|(c. 11 Million)|
|Regions with significant populations|
| Ashanti (11 Million)
Kumasi Metropolis (11 Million)
|Ashanti (Ashanti Twi)|
|Non-religious • Ashanti • Islam, Christianity, and others|
Ashanti, or Asante, or Asanti ( Pronunciation of "Ashanti"; pronunciation: // A-shahn-TEE; or Asante Twi pronunciation: Asantefo // A-sahn-TEE-foh; singular masculine: Asanteniberma, singular feminine: Asantenibaa), are a nation and ethnic group native to the Ashanti Region and the Ashantiland Peninsula.
The Asanti people speak the Asante dialect of Twi. The language is spoken by over nine million ethnic Asanti people as a first or second language. The word Ashanti is an English language misnomer. Asanti literally means "because of wars". The wealthy gold-rich Asanti people developed a large and influential empire; the Ashanti Empire along the Lake Volta and Gulf of Guinea.
The Ashanti Empire was founded in 1670 and the Ashanti capital Kumasi was founded in 1680 the late 17th century by Asantehene (emperor) Osei Kofi Tutu I on the advice of Ɔkͻmfoͻ Anͻkye, his premier. Sited at the crossroads of the Trans-Saharan trade routes, Kumasi megacity's strategic location contributed significantly to the growing wealth of Kumasi. Over the duration of Kumasi metropolis' existence, a number of peculiar factors have combined to transform Kumasi metropolis into a fitting financial centre and political capital. The main causal factors included the unquestioning loyalty to the Ashanti monarchy and Kumasi metropolis' growing wealth derived in part from the capital's lucrative autarky domestic-trade in items such as gold jewellery and gold bar bullion and gold coin in Ashanti and on the Ashantiland Peninsula.
The Asanti cultural edifice institutes an elaborate political structure and deploys a myriad of ceremonial traditions and domestic norms as a way of maintaining the Ashanti monarchy's complex polity and to sustain allegiance to the monarchy. Cultural artifacts, regalia and other symbols were introduced to support the evolving Asanti socio-political structure, many of which have survived to this day. The Asantehene is the absolute ruler and remains the political head of the Asanti and the Ashanti Region. The current Ashanti king is Otumfuo Nana Osei Tutu II.
- 1 Nomenclature
- 2 Geography
- 3 Historiography
- 4 Sovereignty and independence
- 5 Governance and Politics
- 6 Economy
- 7 Culture and traditions
- 8 Gallery
- 9 See also
- 10 Literature
- 11 References
- 12 External links
The name Asante "warlike" derives from the 1670s as the Asanti went from being a tributary state to a centralized hierarchical kingdom. Asantehene Osei Tutu I, military leader and head of the Oyoko clan, founded the Asanti Empire. Osei Tutu I obtained the support of other clan chiefs and, using Kumasi as the central base, subdued surrounding Akan states. Osei Tutu challenged and eventually defeated Denkyira in 1701, and this is the origin of the name.
The homeland Ashanti has a variable terrain, coasts and mountains, wildlife sanctuary and strict nature reserve and national parks, forests and grasslands, lush agricultural areas, and near savannas, enriched with vast deposits of industrial minerals, most notably vast deposits of gold and diamonds.
The territory Ashanti people settled Ashanti region (Kingdom of Ashanti), is home to a Crater Lake the Lake Bosumtwi and Ashanti is bordered westerly to Lake Volta within the central part of the Ashantiland Peninsula. The Ashanti (Kingdom of Ashanti) territory is densely forested, mostly fertile and to some extent mountainous. There are two seasons—the rainy season (April to November) and the dry season (December to March). The land has several streams; the dry season, however is extremely desiccated. Asanti region is hot year round.
Today Ashanti people number close to 11 million Ashanti people (11 million Ashanti people in Ashanti/Kingdom of Ashanti), with 98.7% of the Ashanti/Kingdom of Ashanti population speaking Ashanti language (indistinguishably also referred to as Ashanti Twi, a member of the Central Tano languages within the Kwa languages). Ashanti political power combines Ashanti King Asantehene Asantehene Osei Tutu II as the absolute ruler and political head of the Ashantis and Ashantis homeland Ashanti, with Ashanti semi-one-party state representative NPP, and since Ashanti (and the Kingdom of Ashanti now the Ashantiland Peninsula) state political union with Ghana, the Ashanti remain largely influential.
