Ashanti - a rich kingdom
The Ashanti kingdom of Ghana is by far the richest in Ghana in terms of resources, history and culture. The regional capital is Kumasi which is popularly called the garden city because of its beauty and aesthetic nature. This kingdom is highly regarded as the richest in Ghana because of many features. Notable among these are its:
1. Immense range of minerals - The Ashanti region is home to most of Ghana’s rich minerals. When you think about gold in Ghana, you think of Obuasi. This town in the Ashanti region is the home to 90% of the gold mined in Ghana. The importance of gold to Ghana’s economy cannot be overemphasized. “Konongo’’, another town in the Ashanti region is a powerhouse when it comes to gold mining. Bauxite, diamond and manganese are other minerals that can be found within the Ashanti kingdom.
2. Rich cultural heritage - The Ashanti Kingdom is also very rich in culture and tradition. Many Ghanaian artifacts are attributed to this great Kingdom. Talk of “Kente”, the beautiful and expensive woven piece of cloth that is worn for very important and memorable occasions. Anytime one wants to marry an Ashanti woman, a piece of Kente cloth is a basic requirement. Usually at the ceremonies, this beautiful cloth is used to make dresses for the women and cover cloth for the men. Another important element of the rich Ashanti culture that is worthy of note is the “golden stool” which is believed to have been conjured from the skies by a very renowned Ashanti fetish priest “Okomfo Anokye” in the late 1600’s.
3. Historic Leaders - When we talk about great leaders to have graced the Ashanti Kingdom, there are a few names that definately come to mind. Yaa Asantewaa was appointed queen mother of Ejisu in the Ashanti Empire — now part of modern-day Ghana by her brother Nana Akwasi Afrane Okpese, the Ejisuhene—or ruler of Ejisu. In 1900, she led the Ashanti rebellion known as the War of the Golden Stool, also known as the Yaa Asantewaa war, against British colonialism. Otumfuo Osei-Tutu II is the current King of the Ashanti empire. He is the 16th Asantehene, ruler of Ashanti and Ashantiland and the Kingdom of Ashanti. King Osei Tutu ascended the Golden Stool (throne) on 26 April 1999. By name, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II is in direct succession to the founder of the Empire of Ashanti, Otumfuo Osei Tutu.
4. Amazing tourist sites - The Ashanti region has by far the most enterprising tourist sites in Ghana. Lake Bosomtwi is the most expansive natural body of fresh water in Ghana. It is also the deepest, reaching a maximum depth of 80-100m, and 10.7km2 in diameter. Some believe that the lake was created by a volcanic action and others say it was created by a falling meteorite causing a crater to be formed however piles of heavy rainfall over the years filled the crater with water causing the lake level to rise. The lake water size varies according to seasons in question, sometimes it overflows and other times the water level will be so low. The lake houses fish varieties such as endemic cichlid Hemichromis frempongi, and the near-endemic cichlids popularly known in local terms as “tilapia”. Enjoy fishing in a traditional boat or canoe, an experience worth evoking.
The Manhyia Palace is the seat of the Ashanti king which dates back to the 17th century. It also houses a royal museum stocked with rare and unique royal paraphernalia and life-size effigies of notable Ashanti kings and queens. The palace also hosts the ever-popular Akwasidae Festival held every six weeks in accordance to the Ashanti traditional calendar.
The Centre for National Culture is the first of its kind to be established in Sub-Saharan Africa in 1952 features the following:
· Prempeh II museum – (This museum principally showcases the rich history and culture of the Ashanti kingdom.
· Craft centre – (Traditional craftsmen can be observed here displaying their skills in the weaving of the world famous kente cloth, pottery and brass smithing)
· A gift shop – (The centre has a number of gift shops where Ashanti traditional textiles, leatherworks, carvings and other Ghanaian artifacts may be bought).
· Cultural displays and tutorials – (Traditional dances and performances can be observed or taught for a fee on request)
Other places of interest are the Okomfo Anokye sword, Fort St. George (war museum), the Kumasi central market and the Kumasi zoological gardens.
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