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Adae Kese Festival ("big resting place") is a celebration of the Ashanti. It glorifies the achievements of the Asante kingdom.[1][2] It is also the occasion when the purification ceremony of Odwira is performed at the burial shrines of ancestral spirits. Generally, this coincides with the harvest season of yam and hence the ritual was also called the "Yam custom" by Europeans.[3]

Adae Kese Festival
Golden stool 31 January 1935.jpg
The Asante Golden Stool is displayed during the Adae Kese Festival.
Observed byAshanti of Asanteman
SignificanceFestival establishing link and a level of faith and solidarity between the living and the ancestral spirits.
DateAnnually; the 9th Adae Festival in an Akan calendar year



It is the annual culmination festival of the Akan calendar, the ninth Adae Festival (which occurs every six weeks). Adae Kese ushers in the New Year, with dates ranging between July and October, though some Akans like the Akim, Akwamu, and Ashanti celebrate New Year in January. It is also celebrated at the Manhyia Palace.


The custom of holding this festival came into prominence between 1697 and 1699 when statehood was achieved for the people of Ashante after the war of independence, the Battle of Feyiase, against the Denkyira. The festival was observed subsequently to the establishment of the Golden Stool (throne) in 1700. The festival was a time to consecrate the remains of the dead kings; those remains had been kept in a mausoleum at the sacred burial ground of Bantama, a royal suburb of Kumasi. Adae Kese brought a link and a level of faith and solidarity between the living and the ancestral spirits. In its early times, this festival also had implications of sacrifice, both human and animal. The main festival used to be held first at Hemmaa, close to the king’s palace near the location of the ancestral shrine of the kings. The second and more important part of the festival was performed at Bantama, which also was the last burial ground of the Asante kings, and was known as the “notorious Bantama ritual" as the sacrifices involved were of large proportions. When the festival was announced, by beating of drums, people went into hiding for fear that they may be selected for the human sacrifice. As part of the ritual, sheep sacrifice was also involved. Whether human sacrifice was involved or not is a subject of debate, but the fact is that the African societies considered these rites as a "reunion between the living and the dead."[4]


The Adae Kese Festival follows the same rituals as the Adae Festival, however, a difference in the celebration rites is that the chief carries a sheep for sacrifice to the Stool.[5] The purification ceremony of Odwira is celebrated during Adae Kese at the burial shrines of ancestral spirits. Generally, this coincides with the harvest season of yam, and hence the ritual was also called the Yam custom by Europeans.[5] It is celebrated at this season to thank the gods and the ancestors for a good harvest. The season is equally used to outdoor the new yam.

Fifth-year Adae KeseEdit

Every five years, the Adae Kese Festival is hosted by the paramount ruler of the Asante in the capital city of Kumasi, Asanteman, and lasts for two weeks.[6] As a formal state celebration, it involves several villages and towns, within a traditional area known as Odwira,[2] uniting Ashanti from all walks of life (Odwira means to purify). Asantehene, the titular ruler of Kumasi, holds a colourful durbar of chiefs and their queens on this occasion when they all turn up in full regalia. Dancing to the beats of drums is part of the pageantry. The festival is also the occasion when people pledge their confidence in the present king of the Ashante. Some of the deserving people are given awards of recognition on this occasion. The king also holds a very private celebration within his palace chambers along with the designated members of the royal family and other officials.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Adae Kese Festival". Official web site of Ghana.Travel Corporation. Archived from the original on 27 December 2011. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  2. ^ a b "African Festivals: Adae Kese". African. Net. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  3. ^ Roy 2005, p. 42.
  4. ^ Agorsah 2010, pp. 42-43.
  5. ^ a b Roy 2005, p. 2.
  6. ^ Asante, Molefi Kete; Mazama, Ama (26 November 2008). Encyclopedia of African Religion. SAGE. pp. 36–. ISBN 978-1-4129-3636-1. Retrieved 21 November 2012.