The entire population of Ashantis reside in the Ashanti people homeland Ashanti (Kingdom of Ashanti) currently a sub-nation state on the Ashantiland Peninsula Ghana. Kumasi metropolis, the capital of Ashanti (Kingdom of Ashanti), has also been the historic capital of the Ashanti Kingdom. Ashanti region currently has a population of 11 million (11,000,000).
Today, as in the past Ashanti continues to make significant contributions to the Ashantiland Peninsula’s economy. Ashanti is richly endowed with industrial minerals and agricultural implements, Ashanti is responsible for much of the Ashantiland Peninsula's domestic food production and for the foreign exchange the Ashantiland Peninsula earns from cocoa, coffee, agricultural implements, gold, diamonds, bauxite, manganese, various other industrial minerals, and timber. Kumasi metropolis and Ashanti region produces 96% of the Ashantiland Peninsula's exports.
In the 1670s the Ashanti went from being a tributary state to a centralized hierarchical kingdom. Ashanti Emperor Asantehene Osei Tutu I, military leader and head of the Oyoko clan, founded the Ashanti kingdom. Osei Tutu obtained the support of other clan chiefs and using Kumasi as the central base, subdued surrounding states. Osei Tutu I challenged and eventually defeated Denkyira in 1701, and from this, the name Asante came to be.
Realizing the weakness of a loose confederation of Akan states, Osei Tutu strengthened centralization of the surrounding Akan groups and expanded the powers judiciary system within the centralized government. Thus, this loose confederation of small city-states grew into a kingdom or empire looking to expand its land. Newly conquered areas had the option of joining the empire or becoming tributary states. Opoku Ware I, Osei Tutu's successor, extended the borders.
Slavery was a historical tradition in the Ashanti Empire, with slaves typically taken as captives from enemies in warfare. The status of slaves ranged from acquiring wealth and intermarrying with members of the master's family to being sacrificed in funeral ceremonies. The Ashanti used their personal beliefs to justify slavery and human sacrifice, believing that slaves would follow their masters into the afterlife. Slaves could sometimes own other slaves, and could also request a new master if the slave believed he or she was being severely mistreated.
The modern-day Ashanti claim that slaves were seldom abused, and that a person who abused a slave was held in high contempt by society. They defend the “humanity” of Ashanti slavery by noting that those slaves were allowed to marry, and that their children were born free. If an Ashanti master found a female slave desirable, he might marry her. He preferred such an arrangement to that of a free woman in a conventional marriage, because marriage to an enslaved woman allowed the children to inherit some of the father's property and status.
This Ashanti favored arrangement occurred primarily because of what Ashanti men considered their conflict with the Ashanti matrilineal system. Under this Ashanti kinship system, Ashanti children were considered born into the mother's clan and took their status from her family. Generally her eldest brother served as mentor to her children, particularly for the Ashanti boys. She was protected by her family. Ashanti men felt more comfortable taking a slave girl or pawn wife in marriage, as she would have no abusua (older male grandfather, father, uncle or brother) to intercede on her behalf when the couple argued. With an enslaved wife, the Ashanti master and husband had total control of their Ashanti children, as she had no kin in the Ashanti ethnic group.
The legend of the Golden Stool (Sika 'dwa) is important as it is an account of the birth of the Ashanti Kingdom itself. In the seventeenth century, in order for the Ashanti to gain independence from Denkyira (another powerful contemporaneous Akan state), a meeting of all the clan heads of each of the Ashanti settlements was convened. In this meeting, the Golden Stool was called down from the heavens by Okomfo Anokye, the Priest or sage advisor to the very first Asantehene (Ashanti King), Osei Tutu I.
The Ashanti Golden Stool descended from the skies and rested on the lap of Osei Tutu I. Okomfo Anokye then declared the Stool to be the symbol of the new Ashanti Union (Asanteman), and allegiance was sworn to both the Golden Stool and to Osei Tutu as the Asantehene. The newly founded Asanteman went to war with Denkyira and subsequently defeated it.
