OKYEMAN TE ASE!
OKYEMAN is a traditional area in the Eastern Region of Ghana. Historically, it has been attested that the AKYEMS were one of the first Akan tribes to migrate southwards after the fall of the ancient SONGHAI EMPIRE.
The Akyem states, commonly known as“AKYEM MANSA”, consists of three main independent states, all grouped in the Eastern Region, with common language, culture, customs and historical background. The states are:
AKYEM ABUAKWA – the largest of the states in terms of land, size, population and natural resources.
AKYEM KOTOKU – the second largest.
AKYEM BOSOME – the smallest of the three.
The Akyems, according to history were a part of the then all powerful ADANSI KINGDOM, the first nation to build mud houses in their kingdom at that time; hence the name “ADANSI” (Builders). The Ashanti Kingdom emerged and under the leadership of Nana Osei Tutu, they fought and defeated the Adansis about the 14th Century and absorbed the Adansi Kingdom into the growing Ashanti Kingdom.
The Akyem nations which were then part of the Adansi Kingdom, broke away and crossed the River Pra to settle on its banks to avoid becoming subjects of the Ashantis. Nana Osei Tutu decided to pursue them across the River Pra to teach them a lesson. That was a great miscalculation!
While crossing the river with his army, he was shot by the Akyems who were lying in ambush on the other side of the river. He fell dead into the river. This was on a Thursday; hence, the great oath of the Ashantis, (“Meka Yawada”- I swear by Thursday). For this, the Akyems who carried out this defeat became known as “Abuakwanfo” or “Abuakwafo”, (Guerrilla Fighters). The Ashantis retreated and this tragedy made it a taboo for any Ashanti King up to the time of Nana Prempeh I (circa 1900) to cross the River Pra to the south except their armies.
NANA OSEI TUTU was succeeded by his nephew, NANA OPOKU WARE I, who vowed to avenge his uncle’s death by renewing the war against the Akyems. The Akyems, knowing too well what the Ashantis intend to do after the death of King Osei Tutu, moved southeastwards.
As a result of this movement, some of the Akyems, especially the Kotokus, settled in the present day Ashanti-Akyem area. The majority of the Akyems, however, continued to move southeastwards and settled in several areas along the the way until they came into contact with the AKWAMUS, who were a powerful nation inhabiting and ruling the tribes from Asamankese to Nyanawase (which was then their capital and part of Akwapim).
The Akyems, especially the Abuakwas, had to fight the Akwamus and got settled in the areas evacuated by the Akwamus. However, the Akwamus left some of their people at Anum Asamankese and Sakyikrom which are today part of Akyem Abuakwa; as well as Adoagyiri, now inhabited by the Kotokus. The Akyem Abuakwas made their temporary capitals in several areas, including Praso, until they finally settled at Pameng.
However, it was during the reign of NANA OFORI PANIN that the capital of Akyem Abuakwa was finally moved to “Kyebirie” (named after a black hat used by a hunter using the area as his hunting grounds). It is now known as KYEBI , where the Aduana clan had already settled.
Meanwhile, the Akyem Kotoku settled at Nsutam-Bososo area with their capital at Gyadam. During the reign of the great warrior king of the Akyems, Nana Owusu Akyem Tenten, the Guans and Dawus appealed to him for help to drive the Akwamus out of their area for them to enjoy peace.
He agreed to send his nephew, Odehyee Safori, with an army made up mostly of the people of Akyem Akropong (the Twafo section of the Adonten Division) to go to the aid of the the Dawus, the Guans and others. Odehyee Safori succeeded in driving the Akwamus out of what is today known as Akwapim, with its capital called Akropong, named after Akyem Akropong. Safori pursued the Akwamus across the River Volta, where they settled up to this day, with their capital at Akwamufie.
On the return to Akwapim by the victorious Akyem Abuakwa army from the banks of the Volta river, Odehyee Safori and his army, with the consent of the Okyehene, Nana Owusu Akyem Tenten, his uncle, agreed to stay in Akwapim to protect the Akwapims from any further attacks by the Akwamus.
To signify this agreement, a stone was “buried” and that the Akyems were to return to Akyem Abuakwa only when that stone had “grown”. Odehyee Safori became the Paramount Chief (Akuapimhene) with Akropong Akwapim as his capital of the newly founded Akwapim State. His nephew also became the Amanokromhene and the Gyasehene of the Akwapim state.
History has it that during the reign of the famous Nana Dokua (Abirie) as both Okyehene (King) and Ohemaa (Queenmother), a quarrel arose between her and the Kotokuhene at that time. As a result, she ordered part of the Amantomiensa (soldiers of the Paramount stool), the Asiakwahene and the Begorohene, to remove the Kotokus from Gyadam.
