Asante royal in his cloth with beautiful bird feathers hat on his head adorned with pure gold ornaments and other golden artifacts during an annual Akwasidaekese festival at Kumasi in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. Among the ethnic Akans, especially the Asantes and other allied ethnic Akan-sub groups like Denkyira, Akuapim, Akyem, Kwahu and others Akwasidae rituals and events are held every six weeks, honouring the ancestors and in the Ashanti region the Ashanti king.
All Asantes (Ashantis) as well as the Ashanti diaspora participate in this cultural festival. The Akwasidae Festival is next only in importance to the National Day celebrations. Akwasidae, according to the Ashanti cultural archive records is an ornate ceremony, commemorating the date that the Ashanti Golden Stool was magically brought down from heaven. The festival therefore features a golden stool alongside the central feature of attention, the Ashanti King, who is carried on a palanquin through the procession of Ashanti people who have come to pay homage to him. A visit to Kumasi during an Akwasidae celebration is an invitation for spectacle. A celebration which parades colourful canopies and umbrellas amongst fontonfrom, kete and mpintsin drummers, dancers, horn blowers and singers who perform in honour of their ancestral spirits.
Many have heard of and witnessed Akwasidae festival of the Akans, but why the festival is called ‘Adae’ is little known to them. In Akan “adae” means rest place, so to bother you a bit, Akwadae is observed with a visit by the chief and some of his elders to the stool-house (Royal Mausoleum) where past chiefs had been buried to invoke their blessings for the people.
During such moments, a sheep is slaughtered and some of the blood sprinkled on the stools, which is accompanied by pouring libation amidst drumming. Akwasidae takes place in a 40-day cycle and in some years it is observed eight times and in others nine times.
The Akan annual calendar is divided into nine parts, each lasting approximately six weeks but varying between 40–42 days in a period; the celebration of this period is called the Adae Festival.
The Adae Festival has two celebration days: the Akwasidae Festival is celebrated on the final Sunday of the period, while the Awukudae Festival is celebrated on a Wednesday within the period. The Friday preceding 10 days to the Akwasidae is called the Fofie (meaning a ritual Friday). As the festival is always held on Sundays (Twi in Kwasidae), its recurrence could be after 40 or 42 days in accordance with the official Calendar of Ashanti. During the last Akwasidae of the year, which coincides with the Adae Kese Festival, special attention is given to make food offerings and donations for helping people. The festivals of Adae are not interchangeable as they were fixed from ancient times
BY: Kweku Darko Ankrah