As part of the 20th-anniversary celebrations of the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, 250 Asante Atano gods (river gods) were assembled at the Manhyia Palace yesterday for purification and thanksgiving rites.
The event, which depicted a re-enactment of the history and relevance of the gods and the roles they played in the protection and building of the Asante Kingdom which predates Christianity, was also used to pray for a better future for the Asantehene and Asanteman.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II led in the performance of the rites to demonstrate the rich history of Asanteman and the source of its strength and protection.
Preceding his arrival for the performance of the rites was a gathering of the 250 deities and their priests who were clad in white. All clans in Asanteman were represented.
The slaughtering of a number of rams, led by the Asantehene and the spilling of the blood on each deity was performed behind closed doors.
There were some anxious moments as hundreds of indigenes struggled for space to catch a glimpse of the rites.
The excitement outside the locked Manhyia Palace gates was enough for the younger generation to appreciate the culture of Asanteman.
Moments later, a group of young men emerged with huge white rams with blood dripping all over them.
But it was the fight of ownership over each carcass by another group outside, particularly the palace workers, that really drew the attention of the people.
It was indeed an awe-inspiring moment as anxious youth followed the carcasses.
As Otumfuo later sat in state to receive his guests and chiefs, kete, Fontomfrom music and dance filled the atmosphere.
The traditional priests and priestesses were not left out of the excitement as some of them who were overtaken by the “spirit”, went into moments of frenzy and went ‘’wild.’’
The Atano rites officially announced the commencement of the 20th-anniversary celebration of the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, who was enthroned in 1999 and whose reign has brought some unparalleled development to Asanteman.
Otumfuo is credited with establishing the Otumfuo Educational Fund to assist brilliant, needy students in Ghana and promote literacy in general.
As one of his achievements in the educational sector, Otumfuo used his influence to initiate the famous project known as “Promoting Partnership with Traditional Project,” mainly to build school infrastructure and build capacities of facilitators.
He was one of the lead campaigners in the fight against HIV prevalence in the region at a time the Ashanti Region topped the prevalence rate in the country.
Over the last 20 years, the king of Asanteman has championed the preservation of the Asante culture through the strengthening of the chieftaincy institution and streamlining its organogram and authority.
Otumfuo is said to have played a key role in bringing government’s development projects to Kumasi, in particular, including the Kejetia Market Redevelopment Project, the Kumasi City Mall and currently has initiated the construction of the Kumasi Airport City to house first-class offices and businesses.
Born some 69 years ago, Otumfuo Osei Tutu attended the Sefwi-Wiaso Secondary School for his GCE Ordinary Level, then to the Osei Kyerekyere Secondary School for his Advanced Level certificate before proceeding to the then Institute for Professional Studies (IPS) to study accounting.
He later went to the United Kingdom for further studies where he also worked as a professional accountant and had stints in other businesses before he was enstooled as the Asantehene on April 26, 1999.