Wednesday, September 11, 2013

AKUAPEM PEOPLE: GHANA`S ANCIENT GUANS AND AKANS OF THE MOUNTAINS

The Akuapem people are an amalgamation of indigenous patriarchal, Volta-Camoe-speaking Guans and matriarchal, Kwa-speaking Akan people occupying the mountainous Akuapem Hills in the Eastern Region of Ghana. The Akuapem people are the most peaceful, respectful and humblest of all Ghanaian tribes. They are only people even when they want to insult you, they start with an apology. For example for doing something silly or annoying an Akuapem will say "mi pa kyew se woye abia" (I am very sorry but you are a fool). Ghanaians refer to them as "Ofie" (Home).

                                        Akuapem people

The Akuapem people were originally Guan speaking people which includes Larteh Guan block namely Larteh, Mamfe, Abotakyi, Mampong, Obosomase, and Tutu and the Kyerepong (Okere) Guan block namely Abiriw, Dawu, Awukugua, Adukrom, Apirede, and Abonse-Asesieso. The Akan Twi-speaking towns include  Akropong, the capital, and Amanokurom  who are emigrants from Akyem and Mampong people who are also emigrants from Asante Mampong in Ashanti Region.
Akuapem elders offering libation to Asaase Yaa (Mother Earth)

The name Akuapem was given to these multi-ethnic group by the famous warrior King, Nana Ansa Sasraku I of Akwamu. The name came from Akan Twi phrase "Nkuu apem" which means "thousand groups." He gave them these name after the people overwhelmed his Akwamu invading army. The name "Nkuu apem got corrupted to Akuapem as we know them today.

                                     Akuapem adowa dnacers

Akuapem are famous for being the home base of Basel Mission that metamorphosed to Presbyterian Church of Ghana, when in 1835 the missionaries led by Andreas Riis arrived in Akropong with his Mulatto friend Lutterodt of Osu and laid the foundation of the Basel Missionary Evangelization upon which "the gospel took root and spread to all parts of the country.”

Rita Marley, wife of Bob Marley (3rd from Left) with friends at Aburi mountains

Legendary reggae icon, Bob marley`s wife, Rita Marley is honorary citizen of Akuapem town,Aburi. She has been living here for ages. She owns her recording studios and other businesses on the Akuapem Mountains.

                                                        Rita Marley`s atudio at Aburi

Location, Vegetation and Climate
The original inhabitants of the Akuapern Hills were predominantly Guan. The towns of Akuapem are in the Eastern Region of Ghana and situated between longitude 0°15 W - 0°00 and latitude 5°45 - 6°00 N. These towns are located on the Akuapem Ridge, which runs northeastwards across the Volta Region and extends further into Togo. It is bounded South by Ga (Akra), East by Adangme and Krobo, North and West by Akem. The following 17 principal towns form the Akuapem state, viz., Berekuso, Atweasing, Aburi, Ahwerase, Asantema (Obosomase), Tutu, Mampong, Abotakyi, Amanokurom, Mamfe, Akropong, Abiriw, Odawu, Awukugua, Adukrom, Apirede and Larteh. If the latter town is reckoned as two, viz., Ahenease and Kubease, and Abonse is separated from Awukugua, we get 19 towns in the whole. The inhabitants belong to three, or strictly speaking, two different tribes.

                                               Akuapem Aburi

The vegetation of the district forest with shrub and semi-forest. Most town and villagers are located on a mountain and visibility is very poor in the morning, because of the tall trees. It has also got deep valleys which makes farming activities very difficult.  Rainfall averages 127ºmm, and the weather reflects the invigorating and salubrious, mild cold mountainous climate.

There are two raining seasons with the major rainfall occurring between May and August the minor rainfal in October.  Average annual  rainfall is about 1,270mm. Mean temperatures range between 24ºC and 30ºC and night is temperature between 13ºC and 24ºC.

                                                        Aburi Botanical Gardens, Akuapem-Aburi
Language
The Akuapem people are heterogeneous as the illustration below indicates. They comprise both Akan and Guan communities. The Guan Okere (Abiriw, Dawu, Awukugua, Adukrom and Apirede) who occupy the northern parts of Akuapem speak Kyerepong, whereas Late-Ahenease and Larteh-Kubease speak Larteh. Both Larteh and Kyerepong Guan languages, unlike Akan Kaw language, "belong to the larger Volta-Comoe group of languages of the larger Niger-Congo phylum (Dolphyne and Kropp Dakubu 1988: 77-79). Akan Twi represent 51.6% of the population, 42.3% are of Kyerepong and guan extraction while only 6.1%% constitutes Ewes, Northerners, Krobos and ethnic groups. With Akuapem Twi spoken by almost all the residents in the Akuapem mountains; it could be said that the Twi language can be the most effective medium of mass communication and functional education as well as development information dissemination.

To illustrate this diversity further, the people of Abiriw comprise different ethnic origins among which are former Akan including Akwamu, Denkyira and Asante (Gilbert 1997: 511-512). The Akan in Akuapem who speak Twi are the descendants of the Akyem people who live at Akropong and their relations at Amanokrom. The people of Aburi are also remnants of Akwamu (Akan) and speak Twi but have intermarried with other ethnic groups.
Akuapem matriarch

The other southern Guan towns of Tutu, Obosomase, Mamfe, Mampong, Aseseeso, Abonse and Abotakyi are predominantly Guan with some Akwamu, who have assimilated different ethnic groups including Ewe and Krobo, who all now speak Twi. There has also been a great deal of inter-marriage with Ga, Shai and former Ewe captives and several others (Gilbert 1997: 504) in the Akuapem towns. This mixed group of people lived in small independent towns ruled by priests until the Akyem arrived and were given the mandate to rule in 1733.

                    Two Akuapem Sword bearers at Akropong Odwira festival

History
According to Prof. Kwamena-Poh, the recorded history of what is now Akuapem State goes as far back as the 17th century . By 1646 the Guans who were living on the hill had come under the power of the Akwamus. According to the learned Professor, “The Akwamu suzerainty witnessed a period of disturbed conditions among the Guan communities: incessant plunder, bad harvests … actions of cruelty” .
King of Mampong (Akuapem) on the Gold Coast 1917

The atrocities of the Akwamus heightened to such an extent that it became unbearable. That and other factors became so crucial for the inhabitants to fight for their liberation. An appeal was therefore sent to the King of Akyem Abuakwa, Nana Ofori Panin to come and help in this regard. He also detailed his nephew, Ofori Dua or Ofori Kae or Ofori Kuma who later won the accolade, Safori, to come and lead them to fight against the oppression and suppression of the Akwamus.
Okuapimhene and Omanhene of Akropong, Oseadeayo Addo Dankwa III. At the feet of the king sits a young child, his "okra", meaning his soul. Protected by fetishs, the Okra plays the role of a human shield, who has to defend the King from evil spirits, sickness and death. The King is the Nation. He should never be wounded or sick, or the entire nation will weaken. The Okra diverts all evil forces upon himself. He, therefore, must die with his master.
During battles, the Okra would ring the small bells suspended on his neck, to show the king's presence and to stimulate the warriors' bravery. If the king was frightned and did not want to attract the enemy's attention he would stiffle the ringing bells; his soldiers interpreted this as desertion and would abandon the battle. 

By the grace of the Almighty God, the Akwamus were defeated. With joy and gladness, Safori and his people were made to live here with the Guans and as the political leaders of the new nation that had come to be known as the ‘Akuapems’, out of the Twi words, ‘Kuw’ and ‘Apem’ meaning, thousand groups. And so “in 1731, the representatives of the various communities on the hills converted their rebel organization into a political association. A new State was inaugurated at a meeting held at Abotakyi, of various heads of communities. With this ‘Concord at Abotakyi’ the Akwapims gave their allegiance to the Akim war leader” .
The Akim immigrants, according to Kwamena-Poh, came to settle on the Akuapem hills. They settled in two areas, Amanokrom, the seat of the Gyaase division and Akropong, the capital of the new State. The capital was initially built at Amamprobi on a piece of land given by Okyeame Aworoben of Mamfe; but this place was waterlogged and hence, unsuitable for settle
ment. Due to this, Nana Baagyiri of Abiriw offered a new site at the place known today as Nsorem. Here Akropong arose under the shades of the Mpeni trees, and has since remained the seat of the overlords.
Omanhene of akuapem

Akuapim Guans
The indigenous inhabitants on the Akuapem Mountains are the Guans which consists of Larteh (comprising Larteh, Mamfe, Abotakyi, Mampong, Obosomase, and Tutu) and the OKERE or Kyerepong (Comprising Abiriw, Dawu, Awukugua, Adukrom, Apirede, Abonse-Asesieso).

