Introduction - Ashanti Region
Ashanti is an administrative region in Ghana centrally located in the middle belt of Ghana. I t lies between longitudes 0.15W and 2.25W, and latitudes 5.50N and 7.46N. The region shares boundaries with four of the ten political regions, Brong-Ahafo in the north, Eastern region in the east, Central region in the south and Western region in the South west.
Most of the region's inhabitants are Ashanti people, one of Ghana's major ethnic groups. Most of Ghana's cocoa is grown in Ashanti, and it is also a major site of Ghana's gold-mining industry.Brief history
The Asante (Ashantis) constitute the largest of the various subgroups of the Akan, who trace their origins partly to Bono-Manso and Techiman, in present-day Brong Ahafo Region. They constitute 14.8 per cent of all Ghanaians by birth, and 30.1 per cent of the total Akan population of 8,562,748 in the country. Various oral traditions have it that the Ashantis migrated from various places through Bono-Manso/Takyiman (Techiman) to present day Ashanti Region.
As a united people, they started with a nucleus of the Oyoko clan around Asantemanso. After several years of subjugation by other empires, such as the Akwamu and the Denkyira, Asante eventually grew to be a very powerful empire founded by King Osei-Tutu I (1695-1717), after defeating the Denkyira King Ntim Gyakari during the battle of Feyiase (Buah, 1998).
Ironically, King Osei Tutu I had spent his childhood days in the court of the Denkyira King, according to custom, and had escaped from there to Akwamu where he met his lifelong friend and spiritual mentor, the legendary Okomfo Anokye. It is believed that it was through Okomfo Anokye’s extraordinary supernatural powers that King Osei Tutu founded the Ashanti Empire; as he is said to have commanded the Golden Stool to fall from “the heavens”, the stool which, to this day, serves as the symbol of the spirit, unity and strength of the Ashantis.
At the height of its glory, the influence and culture of the Asante Kingdom stretched beyond the borders of the present day Ghana. The Ashanti were able to preserve what was best in Akan culture, including the use of gold dust as currency and gold weights as a measure, which system was actually originated by the great Bono (Brong) King Akumfi Ameyaw I (1328-1363) (Buah, 1998).
The Asante fought many successful wars against the Denkyira and their allies including the Wassa, the British, the Fante, and even the Bonos (Brongs). Indeed it was the Ashanti King Opoku Ware I who defeated the Bonos in 1723 and destroyed Bono-Manso, forcing the Bono Empire to move its capital from Manso to present day Techiman. The Ashanti Empire eventually collapsed with the defeat and exile of King Prempeh I, first to El-Mina Castle and eventually to the Seychelles.
Not even the last stalwart stand by the great warrior Queen Yaa Asantewaa could revive the fame, fortune and power of Ashanti. However, the culture, kinship and social structure of Ashanti, like many of the other Akan groups, has been preserved and maintained to the present day, and underlines the cultural heritage, not only of the Asante, but of the entire Akan ethnic group. The present Asanti King (Asantehene) Osei Tutu II, is a direct matrilineal descendant of Osei Tutu I.