The Akwasidae Festival is a magnificent Ashanti celebration centred on ancestral reverence, remembrance and acknowledgement of past kings and noble feats. It serves as a celebration of the Golden Stool and a cultural vibrancy that brings together the Asantehene, sub-kings and subjects at Manhyia in Kumasi.
Every six weeks, in line with the Ashanti calendar, Akwasidae captures the vivid splendour, magnificence and wealth exhibited in the regalia, performance and customs. Here’s our guide on how to celebrate Akiwasidae with the Ashanti People of Kumasi, Ghana.
Preparation, obligations and allegiance
The Ashanti kingdom is made up of social groups led by clan heads, compelled to connect the life force of the past and the people. The Asantehene – or king of the Ashantis – is called upon to oversee the pledging of allegiance to the Golden Stool, arguably the most sacred symbol within the Ashanti kingdom. Akwasidae marks the sheer magnificence of the golden heritage of the Ashanti people. Between 1697–1699, the Battle of Feyiase, otherwise known as the Ashanti war of independence, was an occasion to re-affirm indivisibility.
The Akwasidae celebration is an eventful spectacle, where the spiritual meets the physical. Ashanti culture centres on ancestral worship. In Akan “adae” means “place of rest”, and as such Akwasidae is when past kings are called upon to invoke their blessings on the people. Prior to Akwasidae, the preceding Saturday evening, known as Memeneda Dapaa, sees elderly women of the stool conveying totemic songs to the palace grounds. Drums and horns voice out harmonies and dancing goes on until the early hours of the morning, inviting the spirits of the dead. One place to learn more about the event is the Manhyia Museum
Purification of the black stools
Akwasidae comes in two parts: aside from the main celebrations open to the general public there are solemn, private ceremonies, including rituals for eulogising the incumbent king and the presentation of ceremonial sacrifices to the ancestral spirits. The celebration on these days involves the purification of black, ancestral, hand-carved stools.
To pay homage to the dead kings, the stools are positioned on a raised dais and the Asantehene, divisional kings and elders visit in order of precedence. Mashed yam and strong drinks are offered to the dead kings. Sheep’s blood and entrails including the lungs are smeared on the stools to revitalise and breathe new life into the spirits.
The Golden Stool
The Golden Stool is a historic and arguably the most sacred symbol commanded from the sky by Okomfo Anokye, into the lap of Asantehene Osei Tutu during the 17th century. The stool stands 18 inches high, 24 inches long and 12 inches wide and is never allowed to come into contact with earth or be used as a seat. Every new king is lowered and raised over the Golden Stool without ever touching it. At Akwasidae, the Asantehene sits in close proximity to the installed Golden Stool. Since its introduction, the Golden Stool has always symbolised solidarity within the Ashanti kingdom.
Spectacular sights, costumes, colours
Public celebrations include a fine durbar of kings, queen mothers, elders and the people presided over by the Asantehene. Golden regalia, umbrellas, palanquins and paraphernalia add to the glow interspersed with drumming and dancing from different cultural bands at the palace grounds.
The enormous wealth of the Ashantis is a factor that helped to develop the society into one of the greatest in Africa to the extent that it currently stands out as the leading custodian of Ghana’s rich cultural heritage. During Akwasidae, traditional rulers usually wear mourning clothes known as “kuntunkuni”. A notable feature is the array of colour that engulfs the atmosphere as fontomfrom, kete and mpintsin drummers and horn players fill the air with music for the seemingly tireless dancers and singers.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.