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Asantemanso Sacred Grove (Click to plot point using Google Maps. 6°28' N, 1°33' W).

Asantemanso Sacred Grove is an approximately 100 ha rectangular forest patch that is located just east of Bekwai at Essumeja, ~70 km south of Kumasi.  The southern boundary of the forest abuts the main road between Essumeja and Bekwai.  Myth has it that in this forest the original seven clans of the Akans arose from a hole in the ground and started the powerful Asante Kingdom.  These seven clans are represented by seven pottery bowls placed in the ground at the ceremonial site near the southern boundary of the forest.  Tradition prevents the chief from entering the forest proper because according to local myth, “you can not go to where you came from or you will disappear”.

This remnant forest appears to be mostly intact despite its complete isolation from other forest blocks.  Traditional taboos are still very much in operation, which presumably accounts for the excellent condition of the forest.  Palm wine tappers have a camp on the northwestern boundary of the forest and actively tap trees in the forest, but there is otherwise no obvious evidence of forest use.

Research access to the site followed a strict hierarchical process and required five visits to Essumeja to meet with local elders and ultimately with Nana Oduro Numapau.  The Nana, who died in 2004, was the former Omanhene of the Essumeja Traditional Area and Nenkumhene of Asanteman and was highly educated and well-respected.  He placed high value on international collaboration and cultural exchange.  After two traditional ceremonies and the pouring of libations, research access to the forest was granted in perpetuity, except on Tuesday’s when it is taboo to enter the forest.  The Queen Mother of Essumeja, the former Nana’s niece, is currently the highest authority for the village.



ã2007 by James W. Fetzner Jr.  |  Best when viewed with Internet Explorer v7.0+  |  Last Updated: 19-Apr-2007