Swearing in of Nana Obrempong Gyedu Nkansa III of Larteh Akuapem

Larteh lies on parallel ridge to the east on the Akonnobepow, while the rest of the towns lie in line along the crest of the main ridge on Bewasebepow.
The origin and meaning of the name LARTEH is synonyms with ‘La’(fire) ‘te’ (stone). Larteh, therefore means ‘fire-stone’ or ‘Fire-grate’. And according to this interpretation, the La Boni people represented the fire, while the Larteh, the grate.
Legend has it that the founding fathers of Larteh carried with them flint stone to ignite fire, and for this reason the La who travelled from Boni on the Niger Delta fraternized with the Larteh during their journey along the beach.

                        Enyine Obrempong Gyedu Nkansa III of Larteh Akuapem

The people of Larteh, Kpeshie and La originated from the Les who originally occupied the coast before the arrival of the Gá; The La are closely related to the Larteh, the people of Gbese, the Agotimes and the original inhabitants of Osu. However, the oral traditions of the La suggest that their people were part of the original Gá, and that the town was in fact founded by descendants of a brother of Ayi Kushi; hence in constitutional matters the La Mantse deputises for the Gá Mantse in all issues affecting the Gá polity.
Larteh Kubease were led by Fianko Adeyite . On the hills they first settled at a place called Afianko. The Afianko sojourn seems to have been the briefest, since no living structures were created there. They moved to present Larteh Kubease.

                              Ghanaian politician and Kyerepong (Okere) native,Dan Kweku Botwe

Larteh Ahenease during their initial migration were led by the following Chiefs at various stages; Jedum (Gyedu), Sappor (Sarpong), Debrum (Debra) then Gyedu Nkansa. On the Hills they first settled at Amanfro (Amanfu), a ruin on the motor road leading from Mamfe to modern Larteh. Under Amanfu the capital town of the ruling Chief (Adedi) Gyedu Nkansa are many villages including the following ;- Mawnerh, Domfoe-Mante, Adanse, Sesseh, Odiha, Lakpokyi, Odomkpo, Bompoh-Ebietso, Kpene, Merpe or Manfe. As time went on, Chief Gyedu Nkansa with his chains of villages and increasing subjects contemplated on building a much bigger and more suitable capital. His real name was Akpeese Gyedu Nfe. Nfe is a Guan word which means Ankasa in Twi. The name was later corrupted to Nkansa after living with the Akans. His stool is made of MARBLE which it is told he brought from Ile Ife in Nigeria. Thus the current Ankobeahene of Larteh sits on a marble stool.
Festish priestess at Akonedi shrine,Larteh
o
A brother of Gyedu Nkansa called Kumi Bredu while on a hunting expedition on the Akonnobepow met Odosu of Larteh Kubease. Their acquaintance turned into friendship. Odosu on knowing the existence of the people of Larteh Ahenease encouraged Kumi Bredu to inform them to come over. The remnant of Larteh Ahenease moved to their present location together and formed Larteh which comprises the present Ahenease and Kubease. Larteh as the capital was thus founded and accordingly the stool was migrated from Amanfu. Many of the subjects who migrated occupied various quarters at their new settlement and specific quarters marked concentration of immigrants from specific villages. For example, the immigrants who quartered at Agyebide and Agiemade hailed from MAWNERH; those at Agyedede, Atsokyede, Ekumide hailed from AMANFU; those at Asinkpade and Adomfode hailed from DOMFOE-MANTE; those at Agyamkpode from NKADE; those at Akremede from ADANSE; those at Akobide partly from AMANFU and partly from SESSEH; those at Adabiri which consisted of a chain of five different tribes from ODIHA, AKOI, OTUSI, TOTOASE and APATAMUSU; those at Odei from LAKPOKYI; those at Asore from ODONKPO; those at Atsekpede from MAWNERH; those at Aninkore from SESSEH; those at Anyadede from BOMPOH-EBIETSO; those at Abegyede from KPENE;  Agyiakode (Tete Appiah’s family) from RIVER BOMPO and Pediketeku’s family from MERPE or MANFE.
"A christian girl from Obosumase near Akropong." 1888

Where they emigrated from thus became their farmlands and hamlets. Some of these villages/farmlands has become present day Obosomase, Tutu, Mampong, Amonokrom, Mamfe. The Larteh people still use most portions of these lands as farms, although parts have become major towns.
The chief at Larteh Kubease married a daughter of Gyedu Nkansa called Manko. Thus Manko became the youngest wife of the chief of Kubease. Manko and her children cared properly for their father in his old age, so that on his dying-bed he bequeathed to them the Kubease stool. Manko brought the stool to his father. Larteh became a great state comprising present day Larteh Ahenease, Larteh Kubease, Mamfe, Abotakyi, Mampong, Obosomase, and Tutu on the mountains and as far as Koforidua Suhyen on the east, boundaries of La and Tema on the south and Prampram and Ningo on the West.
Akuapem native, Former Supreme Court Judge, Member of Ghana`s Big Six and President of Ghana`s Second Republic

Later various settlers arrived and Gyedu Nkansa gave them places to live. The King of Denkyera was a very good friend of Gyedu Nkansa. As a sign of healthy relationship the King sent an entourage led by Chief Nwanwanyam to Gyedu Nkansa and he settled them at Abotakyi. Pom Dee and his people migrated from Asantema Kotoko and he settled them at Obosomase. He also settled another group who arrived from Tutume in Adanse at Tutu.
Konkom was then the highest fetish of theirs, for which a bullock was offered every year. The offering prepared was carried to the mouth of the cave, in which Konkom was said to lodge. The priests and the worshippers had to retire after the offering had been placed there, when Konkom had to come out from the cave and to select such parts of the meat as he chose, and the rest he left. Some naughty fellows took upon themselves to see who the fetish was that used to select the best part of the offering. Hiding themselves at a certain place, they saw that a certain figure in the form of a man, but with a single eye, a single arm and a single leg, came out to the offering. They rushed upon and dragged him out from the hole. This offended Konkom, that he entirely left the Lartehs for Krachi. A lot of Larterians left with Konkom to Krachi. To punish them for that desecration, Konkom before quitting Larteh promised them a wonderful harvest, and therefore advised them to burn all the corn and rice they had stored in barns. Which they accordingly did, and the consequence was a famine so fearful that they lived on roots and such things for a while, and then quitted the place. The people at Nchumuru, then at Krachi, asked the emigrants: "From what place are you coming?" They replied, "From Tshi-Date", which was corrupted for Odente and applied ever since to the fetish Konkom.
In the middle of the 17th Century, Akwamu extended her power over the Lartehs and Kyerepongs. .Ansa Sasraku I laid the foundations of the Akwamu power. Berekuso, Aburi, Abiriw, Awukugua, Dawu, Larteh, Anum and Obutu became Vassal States. From the Akuapem Hills, Akwamu was assured of a ready supply of food and manpower.
            "Alex Clerk and family, catechist in Aburi." 1861

Larteh was also an important Trade Outlet. This phase of Akwamu expansion provided the resources in wealth and manpower to enable her embark on other ventures. Some Southern Akan Groups near the Guan Communities and the foothills of the Kwahu Scarp were also brought under Akwamu suzerainty. Between 1677 and 1681, Akwamu embarked on the conquest of Accra. Two sets of considerations went into the Akwamu decision. The first was Economic. By the 1670's, Accra gained the reputation of terminus for Trade Routes from Asante, Akyem and Western Plains of the Middle Volta. Accra handled about a quarter of the "Overseas Trade" in gold of the whole country. Five European Nations, namely, Portugal, Holland, England, Sweden and Denmark converged in Accra to participate in the trade in gold and slaves. The second set of considerations was Military/Political. After establishing her authority over the Akuapem area and up to the foothills of the Kwahu Scarp, Akwamu could expand in three main directions, North West, South West, or South. To the North West was Akyem.While Akyem's neighbours feared and respected Akwamu, Akyem did not. Akyem grew into an equally strong state and could easily thwart any Akwamu expansionist moves. To the South was the confederation of Fanti States. The Fanti were considered the second in the military power to Akwamu among all the Coastal States. In fact some of the literature refers to Akwamu as both a Forest/ Inland state and as a Coastal state. The only option left to Akwamu was expansion southwards. Under the able leadership of Akwamuhene Ansa Sasraku II, Akwamu launched an attack against Accra in 1677. The immediate cause of the attack was an opportunity for the Akwamu to realise their long-term military goals.
                    "Pastor Asare with family Tutu." 1880

