Ashanti people

This article is about the nation and ethnic group Ashanti. For other people with the Ashanti surname and given name, see Asante (name). For other topics, see Ashanti (disambiguation) and Asante (disambiguation).

Total population
(c. 11 Million)
Regions with significant populations
Ashanti (11 Million)
Kumasi Metropolis (11 Million)
Ashanti (Ashanti Twi)
Non-religious Ashanti Anglicanism
Roman Catholicism Islam and others

Ashanti, or Asante ( Pronunciation of "Ashanti"; pronunciation: /ˈæʃɑːnˈtɪ/ A-shahn-TI; or Asante Twi pronunciation: Asantefo /ˈæsɑːnˈtɪˈf/ A-sahn-TI-foh; singular masculine: Asantenibarima, singular feminine: Asantenibaa), are a nation and ethnic group native to the Ashanti Region of modern-day Ghana.

The Asante people speak the Asante dialect of Twi. The language is spoken by over nine million ethnic Asante people as a first or second language.[1][2] The word Ashanti is an English language misnomer. Asante literally means "because of wars".[3] The wealthy gold-rich Asante people developed a large and influential empire; the Ashanti Empire along the Lake Volta and Gulf of Guinea.[4]

The Ashanti Empire was founded in 1670 and the Ashanti capital Kumasi was founded in 1680 the late 17th century by Asantehene (emperor) Osei Kofi Tutu I on the advice of Ɔkͻmfoͻ Anͻkye, his premier.[5] Sited at the crossroads of the Trans-Saharan trade routes, Kumasi megacity's strategic location contributed significantly to the growing wealth of Kumasi.[6] Over the duration of Kumasi metropolis' existence, a number of peculiar factors have combined to transform Kumasi metropolis into a fitting financial centre and political capital.[6] The main causal factors included the unquestioning loyalty to the Ashanti monarchy and Kumasi metropolis' growing wealth derived in part from the capital's lucrative domestic-trade in items such as bullion.[6]


The name Asante "warlike" derives from the 1670s as the Asante went from being a tributary state to a centralized hierarchical kingdom.[5][7] Asantehene Osei Tutu I, military leader and head of the Oyoko clan, founded the Asante Empire.[5][7] Osei Tutu I obtained the support of other clan chiefs and, using Kumasi as the central base, subdued surrounding Akan states.[5][7] Osei Tutu challenged and eventually defeated Denkyira in 1701,[5][7] and this is the origin of the name.[5]


The homeland Ashanti has a variable terrain, coasts and mountains, wildlife sanctuary and strict nature reserve and national parks, forests and grasslands,[8] lush agricultural areas,[9] and near savannas,[8] enriched with vast deposits of industrial minerals,[9] most notably vast deposits of gold.[10]

The territory Ashanti people settled Ashanti region (Kingdom of Ashanti), is home to a Crater Lake the Lake Bosumtwi and Ashanti is bordered westerly to Lake Volta within the central part of present-day Ghana.[11] The Ashanti (Kingdom of Ashanti) territory is densely forested, mostly fertile and to some extent mountainous.[11] There are two seasons—the rainy season (April to November) and the dry season (December to March).[11] The land has several streams; the dry season, however is extremely desiccated.[11] Asante region is hot year round.[11]

Today Ashanti people number close to 11 million Ashanti people (11 million Ashanti people in Ashanti/Kingdom of Ashanti), with 98.7% of the Ashanti/Kingdom of Ashanti population speaking Ashanti language (indistinguishably also referred to as Asante Twi, a member of the Central Tano languages within the Kwa languages).[12][13] Ashanti political power combines Ashanti King Asantehene Asantehene Osei Tutu II as the absolute ruler and political head of the Ashantis and Ashantis homeland Ashanti,[14][15] with Ashanti semi-one-party state representative NPP,[16] and since Ashanti (and the Kingdom of Ashanti) state political union with Ghana,[17] the Ashanti remain largely influential.[18]

The entire population of Ashantis reside in the Ashanti people homeland Ashanti (Kingdom of Ashanti) currently a sub-nation state within Ghana.[18] Kumasi metropolis, the capital of Ashanti (Kingdom of Ashanti), has also been the historic capital of the Ashanti Kingdom.[18] Ashanti region currently has a population of 11 million (11,000,000).

