We went to the Manhyia Palace Museum to see a little bit of history about the kingdom. Among the costumes and artifacts there was the story of the Goldon Stool which is used by the King as a symbol of his authority. Legend has it that the Golden stool possesses the soul of the Ashanti kingdom and if it was ever to be destroyed the kingdom would fall. As a result when the British drove out the Dutch (who had driven out the Portuguese) they demanded the Golden stool as a tribute. The king rather than give up the stool gave himself up and was sent off into exile in the Seychelles islands for some 38 years. The result is that the stool and the kingdom still exist today. Most Ghanaians will never see the golden stool as it is only brought out on special occasions and not very often. George, our guide has never seen it in his 18 years of guiding and many many trips to Kumasi.
Outside the museum were cars and a lot of people. George went to find out what was happening and came back and immediately took us over to the gathering. We had arrived on a day when the king was in residence surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of people in colorful tribal dress. They were gathered in groups around their tribal chiefs to pay honor to the king. There were high priests and spirit guides with drumming going on constantly. Not only did we get to see the King (from a distance) but got a glimpse of the Golden stool which is out there next to him. George told us this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most Ghanaians and extremely unusual for any tourist.
And this was also a shopping trip. Marguerite came prepared to stock up on some of the beautiful cloth that was woven here and we stopped to meet a woodcarver. Later we stopped at a place where they showed us how the black ink was made by boiling bark for four or five days. And we stamped traditional patterns on our own piece of cloth.
George enlightened us with many African Proverbs and the Anasi or spider stories that are used to promote passing on of knowledge through folklore.
Should you be asked the trivia question: "what day of the week was Kofi Annan born on?". Kofi Annan, formerly United Nations Secretary General, is Ghanaian. Westerners think it is a crazy questions while Ghanaians find it easy. One Ghanain tradition is to name children based on the day of the week they were born and their position in the family. Kofi was born on Friday and Annan means he was the fourth born male child. So if I was born in the Ashanti kingdom my name would be: Kwabena Baako (Tuesday, first male child)