A prince was sent to the Accra coast to learn the ways of the European trade and the Portuguese language, which was the lingua franca" of the coast until the late 18th century. The Gas, according to their custom, circumcised the prince and this was contrary to Akwamu custom. It meant that the prince would not succeed to the Akwamu stool. The Akwamus demanded the prince's foreskin, and the Accra's were unable to meet this demand. Akwamu launch the offensive first against "Great Accra "the capital at Ayawaso. King Okai Koi resisted, and he was defeated. His sons took the Ga stool and regalia and fled with their mother. The capital was sacked and burnt. The second offensive was directed at the Beaches, where the trading Companies were established. The Eldest son of Okai Koi, Ashiagbor died. Ofori a younger son of Okai Koi then escape with his mother to" Small Accra "and he assumed leadership over the Accra people. He asked for Danish, Dutch and English help. When the Akwamus attacked Osu they realised that the" Guns of Christian Borg were active and ready to protect the Gas, they therefore returned home.
Between 1660 and 1681, the Akwamus attacked "Small Accra" again. Accra and Osu were burnt and refugees fled to Little Popo and Whydah. King Ofori fled to Afutu, where the Danes in Fort Fredricksborg offered him protection and support. Eventually he retired to Little Popo to a town called Glidji in modern Togo.
Not long afterward, Akwamus launch a third attack. Accra became a Tributary Province of the Akwamus for about 50years. Akwamus came to enjoy economic benefits and enjoy economic benefit s and to also influence Accra `s social and political structure. From Accra, Akwamu received fixed source of revenue such as the rent s from the forts and the tolls from sources of revenue such AKwamu gained direct access to the trade in gold and local merchants monopolised the trade. They acted as Middleman between the Europeans and the inland people.
Akyem and Akuapem women from Gold Coast."Date: 1880

Between 1646 and 1681, Akwamu also conquered the Ga-Adangme state of Ada, Kpone, Osudoku, Ningo, Prampram, Shai and Ladoku. Ladoku stretched from Agava in the Volta side to Tema. The Agona state was also overrun by the Akwamu. The expansion of Akwamu continued after the deaths of Ansa Sasraku the first and second. Kings Addo, Basua and Akwonno undertook a series of military campaigns and won more territories.
Addo who was supposed to have succeeded Sasraku was so young that his uncle Basua acted as Regent. When Addo came of age. Basua refused to vacate the stool and therefore both Addo and Basua ruled Akwamu , each had his own Army. Basua `s engineered the capture of Christiansburg Castle from the Danes in 1693. After Basua death in 1699, Addo assumed full control of the empire. He made fostering of renew trade at Kpone where there were good supplies of ivory and slaves. During Addo`s reign, Akwamu a number of time took away 100 prisoners. In 1700 they captured another town. Addo opened negotiations with the Akyems and sent them a gift of 30 slaves" spirit "and other goods. The Akyem in reply demanded the whole Estate of Busua. Addo paid almost 40Ibs weight of gold, and the Akyems kept their peace.
Addo spent the whole of 1701 in Accra, paying "Courtesy Calls" on all the Forts. A year later, in their attack against Ladoku, the Akwamus were forced to march to little Popo, where the Ladoku forces had run. The Akwamus were initially resisted but they soon gained the upper hand and overrun little Popo. In that same year they entered Whydah without opposition. Whydah became dependant on Akwamu for about 15years. The king of Whydah paid tribute to Akwamuhene from time.
Wealthy man from Aburi. Circa 1907

The king Akwonno succeeded Addo when he died. Akwonno had a long reign of 23 year. His first act was to negotiate a treaty on 3 April 1703 with the Dutch in which the Dutch bound themselves to assist Akwamu in any " Just War" with 100 fully armed men, 3000 Ibs of Gunpowder, 300Ibs of bullets etc. in returns, Akwonno agreed to keep the Trade routes from the interior open and to prevent his subjects from trading with European "interlopers" Akwamu began Territories Expansion to North and the North East. The marched to the Krepi district and overrun them Agava, Anlo, Keta, Kpandu and Peki were all subjugated. These town are currently regarded Ewe town but during this they were known as "Krepi "Akwonno`s next move was towards Kwahu. His forces given a surprise attack by the Kwahu forces and they were forced to return to their capital. Akwonno made a second attempt against the Kwahu 1708, but he was repulse. Akwonno stopped any major venture s but sent small expendition from time to time to harass them. In 1710 the Kwahu retaliated and destroy the large Kwabeng town, North of Akwamu. Akwonno reacted. He made large purchase of Gunpowder from Accra Forts, and in February 1710 moved towards Kwahu. Within four months, Kwahu was overcome and made a vassal state. The conquest of Kwahu marked the end of Akwamu expansion. The Akwamu Empire reached its fullest extent.
                            Paramount chief Nana Akyanfuo Akowuah Dateh II

The Akwamus onleashed havoc on the Kerepongs and Lartehs. The Akuapem history says that it was the Aburis, the advance-guard of Ansa Sasraku, who first revolted from the yoke. Abuwa, the queen of the place, accused her subjects to Ansa, who, knowing how brave they were, did not give them battle at once, but ordered their loaded arms to be tilled with water whilst they were working at their plantations on one Wednesday, and then attacked them. Several principal men were then captured and killed; hence the oath, "Aburi Wukuda (Wednesday)"; from that day they forbid working on Wednesdays. For such treachery the Aburis appealed to the king through his nephew, prince Opong Tenteng. Not obtaining redress, they went to war. The prince, who took their part, was slain. They took the body and tied to the place which the Basel Mission station now occupies, and founded the present Aburi. The Atweasings were at that time at Kubesing near Akyem-Peak, when the Akwamus were driven from thence. They in company with the Berekusos removed first to Anamrako. The former removed to Atweasing and founded that town, which now has become united with Aburi, and the latter to Berekuso.
The five towns of Kyerepong, viz., Abiriw, Odawu, Awukugua, Adukrom and Apirede, had their ruler at Awukugua, where a large market had been established by one chief Awuku, and on account of that market the town got the name of "Awukugua". Through marriage the ruling power was removed to Adukurom, a village founded by one Boamo, but which got the present name by one man Adumanuro, who was a native ofAnum, then at Nyanawase, the capital of the kings of Akwamu, and one of Ansa Sasraku's executioners, resident in Boaino's village, and by his generosity his name was given to the place i.e. Adukrom = Adu's town.

