The golden stool
Updated: Jun 28
Since the 17th century, the Golden Stool (full title, Sika Dwa Kofi) has served as a sign of strength in the Ashanti Kingdom. According to legend, Okomfo Anokye, a High Priest and one of the Ashanti Confederacy's two leaders conjured the Golden Stool, which was adorned with golden bells, and caused it to descend from the sky, landing at the feet of Osei Tutu I, the first Asantehene (King). The Ashanti have claimed that the Golden Stool contains the soul of the Ashanti nation since Osei Tutu I.
The Stool is 18 inches high, 24 inches long, and 12 inches broad, and is made of gold. It was never allowed to touch the earth, and no one was allowed to sit on it because it was considered sacred. Each new Ashante king is lowered and raised without touching the Golden Stool. Without the Golden Stool, which normally sat next to the throne, no one could be considered a legitimate ruler.
The Golden Stool remained the Ashanti's most prized possession. It was consulted by their war chiefs prior to going to war. The Golden Stool became even more respected as time passed and the Ashanti won more victories over their enemies, transforming their kingdom into an empire.
"Asantehene 1995"by Tomathon is licensed under CC BY 2.0
The Ashanti began a series of conflicts with the British Empire, which had gained effective control of what is now Ghana's coastal area, in the nineteenth century. Between 1824 and 1874, the British and their African allies fought three Anglo-Ashanti Wars, with the British and their African allies gaining greater influence over the Ashanti territory. The British and their Indian and African allies defeated Asantehene Agyeman Prempeh during the Fourth Anglo-Ashanti War, ultimately capturing him and exiling him to the Seychelles Islands.
Sir Frederick Mitchell Hodgson, the British Governor of the Gold Coast, demanded to sit on the Golden Stool, which sparked the final war (1900), which was actually a revolt led by Yaa Asantewaa, the Queen Mother and Gate Keeper of the Golden Stool. Yaa Asantewaa's remark sparked a revolt known as the Word of the Golden Stool, which started on March 28, 1900. About 2,000 Ashanti and 1,000 British and Allied troops were killed in the fierce battle. Both figures were greater than the cumulative number of deaths in all previous Anglo-Ashanti wars put together. However, the war only lasted six months.
The British kidnapped Yaa Asantewaa in 1901 and exiled her to the Seychelles, where she died in 1921, but they never took the Golden Stool. It was discovered by a group of African railroad builders in 1920, hidden by the Ashanti. They stripped it of its gold ornaments and were convicted and sentenced to death by the Ashanti. However, British colonial authorities interfered and expelled them from the Gold Coast Colony.
The British assured the Ashanti that they would never mess with the Golden Stool again after recognizing its significance. The Golden Stool has been restored to its ceremonial position and is still used in ceremonies crowning the Asantehene, despite the fact that he is now considered a traditional ruler with little political power or control. Despite this, the Golden Stool is revered as an emblem of the former Ashanti Empire.