I’ve never been someone who cares about royalty, much less politicians. I see a celebrity, or the president, and I shrug my shoulders.
What’s the big deal? Non-stop talkers, performing before millions, running the country, making all the big decisions that affect our finances and fashion.
Actually it’s the results of these big decisions that make me want to abandon society and live off the land in some remote mountain forest, eating potatoes and smoking herbs. If it weren’t for the internet…
…and movies… and video games… and flushing toilets… oh and electricity haha.
But could it be that it’s not the person, nor their title, not even the authority they possess, but just the way they first appear that causes anxiety and respect for their high status in society? I definitely felt it when Ghana Asante ruler Otumfuo Osei TuTu II walked in.
Ruler of the Asante Empire
“All rise for the Asantehene!” came a voice over the speakers. And rise we did.
We had all gathered in the Daaga Auditorium, a squat building that always seemed to me was made out of large dull blocks of Legos, located on the eastern side of the UWI campus next to a football field. Seats arranged like steps, allowing a good view of the wooden stage elegantly decorated with colourful drapes and flowers and chairs and a podium. The night was warm, the air conditioning cold, and we tolerated it because we wanted to glimpse the Asantehene, ruler of the Ghana Asante Empire, ascender of the Golden… Stool (you know, like a chair). He was visiting our island Trinidad and Tobago for the annual Emancipation celebration.
We stood for several minutes before the audience started to grumble, and anticipation started to build. I suppose that’s step one for making people feel your importance. You make them wait.
Then servants rushed in and all but kicked away the stage chairs, untied a large cloth bag and planted “The Chair” (The Golden Stool?). Obviously whatever was arranged on stage paled in comparison to what the Asantehene rightfully deserves. Let’s call that step two – send in your servants to ensure the carpet truly is red.
Next came the chants, in a language that many of us Trinis descended from but few could translate. Drums boomed, and in filtered a group of drummers and singers that made everyone whip out their phones and rise up on their toes. That’s step three, a procession of singers or warriors or guards (and I’m sure there were guards).
And when the Asantehene finally entered, sandalled feet and one dark shoulder exposed from a robe of blue and yellow and white patterns, all phones flashed and recorded as one. His dress code was certainly nothing we would ever wear on an average day, and that’s step four.
And step five would be having your servants performs tasks that just seems ostentatious, like constantly hold an umbrella overhead while inside a closed room (maybe for security). And after all the introductions were complete and it was time for the Asantehene to speak, that’s when things truly got impressive (as if they weren’t impressive enough). At the podium, his entourage surrounds him, and every two or three sentences they bellow a word (tsa or tza, maybe) that I can only guess means “all hear” or “all listen” or something regal like that.
This is truly the stuff of fantasy inspiration, the first time I ever felt in my chest the presence of royalty.
Sci Fi Fantasy Leaders that Make their Presence Felt
But I’ve always felt it in novels and movies. Writers and directors have mastered getting that point across. Like in The First Law by Joe Abercrombie when we meet the Arch Lector Sult, described as being so brilliantly spotless that the walls looked brown and grimy behind him. One character perceived him as never once in his life being surprised by anything.
And in Half the World when we first meet Prince Varoslaf of Kalyiv, a man with a stone blank face all hairless and smooth as an egg, and a voice dry and whispery as old papers. At his feet was a bear of a dog, and scattered about his hall were many guards with bows and curved swords and tall spears. The protagonist feared this Prince more than anyone she had ever met.
If you’ve ever watched the Walking Dead, you know how intimidating it was to finally meet Negan. There’s this whistling noise that all members of his gang make, and in searching for him, the cast ends up in a clearing in the woods surrounded by so many that their whistling sounded like some kind of bird sanctuary. Then Negan shows up, a lean man in a biker jacket, all smiles and swinging a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire he calls Lucille, claiming she’s thirsty for blood. Negan then proceeds to crack open heads of two major characters, and the stakes have never been higher.
Or how about Davy Jones in Dead Man’s Chest. That scene where his pirate ship first appears, charging out of the ocean like a nuclear submarine, water cascading off its deck and cannons from the impossible depts it suddenly emerged from. Davy Jones himself was pretty spectacular, a crab claw for a hand and octopus tentacles for a beard, blowing out smoke from a pipe through stumps on his side, asking captives if they feared death and offering a chance to escape by serving for 100 years.
And then there’s the fearsome lord Darth Vader, pretty much the stuff of legends now. Just the sound of his breathing is enough to build anticipation. That scene in Rogue One when he appears out of darkness is just badass.
So that’s my thoughts for feeling the presence of the high and mighty, nothing to do with the actual person themself.
What do you think? Is there someone, real or fiction, that you can relate this to? Let me know.