The cause of Akuapem becoming an independent state is by popular tradition reported thus : Ansa Sasraku had two naughty nephews, Oteng Abransamadu and Oteng Agyare. These young princes used the middle of the breasts of young women of Akuapem as targets in exercising their newly bought arms. The chiefs reported this wicked conduct of the princes to Ansa Sasraku, and the result was, that they were sent down to the Dutch Governor at Accra lo be trained on the coast. On their arrival, they refused to eat anything, so the Governor was obliged to coax them for three days before they consented to taste food. Their wives were ordered. there and then to prepare some dishes for them, and were told by them privately, that they' should bring two razors along- with the dishes to shave off their beards. The wives accordingly brought the dishes with the razors, and after having washed themselves, they cut their throats with them. The Governor was grieved to hear of the suicide committed by the princes, and despatched messengers to report it to the King.
His Majesty's reply to the Governor was, "I have heard nothing" ! The Governor thought the first messengers were incapable of carrying out the commission, so he despatched other messengers to tell the king that he was ready to pay any amount to satisfy him. The king's last reply was, I will accept as satisfaction ahum ne aham, nnonno ne nhaha", that is, everything in the world : stones, trees, dust, gold, silver, copper, brass, cloth, fowls, sheep, quadrupeds, birds, &c. This message greatly annoyed the Governor. He called a meeting of the king and chiefs of Accra and consulted them what was to be done. They told the Governor that they were tired of the Akwamu tyranny, they would unite and tight for their independence.
At the time Gyedu Nkansa was forming Akuapem the Akyems were still at Adanse. In 1660 War broke out between the Akyems and the Adanses. Nana KUNTUNKUNUNKU who was then the Chief of the Akyem people moved with some of the ASONA Clan to ABRAKASO in EDWESO and stayed there for about 30 years.
In 1699 they moved to BANSO in AKYEM and in 1700 moved further to KYEBI, which is now seat of the AKYEM ABUAKWA people.
In 1702 ANSA SASRAKU of the AKWAMUS engaged the AKYEM people in a war and lost. Thereafter ANSA SASRAKU turned his attention to the AKUAPEM people and started terrorizing them. History is replete with some unmentionable atrocities he was said to have committed.  The AKUAPEM people solicited help from OFEI AKWASI AGYEMAN from SENKYE then Chief of Gyakiti to fight the AKWAMUS but they lost to ANSA SASRAKU. Ofei Akwasi Agyemang thus sought refuge from Gyedu Nkansa. While there the Akwamus made him their tax collector. Thus Ofei Akwasi Agyeman was collecting tax from the Akuapems on behalf of Akwamu.
Just about that time the the Akuapems were informed by the Accras the idea of fighting the Akwamu tyranny. Chief Gyedu Nkansa also informed Chief Ofei Akwasi Agyemang, He brought a small force in aid of them, and battle was given to Ansa Sasraku by the combined forces of Accra, Akuapem and the Gyakitis; but they were unable to stand the brave Akwamus.
So Gyedu Nkansa seeks the assistance of Asante. Mampong was then the capital of the Asantes, sent a delegation of warriors to Akuapem. Gyedu Nkansa settled them at present Mampong Akuapem.
Later he also sought the assistance of Ofori Panyin of Akyem. The contingent who met with the Akyem Chief included: Osew (from Adukrom), Awukutia (from Awukugua), Domfoe Mante (from Larteh) and Kwabena Yobo (from Obosomase). The prince Safori, brother of the king (and governor of Akyem Akropong), was ordered to march a large army to assist. Ba, the king of Krobo, was also asked to join, when seven maiden hostages were sent to him by Ofori Panyin. The war was joined and fought by the three kings of Akyem; Firempong Manso, Bakwante and Owusu Akyem.
The Akwamus were driven out. For the war being fought in the year 1730 to 1733, and Firempong, the principal king among the three, died eight years after that. His nephew Karikari Apaw then succeeded him in 1741, at which time war broke out between Asante and the Akyems of Da and Abuakwa, known as the battle of Benna in 1742. When both Bakwante, Karikari Apaw and Owusu Akyem were slain and the Akyems were conquered, the Kotokus, who were the principal warriors in the campaign, were entirely translocated from Da across the Pra to Dampong.
The conquered land of Akwamu was left entirely to the Abuakwas, then governed by Ofori Panyin, hence he was known as the king who fought and deputed his blood relative Safori to the government of Akuapem. Otherwise not the Abuakwas, but the Kotokus would have had the prerogative in the rule of the conquered places. The Abuakwas took advantage of the situation and imposed themselves not only the Akuapems, but also the Accras.  also were for some time under the jurisdiction of Ofori Panyin, as already narrated. But the jurisdiction of Ofori Panyin over the Accras was very short, as the Dutch Government and whole Accra acknowledged Lete Boi, alias Boi-Tono, as the king of Accra in 1734; hence Dutch Accra is called Boimang. To prove that the jurisdiction over the Accras lasted but a short time, and then became a mere alliance is that the kings of Abuakwa were compensated by obtaining the pay-notes of both king and chief of Dutch and British Accra, which satisfied them, while the Akuapems, not obtaining anything of that sort, obliged and the Deputy Prince Safori promised ruled over them in case the Akwamus return. He was given Amanprobi to stay. Some of the people from the ASONA Clan who came with SAFORI from AKYEM were settled at AMONOKROM, which became the seat of the GYAASE Division. 
After the war a section of the Akwamus defected and stayed with the Akuapem people. They settled initially at Aburi Amanfo and later led by a Hunter, Opare Peteprebi, they moved further to their present day location at the top of the mountain. One of their Chiefs who were involved in this defection was Opong Tenten. As a defense mechanism and for security reasons SAFORI delegated one of his Chiefs to oversee this group, which became the ADONTEN Division of AKUAPEM.
SAFORI stayed at AMAMPROBI for seven years but later complained that his "Government" was far removed from the center of action and besides the land was swampy. In 1740, the Abiriwhene Nana BAAGYIRI gave a piece of land at NSOREM (AKROPONG) to SAFORI. Legend has it that the land was full of Palm Trees, however within a short time it was all consumed and hence the appellation "AKROPONG KWAKWADUAM OSONO A ODII MME"

                    Nana Ansah Sasraku II, Mamfehene and Kyidomhene of Akuapem traditional area

From this time AKROPONG has become the Traditional seat and governance and evolved traditionally and gradually into what we see now and the Akuapem Traditional Council.
After Ofori Kuma (or Safori) left Akyem and came to settle in Akuapem, he took them before their deity (obosom), Kyenko of Obosomase, and then, at Abotakyi they entered into agreement (the Abotakyi Accord) and `planted a stone on condition that whenever that stone grew up and gave fruit Ofori Kuma would cease to be their ruler'. And he introduced the Akan system of kingship, with Adonten, Benkum, and Nifa Divisions. Ofei Agyeman and all the Asante (Akan) who came with Ofori Kuma were made Adonten, the Kyerepong (Okere) were made Nifa and the Larteh (Guan) made Benkum. On account of that unity the Akuapems became powerful and was successful in their (subsequent) wars.
Chief of Tutu-Akuapem with his two wives. Circa 1917 

As can be seen from the above narrative, the Divisions in the new Akuapem state were imposed upon the existing communities and reflected their ethnic and linguistic diversity. The five Guan towns formed the Benkum (Left Wing). The five Kyerepong (or Okere Guan) towns formed the Nifa (Right Wing). The remnants of the Akwamu towns which had seceded from Akwamu and joined the Akyem became the Adonten (Forward or Centre Wing). The Kamena were also Adonten, as were later the people of Amanokrom who split from the royal family of Akuropon. In the 1930s the three (Akan) Adontenhene, chiefs of Akuropon, Amanokrom and Aburi, became Kurontihene, Gyaasehene and Adontenhene. This rationalised the system and made it conform more closely to those of other Akan states. The table below shows the relationship between language, ethnicity and political divisions over time, though the schematisation does violence to the extremely subtle, orchestrated accommodation of difference in Akuapem that at an individual level is continually being renegotiated.
TABLE: Language, ethnicity and political divisions

