To fully experience the vibrant traditions and culture of the Ashanti people in Ghana, travelers should not miss the chance to go to the Akwasidae Festival. It’s held once every six weeks and attended by all WT groups on trips to the country.
During the celebration at the Manhyia Royal Palace in Kumasi, libations are poured over the thrones of the former kings. The current king sits in the shade of a highly colorful umbrella. He is wrapped in bright fabric and adorned with antique solid gold jewelry—Ashanti golden jewels and masks are considered masterpieces of African art.
At the feet of His Majesty sits a narrow row of dignitaries with various functions: ritual sword-bearers, guards armed with powder rifles, courtiers carrying the knives used for executions, and carriers of ostrich feather fans. And next to the king are seated the elders and the advisers. They are all under the authority of the royal speaker, who holds gold-covered symbols of power in his hands.
The entire festival is an occasion for locals to honor and thank personal and communal ancestors. But after experiencing these rich traditions in the palace of the king, travelers, too, will leave the celebration feeling royally blessed.
–Text by Roberto Cerea, our local expert in Tribal Ghana, Togo, and Benin
–Photos courtesy of Carlo Natali