Akan Leadership Art and Ceremony

by Michelle Gilbert
Trinity College

Akropong-Akwapim (Akuapem) Odwira festival, Ghana. Photo by Michelle Gilbert.

The Akan year is divided into 9 units of 42 days by a rite, called adae, when the ancestors are deemed to be especially close to the living.  Six weeks before the 9thadae when Odwira is celebrated, the royal black stools (ancestral shrines) are placed on their sides and the ancestors are “put to sleep”: funerals, drumming and yam eating are banned.  Time symbolically stops.  This frames the subsequent events.  On Sunday night before Odwira week the king’s most powerful deity called odusu is brought to Akuropon, the capital: captured in the 1826 Asante war, odusu is too dangerous to be publicly exposed.  On Monday of Odwira week, libation is poured at the edge of town.  Then ritual officials clear the path from Akuropon to Amanprobi (the royal mausoleum and original state capital) three miles away so the ancestors can visit Akuropon.