Town           
 Language      Ethnicity           Eightheenth            Century
AbiriwGuanGuan (Okere)         Nifa
DawuGuanGuan (Okere)         Nifa
AwukuguaGuanGuan (Okere)         Nifa
AdukromGuanGuan (Okere)         Nifa
ApiredeGuanGuan (Okere)         Nifa
AseseesoGuanGuan (Okere)         Nifa
AbonseGuanGuan (Okere)Nifa
LartehGuanGuanBenkum
ObosomaseGuan (a)GuanBenkum
TutuGuan (a)GuanBenkum
MampongGuan (a)GuanBenkum
AbotakyiGuan (a)GuanBenkum
MamfeGuan (a)GuanBenkum
AburiAkanAkanAdonten No. 1
AhwereaseAkanAkanAdonten No. 1
BrekusuAkanAkanAdonten No. 1
AmanokromAkanAkanAdonten No. 3
AkropongAkanAkanAdonten No. 2
(a) Guan-speakers until the twentieth century.
Larteh migration story and settlement pattern have been preserved in the following legend which is recited by the old and young:
              (VERSE)                                                         (RESPONSE)
              Ntumuru O, Ntumuru                                      Nte Ntumuru
            Ntumuru Senya                                               Nte Senya
            Senya Domfoe                                                Nte Domfoe
            Domfoe Ebia                                                   Nte Ebia
            Ebia Sekete                                                     Nte Sekete
            Sekete Enkpu                                                   Nte Enkpu
            Enkpu Ala                                                        Nte Ala
            Ala Konyon                                                      Nte Konyon
            Konyon Larte                                                   Nte Larte
            Larte Eko                                                         Nte Eko
                                             Akoko miow!
 Interpretation: From Ntwumuru in the north, we came to Senya on the coast, we separated and moved on to Domfoe near the present day Abonse for shelter. After a brief stay we settled again on the Adangme plains at Ebia, Sekete and Nkpu (now extinct). Then we fraternized with a section of the La before we moved on to Konyon (i.e Akonoso), which is modern Ayikuma. From there, we climbed the mountain and founded Larteh. We moved no more!
Chiefs of Larteh Ahenease as at 2012
NameClanRemarks
1Jedum (Gyedu)AgyededeLed the final migration along the coast
2Sappor (Sappong)Agyedede
3Debrum (Debra)AgyededeLed Larteh to Nkese Bor (Shai Hills) then to Amanfu
4Gyedu NkansaAgyededeFought Akwamu War of 1659, Ally to King Okai Koi, Land boundary with Ningo, Teshie, La, Sadwumase and Suhyen
5Gyedu KumaAgyededeRegent - Gyedu Nkansa was old, Fought Akwamu Terror
6EkumiEkumideRegent - Gyedu Nkansa was old, Fought Akwamu Terror
7Asiedu KeseAtsotsedeRegent - Gyedu Nkansa was old, later Chief. Fought Akwamu terror 1706 to 1730, Signed Abotakyi Accord 1733
8Tete ObrentiriDade
9Dade KrebesiDade
10Odegya KomeantengDade
11Akoto Oyirifi(Oyirifi Amposakyi)Dade
12Twumhene AntwiDade
13Dwirentwi AmpaduDadeAkpafu Lolobi war, Kyerepong war
14Akrofi DadeDadeMcCarthy Ally. Children Tete Yirebi and Boahema hostages to Asantehene Osei Kwame . Asiedu Okway was left
15Kobe AdwoaDadeWife of Asiedu Okoo (Ntow Clan). Asiedu Okoo led Akatamasu War. Elders agreed he should rule for the wife after the war
16Adadewa DadeWife of Ofei Oworae. Elders agreed he should rule for the wife
17Ntow AmurikyiNtowKonkom left Larteh to Krachi
18Asiedu Ababio OworaeOworae
19Okanta Ofori DadeFought 3rd Anwona War
20Onyame Ntawu(Amoakohene)DadeGov. Glover was Ally. Fought Brakpa War
21Dade YirebiDade
22Akrofi Oworae (F. K. Akrofi)OworaeCaptured Prempeh 1896
23Asiedu Ababio (W.E. Mante)Ntow
24Christian Asiedu /Theodore AsieduDade /OworaeDispute
25Dwirentwi (Kwame Tonto)Dade
26Ebenezer Kwame AkrofiOworae
27Okanta Badu Ofori II (Agyeman Badu)Dade
28Okanta Ofori III (Moses Kofi Yirifi)Dade
29Okanta Obrentiri IIDade
30Okanta Ofori IVDade
31Akrofi Oworae IIIOworae
32Asiedu Okoo Ababio IIINtow
How Ntow Clan came to Larteh
It is said that during a certain year Gyedu Nkansa and his hunters encamped in the interior at a place near the site of the present town of SUHYEN for hunting purposes. One day they saw some hunters of the Akan tribe with their leaders, known as Ntow Abasaa of SADWUMASE. The two leaders Gyadu Nkansa and Ntow Abasaa introduced themselves to each other and later became very good friends. They agreed between themselves that in order to avoid accidental shootings of each other’s hunters none of them should cross the river lying between their respective hunting grounds and that even whenever one’s hunters shot an animal which crossed the river and later died in the other’s hunting land, the original shooter should not cross the river to collect the dead game. Thus they constituted the river a hunting boundary and the river was in consequence named NSU-HYIE (i.e. river boundary), now corrupted to and known as SHYEN river.
It is said that one day as Ntow Abasaa, was in his court with his elders a message was sent to him from his wives’ compound that one of his wives was suffering from a severe stomach ache. Not being able to leave his elders in order to attend to the wife, Ntow Abasaa called one of his male servants and directed him to obtain the bark of a certain medicinal tree and have same cooked for drinking by the woman to cure her ailment. The servant, it later became known, did not know the tree but in order, possibly, to gain fame with the chief, made the chief to understand that he knew the tree, the bark of which without showing it to the chief he cooked and gave to the sick woman to drink. After drinking the medicine the woman’s condition became so serious and she vomited much blood that she died.
Akuapem native, H.E Judge (Prof) Akua Kuenyehia, first Vice-President of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands

The sudden death of the woman aroused much public suspicion and anger and after native physicians had examined and declared the cooked medicine as poisonous, the servant responsible, was in consequence, beheaded without trial;  and Ntow Abasaa, hearing of this fled into the forest. After the funeral of the woman numbers of her family and the towns people not to discuss what night have been the reason why the Ntow and his servant should have conspired to poison the woman. They decided to consult a fetish at ABADIENTAN and, accordingly, sent messengers there. The messengers returned with the finding that Ntow Abasaa and his servant did not conspire to poison the woman; further that the fetish had advised that owing to his innocence if Ntow narrated the incident to some fetish, stones, tress or rivers, his cause would be avenged on the people; and that the safest thing to do was to recall him, pacify him and reinstate him as their chief. The towns people thereupon sent hunters into the forest to search for Ntow Abasaa whom, after days arduous search, they found sitting in the buttress of berry (Adesaa) tree. Some of the hunters remained with him while others returned to the town to announce that he had been found. The elders and the towns’ people sent linguists and some hunters into the forest to bring Ntow back home. On arrival at the spot, the linguists were said to have addressed Ntow Abasaa as follows:-
“Nana Omanfoo se, yemawu diben, na efum no yedi sii wo kwa, enti yenafa wo mera na bedi wo hene” (that is to say “Nana the town people has commanded us to apologise to you for you have been falsely held responsible for the death, therefore, we should bring you home”).
To  this Ntow was said to have replied:-“Animguase a me manfo de agu me no me san mba bio, na se wono ahunu se efun no ye de sii ne kwa dea, metra (“This disgrace that my people have brought upon me I will no more return. If they have realised that I have been falsely accused of the death, I will settle in this my village they have falsely accused him of death”).                                                                        Akuapem native,Kwaku Ansa Asare, Founder of Montcrest Law school

Abotakyi Accord 1733 (FORMATION OF AKUAPEM PEOPLE)
The Akuapems then known as the Hill Guans were living very peacefully with their neighbors; Agonas, Gas, Krobos, Akyems and the Ductch until the Akwamus came to the scene and started brutalizing them. When the Akwamu brutalities on mainly the Guans, and the Kyerepongs on the Hills had gone beyond control and intolerable the leadership had these settlers summon a meeting to chart and discuss a way out of their predicaments. 
Mamfehene Osabarima Ansah Sasraku III-Kyedomhene of Akropong, Nana Osim Nketia II chief of Amanorkrom-Gyasehene of Akropong-Akuapem, Chief of Aseseeso Nana Oboadom and Nana Ofei-Ansah I- Krontihene of Akropong-Akuapem.

Gyedu Nkansa of Larteh, was then the chief priest and chief warrior of the Guans, was referred to as the King of the Guans and in that capacity the leader of Akuapem in whose old age and at his hour of death just at the beginning of his successor Ohene Berentiri initially thought those maltreating them were Asantes and so sent a message to Asante Mampong, then the capital of Asante to enquire whether they were those carrying out the atrocities. They responded negative and to show their commitment sent a delegation including troops to Akuapem. They are the present day Akuapem Mampong. Later Gyedu Nkansa gave authority to Ofei Agyemang, chief of Gyakiti and Sediesa (Asare Diedsa), chief of the Kyerepongs to extend an invitation to the Akyems for assistance to fight the Akwamus. The delegation to Akyem was led by Opanyin Ayeh Kissi, an elder of Nana Offei Kwasi Agyeman. The Okyenhene and elders readily agreed to help. He therefore dispatched his warrious led by his nephew Safori to join the bandwagon of the Guans Agonas, Gas, Krobos, Kyerepongs and the Dutch. A thousand forces (Akuw apem) thus swooped down the hill unto the hopeless Akwamus regiment at Nsakye as they advance. Unable to withstand the shock of this highland change, the Akwamu forces broke, scattered and fled away from Nyanawase, their capital across the Volta river to the present day Akwamufie.
Akroponghene (King of Akropong)", Nana Kwasi Akuffo 1907

This was the famous battle of Nsakye (1730) after which the Akwamu’s unspeakable acts of cruelty and depredation on the highland community came to an end. After the defeat of the Akwamus, the Akyems connived and convinced the Akuapems to allow them to permamnently stay on their land so they can avail themselves to help ward off potential Akwamu resurgence. Given the loose settlement set-ups of the Akuapems, the Akyems used their chieftaincy and political skills to their advantage. The institution of chieftancy as we know of today was non-existent then. The leadership of the Hill Guans consisted of Priest and Priestesses with Gyedu Nkansa the Chief Priest and Chief Warlord of the Guans as leader of Akuapem. The Akyem warlords arranged a meeting among the Guans and the Kyerepongs at Abotakyi. The purpose was to organise the territory into an order known as Twi military Order. This consideration influenced the need of allocating offices. Four divisions were created under the Abotakyi Accord which was signed in 1733. Thus the creation of the Akuapem State.

The four divisions are:

·         Adonten number 1, belonging to Akropong. The Akroponghene then was the Gyakiti warloard Nana Offei Kwasi Agyeman

·         Adonten number 2, belonging to Aburi being the remnants of Akwamu, Ga and some Guan indigenes in that neigbourhood.

·         Nifa division was given to the five Kyerepong towns with its headquarters at Awukugua. Asare Diedsa was chief of the Kyerepongs

·         The Benkum division was given to the nine Guan towns with its headquarters at Larteh. Ohene Berentiri was regent for the Guans as Gyedu Nkansa was then too old to be present. Although there was a regent for the Guans, Gyedu Nkansa gave authority to Offei Kwasi Agyeman to negotiate on his behalf.

