The far-famed Ashanti traditional culture was on full display on Thursday at the Manhyia Palace when the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, presided over the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Sagrenti War, which is part of events marking the 25th anniversary of his reign as the King of the Asante Kingdom.
The occasion known as the Kuntunkuni Durbar saw the profound exhibition of long-standing Asante customs and traditions, the performances of rites and rituals and the rich display of costumes and regalia by a retinue of sub-chiefs and contingents of traditional warriors, amid the pomp and pageantry that hallmark such a highly anticipated durbar.
The climax of the day was the presentation of the first batch of returned Asante artefacts from the Fowler Museum of the University of California in Los Angeles, in the United States of America, which were part of looted booties by the British 150 years ago, after the Sagrenti War in 1874.
The Kuntunkuni Durbar, named after the traditional mourning cloths of the Asantes, Kuntunkuni, marked the culmination of the 150th anniversary of the Sagrenti War, in which over 4,000 Asante soldiers perished and the entire city of Kumasi was destroyed by fire with explosives.
Asantehenemaa Nana Konadu Yiadom III and many paramount chiefs from the Ashanti Region and elsewhere were gracing the event.
In attendance were Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, Second Lady Samira Bawumia, Speaker of Parliament Alban Sumana Bagbin, former President John Dramani Mahama, Chief of Staff at the Office of the President,Hon.n Akosuah Fremah Opare, British High Commissioner to Ghana, H.E. Harriet Thompson, Indian High Commissioner to Ghana, H.E. Birender Singh, former Chief Justice Anin Yeboah, former Minister for Food and Agriculture Dr Afriyie Akoto, founder of Movement for Change, Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, among other dignitaries.
According to Manhyia Palace, in April, the second batch of 32 looted artefacts will arrive from two leading cultural institutions in the United Kingdom – the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum.
The presentation ceremony comes as pressure grows for European and US museums and institutions to restore African artefacts stolen during the rule of former colonial powers Britain, France, Germany and Belgium.
The collections, which include the original sacred Mponponsuo state sword dating back to 300 years, come under two separate agreements.
The Asante royal treasures from the Fowler Museum, also included a gold necklace, an ornamental chair belonging to Asantehene Kofi Karikari, the 10th Asantehene, and an elephant tail whisk,
The Mponponsuo sword is what all Asantehenes traditionally swore their oath of office and paramount chiefs their allegiance to the Asantehenes.
They were presented by leadership of the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles including Dr. Silvia Forni, the Director of Fowler Museum, Dr. Erica Jones, the Senior Curator of African Arts and Manager of Curatorial Affairs and Dr. Richel Raynor, Director of Registration and Collections Management.
The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II in his speech at the August Durbar, reiterated the resilience of Asanteman, which dates back to their genesis, and reaffirmed his dedicated commitment to safeguarding the interests of the Asante kingdom while protecting the heritage of his ancestors, kith and kin.