Three rules one of Africa’s most powerful monarchs must live by

Vanessa Calys-Tagoe October 29, 2022
The current Asantehene (Ashanti King) with the Golden Stool --- thekingdomofasante.com

While you may think that rules restrict your movement and don’t make your life easy, you just might have it easier than the monarchs. The English monarchs have their own rules they must follow. The royal family must accept all gifts whether they love it or not; two heirs cannot fly together and there’s a very strict dress code they all have to follow and they must remain politically neutral, but this is only to name a few. 

In Africa, the monarchy system is very much alive despite the practice of democracy and unitary or federal rule. The monarchs still are of great relevance to the local and traditional areas in African countries. 

In Ghana, the Ashanti region is notable for having kept intact its monarchy system. Amongst all the tribes in the country, the Asantehene, the paramount chief of the whole Ashanti region, wields power and his monarchy cannot be contested, but no matter how powerful he is, he is still subjected to certain rules that he must not flout. 

The Asantehene must never walk barefoot but must wear footwear called Abodje. Essentially, a king among the Akans never goes barefoot but with his Abodje, the ceremonial sandals. They are typically embellished with gold and constructed of leather. Abodje is a symbol of both elevation and the way the king is regarded by his subjects and populace. The Abodje is a genuine message carrier and might enable people to learn the King’s emotional state. The King cannot and must not step out without wearing the Abodje. It will be considered an abomination. Ashanti tradition is enveloped in rich Ghanaian culture and a display of wealth therefore, the King’s feet, whether telling a sad, happy or whatever emotional state must exude the wealth of the powerful Ashanti Kingdom. 

Another rule the Asantehene is said to live by is abstinence from taking medicine in public. The King must not be seen taking medicine at public gatherings. In situations where an emergency requires him to be given medicine, a private space is found and his linguist surrounds him and covers him with their clothes so he can take said medicine. This rule is not limited to the Asantehene only; every sub-chief in the Akan traditional area does not take medicine in public. 

As if all these rules are not enough, before the King eats, someone must taste the meal before he does. This is a safety measure and no matter how hungry and how delicious or harmless the meal is perceived to be, another person (a designated portfolio) other than the king must taste the meal.

These three rules are not the only restrictions the Asantehene and his sub-chiefs face. There are a plethora of other rules and regulations the monarchs must abide by to maintain not only their safety but the power of the kingdom. These rules contribute to what made the Ashanti Kingdom great then, what makes it great now, and what will make it great tomorrow. 

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