·         The Akyem warload Safori allocated to himself the Okuapenhene.

At the first traditional council meeting the Gyakiti warlord was crowned as the senior divisional chief and next commander-in-chief whenever the Okuapehene is away.

                        Oyeeman Wereko Ampim, the late omanhene of Akuapem Amanokrom
         
In 1934, the then Okuapehene Nana Ofori Kuma decided that the Adontenhene Number 1 title be re- designated to Krontihene, a title which did not change his position and status in the hierachy of Akuapem, even though Nana Yaw Boafo the then Krontihene abdicated in protest over the change. The Krontihene remained as the second-in-command to the Okuapehene. The Adontenhene Number 1 title was also re- designated to Adonten.

Larteh Accord (1994)
REORGANISATION OF AKUAPEM INTO FOUR PARAMOUNTCIES:

The Abotakyi Accord of 1733 was permanently replaced with the Larteh Accord on May 8, 1994. The new Accord, which was signd by Nana Asiedu Okoo III, Nana Otutu Ababio IV and Nana Gyan Kwasi II, created the following autonomous Akuapem Paramountcies:

Akuapem Guan – with the Paramount Chief, Osabarima Asiedu Okoo Ababio III, in Larteh.

Akuapem Okere - with the Paramount Chief, Nana Otutu Ababio V, in Adukrom

Akuapem Anafo - with the Paramount Chief, Nana Otobour Gyan Kwasi, in Aburi

Akuapem Akropong - with the Paramount Chief, Nana Addo Dankwa III, in Akropong

The Chiefs and Elders, who designed the Larteh Accord, wisely included the following provision in it to ensure ongoing consultation with all stakeholders in managing overall interests and affairs of all Akuapem citizens.

“Establishment of a Council of Akuapem Paramount Chiefs with a two-year rotating presidency”.

BACKGROUND:

Many unpleasant events led to the replacement of the Abotakyi accord. On May 8, the indigenes (Guans, Kyerepongs and Akan Kamanas), owners of Akuapem lands, told the Akyem immigrants, whom they had kindly and generously settled at Amanprobi, Nsorem and Mpenease, that enough is enough.

The Akuapems then known as the Hill Guans were living very peacefully with their neighbors; Agonas, Gas, Krobos, Akyems and the Ductch until the Akwamus came to the scene and started brutalizing them. When the Akwamu brutalities on mainly the Guans, and the Kyerepongs on the Hills had gone beyond control and intolerable the leadership had these settlers summon a meeting to chart and discuss a way out of their predicaments. Gyedu Nkansa, then the King of the Guans and in that capacity the leader of Akuapem in whose old age and at his hour of death just at the beginning of his successor Ohene Berentiri initially thought those maltreating them were Asantes and so sent a message to Asante Mampong, then the capital of Asante to enquire whether they were those carrying out the atrocities. They responded negative and to show their commitment sent a delegation including troops to Akuapem. They are the present day Akuapem Mampong. Later Gyedu Nkansa gave authority to Ofei Agyemang, chief of Gyakiti and Sediesa (Asare Diedsa), chief of the Kyerepongs to extend an invitation to the Akyems for assistance to fight the Akwamus. The delegation to Akyem was led by Opanyin Ayeh Kissi, an elder of Nana Offei Kwasi Agyeman. The Okyenhene and elders readily agreed to help. He therefore dispatched his warrious led by his nephew Safori to join the bandwagon of the Guans Agonas, Gas, Krobos, Kyerepongs and the Dutch. A thousand forces (Akuw apem) thus swooped down the hill unto the hopeless Akwamus regiment at Nsakye as they advance. Unable to withstand the shock of this highland change, the Akwamu forces broke, scattered and fled away from Nyanawase, their capital across the Volta river to the present day Akwamufie.

                                                             Akuapem Asafo warriors

This was the famous battle of Nsakye (1730) after which the Akwamu’s unspeakable acts of cruelty and depredation on the highland community came to an end. After the defeat of the Akwamus, the Akyems connived and convinced the Akuapems to allow them to permamnently stay on their land so they can avail themselves to help ward off potential Akwamu resurgence. Given the loose settlement set-ups of the Akuapems, the Akyems used their chieftaincy and political skills to their advantage when the Abotakyi Accord was signed in 1733. Since then, the Akyem rule, under the leadership of Ofori Kuma Stool, was never different from that of the Akwamus, if not worse.

The Akuapem State never tasted peace and tranquility. To the Akyems, the name of the game was “Divide and Rule” compounded by suspicion, frustration, corruption, selfishness, arrogance, territorial expansion and putting the Guans and the Okeres down.

                                       Akuapem woman Rita Marley

The seemingly peace and tranquility on the Akuapem Hill was brought about by the timely arrival of Christianity and fear of God. The Akyems’ obnoxious attitudes and nasty treatment of the Guans and Okeres generated many protests. The Benkum, Nifa and Adonten divisions revoked their allegiance from the Omanhene at Akropong repeatedly in 1770, 1885, 1896, 1906, 1915 and finally in 1994. In 1915 for instance, the Secretary for Native Affairs was instructed by the British to settle the nagging differences between the Omanhene and his divisional Chiefs. A mediating meeting was held by the Secretary in Amonokrom. In 1994, all the bottled-up and pent-up bitterness, coupled with the violent clash between Abiriw and Akropong over a disputed land resulting in loss of lives and properties, became the final straw that broke the camel’s back. The Larteh Accord was born.

Akuapem Guan covers Larteh, Obosomase, Tutu, Mampong, Abotakyi, Mamfe, Tinkon, Mangoase, Koforidua Okorase and Kofridua Adweso.

Akuapem Okere covers Adukrom, Apirede, Awukugua, Dawu, Abiriw, Abonse and Asesieso.

Akuapem Anafo covers Aburi, Ahwerease, Atweasin, Berekuso and Nsawam.

Akuapem Akropong covers Akropong, Amonokrom, Adawso.
                                                          Akuapem festish priestess carrying spiritual food

Economy
Farming is the major occupation of the populace.  Major crops grown are cassava, maize, yam, plantain, potatoes, fruits and vegetables.  Non-traditional products, particularly snails and mushrooms, are also being produced and their production is rising providing avenues for investors to exploit emerging export markets and reap significant foreign currency earnings.
The agricultural sector is made up of three main sectors – food and cash crops, livestock and fisheries.  Beside these, we have the non-traditional, post harvest, storage facilities processing units, and markets as well as programmes and projects being undertaking by the people. 67% of the employee population are engaged in agriculture production and live in the rural areas of Akuapem. 
The main crops grown in the district are maize, cassava, vegetables, plantain, citrus, oil palm and cocoa. The District also produces a lot of vegetables both on the ridge and the lowland areas.  These include tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, pepper (legon 18), local pepper and sweet pepper as well as squash.  Vegetable production is irrigated.  Major vegetable producing areas are Mampong, Aseseeso and Kwamoso.

The Government has introduced a Youth in Agriculture Programme that is creating some employment for the youth in the Akuapem North District.  It has contributed to expanding food production and improving the standard of living of persons within the catchment areas in the district.  The agriculture extension services have distributed fertilizers to investing farmers in the district.

Live stock farming is quite encouraging, poultry and piggery are undertaking intensively on the ridge and extensively down the ridge in the villages. There are over 60 fish ponds in the district, however good fishes are being identified for support by MOFA.  And mass cocoa spraying programme has taken place in the Akuapem Ridge.

Akuapim Odwera festival
The Odwira Festival is celebrated by the people of Akropong-Akuapim, Aburi, Larteh and Mamfi in the Eastern Region, 30 miles from the capital, Accra.
It is also a few minutes drive from the Aburi Botanical Gardens. This is celebrated in the month of September.

The Akuapem Odwira festival was initiated by the 19th Okuapimhene of Akropong, Nana Addo Dankwa 1 (1811-1835) and was first celebrated in October 1826. It's significance is to celebrate their victory over the invincible Ashanti army during the historic battle of Katamansu near Dodowa in 1826 and also to cleanse themselves and ask for protection from their gods.

                         Okuapimhene Oseadeayo Addo Dankwa II

Due to its hilly terrain, the temperature there is very conducive considering the high temperatures in some other areas in Ghana.

Odwira Festival is a week long series of traditions and rituals performed to purify the town, the people and most importantly, the ancestral Stools of the Chieves. It is also a festival to celebrate the harvest of "new Yams".
Six weeks prior to the occasion, some activities are forbidden and hefty fines or serious punishment are given to people who violate this ban. Some of these activities include, no loud music, no drumming, no whistling after dark and most of all NO EATING OF YAMS.

