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Akwasidae festival

Culturalmente Imparando

The Akwasidae festival is celebrated on Sundays every six weeks in Ghana by the Ashanti people. Practically nine times a year the ruler of this ethnic group (Asantehene) meets his subjects in his residence (the Manhyia Palace) in Kumasi, the second most populous city in the country. The six-week scan is due to the annual calendar of the Akan, a people originally from West Africa composed of various ethnic groups, including the Ashanti. To be precise, the Akwasidae festival falls on the final Sunday of this six-week period, so it should not be confused with the Awukudae festival, which takes place within this period, on Wednesday. Both festivals are held within the Adae festival, which is therefore a whole cycle (also covering nine periods per year), considered to be an ancestral tradition. The last Akwasidae of the year Akan is also called Adae Kese festival. In addition, other days contained within the Adae cycle also have different names depending on when they fall.

What is the purpose of this complicated round of celebrations? Every single festival has its own rituals, formulas, objects and traditions, so drawing a common profile is not very easy. Basically, with the Adae the Ashanti people thank the gods and ancestors for the fruits of the earth, also celebrating the beginning of the new year on the day the ninth Adae festival of the Akan calendar falls. The Awukudae consists of a ritual that brings together the leaders and elders in Kumasi, with performances by drummers. During this period food and donations are offered for the poor and the sick, as it is also believed that ancestors' spirits roam among the living to attend the festival. In the aforementioned Adae Kese the pride of the Ashanti people is celebrated, who purify themselves through ancestral rituals. Finally, the Akwasidae festival pays homage to the ancestors by drumming, dancing and singing. Some minor deities are also celebrated and offerings are made.

As mentioned at the opening, for the occasion the sovereign meets his subjects in his residence. In addition, people are allowed to shake his hand. The king also observes the cult of his ancestors, visiting some sacred places together with his subjects. The beauty of this festival lies not only in the charm of the royal family and the people who still worship it, but also in the typical customs of this culture. Tourists are allowed to participate in the celebration only if authorized by the royal family itself, which offers welcome gifts as a sign of hospitality. The festival involves thousands of people from the many local tribes. Ashanti art is one of the most important in Africa, characterized by the mastery of gold and ivory processing, of which the king makes ostentation during the rituals.

The entire Ashanti region of Ghana has about 11 million people, of whom one million live in Kumasi, once the capital of the Ashanti Empire. This was a pre-colonial state born in 1670, which remained so until the beginning of the 20th century, when after four wars the British Empire managed to turn it into a colony of its own (called the Gold Coast). Independence for the present Republic of Ghana would not come until 1957. Despite this, even today the monarch Ashanti is still respected by the homonymous ethnic group. Since 1999 the sovereign is Osei Tutu II, who before taking the royal office had studied both at the University of Professional Studies in Accra and the London Metropolitan University, graduating and specializing in Human Resources Management and Public Administration. He also received an honorary doctorate from the Barbican Centre in London in 2006. His real name is Nana Barima Kwaku Duah Kwaku; the one he chose as sovereign takes up the figure of Osei Tutu, one of the founders of the Ashanti Empire.


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  • L'Autore

    Mario Rafaniello

    Mario Rafaniello Vice Responsabile della rubrica “Culturalmente Imparando”. Partecipa anche all’entusiasmante progetto “Japan 2020” e si interessa di arte, cultura e letteratura.

    Laureato in Giurisprudenza e laureando in Relazioni Internazionali. Attualmente collabora con diversi portali online.

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