The Golden Stool is sacred to the Ashanti, as it is believed that it contains the Sunsum viz, the spirit or soul of the Ashanti people. Just as man cannot live without a soul, so the Ashanti would cease to exist if the Golden Stool were to be taken from them. The Golden Stool is regarded as sacred that not even the king was allowed to sit on it, a symbol of nationhood and unity.
The Golden Stool is a curved seat 46 cm high with a platform 61 cm wide and 30 cm deep. Its entire surface is inlaid with gold, and hung with bells to warn the king of impending danger. It is an Ashanti legend and has only been seen by the Ashanti ethnic group's royalty. Only the king and trusted advisers know the hiding place of the Golden Stool. Replicas of the Golden Stool have been produced for the Ashanti chiefs and at their funerals are ceremonially blackened with animal blood, a symbol of their power for generations.
The Ashanti have always defended their Golden Stool when it was under threat. In 1896, the Ashanti allowed their King, Prempeh I, to be exiled rather than risk losing a war and the Golden Stool in the process. The Governor of the Gold Coast, Sir Frederick Hodgson, demanded to sit on the stool in the year 1900. The Ashanti remained silent and when the assembly ended, they went home and prepared for war (the War of the Golden Stool). Although Ashanti lost on the battlefield, Ashanti claimed victory because Ashanti fought only to preserve the sanctity of the Golden Stool, and Ashanti had. Then in 1920, a group of African road builders accidentally found the Golden Stool and stripped it of its gold ornaments. The Africans were tried by an Ashanti court, found guilty and sentenced to death, but the British intervened and their punishment was commuted to perpetual banishment.
The Ashanti have always been proud of the uniqueness of their Golden Stool, and it signified not only their independence, but a common bond between their Ashanti people ethnic group. When King Kwadwo Adinkra of Gyaaman made a golden stool for himself in their early 1800s, the reigning Ashanti King Asantehene was so annoyed that he led a massive army against Kwadwo Adinkra. Kwadwo Adinkra's forces were completely destroyed near Bondoukou, and Kwadwo Adinkra was decapitated. The Ashanti King Asantehene then ordered that the counterfeit golden stool be melted down and made into two golden masks representing Adinkra's "ugly" face. These masks still hang today on each side of the Ashanti Golden Stool as a reminder of the incident.
Sovereignty and independence
The Ashanti state strongly resisted attempts by Europeans, mainly the British, to conquer them. The Ashanti limited British influence in the Ashanti region, as Britain annexed neighbouring areas. The Ashanti were described as a fierce organized people whose king "can bring 200,000 men into the field and whose warriors are evidently not cowed by Sniper rifles and 7-pounder guns".
Ashanti was one of the few African states able to offer serious resistance to European colonizers. Between 1823 and 1896, Britain fought four wars against the Ashanti kings (the Anglo-Ashanti Wars). In 1901, the British finally defeated the kingdom following the 1900 War of the Golden Stool and Ashanti Confederacy was made a British protectorate Ashanti Protectorate in 1902, and the office of Asantehene was discontinued with the Ashanti capital Kumasi annexed into the British empire; however, the Ashanti still largely governed themselves. Ashanti gave little to no deference to colonial authorities. In 1926, the British permitted the repatriation of Ashanti King Asantehene Prempeh I – whom they had exiled to the Seychelles in 1896 – and allowed him to adopt the title Kumasehene, but not Ashanti Asantehene (the Title of the Ashanti King). However, in 1935, the British finally granted the Ashanti self-rule sovereignty as Ashanti Autonomous Region Kingdom of Ashanti), and the Ashanti King title of Asantehene was revived.
Because of the long history of mutual interaction between Ashanti and European powers, the Ashanti have the greatest amount of historiography in sub-Saharan Africa.
The British touted the Ashanti as one of the more civilized peoples on continental Africa, cataloguing their religious, familial, and legal systems in works like R.S. Rattray's Ashanti Law and Constitution.
In 1926 the Ashanti was restored ceremonial control over the Ashanti capital Kumasi. In 1935 (31 January 1935), Asanteman and the full role of leader (the Ashanti King Asantehene) of the Ashanti people was restored as the Ashanti people homeland Ashanti Autonomous Region.