Today, as in the past Ashanti continues to make significant contributions to Ghana’s economy.[19] Ashanti is richly endowed with industrial minerals and agricultural implements, Ashanti is responsible for much of Ghana's domestic food production and for the foreign exchange Ghana earns from cocoa, agricultural implements, gold, bauxite, manganese, various other industrial minerals, and timber.[19] Kumasi metropolis and Ashanti region produces 96% of Ghana's exports.[9][10]


Ashanti Kingdom

Main article: Empire of Ashanti

In the 1670s the Ashanti went from being a tributary state to a centralized hierarchical kingdom. Ashanti Emperor Asantehene Osei Tutu I, military leader and head of the Oyoko clan, founded the Ashanti kingdom.[5][7] Osei Tutu obtained the support of other clan chiefs and using Kumasi as the central base, subdued surrounding states.[7] Osei Tutu I challenged and eventually defeated Denkyira in 1701,[5][7] and from this, the name Asante came to be.[5][7]

Realizing the weakness of a loose confederation of Akan states, Osei Tutu strengthened centralization of the surrounding Akan groups and expanded the powers judiciary system within the centralized government.[20] Thus, this loose confederation of small city-states grew into a kingdom or empire looking to expand its land.[20] Newly conquered areas had the option of joining the empire or becoming tributary states.[20] Opoku Ware I, Osei Tutu's successor, extended the borders.[21]

Sovereignty and independence

Ashanti yam ceremony, 19th century by Thomas E. Bowdich

The Ashanti state strongly resisted attempts by Europeans, mainly the British, to conquer them.[22] The Ashanti limited British influence in the Ashanti region,[22] as Britain annexed neighbouring areas.[22] The Ashanti were described as a fierce organized people whose king "can bring 200,000 men into the field and whose warriors are evidently not cowed by Sniper rifles and 7-pounder guns".[22]

Ashanti was one of the few African states able to offer serious resistance to European colonizers.[22] Between 1823 and 1896, Britain fought four wars against the Ashanti kings (the Anglo-Ashanti Wars).[22] In 1901, the British finally defeated the kingdom following the 1900 War of the Golden Stool and Ashanti Confederacy was made a British protectorate Ashanti Protectorate in 1902, and the office of Asantehene was discontinued with the Ashanti capital Kumasi annexed into the British empire; however, the Ashanti still largely governed themselves.[23][24] Ashanti gave little to no deference to colonial authorities.[23][24] In 1926, the British permitted the repatriation of Ashanti King Asantehene Prempeh I – whom they had exiled to the Seychelles in 1896[23][24] – and allowed him to adopt the title Kumasehene, but not Ashanti Asantehene (the Title of the Ashanti King). However, in 1935, the British finally granted the Ashanti self-rule sovereignty as Ashanti Autonomous Region Kingdom of Ashanti), and the Ashanti King title of Asantehene was revived.[25]

Because of the long history of mutual interaction between Ashanti and European powers, the Ashanti have the greatest amount of historiography in sub-Saharan Africa.

The English people (The British) touted the Ashanti as one of the more civilized peoples on continental Africa, cataloguing their religious, familial, and legal systems in works like R.S. Rattray's Ashanti Law and Constitution.[26]

Culture and traditions

Ashanti culture celebrates Adae, Adae Kese, Akwasidae, Awukudae and Ashanti Yam festival.[27] The Seperewa, a 10-14 stringed harp-lute, as well as the Fontomfrom drums, are two of the typifying instruments associated with the Ashanti as well as the Ashanti Kente clothing.[28]


