Kumasi Definition: What’s the Meaning of Kumase?

The most detailed Kumasi definition is one that says, during the rule of Oti Akenten the king of the then Asantemanso (a small village today ruled by an Akan group the Oyoko tribe, was once a major urban center). Oti Akenten was advised by his religious advisor Okomfo Anokye to move his capital city away from Asantemanso.


Two reasons.

One, to move the Oyoko capital further away from their Denkyira overlords. Two, to prevent overcrowding in Asantemanso.

Anokye Konfoɔ the great fetish priest had a master plan to help the king make the best decision.

According to legend, Anokye decided to test the soil fertility of several cities to find the best place for the new capital. He planted a sapling of a ‘kum’ (wild fig) tree in each city and waited to see which soil would produce the largest, healthiest specimen. The small village of Kwaaman produced the best tree. And therefore Oti Akenten moved his capital to Kwaaman. Kwaaman’s name automatically changed to Kumasi, Twi for “City under the Kum Tree.”

There are others who also say, the Asante King, Otumfuo Osei Tutu I, chose the site for his capital and conducted land negotiations under a ‘kum’ tree, therefore the place was called ‘Kum-ase’ in Asante Twi language which literally means “under the Kum tree’. And that is how the town’s name came to be in the 1700s.

There are several schools of thought about the definition of Kumasi and the meaning of the name. Here are the best I’ve found for you.

Whichever definition or meaning of Kumasi that makes sense to you, would be your reality. The fact still remains that Kumasi existed and has been integral in Asante history and existence.

Table of Contents

What is Kumasi Today

Kumasi is a city in the Ashanti region of Ghana in West Africa. Kumasi or ‘Kumase’ is located near Lake Bosumtwi, in a Rain Forest region, and it’s the capital of the Ashanti Region. This makes it the commercial, industrial and cultural hub of the region.

Kumasi is alternatively known as “The Garden City” because of its many beautiful species of flowers and plants. It is also called ‘Oseikrom’ (Land of Osei).

Otumfuo Oseit Tutu I was the Asante King (Asantehene) who founded Asante with the help of his kingsmen and the powerful fetist priest Okonfo Anoke in the 1700s.

The city of Kumasi is approximately 300 miles north of the Equator and 100 miles north of the Gulf of Guinea.

History of Kumasi (Kumase)

Kumasi has been the capital and center of the Asante Empire existing even before Ghana.

The Golden Age of the Asante Empire started after the Golden Stool descended from the heavens and the King ascended the throne.

Kumase became a household name after the fall of Denkyirahene Ntim Gyakari at Feyiase. Feyiase brings lots of memory because of the events that took place at that time.

It is believed that several miracles were performed by the greatest Priest in history, Okomfo Anokye which led to the fall of Denkyira – the biggest nemesis of the people who later reorganized and became ‘Asante’. This news spread like a wildfire crossing boundaries as far as the Queen’s Kingdom.

After the fall of Denkyira, Asante which literally translates as ‘For War’ was formed in the 1700s and Kingdoms, Empires paid homage to the King, Asantehene Ɔseɛ Tutu I.

Since it became the seat of the King, the power and might of the people through their leader, therefore, emanated from Kumasi and spreads out to every part of the Kingdom.

Kumasi as the Capital of the Ashanti Region

Kumasi is the second-largest city in Ghana, with a population of 3,600,000 (2021 census). Its metropolitan area has a population of 4.7 million people. Ashanti Region as a whole has a population of over 5,000,000.

It is located about 200 kilometers (120 mi) north of Accra, Ghana’s capital. Kumasi is home to the Asantehene, ruler of the Ashanti (Asante) people.

The city’s name comes from the Akan word “kɔmasí” which means “residence of the goldsmiths”.

The Asante people are a West African ethnic group that inhabit the Ashanti Region of Ghana. They speak the Asante dialect of Twi, which is one of the Akan languages. The word “Asante” means “because of wars”, or “warlike”.

Kumasi is a metropolitan city, with several industries and large-scale commercial activity.

The city has a tropical climate with a wet and dry season. The wet season lasts for about three months (April/May through July), while the dry season lasts from August to March.

Kumasi is the capital city of the Ashanti Region and the centre of a metropolitan area with a population of 4,453,414 people in Kumasi Metropolis. The Kumasi Metropolitan Area or officially Greater Kumasi has an estimated population of 5,000,000 residents (2021).

Kumasi as a Major Commercial Center in Ghana

Kumasi as a major commercial centre has come a long way since Ghana’s independence.

The capital city of Ghana, Kumasi is a very important and strategic city in the country. The city is located in the middle of the country and contributes immensely to the socio-economic development of the nation.

It is the commercial and administrative hub of the city, containing the offices

of many public institutions; the main Central Business District (which includes several financial institutions, the Adum shopping area, Asafo Market and the Kumasi Central Market, one of the largest markets in Ghana); the Kejetia transport

terminal; the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) and numerous other health institutions; several primary’s, secondary and tertiary educational institutions; the Baba Yara Sports Stadium; the Kumasi Zoo; and Kumasi Cultural Centre.

Central Kumasi also consists of several old communities, notable among which are Bantama, Adum, Aboabo, Asawase, Ashanti Newtown, Asafo, Amakom and Manhyia. Manhyia is the seat of the Asantehene, the overlord of the erstwhile Ashanti kingdom.

Central Kumasi serves as the most important employment centre in the Kumasi metropolis. This results in the generation of large volumes of commuter trips between the centre and other communities across the metropolitan area.

In addition, the numerous high-order facilities and institutions located within Central Kumasi, together with nearby

facilities like the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and the Suame Industrial Estate (Magazine), make Kumasi an important service centre with a sphere of influence that goes beyond the Ashanti Region.

Given its commercial, administrative, historical and cultural significance, Central Kumasi is undoubtedly the nucleus around which the rest of the city has evolved over the decades. It is also a major part of what makes Kumasi attract migrant and commuter population from the rest of the Kumasi metropolitan area, the Ashanti Region and beyond. 

In view of the dominant role of Central Kumasi, and the absence of major competing sub-centres. (Although communities such as Ejisu, Ayigya, Kwadaso and Ahinsan within the Kumasi metro area have markets that are quite vibrant, their influence on the space economy of Kumasi metro area is eclipsed by Central Kumasi.)


Kumasi is a place where great things happen. The city of Kumasi has shown resistance over the years to retain its personality, traditional and cultural values among all the cities in Ghana. Kumasi is truly unique. You should be proud if you have been part of the history of this great city.

Yes, you can take me from Kumasi BUT you can’t the Kumasi out of me.

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Nana Santuoh, manages digital web products and leads the editorial team at Kumasiano - a mouthpiece for African and black people while reminiscing their good old days back home.

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