One of the highlights of my visit to Ghana was meeting Nana Okyere-Antwi I, the Ashanti King. Our trusted guide, Noah, had managed to secure us an audience with the king, through a local contact. We shook hands are he explained about the Ashanti kingdom and its culture before allowing us time to ask questions and take photographs. You may not address the king directly; you talk to him through his assistant who would in turn present the question to the king. In fact, we would ask Noah the question, he would relay that to the local guide/interpreter who again would pose the question to the king’s assistant. It was a surreal and extraordinary experience and one which I will never forget.
The Ashanti Traditional Museum is housed within the Cultural Centre in Kumasi. Unfortunately, no photography is permitted inside.
The museum houses traditional artifacts and possessions from the Ashanti Royal family amongst other things. I found the following items of interest:
Stools and chairs captured by the British which were brought back by Queen Elizabeth on her visit to Ghana in 1965
Weights used to measure gold dust. Gold dust was used as a currency for some time in Ghana.
Replica of the king’s bathroom.
The king should not place his feet on the floor as this would annul his position, so a foot rest of ivory is placed in front of his seat.
Sculptures, palanquins, staff, stools and swords, including the replica golden stool (which the Ashanti fobbed the English off with as the real thing when they ransacked the palace) which was brought back in 1969 – with the gold covering removed!
Umbrella tops. The king would always have a servant carrying an umbrella over his head and the tops of these umbrellas are very symbolic: a duck means that you shuold look backwards; a horn signifies power and a hand illustrates how you cannot tie a knot without a thumb!
A replica of the king’s kitchen. Women were not allowed to cook for the king because jealousy may entice them to poison him, as well as the belief that menstruating women are dirty. The chief cook would always taste the king’s food first, to ensure it was not poisoned.
A leopard skin drum which when rubbed with a stick over the skin, sounds just like the roar of a leopard. This was used to scare off enemies, making them believe that there really was a dangerous animal around.
The king’s sandals, with the wooden ones used on rainy days and the gold for ceremonies.
Kente cloth, old clothes, spittoons and many other items. It is worth having a guide to explain it all to you.
The string of first missionaries to Ghana quickly died of malaria, but eventually, Ghana became a great success story for the Protestant and Catholic denominations that sent missionaries there. The leading churches in Ghana are the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Anglican Churches, but the Catholic Church, and more recently, the Baptist and Pentacostal Churches have considerable representation. About a third of Ghana is Muslim, but everyone is generally very harmonious about religion, and all over Ghana, traditional tribal spirtualism remains an important part of life. The strength of Christian belief in Ghana is very high as images of Christ and Christian slogans are proudly painted onto vehicles and in homes. Thus, Ghana represents the front line of Christian and Muslim missionary activity, as the Christians moved north from the Gold Coast Slave Fortresses and the Muslim armies and slave traders moved south from the Sahara. At the present time, the Christians seem to be having greater success because the many non-government aid organizations are from the various churches, such as the educational unit of the Presbyterian Church shown here. Thus, while Christian efforts have been a miserable failure in the Arab Middle East, the Muslims have neglected the needs of Africans south of the Sahara, many of whom are converting to Christianity as a way for salvation in this world--food, medical care, and education. Most Churches provide multi-lingual services. In Kumasi, that would typically mean one service in English and another in Akan.
Soccer, otherwise known as football in the world, is naturally very popular in Ghana and the Ghanians are very good at it. I paid modest ticket prices for myself and my friend to watch Ghana beat soundly a visiting Morrocco club. The players in Ghana can run fast and scrap well for the ball. The Morroccan's tried a finesse passing game, but it didn't work. The Ghana club was too hard hitting. The stadium design isn't the greatest as a iron fence separates the fans from the field at the lower levels, but this is the largest stadium in the nation and in a city that is fanatical about the sport. Although saches of water pelted the field, I didn't see any of the unruly barbarism behavior frequently seen at the uncivilized European soccer matches.
Browse the meat market, currency exchange booth area, tools, toys or row after row of fabrics and clothes--This is the open Market in Kumasi. Central located in a large and spread out city, at least a morning can be spent here people watching or selecting cotton print and batik fabrics. I took advantage of the photogenic vendors...
People who fear touching others will fear this place. I found the labyrinth of alleys fun though...Many of the molded plastic junk in made in India or China.