Akan Leadership Art and Ceremony

by Michelle Gilbert
Trinity College

Akropong-Akwapim (Akuapem) Odwira festival, Ghana. Photo by Michelle Gilbert, 1993.

Odwira Thursday afternoon young women from important Akuropon lineages walk in a procession from the palace to Nsorem, a former royal burial ground on the edge of town and the site of the second capital.  Sheltered by large colorful umbrellas, they carry food and water for their ancestors in large brass containers.  Most of those who carry the offerings become possessed by the ancestors.  At the end of the procession are four women who carry the king’s offerings.  The most important of them is the ohene yere (“king’s wife”) who is generally a virgin.  She carries mashed yam for the royal ancestors in a silver pan (representing purity).  Leaving their offerings at Nsorem, they return to the large courtyard of the palace where the king in celebratory white cloth awaits them.