Odwira Festival is broken into six days and each day has a significance and a purpose. This starts from Monday and ends on Sunday. Below is a break down of what actually happens on each day;


• Monday
Men from the three royal families in the town go and clear the path to their ancestral burial grounds. This is the sacred cemetery or "Ammamprobi". This is done to let them know they are invited to join in the festival. 
• Tuesday
In the morning, the men from the royal family return to the sacred cemetery to get the ancestors' permission to perform the festival. As they return, guarded by the "Executioners" or Abrafo(sing. Obrafo) chanting and firing guns, the entire village gather along the streets and cheer these men. A message is given to the chief that the festival can proceed.
The ban of all the activities mentioned above are lifted. Yams can now be enjoyed. This day is the Splitting of the New Yam and there's a lot of merry making.

But before the yam ban is lifted and the new yam is introduced to the people, people gather in front of the palace cheering and clapping whiles the strongest men in the town "battle" against each other to grab one of the new yams and take it to his house to cook.
One yam is introduced at a time until all six of them have been exhausted.This yam game shows who the strongest man is in the village and its also fascinating, exciting and incredible. Trust me, its only in Ghana you can experience festivals of this calibre.

• Wednesday
This is the day reserved to Mourn the ancestors and all loved ones who passed away. This is also the day all those who died during the six week ban are buried. This is a sad day and usually people wear red or black or both. This is the usual attire Ghanaians wear when there's a funeral. 
They fast throughout the day to remember dead relatives. Basically, they wail, drink and drum.

                                                               Tourists at the Odwira festival

Caution: This is the day in the year alcohol consumption has been reported to be the highest in the town, so please be careful and drink responsibly on this day. The good thing is guests never buy drinks, its the other way round.
• Thursday
This day on the Odwira calender is for Feasting. People exchange foods and other gifts. Some people also pay homage to the chief and queen mother and give them presents of all kinds.
Photographer: Herbert Cole http://library.artstor.org/library/iv2.html?parent=true#
Washing of the King`s stool

The royal families prepare mashed yams with eggs to be sent to a shrine for the ancestors to eat. This food is carried on the head by women guided by men through the principal streets to the shrine. These women look drunk and tired, walk in an uncontrolled manner, stager sometimes, run occasionally and stop abruptly. Some believe that these women are "possessed" by the ancestors as they parade down the street. 
Pouring of libation to appease the god`s of the possessed woman

There's other forms of activities like eating and cooking competitions.

• Friday
This is the day of Celebration. The climax or the peak of the Odwira Festival. The Grand Durbar is held on this day and not only the inhabitants participate, but many dignitaries, chiefs and queen mothers from all over Ghana and in fact, anybody interested come to celebrate with the principal chief and queen mother of Akropong.
On this day, the Okuapimhene and Queen mother wear their full traditional regalia and display a lot of gold on their heads, necks, wrists, fingers... you name it.This is a very colourful event. 
They are carried by their attendants above everybody in a palanquin(a boat-like chair) and they dance bouncing in the air, whilst there's drumming and singing going on, on the packed street. There's also  lot of gun firing by the scary looking Abrafo. After a couple of hours being "airbourne", the chief is sent to a gathering square or the durbar grounds to be seated. More drumming, dancing and rituals are performed. 
This is another wonderful thing that can't be seen in any where on this planet but Ghana.
The chief and queen mother receive homage from all the sub chieves and queen mothers and other dignitaries. The paramount chief gives his speech after which the celebration continues into the night.
There is an Odwira state dance in the evening, raves and many events in the night. Miss Odwira is one beauty contest you don't have to miss.
Nana Asiedu Agyemfra and entourage, Larteh, 1962

• Saturday and Sunday
These two days don't really have any thing special going on. There are a few gigs here and there but nothing official. These include soccer matches, scrabble competitions, etc.. etc.. 
The ‘Krontihene’ of Akuapem holds a special durbar on Sunday as part of the Odwira Festival.
The Odwira Festival is one of a kind and there isn't anything like that anywhere. You'll be amazed, electrified and on top of it all, you'll be glad you took part of a rich cultural heritage in the Ghana.
Nana Asiedu Agyemfra and his ‘soul’ at his Golden Jubilee. Larteh, 1988 Photo: Alfredo Varela, The World & I, December 1989

AKANIZATION OF HILL GUANS
 There Guan/Akuapem Art?
There is no single word for art in Kyerepong, Late or Twi, (the three dialects spoken in Akuapem). An iron-smith in Late is called ebirewe and dude dwumfo in Twi; the carver is called oyi ohoni in Late, and dim dwumfo in Twi. A potter is called kutu ehwo in Larteh and a piece of sculpture is called ohoni in Twi. However, we may refer to all these branches of creative expression under a single heading as art. These works may be viewed as man-made objects, which exhibit skill and order, and convey meaning. Almost every object of political, religious and social importance is decorated. These decorations are consciously added to an original work, and it is within this context that they can be subjected to aesthetic comment and judgements or be considered as art, since those who create them make comments such as eye fe, meaning, "it is beautiful." In effect, these works express the identity and values of the people in the form of religious, social and political works, agricultural implements and military equipment acquired over a period and used for both private and public functions.
Traditional clothing and decorations used for ceremonies are called regalia. The origins of many are either based on myth, or captured war items as trophies, inherited collective property and items created by a reigning chief or official. A collection of these ceremonial military, historical, political and religious art works and objects can be broadly divided into apparel or clothing; insignia or status symbols and, lastly, all-purpose regalia which may not necessarily be used for any particular office or activity. Kyerematen's definition of regalia in his book Panoply of Ghana broadens the classification to include a wide range of objects from the most sacred such as the Golden Stool of Asante to precious beads and imported items. Regalia not only serve as symbols of chiefly office but also as chronicles of the early history, and evidence of religious and social organisation of a people (1964: 1). Regalia among the Akan are requisites in creating legal, judicial and political authority for chiefs.
                       Women from Disapora being initiated into Akonedi Shrine,Larteh
The origins of an Akyem golden ladder, a golden hoe and a golden crown are all believed to be mythical. Oral tradition says they descended from the sky and came to rest on the laps of two sisters of Kuntunkununku, an Akyem Asona leader around the fourteenth century (Attobrah 1976:1). Addo-Fening agrees with the early phases of information on Akyem Abuakwa as "shrouded in myths of obscurity." He confirms that our knowledge of them is mainly from oral tradition (2001: 1). These myths and mysteries help create and sustain the authority and power of chieftaincy.
Akyem oral traditions about regalia include items inherited from early chiefs. For example, between 1560-1580, Agyekum Adu Oware, in addition to his display of military skills made several symbols of gold amounting to about a thousand. Today, some of these symbols are found on Akyem State umbrellas and swords (Attobrah 1976:5).

                                             Akomfo dancing akom dance at Akonedi Shrine,Larteh

Some regalia also originate as war trophies. These captured works are added to the victor's regalia as proof of strength. The Akropong odosn, Odwira apafram, and the aburukuwa drum are all war regalia seized from the Asante during the Akatamanso war in 1826 and kept to date by Okuapehene as part of his regalia. The Late-Ahenase regalia also comprises of captured war trophies. They are a sword, flywhisk, ritual objects and a war god.
The regalia used by odede, priests, in the Nifa division of Akuapem and asafohenfo, war leaders or war chiefs, were drums, bells, gongs, beads, necklaces, anklets and sandals. Priests in other parts of Akuapem use almost the same regalia. Before woven fabrics were introduced, the Hill Guan and their priestly leaders wore djw, a raffia skirt. More recently, the use of white cloth has been introduced. Other art forms expressed on the body are painting, which is still practised by both Guan and Akan. Some herbalists or priests in shrines practise cicatrisation for medicinal purposes. The asofo depended on art forms to provide abodes for the deities, to commune with them for guidance to rule and to receive blessings and protection for themselves and the state.
The attire of the odede or osofo was and still is white cloth. They continue to wear beads on their necks and around their wrists. They abhor blood and therefore have white stools as symbols of authority (Otu 1987: 27). There were other art forms used by priestesses as well as domestic and utilitarian objects by the community for social purposes.
Akonedi shrine fetish priest at Larteh

James Anquandah (an archaeologist) and Michael Kwamena-Poh (a historian) both argue that before the eighteenth century the Hill Guan produced abundant food supply for their neighbours—especially the Shai—with whom they exchanged these supplies for pottery. For example in 1848, Widmann and Dieterle4
 noted that thousands of pots full of palm oil were transported annually from the Hill Guan to the coast (Anquandah 1985: 21; Kwamena-Poh 1973: 96). Anquandah discusses tentative conclusions of test excavations in the Shai Hill sites in Cherekechrete, Hioweyo and Aduku. Much of the pottery found in the sites date c. 1500-1900.
Some, exported to urban sites in Akuapem were of the sun-rays motif, the trademark of the Shai potters in about AD 1500-1700 (1985: 19). The engraved decorations on bone combs, ivory bangles and awls were the same as those found in the lower part of the mound excavated at Dawu. The use of engraved decorations in the form of concentric circle and dot design on the combs found at Dawu may suggest Akan influence or origin (Ozanne 1962: 120). Changes in artistic styles evidenced from the midden showed different kinds of influence from the Akwamu, Shai and Europeans.

