Divine Kingship of Asante
The history of Black people is so amazing. We have a rich history of struggle, triumph, and unconditional love. Our history stretches across the waters into the continent of Africa.
Where does one start when sharing the history of a people that impacted the world? I contemplated this question before writing this article. What I have concluded is that I will continue to expand upon the topic of Divine Kingship of Asante: A Model for Sustainable Development of Self & Community by Dr. Hehimetu Ra Enkamit, the library’s featured author for Black History Month. I was intrigued by this piece of African American history.
The kingdom of Asante is located in the central area of southern part of Ghana, which today is known as the Ashanti Region. The Asante are the largest ethnic group of Akan or Twi in Ghana. Ghana is situated in West Africa. Kingship is embedded in the Asante tradition. The Golden Stool is scared to the Asante culture and plays an important role in the enstoolment of the kings and queen mothers. It was said that the Golden Stool symbolized the unity of the chiefs and their people. The Golden Stool is the most sacred object of the Asante that has survived because it is viewed as a gift from God.
Historically, by 850 A.D., Ghana was a great kingdom. Ghana was referred as the land of gold and the land of Blacks. What made Ghana great was their well-developed administrative system that allowed them to govern large territories of land. The management of the land was organized by warriors who maintained the peace of the kingdom. Ghana’s first emperor was King Tenkaminen. This was a time in which Ghana flourished in the gold trade. King Tenkaminen’s leadership was rooted in listening to his people and disputes were settled peacefully.
Chiefdom was established under King Osei Tutu I in the late 17th century. It was under the leadership of Osei Tutu I in which the Golden Stool was introduced to unify all rulers of Asante and its people. Osei Tutu I was known for building the nation of the Asante which included moving the capital from Kwaman to Kumasi, and establishing the constitution for the Asante nation. This constitution was the beginning of establishing the Asantehene. The Asantehene were made up of the paramount chiefs who pledged an oath of faithful service and loyalty to Asantehene.
Divine Kingship is a practice that is still a part of the Ghanaian culture. It is rooted in a matrilineal tradition. The matrilineal tradition goes back to Ancient Kamit. The matrilineal tradition was created “to enact the balance of power in societies where the importance and respect of the woman was crucial to the survival of a sedentary, agricultural lifestyle.” Therefore, women transmitted the kinship rights of inheritance.
In Ghana, the king-elect must receive the blessing from the Queen Mother of the entire kingdom. Dr. Hehimetu Ra Enkamit made reference to this in his book in which he stated that some Asante see the blessing by the Queen Mother as “being powerful for the successful accomplishment of the enstoolment because she is imbued with the spirits of the ancestors.” All paramount chiefs and the king have a queen mother who takes part in ruling the kingdom.
Asante’s history is long. From 1701, the year of the enstoolment of Osei Tutu I, through leadership of the current king, Osei Tutu II, 16 monarchs have ruled Asante over a period of more than 300 years. The Asante Kingdom has survived a great deal of internal and external problems, however, it is remarkable to note that its divine kingship system is still practiced today. I have provided a brief journey into Ancient Ghana and the history of the Asante. I encourage you to explore this part of African American history and the other great empires of Africa.
The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Africa, edited by Roland Oliver and Michael Crowder
Cultural Sociology of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa: An Encyclopedia,
edited by Andrea L. Stanton
Divine Kingship of Asante: A Model for Sustainable Development of Self & Community, by Dr. Hehimetu Ra Enkamit.
Encyclopedia of African History, Vol 1, edited by Kevin Shillington
Great Civilizations of Ancient Africa, by Lester Brooks
History of Africa from Earliest Times to 1800, by Harry A. Gailey
Kingship in Ancient Kamit: A Political, Social, & Cultural Study, by the Kheri Heb & Hen Neter Priesthood of Ausar Auset Society