There can be no talk of stools without special mention of the sacred Golden Stool of the Ashantis, the single most important object of reverence in the Ashantis universe. The Golden stool (Sika Dwa Kofi) is the uniting power and commanding spirit of the Ashanti nation and its creation thus becomes the greatest achievement of Okomfo Anokye the most famous African magic spiritual practitioner. He conjured it from the sky on a certain Friday night in 1700 to permanently unite the loose confederation that Osei Tutu, founder of the nation formed to fight the Denkyiras.
After the Ashanti Defeat of the Denkyira in 1699, Okomfo Anokye, constitutional and spiritual adviser to King Osei Tutu, thought it expedient to transform the confederation into a kingdom with a common stool, he thus called a meeting of all notable chiefs and queen mothers on a certain Friday.
Amid thunderous rumblings and a thick cloud of white dust, he conjured a Golden stool from the sky and it floated gently onto the laps of Osei Tutu, thus proclaiming his head of a new dynasty for a newly united nation.
The stool was later smeared with medicine mixed with the burnt clippings from nails and hair of leading chiefs and queen mothers present to impress upon them a common destiny in the Golden Stool and the important fact that the spirit of the nation dwelt in the stool.
The stool thus contains the soul of Ashanti and as such the symbol of nationhood. The Golden Stool which is kept under the strictest security and precaution is taken out only on exceptionally important occasions.
Any affront to or encroachment on the Golden Stool throws Ashanti into a holy fiery frenzy. During the reign of King Opoku Ware I (1731-1742) a vassal chief, Adinkra of the Gyamans, made for himself a replica of ‘Golden Stool.
The Asantehene sent for the Stool and had it melted down. Subsequently, Adinkra the recalcitrant made another such stool and refused to relinquish it because the women would deride him”. This led to the Adinkra War which lasted two years and ended with the trial and execution of Adinkra.
In 1900, Sir Frederick Hodgson, Governor of Gold Coast marched into Kumasi and demanded that the Golden Stool be brought forth so that he could “sit upon it” as the representative of the Queen of England. The abominable utterance shocked the Ashantis into an uncontrollable ardour and, led by Yaa Asantewaa, they besieged the Kumasi Fort for three months with very catastrophic consequences. Earlier in 1896, the Ashanties had allowed the British to seize their king for exile in the Seychelles as the only way of protecting the sacred stool.
In the early 1920’s, when a group of African road-builders accidentally chanced upon the hiding place of the Golden Stool and robbed it of some of its detachable gold ornaments, news of the unbelievable outrage swept across Ashanti and threw the nation into mourning. The culprits were arrested and the British knowing what fate awaited them entered into protracted negotiations with the Ashanti Chiefs and reached a compromise of perpetual banishment for the culprits.
The most popular and significant festivals of the Ashanti include the Adae Kese, Odwira and Kyidwo.
This is divided into the Akwasidae (Sunday fete) and the Awukudae (Wednesday fete). They are not annual events, but are based on the Akan calendar, whose year is divided into nine cycles of forty days. Each of which is celebrated on a Sunday and Wednesday.
The Adae observances are held to remind the ancestors that they are not forgotten and that they should continue to protect the living.
The first part consist of rites that are observed mainly in private including sacrifices to gods and ancestors, drink offerings and incantations, after these wholly spiritual ceremonies comes a spell or merry-makings that offers many a chief occasion to don his dress regalia and insignia of office amid pomp and pageantry.
ADAE KESE (GREAT ADAE FESTIVAL)
This annual event usually falls on the first Sunday in October. It is the occasion when Asante Kings hold certain observances to dedicate their relationship to the sacred spirits of past ancestral kings. This is also an occasion when the Ashantis remember their independence from Denkyira’s oppressive rule, when they defeated the Denkyira and beheaded their king Ntim Gyakari.
This is a festival which will forever remain in the sweet memories of any tourist who witness it.0