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Asantehene's Administration

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The Asantehene has a dual capacity in the Union of Asante States. Apart from being the Asantehene, he is also the chief of Kumase and the head of the Kumase Division within the Asante Union of States. In administering the day to day affairs of the Kumase divisional group the Asantehene consults his ministers who are known as Abrempong and are usually the leaders of various divisional groups within the Kumase Traditional Council. Some of them are Akyempemhene who is also the head of the Kyidom Fekuo (the rear group at war time) the Adontenhene – head of the main army (foot soldiers), Manwerehene – head of the state guards, Kontihene who is also the Bantamahene and the No. 1 war general, Asafohene who is also No.2 war general.    The Asantehene is not an autocratic ruler, his considerable authority, nothwistanding. He is democratically elected but could be deposed or forced to abdicate. For example Nana Kusi Boadum, the immediate successor of Nana Opoku Ware l and Nana Osei Kwame the immediate successor of Nana Osei Kwadwo Okoawia were forced to abdicate. Nana Kofi Kaakari was distooled. This in the olden days happened a couple of times within the Union. Among his own family lineage and the Kumase Division, he operates within the confines of checks and balances. Among the Amanhene or Paramount Chiefs he is the primus inter pares which means first among equals. Theoretically, he is considered as being equal to Chiefs like the Mamponhene, Kumawuhene, Dwabenhene, Kokofuhene, Bekwaehene and Nsutahene. All these chiefs enjoy the prerogative of having their own divisional chiefs or ministers. That means they also have their own Abrempong. For example, Effigyaasehene and Gyamaasehene are thesemlves Abrempong but are divisional chiefs for the Nifa (right wing) and Benkum (left wing) groups respectively at the Mampon Traditional Council. They also have the power to create a sub-chief as soon as the Asantehene creates one in Kumase. The creation of Sompahene by Otumfuo Opoku Ware however was exceptional. It is forbidden for any Omanhene to create such a stool.  In running the day to day affairs of the Kumase State the Asantehene is the Head of the Judiciary. Members of his judicial council are the following Abrempong who are also referred to as Elders: Kontihene (Bantamahene), Akwamuhene (Asafohene), Adontenhene, Nifahene (Asokore-Mamponhene), Benkumhene (Tafohene), Kyidomhene (Akyempemhene), Gyaasehene (Saamanhene), Ankobeahene, Ohemmaa, Yokohene, Manwerehene, Akyeamehene and othe senior Akyeame. 

Four of these chiefs are so important that even at the death of an Asantehene a senior linguist swears an oath of allegiance on the Asantehene’s behalf to these chiefs before he is finally sent to Banmu. The four chiefs are Kontihene (Bantamahene), Akwamuhene (Asafohene), Adontenhene and the Akyempemhene. The Akyempemhene is always the son or grandson of an Asantehene. As a result of this, the Akyempemhene enjoys a special privilege. Whenever there is a durbar all the chiefs including the Amanhene are supposed to come to the durbar grounds before the Asantehene arrives. The Akyempemhene on the other hands stays behind and he comes after the Asantehene has taken his seat and he ( the Asantehene) sends fontonfrom drummers including the “Akyem” bearers accompanied by children and grandchildren of current and previous Asante Kings, to go for him. Akyem is a special shield made of an animal’s skin. In the olden days it was used during wars and combats for protection againt arrows and knives. It is believed that the Akyempemhene possesses thousand of these shields, hence the name Akyempemhene.       During a war each of these four chiefs has a unique part to play. The Bantamahene and Asafohene are the war generals number one and two respectively hence Kontire ne Akwamu. The Adontenhene is the commanding officer of the middle infantry and commands the main soldiers who really do the real fighting before the war generals and the various groups arrive at the war front. In front of the Adonten group are only the so called scouts or patrol group. The Kyempemhene belongs to the Kyidom group and since the Asantehene is usually either his father or his father’s brother or his grandfather his duty during a war is to protect the King from the rear. Since the Asantehene is the commander-in-chief of the army he has to be protected. It is believed that a son will do all he can to protect his own father.          