The Ashanti Region is the third largest of Ghana’s 10 administrative regions and is centrally located in the middle belt. The region is the traditional Homeland of the Ashanti Ethnic Group. The most well-known area of Ashanti Region is its capital Kumasi.
The region is home to almost 5 million people with more than 50% of the population residing in Kumasi metropolis.
The Ashanti region is a top producer of Ghana’s exports including gold, cocoa, and other agricultural products.
HISTORY & MYTHOLOGY
The Ashantis (Asante) make up the largest of the various subgroups of the Akan ethnic group that traces their origin from present day Brong Ahafo region.
After several years of subjugation of other empires, the Ashanti’s grew to be a very powerful empire under the first king (Asantehene) of the Ashantis King Osei Tutu I. The Ashanti symbol of unity, the Golden Stool is said to have descended from the sky due to the extraordinary mythical powers of Okomfo Anokye, the best friend of King (Asantehene) Osei Tutu 1 who is said to have commanded the stool from the skies. At the height of its glory, the influence and culture of the Asante Kingdom stretched beyond the borders of the present day Ghana.
The Sovereign State of Ashanti became an autonomous region after Ghana’s Independence in 1957, but the Ashanti King (Asantehene) is now an absolute monarch.
Kumasi is the capital city of the Ashanti Region. Known as the Garden City due to its abundance of Flora, the region and city has derived wealth from gold-mining among other activities. As most Ashanti region tourist attractions are found in Kumasi including the Kejetia market (the largest open air market in West Africa), the city is a must visit for tourists coming to Ghana or to the Ashanti region.
GEOGRAPHY AND LOCATION
Ashanti region is centrally located in the middle belt of Ghana. It lies between longitude 0.15W AND 2.25W and latitude 5.50N and 7.46N. Located at a comfortable 162 miles drive from Accra, 145 miles from Elmina and 162 miles Takoradi.
Apart from traditional healers, the region has several community facilities including, hospitals/clinics which contribute to the improvement in the living conditions of people in the Kumasi metropolis but are scarcely found in many of the outlying districts hence they travel to Kumasi for modern medical care.
The employment rate range from 71 percent in the Kumasi metropolis to higher than 85 per cent in some neighboring districts, the major occupations in all the districts are Agriculture, Livestock Farming and Forestry, except in the Kumasi metropolis where service and manufacturing sector employment predominates. Surprisingly, the percentage of females employed in Agriculture, Livestock Farming and Forestry is higher than the proportion that is male.
Majority of the economically active population are self-employed, mainly in the private informal sector, which provides job opportunities, particularly for females with little or no formal education.
CULTURE AND FESTIVALS
The culture of the Ashanti region reflects the ethnic makeup of the region.
The different towns and cities in the region have their unique festivals that are celebrated throughout the year. The most prominent among the festivals is the Akwasidae festival which is held every six weeks or every 42 days on Sunday. Other prominent festivals include Adae Festival, Adae Kese Festival, Awukudae Festival, Ashanti Yam Festival, Papa Festival, Kenti Festival, Yaa Asantewaa Festival, Mmoa Nni Nko Festival and Nkyidwo Festival.
The festivals in the Ashanti pay homage to the ancestors whom the Ashantis believe live on in spirit.
The Akwasidae Festival is celebrated by the chiefs and people of Ashanti as well as the Ashanti Diaspora. The festival is celebrated on a Sunday, once every six weeks and it is next in importance only after the National Day celebrations.
The annual calendar of the Akans (Ashanti is a subgroup of Akan) is divided into nine parts, each lasting approximately six weeks but varying between 40–42 days.
The Asantehene (King of Ashanti) on this special day meets his subjects and subordinate chiefs in the courtyard of the Manhyia Palace. The Golden Stool (throne) which is the symbol of unity of the Ashantis is displayed at the palace grounds in the presence of the king, and people visit in large numbers from all across the country and the diaspora amidst singing and dancing.
The king holds his durbar on the occasion of the festival, and people have the liberty to greet him. Before holding the durbar, the king goes in a procession in a palanquin decorated with gold jewelry. He also inspects a colorful parade, from his palace grounds at Kumasi. Participants of the parade include drum beaters, folk dancers, horn-blowers and singers. As it is a festival of paying respect to the ancestors, the king visits the Bantama Mausoleum and offers worship not only to his ancestors’ chairs (stools), but also to the skeletal remains of his ancestors. It is argued that, the king does not worship the stools and the ancestors, but only pays homage to them.
WHAT TO SEE (Tourism Attractions in Ashanti)
The Ashanti region is noted for its rich culture and lovers of culture who visit Ghana should visit the Ashanti region. Tourism attractions include:
• Manhyia Palace Museum
• Centre for National Culture
• The Prempeh II Jubilee Museum
• Kumasi Fort and Military Museum
• Okomfo Anokye Sword
• Yaa Asantewaa Museum
• The craft villages of Ntonso, Ahwiaa and Bonwire
• The Akwasidae Ceremony
The following natural sites are located within 35 miles from Kumasi the capital city of the region. At least some of these sites are worth a visit.
• Lake Bosomtwi
• Bobiri Forest Reserve
• Owabi Wildlife sanctuary
• Bomfobiri Wildlife Sanctuary
• Digya National Park
• Atwia Rock Formations
• Mframabuom Caves
• Obuasi Gold Mines
The above attractions are not the only places of interest the region can boast of. There are three multi-purpose stadiums which are used for multi-sporting events the largest being the Kumasi Sports Stadium which has a seating capacity of 40,000 followed by the Len Clay Sports Stadium in Obuasi and the Agyeman Badu Stadium in Kumasi.
There are several golfing clubs and a marine-sporting facilities at Crater Lake Bosumtwi There are 4 professional football clubs with the largest being Kumasi Asante Kotoko Sporting Club which with the Asantehene as President has won many national and continental trophies and awards and championships.
The drive in a private vehicle takes approximately 4 hours 30 mins one way from Accra to Kumasi whiles traveling with public transportation will take approximately 5 hours 30 minutes. There is reliable scheduled bus transportation that plies the route daily. One-way fare on a comfortable national bus costs approximately US$ 20.00.
There are several flights daily between Accra and Kumasi which reduces the usual one way drive time from more than 5 hours to 45 minutes. Some of the domestic airlines which have at least one flight daily from Accra to Kumasi and back include Africa World Airline, Starbow, Antrak Air and Fly 540.
The Kumasi airport is presently undergoing improvements and rehabilitation to upgrade to international standards and will have international flights landing there.
WHERE TO STAY
Kumasi as a Metropolitan city has an abundance of accommodation including the 4-star Golden Tulip Hotel and the newer 4-star Golden Bean Hotel together with numerous, comfortable and professionally managed 3-star and 2-star hotels in addition to several professionally owner-managed guest houses. It is generally easy to secure suitable accommodation in Kumasi to suit your budget and style.