#WinterABC 18 : Where I'm from

Nana Osei Tutu II, Present Ruler of the Ashanti Kingdom

Nana Osei Tutu II, Present Ruler of the Ashanti Kingdom

We’ve established that I am Ghanaian by now. I am also Ashanti, one of the many tribes in Ghana.  I will say that many tribes in Ghana have over lapping cultures and practices. Many have evolved over time in more flamboyant and elaborate ways. 

The Ashanti tribe is one of the larger of the 8 Akan groups and its people are  found in the forest region of Southern Ghana. It’s been an area known to be rich gold, so it goes without saying that the Ashanti tribe since the 17th century is known as one of the more wealthier tribes. The ashanti tribe of old was typically known to be a warrior tribe, as they fought many civil wars through which they conquered a larger mass of what is modern northern and southern ghana today. 

The Akan tribes, of which the Ashanti is no different, inherit matrilineally. It is believed that the child carries the blood of the mother and soul or spirit of the father. (No one asked the child what she thinks,clearly). There is also the sexist idea that only a mother knows who the father of her child is and for that reason, it is ‘safer’ to inherit from that side of the family Eye-Roll

Anyway, with that in mind, the Ashanti are classified into seven matrilineal clans, called Nton and every child born automatically comes from the mother’s hometown and clan. The clans are Aduana, Agona, Asakyiri, Asenie, Asona, Bretuo, Ekuona and Oyoko. Each clan has a totemic symbol with it’s corresponding meanings.

My mother comes from the Oyoko clan( the totemic symbol is an eagle)  while my father also comes from the Aduana clan(the totemic symbol is a fire-breathing dog). This means I and my siblings automatically come from my mothers lineage and we are oyoko. By Ashanti custom, people of the same clan or abusua  cannot marry and make families. They must always come from different clans. In the past, Ashantis also marrying non-ashanties meant they would lose their clan membership. Thankfully so much of that has changed over the years although a few things remain the same.

 The Ashantis believe in symbols, spirits and the Mother earth when it comes to spirituality. You will see some of these rites performed during naming ceremonies or funerals. There are different traditions to commemorate different occasions, child birth, marriage, puberty, chieftaincy amongst others. It’s a complex but well arranged political,  cultural and civilized  system that ran successfully before the colonial era. 

Pretty much like most things on the continent before the colonial era. And I will end with this shade.