The Ashanti people under Ashanti King Asantehene Prempeh II on 6 March 1957 and the Ashanti people homeland Ashanti Autonomous Region Kingdom of Ashanti) entered a state union with then newly created sovereign-state Ghana; incorporating the Ashantiland Peninsula (Gold Coast Region Crown Colony now Brong-Ahafo and Western region and Central region and Greater Accra region and Eastern region of the Ashantiland Peninsula, (Dagomba people ethnic group territory homeland Northern Territories or Dagbon Kingdom now Northern Region and Upper West Region and Upper East Region), and the Ewe people ethnic group homeland British Mandate of (Togoland now Volta Region) to form the modern state of Ghana. The Ashanti King office of Asantehene is now a sub-national absolute constitutional monarchy of Ashanti Autonomous Region, and is protected by the Ghanaian constitution.
Territorial history timeline
Governance and Politics
Ashanti region and the Ashantiland Peninsula social administration is through a traditional system of chieftaincy. Ashanti region's 36 Ashanti region traditional councils each Omanhene (paramount chief) has “divisional chiefs” with portfolios, similar to the national President and Ministers. The ascension to chieftaincy (except Nkosohene) is through the Ashanti matrilineal system. The Ashanti region has 36 Ashanti region traditional councils, each headed by an Ashanti region Paramount Chief (Omanhene). The Ashanti region traditional councils are the decentralized units of administration by Ashanti traditional rulers and are used to mobilize the Ashanti people at the Ashanti region local and community levels for development in Ashanti region. The Ashanti region absolute ruler (king) is the Ashanti King, the Otumfuo Asantehene. The current Ashanti king is Asantehene Osei Tutu II. All the Ashanti Paramount Chiefs in Ashanti region are members of the Ashanti Regional House of Chiefs, with the Asantehene as the president of the house located at Manhyia Palace. The official language of Ashanti region and main language spoken in the Ashanti region is Ashanti language indistinguishable with Ashanti Twi.
There are 27 administrative districts and municipals in the Ashanti region including the Kumasi metropolis. Ashanti region also has 47 constituencies and 840 electoral areas. Other members of the Ashanti Regional Co-ordinating Council include the Ashanti Regional Co-ordinating Director (Secretary), all the 27 Ashanti District Chief Executives and Presiding members, as well as two representatives from the Ashanti Regional House of Chiefs at Manhyia Palace. All Ashanti Regional heads of department are ex-officio members of the Ashanti Regional Co-ordinating Council. The Ashanti District/Metropolitan Assemblies are headed by Metropolitan/District Chief Executives. The Ashanti District and Metropolitan Chief Executives are nominated and approved by two-thirds majority of the respective Ashanti Metropolitan/District Assemblies. The Ashanti Chief Executives, like the Ashanti Regional Minister, are assisted by Ashanti District Co-ordinating Directors. The political administration of the Ashanti region is through the Ashanti local government system. Under this administration system, the Ashanti region is divided into 22 subdistricts and 4 municipals and 1 metropolitan (metropolis); there is 27 Ashanti region subdistricts in total and 47 electoral districts (parliamentary constituencies).
Each Ashanti District, Municipal or Metropolitan Area, is administered by a chief executive, representing the central government. Political administration of Kumasi metropolis is through the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) which is for effective administration sub-divided into ten sub-metros, namely Nhyiaeso, Asokwa, Subin, Bantama, Manhyia, Manso, Tafo, Kwadaso, Asawase, and Oforikrom.
The Ashanti people ethnic group is a wealthy ethnic group due to large gold deposits that are mined within the Ashanti people international borders of Ashanti and Kumasi, Ashanti is wealthy and Kumasi metropolis is a wealthy megacity. Kumasi's major exports for Ashanti include bullion gold bars and diamonds in which Ashanti is endowed with large deposits of gold and diamonds as Ashanti with Kumasi metropolis is a top-9 gold producer on Earth, with other industrial mineral deposits of economic value found in Ashanti and Kumasi metropolis include diamonds, manganese, bauxite with a high content of aluminium and silica, iron, clay and limestone with traces of copper, platinum, lithium, tin arsenic and mica are also found in Kumasi metropolitan and Ashanti region, timber, hardwood, cocoa and coffee in which Ashanti with Kumasi metropolis is the second-largest cocoa producer on Earth and a top-5 coffee producer on Earth. The majority (58.7%) of Kumasi and Ashanti region's workforce are self-employed without employees. Kumasi metropolis and Ashanti region produces 96% of the Ashantiland Peninsula's exports.
