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November 9, 2010

Asantehene – the King’s Name

Current Asantehene - Otumfuo Opoku Ware II
Current Asantehene - Otumfuo Opoku Ware II


In the Ashanti kingdom a newly elected king, the Asantehene is required to change his name and adopt a “stool name” (the King’s seat of honour is a stool not a throne). The reason behind this practice is simple. The king has a past. He was once a “small boy”. This boy grew up, went to school, had friends, made mistakes and enemies. He committed the wrong doings that children and young men are wont to commit. Now he is king, he must put this behind him. No one should identify him as that small boy who wet his pants or that boss who fired them. He must become a new person and so, change his name.

For the Ashanti, there is even more to it as they believe that any grudges anyone felt against the would-be king, curses on his name stay with the name. The name may be tainted and must be left behind.

I seldom discuss politics but I must say that I found this concept appealing. Politicians who try to maintain their close ties to “the boys” may find themselves in compromising positions with associates who can hold knowledge of past sins against them. On the other hand, elected politicians cannot discard their friends if they expect to win the next election. Quite a conundrum. How many of us lay claim to a perfect past? It is a pity that we cannot leave the politician’s past behind thus taking the wind out of the sails of would be blackmailers. If we do our due diligence before we elect them, . Perhaps if we let them move forward they will live up to our confidence.

“When I was a child I spoke as a child I understood as a child I thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things.” I Corinthians 13:11

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