Bonwire Kente Village: Home of Africa’s most popular cloth

Kente is undoubtedly Africa’s most popular cloth, worn by millions across the continent. While many can attribute its origin to Ghana, not many, including Ghanaians know the exact town or village it originated from.

If you have ever found yourself in that position, wondering the exact origin of Ghana’s most famous and oldest cloth, then you are just at the right place, for the right answer.

Kente according to historians originated from the small township of Bonwire in the Ejisu-Juaben Municipal District in the Ashanti Region.

The Town which has a population of about 11,000, was made famous for its commercial production of the Kente material. Unlike most towns in Ghana where a majority of the working population are into either farming or fishing, Kente weaving is the most dominant occupation in the Bonwire Township, with almost all the males in the working age group engaged in the craft.

This has also made Bonwire a huge tourist destination for tourists from different part of the world, who regularly visit Ghana and make trips to the town to see how the good old famous traditional cloth is woven.

Couple in Kente
Couple in Kente

Brief History of Kente

The first documented history of Kente dates back to the 17th Century AD, during the peak of the Ashanti Kingdom. However some historians trace the history of the cloth to as far back as 3000 BC, when African history wasn’t documented.

It is believed by these historians that weaving in Africa began in that period and it was from there that the weaving of Kente was learnt and improved upon by the Ashanti Kingdom. More complicated, the large chunk of the history of Kente is grounded in Legends and unverified stories rather than well researched and proven historical documents. For instance, one of such legends, claim a man named Ota Karaban from the town of Bonwire, learnt the art of kente weaving from a spider which was waving its web. He later weaved cloth using the same method learnt from the spider and after its success, told the chief of Bonwire about it. The Chief then passed on the news to the King of the entire kingdom, the Asantehene, who after seeing the beautiful piece of cloth, adopted it and declared it as the traditional and royal cloth of the whole Ashanti Kingdom.

While such stories cannot be confirmed, they have stood the test of time and have been passed on from one generation to another.

Bonwire, lying some 18km off the Mampong-Kumasi road, remains a great tourist destination where one can go and have a closer look at how this beautiful traditional cloth is produced.

Atwea Mountains: Where tourism meets religion

Atwea Mountain, located in Atwea in the Sekyere Central District of the Ashanti region is undoubtedly one of the most famous mountains in Ghana, probably second only to the renowned Mount Afadja in the Volta region.

But what makes Atwea Mountain so famous? Unlike most mountainous landscapes which are famous for their attraction of tourists, the Atwea mountain is a unique mountain, famous for its attraction of Christian pilgrims, who visit the township of Atwea occasionally in a bid to climb to the summit of the mountain where they hold prayers and conventions.

This tradition according to the history books began so many decades ago when one local Methodist pastor in Atwea called Abraham Osei-Assibey ascended the Atwea Bour (Atwea Stone) to go and pray to the Lord.

After spending a few days up on the mountain praying to the Lord, he return to the town and regularly took his fellowship to the mountain top to go and pray with him. This event changed Atwea forever and marked the beginning of the rewriting of the history of the Atwea Township.

The mountain since then has becoming the most important converging place for Christians all over Ghana; a place where church members go to occasionally especially during Easter periods to have hold special prayer events or conventions.

Even though the mountain is very step and tall, this has not prevented Christian groups from visiting the town of Atwea and climbing the mountain to spend a few days praying and hold special meetings. Is it estimated that it takes an average of one hour to climb and get to the summit of the mountain where tents, are erected for visiting groups.

While the Atwea Mountain is known for its Christian pilgrimage and religious activities, tourists are not barred from visiting and climbing the famous mountain. In fact Christians who annually make the trip to the mountain, do not only go there with intent to fast and pray, but also to satisfy their curiosity and witness for themselves all that they have heard about the mountain, bringing religion and tourism into unison.

 

 

The Manhyia Palace: Home of the Ashantehene

The Manhyia Palace serves as the official residence and traditional home of the Asantehene, King of the Ashanti Kingdom.

The palace was built and commissioned in 1995 by the late King, Opoku Ware II. After the construction and the commission of the Manhyia Palace, the old Palace built in 1995 was converted into a museum that houses the artefact, records and history of all the previous Asante Kings.

Manhyia Palace
Manhyia Palace

The Manhyia Palace regarded as the largest palace in Ghana, boasts of a large courtyard that showcases statues of all the past great kings and queens of the Asante kingdom and is also named as one of the best traditional palaces in the subregion.