This war, known as the “Gyadam War“, forced the Kotoku to leave Gyadam. The Kwabenghene allowed them a safe passage and not a shot was fired when they passed through Kwabeng. The Kotokuhene was given land by the then chief of Wankyi, Barimah Awire (the Oseawuohene of Akyem Abuakwa) to settle at what is now known as Oda, the capital of Akyem Kotoku state. Akyem Bosome was also part of the Akyem family from the Adansi kingdom after its fall and moved southeastwards. Land for the setting up of their capital, Akyem Swedru, was provided to them by the Akyease stool (Tarkwahene), which is part of Akyem Abuakwa.
During the reign of Nana Dokua, a section of the Juabens of Ashanti revolted against the Golden Stool of Ashanti. The rebels, led by their chief, Nana Kwaku Boateng, were forced to leave Juaben in Ashanti for the south. They found settlement at Kyebi, Kwabeng, Tafo, Asamankese and other parts of Akyem Abuakwa.
Later, when the trouble in Juaben subsided, some of them returned to Ashanti but came back again. On the third occasion, the British Colonial Government in Accra negotiated on their behalf, and with the consent of both the Kukurantumihene (the Adontenhene of Akyem Abuakwa), Nana Kwaku Abrante and Okyehene Nana Dokua, the government bought the land for the Juabens.
They settled on it under the leadership and rule of their chief, Nana Kwaku Boateng, calling the area New Juaben, with Koforidua as its capital. An annual fee of one shilling (10cents) was agreed to be paid to the owners by the Government on behalf of the New Juabens. This changed in later years to one pound ($1) per one farm land per family, which the New Juabens had to pay to the Okyehene, until the Government of Dr Kwame Nkrumah abolished it after independence in 1957.
Finally, in 1852, Akyem Abuakwa accepted the British flag and came under the administrative control of the British. Nana Dokua also saw how the Ashantis were enslaving and subjecting the Kwahus to all oppression; and to protect them from these inhuman treatment from the Ashantis, she influenced the Kwahus and in 1857 took them to the Colonial Government for their protection and under the government’s administrative authority.
Akyem Abuakwa, like all Akan nation-states and tribes, inherit properties and stools through their Maternal clan, except where a personal WILL, affecting the person’s personally acquired property has been made in the presence of his family and a form of customary rites have been performed, before such a WILL is accepted as valid by the family.
The practice excludes Stools in any form in the Akan states. The clan which has ruled and continues to rule in both Akyem Abuakwa and Akwapim paramountcy is the ASONA clan of the ancestry of NANA KUNTUNKUNUNKU I, “Odiahene Kan” (first King) of Akyem Abuakwa.
2. Nana Apeaning Kwaforo Amoah
3. Nana Damenera
4. Nana Pobi Asomaning
5. Nana Oduro
6. Nana Boakye I
7. Nana Boakye Manu II
8. Nana Agyekum Adu Owurae
9. Nana Boakye Mensah III
10. Nana Agyekum Adu Oworae II
11. Nana Agyekum Adu Oworae III
12. Nana Amankwatia
The above Kings of Akyem Abuakwa ruled in Adansi, as well as after the fall of Adansi during the movement south eastwards across the River Pra. These reigns and the “exodus”, as already noted above, took place around 1500 AD. From that period up to 1733 AD, the following kings ruled in Abuakwa after driving the Akwamus out of the areas they were then occupying; events which have already been alluded to somewhere in this history.
13. Nana Ofori Panin – He moved his capital from Pameng to Kyebi. He built his palace at a place where up to date is known as the OFORI PANIN FIE.
14. Nana Baakwante
15. Nana Pobi Asomaning II
16. Nana Owusu Akyem Tenten- A great warrior who fought the Ashantis several times during his reign. Akyem Abuakwa grew in strength and power during his time. It was during his reign that the Guans and others sought his help and sending his nephew, Odehyee Safori, succeeded in driving the Akwamus from what is now known as Akwapim. He gained the title of “KWAE-BIBIRIMHENE” (King of the Dense Forest).
17. Nana Twum Ampofo Okasu
18. Nana Birikorang Abodie
19. Nana Apraku
20. Nana Atta Owusu Yiakosang- He was a great and powerful warrior king. When returning from one of the wars with the Ashantis with his army through Fanti land, he caught small pox and fever, and died in Agona Kwanyarko on a Wednesday. This tragic day resulted in the great oath of the Akyem Abuakwa people, “MEKA WUKUADA NE KWANYARKO”; literally meaning, “I swear by Wednesday and Kwanyarko” (Kwanyarko is the town where the event took place).
Another event which took place at the same time was the drowning in the River Kwanyarko of several of “Ahenemas” (sons of the Stool) who had accompanied their father to war and were also returning with him to Abuakwa. Hence also, the Ahenemas’ great oath, “MEKA AHENEMA NKO”, meaning, I swear by Nana’s only children”, who were the only sufferers on that fateful day.
WEDNESDAYS have since been set aside and observed as holiday and a day of remembrance and mourning throughout Akyem Abuakwa and all citizens of Akyem Abuakwa are therefore forbidden to go to their farms or tamper with the soil on that day.
21. Nana Asare Bediako
22. Nana Kofi Asante
23. Nana Twum Ampofo II