Adae Kesie festival is also called the Big Adae festival, an ancestral celebration of the chiefs and people of Asante in the Ashanti region of Ghana. Adae is an Asante’s word which means a sleeping place. Generally, among the Asante’s, Sunday is a day set aside by the traditional chiefs and peoples of Asante nationwide of Ghana to invoke their dead ancestral spirits who they look upon for guidance and protection. It is celebrated in the month of December by the Ashanti Kingdom, Akwasidae (Adaeketawa) is observed nine times in a year on a forty day interval period.
During this period, the Asanteman (Ashanti-nation) and all its traditional rulers in all surrounding villages, towns and zones within the jurisdiction of the Golden stool, which serves as the binding body and authority will converge at Kumasi to attend to the Adae General Assembly caucus at the Manhyia palace to re-affirm their loyalty to the Golden stool, the power of Ashanti nation. The legendry fetish priest, Okomfo Anokye, is accredited to be the man who conjured from the skies the much revered Golden stool of the Asante, which is said to have happened on a Friday. The Stool is supposed to “contain” the soul of the Asante nation.
Celebrating Adae Kese
The Celebration of the Adae festival is in two folds; public and private events (those features that are ritualistic in content). On the first day of the celebration, royal messengers are sent to Akrokerri, Esreso, Tanoboase among other traditional areas where it is believed to contain the holy water (Tanosuo) which is needed for the cleansing and purification of the golden stool. Afterwards, the Ashantehene makes a visit to the Mausoleums located at Bantama to consult the ancestral spirits through the pouring of libation and chanting concerning the celebration of the festival, a ceremony that ignites passion and generate an atmosphere of joy and excitement.
This is followed by the Holy Saturday (DapaaKan) consecration which involves cleaning of the surrounding environment, housewives cleaning of cooking utensils preceeding the Sunday, a day of the Adae. This is accompanied by a visit to the stool house, the Besease traditional shrine, AtiaKusia and Kwame shrine for pouring of libation in thanking the gods for prosperity.
A unique thing that distinguishes the Adae festival from any other festival is its grand durbar. This is a climax event that attracts visitors around the world and it’s given a huge media coverage. The Ashantehene sits in state with other important dignitaries whom appellations and homages are paid to. In the afternoon, the king is carried in a palanquin parading the major principal streets of Kumasi amidst drumming and dancing.
After the day’s activities, preparations are made for the most dreadful ceremony of Bantama called the “death wake”. The procession begins at the Breman Mausoleum where the burial of the Ashanti Kings take place. Members of the procession teams are seen to wear war dance attire while others are in black cloths signifying mourning of their brave ancestors. This is those who are well fortified and believe in their juju performs wonders for the entertainment of visitors. It is believed that ghost of the ancestors could be heard crying.
Lastly is the ceremony of the public glimpse catching of the golden stool. This involves some purification exercise paving way for the golden stool to be brought out for the public observation. The public display is a reassuring time to the chiefs and people that their supreme sanctuary and their eternal symbol are in safe keeping. It is believed that if one sees it there are some blessings attached such as healing and fertility. No wonder many struggle fiercely to see it. On the Monday, the last day, the Asantehene, accompanied by his royal entourage in a convoy pays his last visit to the Bantama Royal Mausoleum for the performance of the customary rites that says goodbye to the people and chiefs of the Ashanti Kingdom.
How to get there
Kumasi is about 270km from Accra, 220km from Cape Coast and 225km from Takoradi. In each city there are various transports such as Metro Mass, STC, and VIP linking Kumasi.