee Ako II, scheduled for June 29 to July 15. He is the king of the Ga kingdom in Accra, the capital of the west African nation of Ghana, according to a letter Panto provided from him.
He was a prince who went by the name of John Quartey when he attended Easton Area High School, where he was a standout tennis player in the late 1990s, Panto said. Quartey graduated in 1998 and went to Allentown Business School, according to Panto, before he became the youngest king in Ga history. Quartey was crowned in April 2008, according to his letter.
Panto said the visit is both a royal homecoming and a mission of peace in advance of Ghana’s December elections. As he travels to major East Coast cities and towns across Pennsylvania, the king plans to gather signatures of political officials emphasizing the importance of free elections, Panto said.
Quartey will be traveling with a 13-member cultural dance troupe that will perform in Centre Square on Heritage Day, Panto said. He said former professional boxer Azumah Nelson is also traveling with Quartey.
Panto said he anticipates that the people who knew Quartey back then will be surprised by his new title.
“I don’t think they know he went on to become king,” Panto said. “They’re going to be shocked.”
When he was studying in the U.S., Quartey lived with his uncle in Palmer Township next to Panto’s brother, Joe, Sal Panto said. Joe Panto took Quartey to sporting events and introduced him to Larry Holmes, Panto said - gestures Quartey recalled in his recent correspondence with the mayor.
Panto said his office is handling Quartey’s travel itinerary at Quartey’s request. But Quartey is most excited about getting together with his former teachers, classmates and friends, Panto said.
“It’s hard to pin him down,” he said. “He’s so excited to see people.”
So far, he intends to travel to Philadelphia, Trenton, New York, Washington, D.C. and cities across Pennsylvania to meet with politicians and sightsee, Panto said.
But Quartey will still spend time in his former home base. Panto said he will likely take a stroll around the Easton Farmers' Market, see a movie at Scott Park and take in Easton’s historical sites. Panto is also looking for sponsors for a welcome reception for Quartey’s first Saturday evening in the U.S., June 30 and for the travel arrangements for him and his cultural dance troupe.
In his letter, the king said he plans to give a piece of artwork as a gift to the city. Panto said he’s very polite and very appreciative for the support he received while he was living in the U.S.
“He could go anywhere,” Panto said. “He primarily wants to come back to Easton to say thank you.”
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