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Ghana: Kumasi

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Kumasi > Ghana > Africa

[Visited: October 2000]

Of the many African tribes, one of the most outstanding are the Asante in Ghana. The Asante call themselves a state within a state, since they have their own king, flag, culture and language. Actually some tribes which used to be adversaries of the Asante people now share the same Ghanaian nationality. The capital of the Asante is Kumasi, and it is about Kumasi that I will tell a little more. As a first destination I chose the National Cultural Centre which contains a lot of interesting spots, like a model village, handicraft centres, a library and a museum. My interest was primarily drawn by the Museum.

Picture of Kumasi (Ghana): Anokye sword in Kumasi

The museum actually is a small structure with a patio and around it four open spaces in which royal artefacts and historical items and pictures are on display. Among those, the famous fake Golden Stool, which was given to the British who for decades believed it to be the real one. The Asante managed to keep the real Golden Stool, the ultimate Asante symbol, to themselves, thus ensuring their pride and survival as a people. The Golden Stool is so sacred, the King is not allowed to sit on it. Neither should the Stool ever touch the ground. After the museum (where unfortunately photographing was not allowed) I went in search of the Anokye Sword. This is the second most powerful symbol of the Asante people.

Picture of Kumasi (Ghana): Manhyia Palace Museum in Kumasi

According to legend, the sword sticks out of the earth exactly where the Golden Stool descended from heaven, thus marking the beginning of the Asante people. It is said that should the sword ever be removed, the Asante kingdom will cease to exist. Unfortunately, although I arrived well within "office hours", the guard of the sword had already gone home with the key of the building.... The last landmark I visited was the Manhyia Palace, built by the British to accomodate the King upon arrival from the Seychelles where he had been in exile at the beginning of the 20th century. The actual king now has his own, new palace and the old palace is turned into a museum. Where you might expect huge rooms and luxurious furniture, the palace is actually a humble house with humble furnishing. This certainly added to my respect for the King. In some rooms, wax copies of deceased Kings and Queen Mothers can be found which are very realistic indeed. The first one I saw actually made me think that I had the honour to meet His Majesty in person.

Picture of Kumasi (Ghana): Ashanti King, Kumasi

Around the World in 80 Clicks

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