The Golden Stool
Known as ‘Sika Adwa Kofi’, many people know it to be called “The Golden Stool” of the Asante Kingdom, but that is just because of the British colonization and their influence on the Gold Coast.
Before telling you the significance of this mysterious stool, let me explain the meaning of its name:
‘Sika’, in the Akan or Twi language means money and in the Akan tradition, whenever we say Sika/money, it means GOLD but not any valueless printed paper. This means that this stool is composed of pure and unmixed Gold.
‘Adwa’ means an object for sitting, particularly, with a sign of authority. So, in this situation, Adwa means stool of authority for the Kingdom.
‘Kofi’ is a naturally obtained name for all males born on friday in the Akan culture. Here, it means that, the object was given birth to by the Ancestors on Friday. I hope you now understand in a whole, what the name “Sika Adwa Kofi” means?
In the entire Kingdom of Asante, this stool is the single most important object that has kept the Kingdom strong and in unity from its ancient days to present. It is also this Sika Adwa Kofi, that every Asante has a duty to protect, even with his blood, not any individual who occupies it.
By tradition, whoever significantly defend or fight for the Sika Adwa Kofi becomes a royal, whether that person is an Asante by blood or not. Today, we can point to many royal stools in the Asante Kingdom which are being occupied by families whom traditionally were not royals or even Asantes but for their dedication to defend and serve the Sika Adwa Kofi turned them and their generations into royals of the Golden Kingdom.
How did the Sika Adwa Kofi become so important to the existence of the ‘Asanteman’ (Asante Nation or Kingdom)?
~During the times of movement in search for suitable land for settlement after the land of black people have been forcefully invaded from the northern and Eastern territories of the African Continent, Asantes moved together, but under different commands and leadership due to their high population.
When Asantes finally arrived in the present day Ghana and in some parts of Ivory Coast, it became very difficult for these “poles” of leadership which have been formed throughout their journey to come again under one command. As a result, the people of Asante began to govern themselves under small chiefdoms without unity or a common front. This made them vulnerable to continuous attacks and invasions which they got defeated on several occasions.
Knowing where they were coming from and the need to save their offsprings into the future, the Asantes called on their Ancestors for guidance and protection. The leadership of these small fronts met to pour libation and called on mother nature to come to their aid.
Not long after calling on their Ancestors, a man was born far away from the Asanteman land. significantly, this man was born not to any member of the Asante Kingdom and as such has no personal interest or bias towards any of the small fronts making him a neutral figure who can deliver a message for the acceptance of all parties. Instead he was born in a small community in Akuapem land called Awukugua by an Akuapem parents. His name was Okomfo Anokye (meaning a traditional Priest).
As this little boy grew older, he became powerful and began to perform several miracles (several of his miracles still live today and many people visit Ghana to see them each year). Subsequently, the Ancestors led him to walk several miles to the Asanteman land where he organised all the chiefs into a durbar and informed them about his mission as he carried from the Ancestors. He told them that the Ancestors have heard their cry and they have sent him to bring greatness (which cannot be destroyed by any man or by any history) to the people as a rewards for their wisdom to seek unity among themselves.
He brought with him, seeds from a tree called “Kum”, he then gathered all the leaderships from the small fronts and made each front randomly select one seed. He proceeded to tell them to go to their chiefdoms to plant the seed, care for it and protect it to grow. He explained to them however that, only one of the seed can grow to maturity and the fronts whose seed grows to maturity is the one whom the ancestors have chosen to lead the Kingdom into its greatness.
Two weeks after planting the Kum seeds, all of them germinated, the various fronts employed the strongest and the most loyal men in their sections to protect and guide the seeds day and night from any harm they can think about. However, no matter how strong they protect and care for the newly germinated seeds, they (the seeds) ended up dying one after the other. All of them died, but one.
Eventually, they all agreed that the ancestors have made the right choice for the Kingdom and they named the city where the tree survived “Kum-ase” which means under the Kum tree. This is because the tree was providing shade for the continous traditional gathering and deliberation by the elders at the beginning of the establishment of the Kingdom. Kumasi, then became the authoritative capital and the heart of the Asante Kingdom and it has stayed so upto today.
Subsequently, Okomfo Anokye called a durbar to gather all the people of the Asanteman to come and respond to what is termed as “the ancestral call”. This event is still considered the biggest gathering in the Asanteman’s history. In the presence of all the people and their leaders, Okomfo Anokye performed a libation to thank mother nature and and the Ancestors, he proceeded to ask the traditional servants to dram the biggest dram in the kingdom, he began to dance and abruptly raised his hand into the sky. To the surprised of the gathering, they saw the most beautiful object descending from the sky; a glittering Golden Stool which shines and brights like the star.
The stool came directly into the hands of Okumfo Anokye who then placed it in front of the leader of the section from Kumasi (Otumfuo Osei Tutu I) who has become the de facto head of Asanteman. He called all the leaders to place their hand on the Golden Stool to swear an oath of allegiance to forever remain in unity to protect and defend the Golden Stool even with their blood. They also sworn to be loyal and obedience to the guidance of the occupant of the stool who shall only command the messages from the ancestors to guide the Kingdom to its greatness.
This single object of unity (The Sika Adwa Kofi) has kept the kingdom growing stronger, and the respect the Asantes have for their traditions is one unique things that everyone admires so much of them.
The African can grow stronger, to build kingdoms and empires for our next generations as long as we stay in unity and live by our own cultures and traditions.
Written by Kwadwo Agyei Yeboah