This is a funeral dirge from Ghana that was performed to honour Otumfuo Opoku Ware II, the 15th King of the Asante Kingdom who died in February 1999. The artists are Manhyia Tete Nwomkoro Kuo (the “Traditional Nnwonkoro Group from Manhiya”).
A modern poem in the traditional manner of a praise for one’s clan, sent to us by Adjei Agyei-Baah. Here the history of the Ashanti people is celebrated with reference to the richness of their land, their gods, and their traditional rulers.
The edenic garden on a fertile land of gold
A poem sent to us by Adjei Agyei-Baah on the theme of the Ashanti royal house. The Ashanti people live within a wealthy, gold-rich region of Ghana. Otumfuo is an honourary title bestowed upon Ashanti rulers when they ascend the throne. The Ashanti Empire was officially established in 1701 by the Ashanti King Osei Tutu and his adviser and High Priest, Okomfo Anokye.
He who knows not the Otumfuo
Let me present him…
An Akan song from the Ashanti region of Ghana, complaining about the work conditions during the colonial period. For this singer, colonial rule began with the recruitment of carriers.
As I came from the bush I met a demon:
Come and help me carry!..
This is held annually in Kumasi as the culmination of the Ashante year, and draws a vast audience. The burial grounds of chiefs are swept clean along with family houses, and a sheep is sacrificed to the Golden Stool, the Ashante royal throne. Among other ceremonies, the paramount ruler is carried in procession through the streets of Kumasi.
Oh, Divine Drummer,
I am scarcely awake and have risen up…
Asante, the dialect of Akan spoken in the Ashanti region of Ghana, is a tonal language, meaning roughly that the intonation of a word will change its meaning, even if the pronunciation is otherwise the same. One consequence is that verbal messages can be conveyed by highly skilled drumming, as in the following example…