In the absence of the Asantehene during the sittings of the Kumase traditional council it is the Bantamahene in his capacity as the Kontihene who presides over proceedings. In his absense if necessary, any other elder next in seniority may act on his behalf as the presiding chief. The order of seniority at the Asantehene’s court with matters regarding the Kumase Divisional group is as follows: Kontihene, Akwamuhene, Adontehene, Yokohene (Abusuahene), Kyidomhene, Gyaasehene and Ankobeahene. I would like to emphasize that this is also the order at all the Amanhene’s palace. The Abusuahene at Kumawu/Assumnnya is the Aduanahene and this position is occupied in Mampong by the Bretuohene whilst the Asonahene occupies the same position at Edweso/Offinso. It is interesting to know that all those Ministers or Abrempong mentioned previously are only the heads of the Kumase Divisional groups that means the Akyempemhene in Kumase does not control the Akyempemhene of Bekwae for example. The Apagyahene of Kokofu or Kumawu does not owe any allegiance to the Apagyahene of Kumase. None of these Abrempong is seen as Asanteman Brenpong for example although the Bantamahene is the Kontihene of the Asantehene during Kumase Traditional Council meetings on the Asanteman Council level it is the Mamponhene who is the Kontihene.      Matters brought before the Asantehene are usually matters regarding chieftaincy or land issues. During these sittings the Akyeame on behalf of the Asantehene will usually announce the cases by order of importance. Interestingly the Asantehene is always surrounded by the members of his family ie the chiefs from the Oyoko family like Oyokohene,  Oyoko-Atutuehene, Oyoko Bremanhene, Ayebiasehene. Those who also sit close to him are his sons and grandsons. This include Apagyahene, Hiaahene, Akyempemhene, Ankaasehene, and Atipinhene, these chiefs are either the sons or grandsons of a current or former Asantehene. Also close to the Asantehene are the Manwerehene, Gyaasehene, Akonfrehene and the Anantahene. These three may not be related to the Asantehene. Coincidentally the current Akomfrehene is the nephew of Otumfuo Osei Tutu’s father Nana Boakye Dankwa. Anantahene and Akomfrehene are heads of Otumfuo’s personal body guards. Any chief that has an issue that he would like to bring before the Asantehene will do this by lodging a complaint through one of the Abrempong who on the other hand will present the case on the said day through an Okyeame to the Otumfuo. After the complainant has finished presenting his/her case the defendant will be offered the chance to tell his/her side of the story and after that interrogations and cross-examinations are conducted by the advisors (the family members who sit very close to Otumfuo) of the Asantehene. All other chiefs present are also allowed to ask questions or add their views to the proceedings. Contributions may be offered starting with the most senior Obrempong:  Kontihene (Bantamahene), Akwamuhene (Asafohene), Adontehene, Yokohene (Abusuahene), Kyidomhene (Akyempemhene or Ankaasehene), Gyaasehene, Ankobeahene, Manwerehene and Nkosuohene.   After it becomes crystal clear which of the two parties is guilty the Otumfuo, who in his capacity as the head of the Judiciary, after a short consultation with his family members, will give the verdict through the Okyeame on duty that day. He or she will be requested to pay a fine which will usually include some sheep, money and drinks. If on the other hand the one who is guilty is a chief who has in any way abused his stool or offended the Otumfuo in any way the Asantehene might order the Abrafuo – palace executioners and policemen, to arrest the chief. This is called “Deduakyere”. The chief will then have to make an appeal through a higher chief and might be allowed to pay a fine instead of being arrested. If the said chief is not fortunate the Asantehene could also order the Abrafuo to take off his sandals, which will then mean he has been destooled or deposed. The Otumfuo will then inform the head of that chief’s family (Abusuapanin) to prepare and choose another royal who will then be installed as the new chief. In that case a new royal will be chosen and on a later day  be introduced to the Otumfuo informally as the would-be chief. It is only after Otumfuo in consultation with his Abrempong have accepted the new royal unanimously that he will then be presented officially to his subjects and then swear an oath of office to his township. Meanwhile a date will be arranged for a grand swearing in ceremony before the Asantehene. Also during this ceremony, after the Otumfuo has asked the Abusuapanin to introduce the candidate and he (the Ausuapanin) will be asked three times of the royal is the royal is truly the choice of the entire township. After the Abusuapanin has answered affirmatively the Otumfuo will once again request the Okyeame to enquire from his Abrempong if any of them has anything against the candidate. In order of seniority, starting from Kontire and Akwamu, the Abrempong will rise up and say if Otumfuo personally does not have anything against the said candidate then they would plead with him to allow him to swear the oath of allegiance.