THE GOLDEN STOOL
According to oral tradition, a meeting of the chiefs of Asante states was called by Nana Osei Tutu of Kumase. The main agenda was to unite under one of the chiefs. His stool would be greater than all the other stools, and any chief enstooled by any of the states was to swear the oath of allegiance to him. The old question of “Who would be chosen the head then”? again appeared. It was at this juncture that Okomfo Anokye explained that the problem would be solved by the ancestors and the gods. He would pray to the ancestors and the gods. At the end of the preyer,the ancestors and the gods would send a stool from the skies and the chief on whose laps it would descend and rest,would be the chosen chief. According to oral tradition a festive Friday “Fofie” was chosen to be the day they would meet for the gods and ancestors to choose their king for them. When they agreed on the day , they were told by Okomfo Anokye to fast and pour libations to their ancestors and the gods until the chosen day. Then they dispersed to their various states.
On the appointed day, the chiefs met, each waiting to be the paramount chief or king elect. On that they , the atmosphere looked calm. Okomfo Anokye appeared amidst drumming and dancing. After some magical dances, he paused a little, jump here and there and began to all something from the sky. Drumming started again and the priest conjured. The sky became tense and a deafening noise was heard with lightning and thunder storm. Then a stool studding with gold descended on the apps of Nana Osei Tutu. It therefore meant that he had been chosen by the ancestors and the gods as the unquestionable king of the kings of the Asante Nation. Finger nails and small collection of hair from each chief were collected, all was burnt and the ashes ,some smeared on the gold stool and the rest was mixed in palm wine for all the chiefs to drink. Okomfo Anokye told them that the gold stool contained the spirit and soul of the Asante Nation. The portion they drank meant that, they had sworn to the gods and ancestors, which meant they had taken an oath to unite and forget their past individual histories. Nana Osei Tutu took the oath of allegiance to the golden stool and all the chiefs, and each of them in turn took an oath of allegiance to Nana Osei Tutu and the oath never to raise arms against the Golden Stool. That was the beginning of Asante Kingdom. Nana Osei Tutu was therefore made the first King of the Asante Kingdom.
The Golden Stool is sacred to the Asante, as it is believed that it contains , the spirit or soul of the Asante people. Just as man cannot live without a soul, so the Ashanti would cease to exist if the Golden Stool were to be taken from them.
The Golden Stool is a curved seat 46 cm high with a platform 61 cm wide and 30 cm deep. Its entire surface is inlaid with gold, and hung with bells to warn the king of impending danger. It is an Asante legend and has only been seen by the Asante ethnic group’s royalty. Only the king and trusted advisers know the hiding place of the Golden Stool. Replicas of the Golden Stool have been produced for the Asante chiefs and at their funerals are ceremonially blackened with animal blood, a symbol of their power for generations.
The Asantes have always defended their Golden Stool when it was under threat. In 1896, the Asantes allowed their King, Prempeh I, to be exiled rather than risk losing a war and the Golden Stool in the process. The Governor of the Gold Coast, Sir Frederick Hodgson, demanded to sit on the stool in the year 1900. The Asantes remained silent and when the assembly ended, they went home and prepared for war (the War of the Golden Stool). Although Asante lost on the battlefield, Asante claimed victory because Asante fought only to preserve the sanctity of the Golden Stool, and Asante had.
The Asantes have always been proud of the uniqueness of their Golden Stool, and it signified not only their independence, but a common bond between their Asante people ethnic group. When King Kwadwo Adinkra of Gyaaman made a golden stool for himself in their early 1800s, the reigning Asante King( Asantehene) was so annoyed that he led a massive army against Kwadwo Adinkra. Kwadwo Adinkra’s forces were completely destroyed near Bondoukou, and Kwadwo Adinkra was decapitated. The Asante King (Asantehene) then ordered that the counterfeit golden stool be melted down and made into two golden masks representing Adinkra’s “ugly” face. These masks still hang today on each side of the Asante Golden Stool as a reminder of the incident