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Ghana’s New King Is Coronated

April 27, 1999

KUMASI, Ghana (AP) _ Carried through the streets by a squadron of royal bearers, the incoming ruler of Ghana’s most important kingdom was cheered by thousands of his people on Monday, his coronation day.

Dressed in bright-colored kente cloth, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II set out Monday morning from his palace in Kumasi, the royal seat of the Ashanti kingdom, with 20 men in black waist-cloths holding aloft his sedan chair.

Thousands of people jammed the streets, the balconies and the rooftops of Kumasi to watch the new king _ a 49-year-old London-trained accountant and businessman who has worked in Ghana, Europe and the United States _ go past.

Later, at least 40,000 jammed the Kumasi stadium to watch on a blistering hot day as new king-elect, covered in a heavy smock with leather charms and amulets, fired three shots with a musket _ proving his ability to command and lead the Ashanti nation.

While the Ashanti king has no power under the constitution, he wields great influence in Ghana’s political and business worlds, and his approval is needed for several political appointments in the Kumasi region.

The king was to cap off the day with a late-night ceremony in which he will sit three times on the Golden Stool, a small, solid-gold seat believed to embody the soul of the Ashanti nation, which makes up about 40 percent of Ghana’s population. With that ceremony, he will officially be the new king.

The coronation comes a day after he was given his royal name, leaving his former name, Barima Nana Kwaku Dua, behind.

``This is a once-in-a-lifetime happening. It’s a landmark in Ashanti history. I know this new king will do a lot to change the destiny of the Ashanti people,″ said Nana Osei Banahene I, an Ashanti chief watching the ceremonies.

The modern Ashanti state was born in the 1600s but by 1800 had grown to well beyond the borders of present-day Ghana. Today, the Ashanti king still holds great power over traditional chiefs in parts of neighboring Ivory Coast.

The visual culture of the Ashanti _ kente and adinkra cloth, gold weights and graceful wooden stools _ have become synonymous in the West with traditional Africa.

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