Adae Kese is a festival celebrated by the people of the Asante kingdom purposely to glorify and remind themselves of their greatness and achievements.
The Adae Festival is special celebration in the Asante kingdom where Asantes use the day to rest. It is generally referred to as ‘Resting Day’ and occurs twice every 42 days.
The festival is also seen as a time for sober reflection, for the people especially the traditional leaders to establish a link with the ancestors and gods of the town and seek for wisdom and strengthening of their faith.
The idea of holding the festival was conceived in the late 1600s after the Asantes successfully defeated the Denkyira in the battle of Feyiase to achieve independence and statehood. This idea however did not come into fruition until the arrival of the Golden Stool in 1700.
Back in the days, the festival was reported to involve the sacrifice of humans to the gods and ancestral spirits of the dead chiefs. While records of that practice are quite sketchy and difficult to ascertain, the celebration of Adae Kese today does not involve any form of human sacrifice. Instead, animals like sheep are slaughtered by the chief priests of the various towns and offered as a sacrifice to the ancestral spirits of past chiefs.
The Asantehene, ruler of the entire Asante state, hosts the Adae Kese in Kumasi, (the traditional residence of the Asantehene) every five years. During this, all the Asante chiefs from the various towns and villages come together in Kumasi, to celebrate the Adae Kese in unison under the leadership of the Asantehene.
A special durbar is held with all the sub-chiefs in attendance. At this durbar, the Asantehene delivers a special message to Asantes and preaches about unity, and the need to stay together as one people. Activities such as dancing, drumming and recognition of some notable individuals who play major roles in the development of the Asante kingdom also take place. Sub-chiefs use the period to pledge their allegiance to the Asantehene.
It must also be noted that there is no specific date for the celebration of the festival as it is held on the 9th Adae Kese festival using the Akan calendar. This usually results in the festival falling between July and October.