Monday, 23 May 2011

THE MATRILINEAL FAMILY SYSTEM OF THE ASHANTI PEOPLE


The Ashanti people of Ghana are one of the African societies that operate matrilineal family system where line of descent is traced through the female. History has it that; land rights, inheritance of properties titles and offices are pre-determined by the mother. It is also true that the Ashanti people inherit from their further. Properties inherited from are referred to as “aguapade” meaning inheritance from a good father. Normally, a poor father has nothing to give their children, and often marry into a family which has wealth from ancestors.
In the Ashanti kingdom, the role of the father was to help the conception and provide the Nkra or the soul of the child. In other words, the child received from the father its life force, character, and personality traits. Though not regard as important as mother, male interaction continues in the place of birth after marriage.
Historically, an Ashanti girl was given a gold ring called “Petia” – “I love you”, if not in the childhood, immediately after puberty ceremony. They did not regard marriage or “asuade” as an important ritual event, but as a state that follow immediately and normally after puberty ritual. The various goods given by boy’s family is not required as the bride price but as a sign of agreement between the two families. The matrilineal system of the Ashanti was influential to the citizenship of Ghana where you are not a Ghana if your mother is not.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN STOOL OF THE ASHANTI

 
The Ashanti or the Asante are a major ethnic group in the Ashanti region of Ghana. They speak Asante also referred to as Twi; an Akan dialect similar to Fante. They lived 300km away from the coast of Ghana. In the pre-colonial era, the Ashanti people have a large and influential empire in West Africa. Today, the Ashanti number close to 7 million (about 19% of the Ghanaian population) living majorly in the Ashanti region. Kumasi, the current capital of the Ashanti region, was the historic capital of the Ashanti kingdom.
THE KINGDOM
The Ashanti grew from a tributary state into a centralized hierarchical kingdom. The kingdom was founded in the 1670s by Osei Tutu, the military leader and head of the Oyoko clan. He got the support of other clan heads and using Kumasi as the central base, subdued the surrounding Akan states. He challenged and eventually defeated Denkyira in 1701.
Knowing the weakness of a loose confederation of Akan states, Osei Tutu strengthened the centralization of the surrounding Akan groups and extended the power judiciary system within the centralized government. Thereby, turning a loose confederation of small-city states into an empire looking to expand it lands. Newly conquered areas had the options of joining the kingdom or becoming  tributary states. Osei Tutu was succeeded by Opoku Ware 1, who extended the borders, embracing the much of present day Ghana’s territory.
THE LEGEND
The legend of the golden stool known as the sika dwa is as old as the kingdom itself. In the seventeenth century, in order to gain their independence from Denkyira, then another powerful Akan state, a meeting of all the heads of clans of the Ashanti was called. In that meeting, the priest, Okomfo Anokye(sage advisor)commanded down the Golden stool  from heaven into the lap of the Asantehene(the king of Asante) Osei Tutu 1. Okomfo Anokye declared the stool as Asanteman – the symbol of the new Asante union and an allegiance was sworn to the golden stool and to Osei Tutu as the Asantehene. The newly founded Asante union went to war with Denkyira and defeated it.
The golden stool is very sacred to the Ashanti, as they believed that it contain the sunsum – the spirit or the soul of the Ashanti people. Just as a man cannot live without a soul, the Ashanti would cease to exist if the golden stool were to be taken from them.
The Golden Stool is a curved seat 46 cm high with a platform 61 cm wide and 30 cm deep. Its entire surface is inlaid with gold, and hung with bells to warn the king of impending danger. It has not been seen by many and only the king and trusted advisers know the hiding place. Replicas of the stool have been produced for the chiefs and at their funerals are ceremonially blackened with animal blood, a symbol of their power for generations.
Asantehene Prempeh I
 The Ashanti have always defended their Golden Stool when it was at risk. In 1896, the Ashanti allowed their King, Prempeh 1, to be exiled rather than risk losing a war and the Golden Stool in the process. The Governor of the Gold Coast, Sir Frederick Hodgson, demanded to sit on the stool in 1900. The Ashanti remained silent and when the assembly ended, they went home and prepared for war. Although they lost on the battle field, they claimed victory because they fought only to preserve the sanctity of the Golden Stool, and they had.
The Ashanti have always being proud of the uniqueness of the golden stool. When the king of Gyaaman, Adinkra made himself, a golden stool the Asantehene was annoyed and led a massive army against him. Adinkra was totally destroyed in Bondoukou, and was decapitated. The Asantehene then ordered the melt down of Adinkra golden stool and made into two masks to represent his ugly face. These masks remain hanging on each side of the stool till date.       

