Sika Dwa Kofi, a Twi phrase meaning “golden stool”, is a sacred object and the ultimate symbol of power for the Asante Kingdom in present-day Ghana. Okomfo Anokye, the first High Priest and one of the founders of the Asante Kingdom caused the stool to descend from the sky and fall on the lap of Nana Osei Tutu, making him the first king of Asante (Asantehene). At that time, Nana Osei Tutu, the chief of the city of Kumasi, had called the other Asante chiefs to a meeting to deliberate on which of them should become the leader among the chiefs. Okomfo Anokye told the chiefs that the gods and ancestors would choose a king for them, which they did by causing the golden stool to fall from the sky. He warned that the golden stool would house the spirit of the Asante nation, living, dead and yet to be born, and that the kingdom would descend into chaos if the stool were ever captured.
The golden stool is 46 cm high, 61 cm wide and 30 cm long. It is set with gold and has hanging bells to warn the king of impending danger. The golden stool is heavily guarded and only the Asantehene and a few trusted advisers know its hiding place. No one, not even the Asantehene, can sit on it.
In 1900, the British colonial governor of the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana), Sir Frederick Hodgson, demanded to sit on the golden stool, insulting the Asantes. This was after the Asantes had chosen to have their King, Prempeh I, be exiled in 1896 rather than lose the stool. Hodgson’s demand provoked what historians call “the War of the Golden Stool,” in which British forces defeated the Asante army, though the Asantes successfully defended their Golden Stool.
By Iyeyinka Kusi-Mensah
(Image: Kingdom of Asante)