Akan Leadership Art and Ceremony

by Michelle Gilbert
Trinity College

Akropong-Akwapim (Akuapem) Odwira festival, Ghana. Photo by Michelle Gilbert, 1989.

On the following Sunday, the golden stool and large feather headdress worn by the king’s soul child (okra) are purified and fed.  The headdress was captured from the Asante in war and is made of small squares of crocodile hide attached with golden wires, male eagle feathers and leopard skin (dangerous animals which are “kings of the wilderness”), gold-covered ram’s horns (the perfect domestic animal) and decorative golden plaques.  It is a war deity which protects the king from evil.  Then the ancestors return to the land of the ancestors and the proper order of society is finally reconstructed and restored.  The year may begin all over again.  Odwira is ended.  Should factional opposition escalate or should the king become ill, Odwira could not be performed.  It is believed this would bring pestilence, famine, and disaster.