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GHANA STUDIES / Volume 3 ISSN 1536-5514 / E-ISSN 2333-7168© 2000 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System 61 THE GOLDEN STOOL AT THE END OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY: SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT T. C. MCCASKIE Introduction In 1901 Asante became a British Crown Colony. In the following year the Rev. N. V. Asare was posted there to help revive the Basel Mission. He lived in Kumase until 1911. An Akuapem by birth, Asare served the taa fofie shrine at Adukrom until his conversion at the age of fourteen in 1863. Thereafter he was educated in Akuropon, first at the Basel Mission Middle School and later at the Theological Seminary. He then worked as a catechist and teacher and was ordained in 1882. By the time that he arrived in Kumase he had extensive pastoral experience in the Gold Coast. He also had a strong interest in recording Akan traditional history and was “a prolific writer” on that subject in both Twi and English.1 He pursued his enquiries while in Asante. Some of his findings were first written up in English in his yearly reports to Basel from Kumase (1902–10). But it was only after he retired to Akuapem in 1911 that he had the leisure to set about ordering his materials into an extended narrative. The result was Asante Abasem. Twi Kasamu, a one hundred and twenty-five page manuscript “History of Ashanti in Twi” that he presented to the Basel Mission Society on its centenary in 1915.2 This remarkable document was composed from oral testimonies gathered over eight years in Kumase. In his prefatory remarks Asare described how he went about accumulating historical information. This presented some problems as the Asante were initially “reticent.” But, 1. H. J. Keteku, Biography of Rev. Nathanael Victor Asare (Accra, 1965), 23–4. Asare was a contributor to the Basel Mission periodical Sika-Mpoano Kristofo a wokasa Twi no Senkekafo (The Christian Messenger for the Natives of the Gold Coast Speaking the Tshi or Asante Language). 2. Basel Mission Archives, Basel (henceforth BMA), D20,4,5, Rev. N. V. Asare, Asante Abasem.TwiKasamu,dd.1915.ForAsare’sannualreportsfromKumasetotheHomeCommittee of the Basel Mission see ibid., D1,77 (1902); D1,79 (1903); D1,82 (1904); D1,84 (1905); D1,86 (1906); D1,88 (1907); D1,90 (1908); D1,93 (1909); and D1,95 (1910). 62 Ghana Studies • volume 3 • 2000 I lived in Kumasi for a long time, and therefore I made numerous knowledgeable and influential friends. These were the people who wholeheartedly imparted to me precisely all that they knew. As a result, all that is contained in this book is authentic. Besides, I was not informed by just one person. To ensure accuracy, I approached several well-informed elderly people.3 Among the things that Asare was told about was the Golden Stool (sika dwa). To the best of my knowledge, his are the earliest reports that set down in writing a detailed history of the Golden Stool as recounted by Kumase informants. Accordingly, I cite him here at some length.4 Following the Asante defeat of Denkyira (at Feyiase in 1701) “Annokye the Fetishman” (Komfo Anokye) told “King Osai Tutu” (the first Asantehene Osei Tutu) to “prepare a grand day” for “the renewal of his Kingdom and the Royal Stool,” so that the “Asante Kingdom may be established from generation to generation.” On the appointed day Komfo Anokye “made” or “created” the Golden Stool (there is no mention of its descent from the sky). He then “made a similar one for himself’ (the Agona stool, still occupied by Komfo Anokye’s successors as Agonahene). Asare’s informants then described the Golden Stool as it had been “created” and then “added on to” over time. It was first carved of wood, and later on skilled goldsmiths covered it over with pure heavy gold. Big gold nuggets were hung from it and the space inside the stool was filled with precious beads. Some of the gold nuggets and 3. Ibid., Asante Abasem. Twi Kasamu, cap. 1, Oman Asante. My translation is a modified version of that produced by Dr. Wilhelmina Donkoh in 1990 from a copy...


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