The Resilience of The Culture and Paramountcy of The Powers of The Asante Kingdom

The Asante kingdom is one of the vibrant ethnic societies in Ghana and on the African continent. The powers that its traditional council exerts are supreme and highly respected. The current events in Ghana illustrate the supremacy of the powers of the Asante king (Asantehene). Due to the sad passing of the queen mother of the Asante kingdom (Asantehemaa), the traditional council of the Asante kingdom has imposed a curfew, observation of silence and a ban on the organization of funeral rites, endorsed by the ruling government at the jurisdiction of the kingdom. This mandates all residents whether local or foreign to stay indoors after seven o’clock in the evening. Many people have expressed their displeasure toward this restriction as an infringement on the rights of residents in those parts of the Ashanti region of Ghana. However, such is the power of the superior authority and culture of the vibrant Asante kingdom.

Culturally, when a royal from the governing class in the Asante kingdom passes away, subjects are not supposed to organize any funeral ceremony until the deceased royal is buried and the final mortuary rites are performed. This is branded as an act of sacrilege and respect for the dead member of the royal family that governs the Asante people. Granted, in dire circumstances that demand the immediate burial of a deceased member of one’s family, the burial must take place with the observance of total silence. That implies that the bereaved family is banned from wailing or crying for their great loss. Families that cannot succumb to this order have to wait for the burial ceremony of the royal from the governing class to be organized before organizing the funeral rites of their deceased.

Aside from the observance of silence during the burial of a deceased member, all and sundry living on the soils of the Asante kingdom, including business enterprises, restaurants, pubs and others are not to make any kind of noise such as from the tunes of music, drumming, jubilation or whatsoever. This is done to perpetually ingrain in the minds of society members their great loss. It is meant to cause members of the ethnic society to respect the laws, orders, and laws that issue from the Asante kingdom.

Moreover, the first Saturday to the day slated for the burial ceremony is the organization of a compulsory participation of all residents in the jurisdiction of the Asante kingdom to engage in massive environmental sanitation and cleaning exercises. All choked gutters and refuse are to be properly disposed of. It is believed among the Asantes that the ancestors would be visiting the people at the burial ceremony. Therefore, the surroundings of residents must be tidied to indicate that they have respect for the ancestors who constantly supervise their daily activities and makes them successful. However, a sorry state of the environment, marked by filth would incur their wrath, displeasure and the bestowing of bad luck on society members and the entire Asante kingdom. Thus, the traditional council of the Asante kingdom police and inspect every nook and cranny thoroughly to make sure that their total landmass is free of dirt and any form of filth.

The deep respect and awe for the traditional council that rules the Asante kingdom propel members to heed the call. Failure to heed these restrictions is believed to attract the displeasure of the gods and ancestors. They can inflict eternal death punishment and sickness spree on every member of the kingdom that fails to honor the restrictions given by the Asante traditional kingdom. It is even said that the punishment meted out can extend to innocent members of the same family lineage of the offender. In addition, the traditional court sometimes picks up the culprit and s/he may not be seen again or probably executed by the executioners (Abrafo) at the palace. Sometimes, special monetary penalties and sacrifices of pacification are mandated for such culprits to pay to serve as powerful lessons to other members of the kingdom not to breach the orders of the traditional council.

This shows the supreme power and influence of the governing authority of the Asante traditional court even in the face of globalization and modernization. It also shows the great impact and resilience of the Asante cultural traditions, practices and customs. Thus, the traditional council of the Asantes can be used as a sanctioning and empowering agency to enforce strict laws and acts related to key areas of development like environmental degradation. At the age of modernity in Ghana, where rules are easily broken by residents, the high deteriorating state of the economy of the country can be remedied by resorting to the powers and influence of the traditional governing institutions. Probably, a perfect way forward is to tap the great powers of the traditional councils of the various ethnic societies to enforce developmental agendas in their various jurisdictions.

Mary J. Gibson

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