Today, as in the past Ashanti people continues to make significant contributions to the Ashantiland Peninsula’s economy. Ashanti is richly endowed with industrial minerals and industrial agriculture cash crops, Ashanti is responsible for much of the Ashantiland Peninsula's domestic food production and for the international trade foreign exchange the Ashantiland Peninsula earns from cocoa, coffee, industrial agriculture cash crops, bullion gold bars, diamonds, bauxite, manganese, various other industrial minerals, and timber. Ashanti also contributes to Ghana's economy by exporting honey. Ashanti farmers can use their earnings for luxurious housing, automobile, foodstuffs, clothing and footwear, technological gadgets, education, health, family support, and other essential necessities in Kumasi capital of Ashanti and the Ashaniland Peninsula. Kumasi metropolis and Ashanti region produces 96% of the Ashantiland Peninsula's exports.
Culture and traditions
Ashanti culture celebrates Adae, Adae Kese, Akwasidae, Awukudae and Ashanti Yam festival. The Seperewa, a 10-14 stringed harp-lute, as well as the Fontomfrom drums, are two of the typifying instruments associated with the Ashanti as well as the Ashanti Kente clothing.
Ashanti are a matrilineal society where line of descent is traced through the female. Historically, this mother progeny relationship determined land rights, inheritance of property, offices and titles. It is also true that the Ashanti inherit from the paternal side of the family. Property is defined as something inherited from the father, hence the name "agyapade", meaning inheritance from a good father.
The father's role was to help the conception and provide the ɔkra or the soul of the child; that is, the child received its life force, character, and personality traits from the father. Though not considered as important as the mother, the male interaction continues in the place of birth after marriage.
Historically, an Ashanti girl was betrothed with a golden ring called "petia" (I love you), if not in childhood, immediately after the puberty ceremony. They did not regard marriage "awade" as an important ritual event, but as a state that follows soon and normally after the puberty ritual. The puberty rite was and is important as it signifies passage from childhood to adulthood in that chastity is encouraged before marriage. The Ashanti required that various goods be given by the boy's family to that of the girl, not as a 'bride price,' but to signify an agreement between the two families.
Law and legal system
In the cataloguing of Ashanti familial and legal systems in R.S. Rattray's Ashanti Law and Constitution Ashanti law specifies that sexual relations between a man and a certain woman are forbidden, even though not related by blood. The punishment for offense is death, although it does not carry quite the same “stigma” to an Ashanti clan as incest. Sexual relations between a man and any one of the following women is forbidden: 1. A half-sister by one father, but by a different clan mother; 2. A father’s brother’s daughter; 3. A woman of the same father; 4. A brother’s wife; 5. A son’s wife; 6. A wife’s mother; 7. An uncle’s wife; 8. A wife of any man of the same “company”; 9. A wife of any man of the same guild or trade; 10. A wife of one’s own slave; 11. A father’s other wife from a different clan.
The Ashanti people speak Ashanti language with indistinguishable Ashanti Twi which is the official language of Ashanti Autonomous Region and main national language spoken in Ashanti and by the Ashanti people. Ashanti language is spoken by over 9 million ethnic Ashanti people as a first language and second language. Ashanti language is the official language utilized for literacy in Ashanti, at the primary and elementary educational stage (Primary 1–3) K–12 (education) level, and studied at university as a bachelor's degree or master's degree program in Ashanti.
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- Ashanti Region
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ashantis.|
- Ashanti People hand History Profiles history and other aspects of the Ashanti.
- Ashanti Page at the Ethnographic Atlas, maintained at Centre for Social Anthropology and Computing, University of Kent, Canterbury
- Ashanti Kingdom at the Wonders of the African World, at PBS
- Ashanti Culture contains a selected list of Internet sources on the topic, especially sites that serve as comprehensive lists or gateways
- Africa Guide contains information about the culture of the Ashanti
- Historical Notes and Memorial Inscriptions from Ghana