The Ashanti Kingdom is a whole dynasty on its own. Known for its rich culture and sufficient civilization, the kingdom has stood the test of time and has risen to this magnificent level of respect and recognition.
Like many kingdoms across the globe, cultural practices are key in representing the people and their beliefs. Today, we will learn just one traditional practice of the Ashanti kingdom - The Bulletproof Jacket (Batakarikeseɛ).
Many are those that believe that every Asantehene wears the bulletproof jacket (Batakarikeseɛ) twice in his lifetime. But that is not the case and cannot be the case. Before I enumerate when the outfit is worn, I want to state that some Kings wore it once in a lifetime whiles others wore it as many as 5times or more.
Kwaku Dua II wore it but just once in his lifetime. This is because he died in office only 40 days after his enstoolment. He did not stay that long in the office to wear Batakarikeseɛ to celebrate the funeral of his predecessor and an Asantehemaa or go to war.
Asantehene Kusi Obodum wore Batakarikeseɛ twice in his lifetime; that is during his enstoolment and the funeral of his predecessor.
The bulletproof (Batakarikeseɛ) is worn in critical, grievous and life-threatening times. During important matters, where emotions, lives and livelihoods are at stake, the king wears the Batakarikeseɛ to show the moment is not normal.
In the Ashanti kingdom, the outfit is worn in the following situations:
An Asantehene wears the Batakarikeseɛ during his enstoolment as Asantehene. The enstoolment process is highly respected and important in the administrative exercises of the kingdom. Thus, all kings wear the outfit during the time to show that the exercise is not trivial but very important.
Again, an Ashanti king wears the outfit when performing the funeral of his predecessor. This is very critical and significant in the kingdom. As I stated in my preamble, the life of every individual is important and deserves a befitting burial, but the life of a royal is not ordinary. Thus, it is deemed relevant and calls for wearing the outfit.
An Asantehene also wears the outfit during the funeral of the Asantehemaa (Queen mother). Like the recent event that happened at Manhyia during the burial of the Asantehemaa who aged 111 before dying. Many dignitaries graced the occasion and treated it with the necessary attention and recognition it deserved. Should more than one Asantehemaa dies in the office during his time as Asantehene, he will have to wear the Batakarikeseɛ during their funerals.
Finally, during the war in which he, Asantehene, has to be present at the war front. He will definitely be armed in the Batakarikeseɛ to lead the war. The popular proverb says: if the king doesn’t fight, servants will run away. So, kings should lead. And if so, the outfit should be nothing less than the bulletproof Batakarikeseɛ because if the king dies, the war is lost.
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