The Golden Stool, also known as Sika Dwa, is a sacred and symbolic object of the Asante (Ashanti) people of Ghana. It holds great significance as a spiritual and political symbol, representing the unity and sovereignty of the Asante kingdom.
According to Asante oral tradition, the Golden Stool descended from the heavens and was presented to the first Asante king, Osei Tutu, by the god of the sky, Nyame. It is believed to contain the spirit of the Asante nation and the souls of the ancestors. The stool is made of solid gold and adorned with various ornaments and intricate designs.
The Golden Stool is considered so sacred that it is never sat upon by anyone, including the king. It is carefully preserved and protected in a secret location, known only to a select few trusted individuals. The stool serves as a symbol of Asante unity and resilience, and it has played a crucial role in Asante history, including resisting British colonial rule.
The significance of the Golden Stool extends beyond its physical form. It represents the spiritual and political power of the Asante people, and it is a reminder of their rich cultural heritage and traditions. The stool is considered the ultimate symbol of authority, and it is a unifying force for the Asante kingdom.
How the Golden Stool triggered an Anglo-Ashanti conflict in 1900
In 1900, British governor-general to the Gold Coast (now Ghana) Sir Frederick Hodgson insisted the Golden Stool be brought to him. Seeing himself as the official representative of the British monarch in the Gold Coast, Sir Hodgson believed that he was entitled to sit on the stool. His demand was one of the reasons why the War of the Golden Stool (also known as the Yaa Asantewaa War) broke out in March 1900.
During the six-month Anglo-Ashanti conflict, the Asante kingdom was led by Yaa Asantewaa, Queen Mother of Ejisu. Although the Ashantis fought gallantly, they were defeated by the British, who would go on to annex the entire Ashanti Kingdom in 1901.
Did you know…?
- The full name of the Golden Stool is known among the Ashanti people as Sika Dwa Kofi, which means “the Golden Stool born on a Friday”. The Akans often associate Friday to concepts such as fertility, riches and gold.
- Even during coronation of a new Asantehene (ruler of the Asante people), the king is lowered over the stool without touching it. And the only person allowed to handle the stool is the king of the Asante people.
- During the hwedom dwa, a solemn occasion that translates as “throne facing the crowd”, the Golden Stool is placed on a throne of its own.