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Mausoleum of the Ashanti Kings in Bantama, 1870s

Asantehene is the title of the king of Ashanti . Traditionally, the Asantehene is from the Oyoko family clan and to this day all Asantehenes were and are descendants of the first Asantehene Osei Tutu in the matrilineal bloodline.

The residence of the Asantehene is the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi . There is also a mausoleum of the Ashanti kings, which is located in the nearby village of Bantama. In the past, however, a dethroned ("decoupled") Asantehene was denied a burial in Bantama after his death. B. in the case of Kofi Karikari (dethroned 1874), as well as in the case of his brother and successor Mensa Bonsu (dethroned 1883).

The office associated with the title

Gold mask from the treasure of Asantehene Kofi Karikari

The first Asantehene was Tutu, who, as an oyokohene, was awarded this title immediately when Asante was founded. The introduction of this at the same time political and religious title was essentially the work of two men: Tutus, who was the head of the Amantuo Confederation as Oyokohene at the time, and the priest (Okomfo) of the Otutu Shrine (in Akwamu) and a close friend of Tutu Anokye . The founding myth of the Ashanti Empire, which is still alive today, says that Okomfo Anokye was commissioned by Nyame (the supreme god of the Akan) to turn the Ashanti into a powerful people. The Asantehene Osei Tutu then called a large meeting to spread the word. At this meeting, Okomfo Anokye brought a wooden stool covered with gold from the sky in front of everyone, who then sat down on Osei Tutu's knees. Okomfo Anokye proclaimed that this Golden Chair ( Twi : Asikadwa ) contained the spirit or soul of the whole Ashanti people. This founding myth played a central and, in its effect, very real role in maintaining the unity of the Ashanti.

Even if the Ashanti Empire was one of the most powerful states in West Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Asantehene was never an absolute ruler, as it initially appears. The Ashantine government was primarily an instrument of power and a guarantor of power for the two powerful aristocratic clans Oyoko and Bretuo, who were only allowed access to government offices. Only after the Kwadwo'schen administrative reform (ruled 1764–1777) were other family clans able to occupy certain offices in the public administration.

Even today the Asantehene represents the actual head of the Ashantine people. Formally, the Asantehene's office in Ghana is limited to purely ritual functions, but in fact his authority is still a political factor in modern Ghana. In contrast to earlier times, today's Asantehene is neither the political head of Asante (the regional minister for the Ashanti region) nor that of the mayor of Kumasi (the Kumasihene).

Today's Asantehene Otumfuo Nana Osei Tutu II was chosen from the line of seven eligible descendants of the Oyoko family. The determination of the succession takes place through a series of deliberations in which certain representatives of the Ashanti nobility and the royal family take part.

List of Asantehenes

Official titles of rulers: Asantehene (leader of the Ashanti people), Osei (name) and Nana (clan elder, in this case the Oyoko clan), next to them: Oyokohene (head of the Oyoko family clan ) and Kumasihene (head of the city of Kumasi )

Another title of the Asantehene is Otumfuo , which literally means something like "mighty / strong / great in battle". This is the title given to whoever holds the post of Commander-in-Chief of the Ashanti Army. Since the king in Asante was also the commander-in-chief of his army, Otumfuo is also one of the titles of the Ashanti king, which, however, preceded all other titles. Only in the event that the king was represented by another commander-in-chief during the war, the title otumfuo also passed to the real commander.

  1. approx. 1695 to approx. 1717 (†) Osei Tutu I.
    (There are very different statements in the literature about the dates that limit Tutu's reign. They cover the period from 1680 to 1731. Dupuis refers, for example, to contemporary Muslim manuscripts dating from 1144 AH (= 1731 AD ) name as the year of the enthronement of Opoku Ware, the brother and successor of the killed Tutu.)
    Interregnum 1717–1720 Maniampon (Regent)
  2. 1720–1750 (†) Opoku Ware I. (hist. Oppoccu)
    1750–1751 (†) Aquassi (also: Daku, Darko) (was never enthroned, civil war)
  3. 1750–1764 (dethroned) Kusi Obodom (also: Kwadwo; Quishey, in Arabic chronicles: Kayishi)
    Interregnum 1764 Safo Kantanka (Regent)
  4. 1764–1777 Osei Kwadwo (also: Kudscho, Kojo)
    Interregnum 1777 Atakora Kwame (Regent)
  5. 1777–1798 (dethroned) Osei Kwame Panyin (also: Kwamina, Quamina) (according to other sources until 1801)
  6. 1798–1799 (†) Opoku Fofie (also: Opoku II.)
  7. 1801–1824 (†) Osei Bonsu
  8. 1824–1834 (†) Osei Yaw Akoto (also: Okkoto, Yako Akoto, Yao)
  9. 1834–1867 (†) Kwaku Dua I. Panyin
    (In literature, 1838 is sometimes mentioned as the year of the change of government, but Kwaku Dua signed a treaty with the Dutch as an Asantehene in 1837.)
  10. 1867-21. October 1874 (dethroned) Kofi Kakari
    Interregnum 1874 Kwabena Dwomo (Regent)
  11. 1874-8. March 1883 (dethroned) Mensa Bonsu Kumaa
    Civil War, Period of Anarchy, Interregnum 1883–1884: the Kwasafomanhyiamu
  12. April 27, 1884-8. July 1884 (†) Kwaku Dua II. Kumaa
    (other source: died of smallpox on June 10, 1884 after 44 days of his reign)
    Interregnum and Civil War
    1884 Owusu Koko (personality of the interregnum)
    1884–1887 Akyampon Panyin (personality of the interregnum)
    1887–1888 Owusu Sekyere II. (Personality of the Interregnum)
  13. March 26, 1888-12. May 1931 Kwaku Dua III. Asamu (also: Agyeman Prempeh I.)
    Prempeh I. could not be formally installed until June 4, 1894. From January 17, 1896 he was in British captivity and exile in the Seychelles. The British then officially declare the kingship in Asante to be abolished.
    On September 26, 1900, Asante was officially declared to be owned by the British Crown and, with effect from January 1, 1902, together with the Northern Territories, was subordinated to the British Governor of the Gold Coast Colony.
    On November 11, 1924, Prempeh returned to Kumasi with British permission , where he was appointed Kumasihene on November 11, 1926.
    Kumasihene: November 11, 1926-12. May 1931 Kwaku Dua III. (Agyeman Prempeh I.)
    Kumasihene: May 12, 1931-24. April 1933 Kwame Kyeretwie
    In 1933 the British allowed the asantehene institution to be revived on the basis of a purely ritual function. The Kumasihene Kwame Kyeretwie was then proclaimed the new Asantehene Osei Nana Agymang Otumfuo Prempeh II on April 24, 1933.
  14. April 24, 1933 – May 1970 Agyeman Otumfuo Prempeh II.
  15. May 1970–25. February 1999 (†) Otumfuo Opoku Ware II. (His real name was: J. Matthew Poku)
    Interregnum 1999 Bonsu II. (Regent)
  16. since April 26, 1999 Otumfuo Tutu II (his real name is: Barima Kwaku Dua)


  • Margaret Priestley, Ivor Wilks: The Asanti kings in the eighteenth century: a revised chronology. In: Journal of African History. 1 (1) (1960) 83-96.
  • Joseph Dupuis: Journal of a residence in Ashantee. London 1824.

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