Since the completion of its construction in 1995, aside from serving as the official seat of the Asantehene, Otumfour Osei Tutu, the Manhyia Palace has also been a frequently visited place making its one of Ghana’s most sought after tourism destinations, receiving thousands of tourists from different parts of the world every year.

Tourists who visit the palace are allowed to the old Palace which now serves as a museum to learn about the history of the Ashanti Kingdom. The Museum (formerly the palace) is just beside the Manhyia Palace and still under the care and maintenance of the Asante Kingdom.

Top things Kumasi can boast of

Kumasi is a city which is located in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. It is the commercial and cultural capital of the Ashanti Empire. It is among one of the largest metropolitan areas in Ghana.

Due to the presence of different species of beautiful plants and flowers, it is also known as the Garden City. It is also alternatively known as Oseikrom (Osei’s town), with reference to Otumfuor Osei Tutu.  It is the second-largest city in Ghana, falling behind Accra, the nation’s capital.

The meaning of Kumasi

The name Kumasi means “under the Kum tree”. History has it that around the 17th century, the chief priest of the Asante Kingdom, Okomfo Anokye planted three “Kum” trees at different places. According to the story, Okomfo Anokye wanted to determine the place which would become a great city for the Asante Kingdom.

The three different areas he panted the tree are; Kwaaman which was ruled by Nananom Ayokofuo, Apemso-Bankofo which was ruled by Nananom Aduanaduo and the final one at a village near Fomena and Amoafo, called Oboani which was ruled by Nananom 3ko)nafuo.

It was said that the Kum tree which he planted at Kwaaman blossomed into a huge tree where the King and his people began to spend a considerable amount of time together, hence Kwaaman was renamed into Kum-ase, which as said earlier, means under Kum tree.

What can Kumasi boast of?

Kumasi boasts of having considerable amount of sites which are highly relevant to the history and progress of Ghana. Let’s delve into that, shall we?

The Fort Castle, which was built in 1986 is located in Kumasi. Kumasi also houses Royal Asante attractions such as; the Kumasi National Cultural Centre, the Prempeh Jubilee II Museum, the Golden Stool, the Okomfo Anokye Sword and the Manhyia Palace which was built in 1972.

Also located in Kumasi is the headquarters of the Guinness Ghana Breweries Limited (GGBL). So now you know where the Guinness and other popular beer you drink in Ghana come from. The GGBL was founded in 1960 and is located specifically in the Kaasi Industrial Area. The Kaasi Industrial Area plays an important role in the local industry. It is believed that 50% of the timber industry is based in Kumasi.

In terms of Senior High School education, Kumasi can boast of Prempeh College and Opoku Ware SHS, which are a part of the biggest and most prestigious SHS’s in Ghana. Prempeh College was established in 1949 whiles Opoku Ware SHS was established in 1952.

Kumasi also houses the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). KNUST was established in 1952.

In terms of commerce, Kumasi boasts of the Kumasi Central Market, popularly known as the Kejetia Market, one of the most renowned markets in Ghana. The Kejetia Market is the largest single market in West Africa. It houses over 12,000 sores and stalls.

Kejetia

Kumasi also houses the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH). It is the second-largest hospital in Ghana.  It is the only tertiary health institution in the Ashanti Region. KATH was built in 1954. However, it was initially named the Kumasi Central Hospital. It was converted into a Teaching Hospital in 1975, and it is affiliated to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

KATH is also accredited for postgraduate training in surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, otorhinolaryngology, ophthalmology and radiology by the West African College of Surgeons.

With regard to recreation, Kumasi has Rattray Park. The Rattray Park is one of the ultra-modern amusement parks which Ghana can boast of.  It was inaugurated by President John Mahama and Otumfuor Osei Tutu on June 20, 2015. The facilities located in the park include; an artificial lake, a golf cart, a gym, children’s playground, restaurants and cafeterias.

Kumasi Rattray Park
Kumasi Rattray Park

Of course, when Kumasi is mentioned, the Ashanti Kingdom is also mentioned. Kumasi is the capital city of the Ashanti Region/ Kingdom.  The Ashanti Kingdom is also one of the most powerful kingdoms in the world.

Asantehene during Adae Kese Festival
Asantehene during Adae Kese Festival

There’s so much to be said of Kumasi, so much so that, Lake Bosomtwe, the only natural lake in Ghana, is just a stone throw from Kumasi!