Sunday, 17 April 2011

SANGO; The god of Thunder

Sango; the god of thunder is believe to be great deity as he was a great man while he was alive. The Yoruba people around the world share the belief that Sango often known as Xango or Chango by the Carribeans and the Latin Americans is also known as Jakuta  (the thrower of stones or the thrower of thunderbolt-Edun Ara) . he is known as the center point of Lukumi (Olukumi which means my dear one) religion of the Carribeans. Many initiation ceremonies as performed in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Venezuela for hundreds of years past are based on the traditional Sango ceremony of the ancient Oyo. 
Sango has carved for himself histories among different people around the world.- Basically they are all Yoruba.
History of Sango as told by the Yoruba of West Africa.
Sango was the third Alaafin of Oyo. He was the second son of Oranmiyan; the founder of Oyo Empire; the youngest of the grandsons of Oduduwa. Sango was a brave and powerful man that inherited most of his special abilities from the Nupe, his mother’s people. During the reign of Alaafin Ajaka, Oyo Empire was under a regular treat of war from Olowu, Ajaka’s cousin; who rules Owu Kingdom. Olowu later sent his warriors to capture Alaafin Ajaka and bring him to Owu. In their bid to rescue Alaafin Ajaka, the Oyomesi (Oyo’s council of chiefs), sent for Sango in Nupeland where he had lived. He rescue to Ajaka and he was crowned King while Alaafin Ajaka was sent into exile.
Sango, in his lifetime, had three wives: Oba, the first wife and in the traditional sense the legitimate, Oshun, the second and Oya, the third, a concubine (as no marriage right or dowry was paid on her) was a spirit who has the power to transform from human to animal. She also has the power to summon rain. Together with Sango’s thunderbolt, they had terrific victories in battle. The resulting Jealousy by Oba and Oshun makes Oya to be more close to Sango- becoming his princess consort (Ayo) and having access to Sango’s thunderbolt (Edun Ara) which later bring about his doom.
During the reign of Sango, he had two generals: Timi Agbale Olofa-ina (also known as Olu-ode) who could shoot arrows of fire and Gbonka (also Known as Eliri) who was equally powerful. After disobeying his direct order not to match on Owu in Battle, Sango follows Oya’s advice to get rid of them and sent them to govern the border towns of the Empire. Timi obeyed him and left for Ede but Gbonka stayed back in Oyo to pose further treat. Sango in his quest to destroy them both: sent Gbonka to Ede to capture Timi which he did. Sango who believed that the match in Ede was staged asked for a re-match in Oyo and Gbonka defeated Timi. Sango then ordered that Gbonka should be burn to ashes. Mysteriously, he appeared after three days giving Sango ultimatum to vacate the throne for his infidelity. Sango angrily request for his Edun-Ara from Oya that has being in the possession of it. He found it to be wet and stained with blood from her period.
He left the palace to a high rock facing the palace to re-affirm the potency of his thunderbolt. The thunder he created stroke the palace and burnt it down. Oba and Oshun; after losing everything to the inferno, left the palace angrily blaming one another for allowing Oya such access to Sango and became the undergoddess of the river Oba and Oshun respectively. (both in Osun state Nigeria). Oya, on her part, went back to the forest in Nupeland where Sango found him and became the undergoddess of Odo- Oya(now known as river Niger)
Historical corrections
Sango; heartbroken; left the town followed by the chiefs and members of his royal cult known as Baba-Mogba persuading him not to leave. After an unyielding persuasion, the chiefs went back as they approach an Ayan tree in a place called koso with the news that the king has hanged. But that is not true. Only a few of the Baba-Mogba who did not go back knew the truth which is:
Sango was attacked by Gbonka but Sango unwilling to fight varnished into thin air only to appear in the sky to destroy Gbonka and those peddling the rumors that he hanged. – Hence the popular saying OBAKOSO OR OLUKOSO meaning the king did not hang. –As created by the Baba-Mogba who knew the truth.
History of Sango in the Carribeans and Latin America.
                    
