The Land of the Golden People
MPAGErs spent day’s 9 and 10 in Kumasi. Kumasi is one of Ghana’s largest and most developed cities. A forested region four hours north of Cape Coast and Accra, Kumasi is home to the famous Asante people.
Our one-day trip to Kumasi was jam-packed with a variety of interesting events. We shopped at Kumasi’s annual cultural art festival, toured the Manhiya Palace Museum, and visited renowned Islamic Suffi leader, Sheikh Ibrahima Nyass.
To my delight our first stop was shopping! At the market, I purchased Ghanaian waist beads, bracelets, and necklaces for my friends. The market had many vendors selling items such as traditional African attire, shoes, purses, paintings, jewelry, and wooden carvings. I enjoyed the market and I was very satisfied with all my purchases.
The next morning we visited the Manhiya Palace Museum. The Manhiya Palace Museum holds several ancient Asante artifacts and it is next door to the Asante king’s actual palace. During the tour, I learned so much about the Asante’s fascinating history.
In 1907, while Ghana remained a British colony, Governor Arnold Hodgson demanded the Asante’s golden stool. The pure gold stool symbolically holds the Asante’s spirit and physically sits the asantehene, or Asante king. It is commonly believed that if the stool is lost, the kingdom will collapse. When the Asante learned about their colonizer’s unreasonable request, King Prempe 1 and his mother, Queen Mother Yaa Asantewaa hid the stool in a nearby village. The king was held prisoner for over 20 years and his mother died in custody, but they never revealed the stool’s whereabouts. When King Prempe was finally released, his stool and kingdom awaited him
In the Asante tradition, the next king is usually the nephew of the previous king, and queen mother is appointed by the king.
The tour at the Manhiya Palace gave me a clearer understanding of the role of kings and queen mothers in the Asante kingdom and Ghanaian culture. I absolutely admire the level of respect the members of the Asante kingdom have for the kings and queen mothers.
Our final visit was to Sheikh Ibrahima Nyass’s mosque. Ibrahima Nyass is a well-known sheikh that practices suffism. As a Muslim, I found the visit to be very insightful because I knew nothing about suffism. I learned that to be a suffi you must be an extremely diligent scholar in your religion. Suffis are solely dedicated to the belief that all things that happen, good or bad, occur for a reason and are divinely inspired. The value is in what you are able to take away from those experiences.
I would have to say that going to visit the sheikh was the most spiritual aspect of this trip.
Written by Khadijah Aleem
Accra, Ghana, July 20, 2012