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History of Asante Union

Asante Union

The Asante kingdom was founded at about the end of the seven­teenth century by Osei Tutu with the help of his priest friend and constitu­tional adviser Okomfo Anokye. This kingdom emerged from a union of a number of states which had been established within the radius of about thirty miles of the modem city of Kumasi , then known as Kwaaman, by various matrilineal clan groups and families which migrated there from the Adansi-Amansie area, the cradle of the Akan people of Ghana , in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Among the first batch of states to be founded were Tafo, Otikrom, Amakom, Anyinase, Domaa, Kaase, Ohwim, Obookrom and Kwaaman by the Ekoona, Aduana, Asenee and. Agona clan groups.

The Kings of Asante

The position of Asantehene is still a complex one. As head of the Kumasi state, he has equal status with the heads of the other states in the Union . As Asantehene, he is commander-in-chief of the Asante army, Chief Priest; Supreme Judge, and Chief Executive. An Asantehene is also head and chairperson of the Asanteman Council, which is the highest legislative authority in Asante . He presides over all meetings of the Council. Asantehene being the commander-in-chief of the army, must be well built, physically strong and healthy. He must also be without blemish, not dis­abled in any form or lost any part of his body. Bravery and willingness to fight to defend the state is a criterion for selecting an Asantehene. Therefore during the installation of Asantehene he has to demonstrate this by wear­ing the Batakarikese and fire a gun before the Asantehemaa (Queen Mother), the Mamponghene and the Essumejahene. 

Religion and the Union

In addition to the effective military organisation, religion is also very important in the history of Asante . Stools are central to Asante ven­eration of ancestors. A stool on which an Asante chief worthily served is blackened in a special werempe consecration ceremony, an all night ritual during which the spirit of the dead king is invoked to inhabit his stool. These rituals transform the stool into the abode for the spirit of the depart­ed king, who is offered prayers, food and libation on special sacred days.

Religion is an important aspect of the government of Asante . Therefore Osei Tutu and Okomfo Anokye instituted a special annual festi­val called Odwira, during which sacrifices are offered to the ancestors and deities. The other festival with political significance was the Adaekesie (the eighth forty-two day cycle in Akan calendar). During the Adaekesie festival for example Asantehene gives food and drinks to all previous kings and prays for the welfare of the state.

Asantehene as Supreme Judge

Although the different Amanhene of the states retained their local sovereignty, they recognised Asantehene as their overlord and his court in Kumasi as their final court of appeal. They were also obliged to pay annu­al tributes to him. Once their loyalties were ensured, member states of the Union retained their independent existence. On the other hand, to ensure improved personal protection of Asantehene and a balance of power between Kumasi chiefs and others in the confederacy, stools were created for the chiefs in the Kumasi division, which were gradually increased (especially in the Gyaase). Each tributary chief also had a representative resident in Kumasi who served as a link between the chief and Asantehene.

Asante Kings of the Twentieth Century - Nana Prempeh 1 (1888 -1931) K.M.A.C.

The contest for Asantehene in the nineteenth century turned into protracted hostilities and clashes between supporters of the two contes­tants. This lasted from April 1886 till 26th March 1888 when Prempeh, the brother of the late king Kwaku Dua II, was enstooled in the presence of one Mr. Barnett, a British official. Prempeh assumed the stool name Kwaku Dua III. Asante tradition required the presence of the paramount chiefs of Mampong and Kokofu at the ceremony, but they were absent because they were sympathetic to Yaw Twereboanna, the other contestant, and feared they might be killed.

Asante Kings of the Twentieth Century -Sir Nana Osei Tutu Agyeman Prempeh II (1931 - 1970) KBE, OOV

After the difficult and turbulent reign of Prempeh I, Kwame Kyiretwie was enstooled after the death of Prempeh I initially as Kumasihene and later as the first "official" Asantehene in the Twentieth Century, with the stool name Nana Osei Tutu Agyeman Prempeh II. Kwame Kyiretwie was born in 1892 to Nana Abakoma, daughter of Nana Yaa Akyaa, Queen of Asante, and Okyeame Kwaku Owusu of Ejisu. Legend has it that on the day he was born a lion appeared in Kumasi and was caught, hence the name Kyiretwie. He was employed at the Kumasi Officer's Mess in 1905 for two years, where he obtained funds to attend Kumasi Methodist School from 1907 to 1915 and then the government school in Kumasi .

Asante Kings of the Twentieth Century - Otumfuo Opoku Ware II 1970 - 1999

Otumfuo Opoku Ware II, known in private life as Matthew Jacob Kwaku Adusei Poku, was born in Kumasi on 30th November 1919 and became Asantehene in 1970 with the stool name Otumfuo Opoku Ware II, after the death of Prempeh II. He attended Adisadel College in Cape Coast . He became a surveyor and worked as a building inspector with the Kumasi Town Council from 1937 to 1940. He also worked with the Public Works Department and the Royal Airforce as a building draughtsman and surveyor from 1941 to 1943 and later at the Asantehene's land office in Kumasi .

Asante Kings of the Twentieth Century - Otumfuo Osei Tutu II (1999 - to date)

Otumfuo Osei Tutu II is the 16 th Asantehene, King of the Asante . He ascended the Golden Stool on 26 th April, 1999 . He is a direct descendant of the founder of the Asante Kingdom Osei Tutu I.

Born on 6 th May, 1950 and named Barima Kwaku Dua, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II is the youngest of the five children of Nana Afua Kobi Serwaa Ampem II, Asantehemaa (Queen mother of Asante ). From early childhood, Barima Kwaku Dua came under the tutelage of his Uncle, Oheneba Mensah Bonsu who had been enstooled as Hiahene in 1952.


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The Position Of the Chief in the Modern Political System of Ashanti , Frank Cass 7 Co. Ltd. London , 1951.

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Asante and its Neighbours, 1700 - 1807, Longmans, 1971.

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Asante Before the British, The Regents Press, 1978

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Religion and Art in Ashanti , OUp, London , 1927.

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Asante in the Nineteenth Century, Cambridge , 1975.

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