       Sango (or Jakuta) was the third Alaafin (king) of Oyo.
The king is a major character in the divination literature of the Lukumi religion. Stories about Sango's life exemplify some major themes regarding the nature of character and destiny. In one set of stories, Sango is the son of Aganju and Obatala when in female form. As the story goes, Obatala, the king of the white cloth was travelling and had to cross a river. Aganju, the ferryman and Undergod of fire, refused him passage. Obatala retreated and turned himself into a beautiful woman. He returned to the river and traded his/her body for passage. Sango was the result of this unusual union. The tension between reason represented by Obatala and fire represented by Aganju would form the foundation of Sango's particular character and nature. In further stories of the faith, we find that Sango goes in search of Aganju, his father, and the two of them play out a drama of conflict and resolution that culminates with Sango throwing himself into the fire to prove his lineage. All of the stories regarding Sango tend to revolve around dramatic events such as this one. He has three wives; his favorite (because of her excellent cooking) is Oshun, a river Undergoddess. His other wife, Oba, another river spirit, was conned by Oshun into offering their husband her ear to eat. His anger was greatly kindled by this, and she is said to have fled from his presence to subsequently become the Oba River, which merges with the Oshun River to form dangerous rapids that are believed to be the physical manifestation of her life-long hatred for her fellow royal consort. Lastly, Oya was Sango’s third wife, and was the one out of the three who managed to learn the secrets of his special powers to use in later life.
Veneration of Sango
The religious ritual of Sango was possibly designed in order to help the devotees of Sango gain self-control. Historically, Sango brought prosperity to the Oyo Empire during his reign. After his deification, the initiation ceremony of the cult of his memory dictates that this same prosperity be bestowed upon followers, on a personal level. According to Yoruba and Vodou belief systems, Sango hurls bolts of lightning at the people chosen to be his followers, leaving behind imprints of stone axe blades on the Earth's crust. These blades can be seen easily after heavy rains. Veneration of Sango enables—according to Yoruba belief—a great deal of power and self-control.
Sango altars often contain an often-seen carved figure of a woman holding her bosom as a gift to the god with a single double-blade axe sticking up from her head. The axe symbolizes that this devotee is possessed by Sango. The woman's expression is calm and cool, expressing the qualities she has gained through her faith.
Veneration in different cultures
Sango is venerated in Haitian Vodou, as a god of thunder and weather; in Brazilian Candombl√© Ketu (under the name Xango); in Umbanda, as the very powerful loa Nago Sango; in Trinidad as Sango God of Thunder, drumming and dance ; and in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Venezuela - the Santeria equivalent of St Barbara, a traditional colonial disguise for the Deity known as Chango.
In art, Sango is depicted with a double-axe on his three heads. He is associated with the holy animal, the ram, and the holy colors of red and white.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

OLD OYO EMPIRE

Old Oyo Empire
Strong and great
The pre-colonial colonial master it was
Ruled over many land
With it’s headquarter
In Oyo, the pacesetter
Ruled by the greatest emperor
The Alaafin,
Death the father
Death the mother
 The giver and taker of life
 The determiner of destiny
Flanked by his council of chiefs
The Oyomesi,
Very wise and thoughtful
With all the tricks and wisdom in the world
Old Oyo Empire
Brought fear into the ind
 Of any kingdom that hear his name
Through hid might and strong army
Headed by its warlord
Aare Onakankafo,
The greatest warrior
 In his own time
Fearless and dangerous
Rules like a king himself
I wish I had lived then
When its glory was high
But I’m proud that my root
Is the Old Oyo Empire.

THE HEART OF AFRICA

I am a real giant
A very big elephant
My big trunk blows his music
All across the Atlantic
Into the pacific
I defend my integrity
Stamping my authority
Among my people
But not to make them tremble
I looked back into my history
Searching through my memory
Then I said gone are the days
When still work in my weak ways
When I couldn’t stand the day light
Because I was shy
Hiding in the dark
Running to the back
Then a force came from a far to kill my fear
From a place that is not near
Perhaps from nowhere
Or may be from inside me
But it came to drag me
From the back stage
 Into my rightful place
Then a voice spoke to me
Why are you so weak?
When your strength is at the peak
Then I stood up on my feet
And took my rightful seat
 Like a leader in a big feast
Calling my brothers
Bringing them together
Fostering our unity
Not minding our cultural diversity
Expressing my sincerity
And my genuine capability
To be a leader
And be my brother’s keeper
Giving them shelter and bringing peace
To the community where there is no peace
I dropped my garment of pride
And go into a slave drive
 Taking us to our glory
So we can have a new story
I need not your compliment
Because I know I’m the soul of a continent
And don’t take for an America
Because I am the heart of Africa.