Lake Bosomtwe

Cheap Hotels in Ejisu

Ejisu is a town in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. Ejisu actually happens to be the capital of the Ejisu Municipal Assembly. Ejisu Municipality is one of the thirty administrative and political districts of the Ashanti region.

The town is highly respected due to the one-time action of the Queen Mother of Ejisu, Nana Yaa Asantewaa who stood bravely and opposed the British colonial masters when they tried seizing the Golden Stool from the Ashantis. The single deed by the Queen mother, made the small town a tourist site as many travel to Ejisu to visit the historic Nana Yaa Asantewaa Palace.

Feet of a young woman standing at the swimming pool

Just in case you are planning to visit Ejisu, here are some cheap hotels with good services you can lodge in.

Asantewaa Premier Guesthouse

The Asantewaa Premiere Guesthouse is located on 3b Club Street, Fumesua, near Ejisu Kumasi.

Other hotels near Ejisu are:

Evergreen Executive Hostel

The Evergreen Executive Hostel is located on PLOT 28/30 Anwomaso Kumasi

Rockville Place

The Rockville Place is located on the 25C Volta Avenue, Ridge Kumasi

Golden Gate Hotel

The Gold Gate Hotel is located at Amakom, Kumasi Near Kumasi High School Gyinyase Kumasi.

Tumi Hostel

The Tumi Hostel is located at Asokwa four junction Kumasi

The Stadium Hotel

The Stadium Hotel is also located in Asokwa Kumasi

Frederick’s lodge

The Frederick’s Lodge is located on the No. 6 Block R Kwame Owusu Road off J.O Amoo – Gottfried Road, Asokwa Residential Area, Kumasi

Open Space Hotel

The Open Space Hotel is located at the Denkyemenaso Road Plot 19 Denkyemouso, Kumasi

Hotel De Texas

The hotel de Texas is located on Plot 11 Block 1, Hudson Road, Asokwa Kumasi

Oak Plaza Suites

The Oak Plaza Suites is located Inside the Ark Building Off Ahodwo roundabout – Asokwa interchange, Kumasi.

 

Bragoro: How Brapue is celebrated and its significance

Bragoro, also known as Brapue, is a puberty rite performed by the Akans especially among the Ashantis.

Traditionally, a young girl undergoes the Bragoro rites after experiencing her first ever menstruation, which according to the Akans signals womanhood for the young girl hence the need to undergo the puberty rites.

After a young girl experiences her first menstruation, her mother reports it to the council of elders, queenmothers and community leaders to signal to them that her daughter is now ready and qualifies to be initiated.

Activities marking the event come in two-fold, a spiritual aspect and physical aspect. The spiritual aspect involves finding out if the young girl’s soul actually conforms with the event as it is believed that the soul of some of the girls may not conform with the whole process hence the need to exclude that girl from rites to prevent any spiritual disasters like spiritual sickness.

When that step is successfully passed, the family then begins to make material preparations towards the event by providing the girl with special clothing and food for the celebration.

From there, the girls are sent to a queen mother who conducts a special customary test to find out if any of the girls are pregnant or have had sex before so that they can also be excluded.

The final phase involves a durbar where all the community folks assemble at a common ground to witness the Bragoro ceremony.

At the ceremony, several activities take place including the enstoolment where the girls sit and stand on a stool repeatedly for three times. After that, water contained in a basin and believed to be a spiritual water are sprinkled on the girls to ‘drive away evil spirit’ and also make them fertile and produce many children.

This is accompanied by a huge celebration by the whole crowd as they eat, drink and make merry to welcome the girls into adulthood. Gifts are also handed out to the girls’ parents to be given to the young girls when the event is over.

In recent times, however, the popularity and significance of Bragoro among the Akans seem to be waning as the ceremony is barely observed in most Akan communities with very few still holding on to it.

Abasua Prayer Camp: Atwea Mountains history and location

Abasua Prayer Camp is located on the Atwea Mountain in the Sekyere Central District of the Ashanti region and is known to be the first prayer camp established on the mountain before other Christian bodies also established various prayer camps on the mountain.

Historically, Atwea Mountain was just another normal mountain in Ghana with no religious connection until one Methodist pastor by name Abraham Osei-Assibey ascended the mountain to pray claiming he was directed by the Lord.

