Akan Leadership Art and Ceremony

by Michelle Gilbert
Trinity College

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

When the ohene yere returns from Nsorem on Odwira Thursday she is led to the king.  First the remains of the mashed yam that she carried in the silver pan are placed three times in his lap.  Then she herself is seated in his lap three times:  formerly she was supported by an official of the royal bed chamber.  By feeding the royal ancestors she shows she is their wife; now she is shown to be the wife of the living king whose virility (and implied fertility) ensures that of the whole kingdom.  The king and his ancestors share a wife.  This example of the universal association between food and sex signals the recommencement of time and ends the liminal period during which the king had reverted to being an ancestor.  In the evening, important chiefs go to the palace stool room to reaffirm their loyalty to the king.