Why Traditional Leaders Sit on Stools in Akan Settlements

The Akan (/ˈækæn/) are a meta-ethnicity living in the countries of present-day Ghana and Ivory Coast. The Akan language is made up of three main dialects, Asante Twi, Akuapem Twi and Fante Twi. Different groups of people that makes up the Akans includes; Asante, Bono, Kwahu, Fante, Assin, Sefwi, Akyem, Akuapem, Nzema, Wassa.

And among the traditional settlements of the Akan, stools are seen as the symbol of authority and power.

Stools are generally carved or decorated to carry deep symbolic meanings which are powerful vehicles of strong ties with the ancestors and hence with the spiritual world, as far as the state is concerned. The term “stools” may denote the office of an Ohene and also of subordinate officials such as Okyeame or Gyaasehene (household chief). Stools are august emblems of political, judicial and social leadership. The most important of a chief’s regalia and the ‘Sine qua non’ of his high office (kyerematen, 1964). Among the Akans in general, the symbol of authority of a traditional ruler is the stool. It is the principal symbol of a chief’s political power and authority. Several kingdoms and chiefdoms in Africa had and still have traditions of using stools in place of chairs as thrones.

The stool is used as a symbol of chieftaincy (particularly male) in special and private occasions, and is seen as a symbol of royalty, custom and tradition. Queen mothers may be seen in public sitting on the traditional stool as a seat of authority, communicating messages about the nature of leadership. The asesedwa is believed to have religious importance. It is carved into different sizes, shape and design to communicate a specific message of authority. It is important in the Akan tradition because it highlights the sense of community, social and political life, tradition and serving as a symbol of unity and solidarity, believed to bind the souls of their kinsmen together in both the physical and metaphysical worlds. The stool has a great influence on when a leader assumes office and hence a popular term "enstoolment" is used. In Akan, the stool of a leader is so integrally connected to his personality that the expression "a stool has fallen." defines his death.The Golden Stool of the Ashantis is a traditional stool called Sika Dwa which is believed to have a metaphysical origin.
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