Ashanti are a matrilineal society where line of descent is traced through the female.[29] Historically, this mother progeny relationship determined land rights, inheritance of property, offices and titles.[29] It is also true that the Ashanti inherit from the paternal side of the family.[29] Property is defined as something inherited from the father, hence the name "agyapade", meaning inheritance from a good father.[29]

Ashanti soulwasher (Ashanti Sunsum Washer)

The father's role was to help the conception and provide the ɔkra or the soul of the child; that is, the child received its life force, character, and personality traits from the father.[29] Though not considered as important as the mother, the male interaction continues in the place of birth after marriage.[29]

Historically, an Ashanti girl was betrothed with a golden ring called "petia" (I love you), if not in childhood, immediately after the puberty ceremony.[29] They did not regard marriage "awade" as an important ritual event, but as a state that follows soon and normally after the puberty ritual.[29] The puberty rite was and is important as it signifies passage from childhood to adulthood in that chastity is encouraged before marriage.[29] The Ashanti required that various goods be given by the boy's family to that of the girl, not as a 'bride price,' but to signify an agreement between the two families.[29]

Law and legal system

In the cataloguing of Ashanti familial and legal systems in R.S. Rattray's Ashanti Law and Constitution Ashanti law specifies that sexual relations between a man and certain women are forbidden, even though not related by blood.[26] The punishment for offense is death, although it does not carry quite the same “stigma” to an Ashanti clan as incest.[26] Sexual relations between a man and any one of the following women is forbidden:[26] 1. A half-sister by one father, but by a different clan mother;[26] 2. A father’s brother’s daughter;[26] 3. A woman of the same father;[26] 4. A brother’s wife;[26] 5. A son’s wife;[26] 6. A wife’s mother;[26] 7. An uncle’s wife;[26] 8. A wife of any man of the same “company”;[26] 9. A wife of any man of the same guild or trade;[26] 10. A wife of one’s own slave;[26] 11. A father’s other wife from a different clan.[26][26]


Ashanti greeting phrases; "akɔaba" (welcome) and "ɛte sɛn" (how are you) in Ashanti language.
Main articles: Ashanti language and Ashanti Twi

The Ashanti people speak Ashanti language with indistinguishable Ashanti Twi which is the official language of Ashanti Autonomous Region and main national language spoken in Ashanti and by the Ashanti people.[1][2][30][31] Ashanti language is spoken by over 9 million ethnic Ashanti people as a first language and second language.[1][2] Ashanti language is the official language utilized for literacy in Ashanti, at the primary and elementary educational stage (Primary 1–3) K–12 (education) level, and studied at university as a bachelor's degree or master's degree program in Ashanti.[1][2][30][31]

Ashanti language and Ashanti Twi has some unique linguistic features like tone, vowel harmony and nasalization.[1][2][30][31]


The Ashanti people are increasingly irreligious, though among those who follow a religion the most common is the Ashanti religion (a traditional religion which seems to be dying slowly but is revived only on major special occasions), followed by Christianity (Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism and Protestantism) and Islam.