After spending a few days upon the mountain praying to the Lord, he returned to the town and regularly took his fellowship to the mountain top to go and pray with him and in the process established the now popular Abasua Prayer camp on top of the mountain.

Since then other Christian bodies have also established their prayer camps on the mountain and visit there periodically to hold prayer sessions which mostly involves fasting. Abasua Prayer Camp, however, remains the most popular prayer camp there and usually receives thousands of Methodist congregants from all over the country especially during festive periods like Christmas and Easter.

While Atwea Mountain and its various prayer camps are known for Christian pilgrimage and activities, tourists are not barred from visiting and climbing the famous mountain. In fact, Christians who annually make the trip to the mountain, do not only go there with intent to fast and pray, but also to satisfy their curiosity and witness for themselves all that they have heard about Atwea mountain and prayer camps, bringing religion and tourism into unison.

KNUST Botanical Garden

The KNUST Botanical Garden is located within the campus of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in the Ashanti Regional capital, Kumasi.

The garden was created by the university authorities to serve two purposes; firstly to serve as a learning and research centre for the university’s agriculture students, and secondly, to serve as a park where students and visitors can go relax and have some quiet time or even have some small get-together.

While the park was largely built to serve the student and staff community of the university, it has over the years become very popular within the Kumasi metropolis, receiving thousands of visitors from the city, most of who visit there with the intent of touring the beautiful garden.

While the garden is opened 24/7, the best time to visit is usually between the hours of 6am and 5pm as you are more likely to encounter some of the rare insects and small reptiles like wild lizards living in the park. It also gives you a much clearer view of the garden for you to appreciate the beautiful and incredible tall tree species in the park.

For residents of Kumasi, the KNUST botanical garden is a must-visit especially for the lovers of flowers and gardens.

 

Owabi Wildlife Sanctuary

Owabi Wildlife Sanctuary is a predominantly bird dominated sanctuary located in Kumasi, the Ashanti regional capital. The facility was established in 1988 under the presidency of Acheampong to serve as a major animal reserve in the Kumasi metropolis where wildlife can be well protected from human activities that possess danger to their survival as well as serving as a major eco-tourist site for tourists who visit the city and those living in the city.

Currently, the 13 square kilometre reserve boasts of more than 140 species of birds, some of which are among the rarest in the world.

Different species of monkeys are also found in the park together with other animals like bush pigs and antelopes.

Owabi also serves as a popular picnic and events park within the Kumasi metropolis as families, friends and organizations usually organize mini-events such as family get-together at the park, making it all round sanctuary capable of generating huge revenues for the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly.

For tourists looking to visit and tour the Ashanti regional capital, the Owabi Wildlife Sanctuary is a good place to consider starting your tour from.

Ashanti Tourism in Focus: The Bomfobiri Wildlife Sanctuary

Birds are one of the most amazing creatures of nature, with their ability to defy the norm and swim through the air, creating an amazing site that man can only watch and wonder, and ask how.

One of the few places in Ghana to see this amazing work of nature is the Bomfobiri Wildlife Sanctuary, located in the Ashanti region. The sanctuary which is located in near Kumasi houses birds of all species and has been a home for birds since 1957 when the sanctuary was created under the leadership of Ghana’s first president Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to protect the ecosystem of the Bomfobiri area.

The sanctuary is regarded as one of the most distinct and unique wildlife centres in Ghana which receives thousands of tourists on a regular basis.

While the Bomfobiri Wildlife sanctuary began as an only-bird habitat, it has expanded in recent times to include other animals Like Baboons, Crocodiles, Buffalos, Mona Monkeys, Monitor Lizards and Bushbucks.

The reserve remains one of the best in Ghana in terms of wildlife tourism, due to the abundance of different types of animals at the sanctuary, especially the over hundred species of birds.

Beyond the presence of these animals, the reserve also boasts of other side attractions such as the Lion Stone (a naturally carved stone in the shape of a Lion), Wala waterfall, where visiting tourists are allowed to have a swim and cave touring for the daredevil and adventurous visitors.

The Bomfobiri Wildlife Sanctuary is simply a one-in-all tourism destination for those in search of the ultimate tourism destination where all of nature’s beauty can be experienced. The best time to visit the reserve is in November or December when we are in the dry season, this increases tourists chance of seeing most of the animals as the animals usually wander deep into the forest to seek shelter and protection during the rainy season.