Akonedi: Priesthood not by inheritance
By Kofi Ayim, Larteh Akuapem
Nana Abena Asi, the current high priestess of the Akonedi Shrine in Larteh, Akuapem has said that occupancy at the topmost position is not necessarily a family succession of inheritance. Citing her own experience in an unscheduled chit-chat bare-it-all with this writer on January 18, 2017, Nana Abena Asi said she was initially spiritually possessed at about age 8 and in primary school at Adeiso, near Nsawam in the Eastern Region of Ghana. Her pronouncements and utterings, predictions and prophecies and general behavior significantly altered and her life eventually changed. Under the influence and directions of the spirits, by age 12 she was already under tutelage and rigorous training at the Akonedi Shrine. Asked how long the Shrine has been in existence, Nana simply smiled and said “a very long time ago.” She quickly added that her daughter could succeed to her position if the spirits so desired. “The call has to be spiritually made first, and the rest would follow,” she inferred.
Nana Abena Asi said the life of a priestess is rigorous and has to be regimentally followed in order to be closer to the spirits at all times. Ordinary movements are restricted. Appearance at funerals, sexual intercourse, and menstruation, among others, demand strict and thorough ablution or special cleansing to regain one’s stature as effective and efficient priestess. The mother of three, pointed out there are other smaller Gods with special duties, but Akonedi is the mightiest of all in their Shrine. The preferred time of spiritual communication with Akonedi is one o’clock in the morning, Nana said.
She said Akonedi is”seen” at daytime only once a year and on a Tuesday, when she celebrates Yam Festival. It is an abominable taboo for Akonedi to encounter a pregnant woman and so on this day no pregnant woman is allowed anywhere near the celebrations. It is also a taboo to eat a mixture of cassava and plantain at the Shrine. However, unmixed diets of these edibles could be eaten. Pushed for the rationale behind it, Nana Abena Asi pointed out that plantain tubers are uprooted or harvested from above ground, while tubers of cassava are under ground. The two, it became apparent to this writer do not spiritually mix. Nana Abena Asi led us to the Shrine House where she requested her linguist to demonstrate some magical powers after which she herself executed another mesmerizing feat to us. Akonedi is one of few powerful dreadful traditional religions in Ghana whose name is mentioned with awe. There are no male priests for the Shrine. Nana Abena Asi says the Shrine now has permission to travel anywhere in the world to help those that may need its services, but may not be able to travel to Ghana. She says she is therefore ready to travel outside Ghana when opportunity comes knocking at the doors of the Shrine.