Ashanti diaspora

All 11 million Ashanti people live in Ashanti specifically in Ashanti capital Kumasi metropolis and due to the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, a known diaspora of Ashanti exists in the caribbean, predominantly in numbers on the island of Jamaica. We know that they are Ashanti, because of all British forts that sent slaves from the former Gold Coast, such as Fort William (which has the highest number of slaves shipped) for over a 90-year period or from 1700-1790, to which was in British protected territory that is native land of the Fante. Ashanti are known to be very opposed to both the Fante and the British people, as the Ashanti only traded with the Dutch in times of their ascension to becoming a hegemony of most of the area of present-day Ghana. The name Coromantee (from Fort Kormantse, purchased by the Dutch in 1665) came from the original British fort on the Gold Coast to host Ashanti captives, despite this fort being used by the Dutch and having no records of trade to Jamaica while being under Dutch ownership.[32] Evidence of Ashanti and Akan-day names and Ashanti and Akan-surnames (but mispronounced by the English), Adinkra symbols on houses, Anansi stories and the dialect of Jamaican Patois being heavily influenced by Ashanti language (Ashanti Twi), can all be found on the island of Jamaica. Edward Long and white British planters before him, described "Coromantees" the same way that the British in the Gold Coast would the "Ashantis", which was to be "Warlike". Edward Long states that others around "Ashantis" and "Coromantees" feared them the same way as they were feared in Jamaica and from the hinterlands of the Gold Coast.[33] According to BioMed Central (BMC biology) in 2012, the average Jamaican has 60% of Ashanti matrilineal DNA and today Ashanti is the only ethnic group by name known to contemporary Jamaicans.[34] Famous Jamaican individuals such as: Marcus Garvey and his 1st wife, Amy Ashwood Garvey are of Ashanti descent. It is commonplace for many Jamaicans to have this descent.[35] Also are Jamaican freedom fighters during slavery: Nanny of the Maroons (now a Jamaican National Heroine), Tacky and Jack Mansong or 3 finger Jack. The names: Nanny and Tacky are English corruptions of the Ashanti words and names: "Nanny" is a corruption of the Ashanti word Nana to mean "king/queen/grandparent", the name Tacky is a corruption of the Ashanti surname Takyi, and Mansong is a corruption of the Ashanti surname Manso, respectively.[36]


See also



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "Ashanti » Ashanti Twi (Less Commonly Taught Languages)". University of Michigan College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. University of Michigan.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Ashanti » Ashanti Twi".
  3. Sheard, K. M. "Ashanti Warlike Meaning (Llewellyn's Complete Book of Names for Pagans, Wiccans, Witches, Druids)".
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "United Asante States Under Nana Osei Tutu I".
  5. 1 2 3 "History Of The Asante Confederay » Restoration Of The Asante Confederacy".
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Kevin Shillington, History of Africa, St.Martin's, New York, 1996 (1989), p. 194
  7. 1 2 "Issues Of Tropical Forest Transformation in Ashanti Region". African Journals OnLine.
  8. 1 2 3 "Meet-the-Press: Ashanti Region". Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  9. 1 2 "GHANGOLD Case". Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 "Ashanti Region Executive Summary". Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  11. "Ashanti » Asante Twi (Less Commonly Taught Languages)". University of Michigan College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. University of Michigan.
  12. "Ashanti » Asante Twi".
  13. "Kings Of Asante". Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  14. "The Asantehene » Personality Profile". Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  15. Kumasi (1 August 2015). "NPP Has Track Record… of protecting the public purse, says Nana Addo". The Chronicle. Archived from the original on 7 October 2012.
  16. "1956: Gold Coast to get independence". BBC.
  17. 1 2 3 "Seventy Five Years After The Restoration of Asanteman".
  18. 1 2 "The Historic And Present Importance Of Asante- Its Culture And Economy".
  19. 1 2 3 Giblert, Erik Africa in World History: From Prehistory to the Present 2004
  20. Shillington, loc. cit.
  21. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Sir Garnet Wolseley's Despatches on the Ashanti War - "The Newfoundlander". December 16, 1873.
  22. 1 2 3 "The Exile of Prempeh in the Seychelles". Kreol International Magazine. 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  23. 1 2 3 "Asantehene visits Seychelles". Modern. 5 July 2007. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  24. "". Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  25. "The Adae Kese Festival". Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  26. Noam (Dabul) Dvir. "Peres hosts Ashanti king in Jerusalem". Ynetnews. Ynet. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  27. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Peter Herndon. "Family Life Among the Ashanti". Yale University. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  28. 1 2 3 "Ashanti (Twi) – Ashanti language".
  29. 1 2 3 Language The Alternation Strategies in Multilingual Settings. Peter Lang. 2006. p. 100. ISBN 0-82048-369-9.
  30. "Search the Voyages Database". Archived from the original on 2015-06-29.
  31. "The History of Jamaica".
  32. "Interdisciplinary approach to the demography of Jamaica". BioMed Central. 2012.
  33. Comparative studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Vols 17-18, Duke University Press, 1997, p. 124.
  34. "Tacky's Rebellion".

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