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The Manhyia Palace

THE MANHYIA PALACE
The Manhyia Palace served as the residence of Otumfuo Prempeh I and Otumfuo Sir Osei Agyeman Prempeh II, K.B.E. the 13th and 14th Kings of the Asante Kimgdom. The building was put up by the British Government for Otumfuo Prempeh I in 1925 who returned from exile in the Seychelles Islands in 1924, to replace the old Asantehene’s Palace at Adum which was destroyed during the Yaa Asantewaa war. The war was fought between the British and the Asantes because of the refusal of the then Asantehene to offer the Golden stool to the then governor of the Gold Coast, as demanded by the governor.

The Manhyia Palace is both the seat of the Asantehene and his official residence. It is located at the capital of the Ashanti region, Kumasi. The old palace was converted into a museum in 1995 after the new palace was built, the Manhyia Palace Museum. King Opoku Ware II built the new palace which is close to the old one and is currently used by the current Asantehene King Osei Tutu II. However, Opoku Ware II was the first king to live in the new palace, which he occupied until his death in late 1999.

The palace courtyard hosts numerous important Asante traditional and cultural events. These include the Adae festival, which occurs every sixth Sunday when the Asantehene receives homage from his subjects and subservient chiefs, as well as visitors of significant importance.

Its large courtyard of the palace holds statues of past and present great Kings and Queens of the Asante Nation. This palace remains in use today and houses a small but most interesting history museum of the Asante Kingdom.

Oral traditional has it that before the building of the Manhyia Palace there had been two Palaces for the Asante Kings, one built by Nana Osei Tutu at Adum in the area where the present Kumasi Home Stores is sited and its location is marked by Nana Prempeh I, Kumasihene’s House.

The second Palace was built by Nana Bonsu upon returning from the Coastal Campaign of 1806. That Palace was situated in the area where the Kumasi Fort, now Military Museum is currently situated. He used this Palace as a Museum where he kept valuable Asante items and relics for show to visitors. The first Palace later was burnt down together with other houses in 1874 by the soldiers of Sir Garnet Wolseley who also demolished the second Palace known as Nana Bonsu Aban.

After the Sagrenti of 1874, Nana Kofi Kakari, the then Asantehene, at that time rehabilitated the first Palace and lived there. His successor, Nana Mensah Bonsu, Nana Kwaku Dua II and Nana Prempeh I also lived in that Palace subsequently. Its destruction occurred during the Yaa Asantewaa War when the stool and what was left of its regalia were removed from the Palace for safe keeping in other parts of Asante Kingdom. One interesting development was that after the exile of Nana Prempeh I, the British reconstructed “Nana Bonsu Aban” and called it the “The Kumasi Fort”.

The Fort was used by the Resident Commissioner as administrative offices of the Asante Region and Northern territories. The Governor and his followers were in the Fort when the Yaa Asantewaa War of 1900 was declared. When Nana Prempeh I returned from Seychelles Islands to Kumasi in November, 1924, there was no Palace for Asantehene. He therefore had to stay at then Asafohene’s Palace. It was this state of affairs that pressed the British Government to put up the present building now housing the Museum for Nana Prempeh I. However, Nana Prempeh I turned the offer down and only moved into it as his residence after Asanteman had paid for it in full.