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Akinteye Zainab

Today on places and travels, we will be traveling down to the ancient city of Kumasi which is the capital city of the Ashanti Empire where the Ashantis reside.

Ashanti is a nation and an ethnic group that is found in Ghana. They are native to the Ashanti region located centrally on the Ashantiland peninsula. The Ashanti speaks the Ashanti dialect of Twi. The language is spoken by over 9 million ethnic Ashanti people as a first or second language. The word ‘Ashanti’ is an English language misnomer. Ashanti literarily means “because of the war”. The Ashantis are believed to descend from Abyssinians, who were pushed south by the Egyptian forces.
The Ashanti Empire was found in 1670 and the Ashanti capital Kumasi was founded in 1680 by Ashanteheneosei-Kofi Tutu 1 on the advice of Ok Mfo. The empire stood on its own and has its own set of rules and constitutions. The Ashanti Empire is a very popular state in Ghana and the Ashanti people could be considered the most popular tribe in the whole of Ghana.

Culture and tradition
Ashanti culture celebrates Adae, Akwasidae and the Ashanti new yam festival. Interestingly, just as the Yorubas and the Igbos in Nigeria celebrate the new yam festivals, the Ashantis also celebrate the new yam festival. At least I have learnt that not only in Nigeria do we take yam! The Seprewa, a ten stringed harp-lute, as well as the fontomfrom drums, are the typifying instruments associated with the Ashanti as well as the Kente clothing.

Ashanti is a matrilineal society where line of descendants is traced through the female. Historically, this mother progeny relationship determined land rights, inheritance of property, offices and titles. Aye mi o! subhanallah. So a woman is the head of the man. O ga o. the role of the father is to provide the okra or the soul of the child, that is, the child receives its life forces, character and personality trait from the father. Though not considered important, the male interaction continues in the place of birth after marriage.
Historically, an Ashanti woman was betrothed with a golden ring called petia (I love you), if not in childhood, immediately after puberty ceremony. They do not see marriage as an important ritual event, but as a state that follows soon and normally after the puberty ritual. The puberty was and is important as it signifies passage from childhood and adulthood in that chastity is encouraged before marriage. The Ashanti requires that various goods be given by the boy’s family to that of the girl, not as a bride price, but to signify as an agreement between the two families.

Law and legal system
In the catalogue of Ashanti familial and legal system in R.S.Rattray’s Ashanti law and constitution, Ashanti law specifies that sexual relation between a man and certain women are forbidden, even though not blood related. The punishment for the offence is death, the follow women are forbidden, a son’s wife, wife of any man of the same trade, a wife’s mother, a father’s other wife from other clan and a host of others. All this however, does not bear much shame compared to incest.

As said earlier the Ashanti speaks the Twi language. The language is the official language utilized for literacy in Ashanti, at the primary and elementary educational stage, and studied at universities as a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree program in Ashanti. The Ashanti Twi has some unique linguistics features such as tone, vowel harmony and nasalization. Just as we study Yoruba, Igbo and other languages.

The Ashantis are increasingly irreligious, though there are some people among them follow a religion the most common is the Ashanti religion (a tradition which seems to be fading away but is revived on major special event), followed by Christianity and Islam I now hope I have been able to at least give you an idea of what the Ashanti people look like.

So whenever you go to Ghana and you see a man wrapping the kente clothing around their body or you found out that the woman is the head of the family and the only that has the right to divorce her husband and marry another man, do not be surprised as those are the Ashanti’s way of life. Till next time, seek knowledge and stay cool!

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