                                                                Akonedi shrine, Larteh

Anquandah in discussing Shaw's excavation suggests, on the contrary, that there is evidence that the early development of specialist industries such as textiles, ivory and brass works was not confined to the northern Akan alone. The southern Akan and the Guan living on the Akuapem hills also developed similar industries (1982: 93-94). If the beads, according to Shaw, were of foreign origin, then Anquandah suggests the Hill Guan also produced other art works establishing the fact that they had creative craftsmen. The pottery at the lower part of the midden indicates the possibility of a lively and varied artistic tradition which seemed to become lost with time (Shaw 1961: 87). Kwamena-Poh supports this view and argues that the deterioration in pottery style must have been caused by Akwamu rule, which did not stimulate an environment for creativity (1973: 27). This tradition of use of pottery is seen in several shrines today.
Guan religious practices employed art as a medium to focus on, provide abode for and commune with the ancestors and deities. The Guan state gods, akpe (in Kyerepong), are believed to be spirits and therefore no images of them are made. Rather, non-human forms of art worksae made as agents through which their assistance is solicited. The stool and korow, clay pot (akorow, pi.), are used as temporary abodes for the deities. There is a difference between deities localised in pots of water and those enshrined in brass pans. Of those in brass pans, Atono are said to be the oldest. According to Rattray (1923) and Silverman (1987), their source is from the Tano River in the Brong Ahafo Region (in Gilbert 1989b: 41-42). The korow is circular in shape.
Those placed outside are on top of stands, which are erecled out of cement or clay. These stands have square or circular bases. Some akorow are placed along side stools. The Bosompra god at Abiriw has no stool in the shrine; instead there are three akorow, the biggest being the dwelling place of Bosompra when he visits annually or when his presence is invoked through prayer and the pouring of libation. Other distinctive objects that are in these shrines are brass bowls called ayowa.

Guan shrine art varies in composition. Some works consist of objects placed in brass pans or earthenware pots with rainwater. Others take the form of bundles of leaves and some other items, hanging on the wall. In Adukrom, the korow in Kwabi shrine contains nyankonduru, onunum, obiyimi leaves and eggs. The pot at Kyenku shrine in Obosomase contains water fetched from river Po Damte amidst prayers. The korow at Damte shrine in Mampong contains water from the river called Atwubi, Atwugya or Opiafo, previously known as Opipim (Labi 1989: 120) Priests and priestesses at the shrines use art works in some practices to identify and protect them from evil forces as well as create abodes for deities. Some korow are kept alongside stools. Other shrine objects are mmena, flywhisk, korow, and afena, sword. The mmena in Ntoabea's shrine is held together with an afena whose handle and blade are painted white. These are works
related to the gods and mainly found in shrines (Labi 1989: 119-120).
Some of the shrines have stools as abodes for their gods. The shrines relied on gods who were non-localised until invoked to inhabit the objects intended to be their abodes. Traditional Guan stools did not have any designs in the middle part. They were simple blocks of wood with crescent shaped tops to act as seal with a handle on both sides of it.

 At the Kyenku shrine in Obosomase, it is a taboo to enter with any stool with symbolic or proverbial meaning. The stools found in this shrine have no symbolic designs on them. Only simple four legged stools are permitted in this shrine. These stools are white. They arc ritually washed and painted with white clay during annual festivals. Ntoabea's stool in Aburi is believed to have had a bell and a metal chain serving as its handle attached to it when it descended from the sky (Labi 1989: 120). Private gods are also worshiped. Contrary to the akpe or ahosom, the attributes of private gods and what they perform for their patrons determines their image. For example, a god responsible for giving children may be represented as a human being carrying an Akuaba, an Akan fertility doll. Cole and Ross mention a hand pointing to the sky with a snake coiling around it, which was found in a shrine in Late. According to the priestess this carving, which appeared to be in flames underneath a tree at the time, was presented to her by a lunatic she met. The
priestess' deity took the staff and kept it in the shrine room. According to Cole and Ross, supplicants had given several other art pieces with most of them showing appreciation for answered requests (Cole and Ross 1977:100-103).
Priestesses, akomfo at the shrines employ art on their bodies, which function prominently
during worship and spirit possession. The akomfo's bodies are painted with hyirew, white clay,
when they are possessed. The bodies of both asofo and akomfo become supports for creation and
display of art. Some also keep their hair in densikran, a low cropped hairstyle, or mpesei, long
hair strands. Their clothing is primarily white calico or patterned cloth with white background.
The akomfo add a variety of beads and other protective materials to their dressing which
identifies them as akomfo. Beads are used extensively both as decor to ward off evil and as
professional identification. In the past, the akomfo wore dow, raffia skirts and held bodua
flywhisk in their hands. Today, we may still find some akjmfo wearing this. The regalia of the
asofo and akomfo are both kept in traditional mud houses, but currently some are constructed
with cement.
There are different types of architecture in Akuapem, including those serving as shrines and
residences for the asofo and deities. These buildings are constructed with swish and roofed with
thatch. The introduction of modern technology in building means that building materials now
include stone and cement, with aluminium roofs. These buildings may be in linear, semicompound or compound design. The rooms, sizes and styles vary. The abodes for the deities are
either a separate room or in the bedroom of the osjfo. The ancestral stone seats (fig. 4) are kept
in some shrines while others are kept in public places such as in the Late-Kubease plaza (Gilbert
1989: 41; Labi 1989). Art and architecture took into consideration requirements of the gods to
enable the priestly leadership to perform their functions as both political and spiritual leaders.
But in spite of their service to the gods and belief in the supernatural, they became subjects of
Akwamu under which they suffered greatly

                                              Akuapem people offering libation to the shrine

Invitation of Akyem into Guan Politics as the First Phase of the Akanization Process
One weakness of the Guan priest-chief rule was its inability to develop an effective war machinery or defensive force. The Guan lived in small independent chiefdoms and this allowed
the Akwamu to subject them to harsh rule without the capability to defend themselves. The
origins of Akan art in Akuapem started with Akwamu rule over the Hill Guan from 1681 when
the Akwamu initiated steps towards an attack on the Ga who lived in Accra and had been
controlling trade among the Hill Guan. It was only after the displacement of the Ga from their
control of the Hills that Akwamu rule became a reality on the Hills (Kwamena-Poh 1973: 24).
Because of trade interests and the need for expeditious transactions it was necessary for the
Guan to speak the same language, Twi. Akwamu oral tradition narrates that accused persons
were usually detained until they learned to speak Twi well enough to defend themselves in
Akwamu courts. The towns between Aburi and Mamfe constituted the daily route of the
Akwamu and in order for these towns to communicate and trade, they learnt to speak Twi and
were therefore more affected linguistically. The towns lying to the north such as Abiriw, Dawu,
Awukugwa, Apirede and Late in the east were less affected linguistically. The Late language has
remained the same because of their location outside the main hills in Akuapem (Kwamena-Poh
1973: 10-11).
Akwamu rule over the Hill Guan did not last long (1681-1730). After a series of wars with
some of the Hill Guan communities in the early eighteenth century, another one broke out in
September 1729 with Ansah Sasraku, Akwamuhene, coming out victorious. This victory
compelled the Guan losers to gather at Abotakyi to swear an oath at the Kyenku shrine to unite
and expel the Akwamu. Furthermore, it moved them to invite the long-sianding enemy of
Akwamu, Akyem, to join them in the fight against Akwamu (Kwamena-Poh 1973: 34-37). The
situation on the hills changed when Ansah Sasraku plunged into war in September 1730 with the
Akyem. Within twenty-four hours the Akwamu were defeated. They were hotly pursued and fled
across the Volta River to found their present location called Akwamufie (Wilks 1958: 110).
The continued stay of the Akyem after the fall of Akwamu is recounted in two traditions. One
tradition narrates that after the expulsion of Akwamu, the Hill Guans feared that the proverb "if
you have no master, someone will seize and sell you" might be fulfilled. So, they sent
messengers to the Akyem king to appoint someone to rule over them (Kwamena-Poh 1973: 46).
They realised the dangers in their loose federation and were prepared to come under a centralised
political authority. The second tradition has it that the Akyem were asked to rule the Guan due to
their inability to pay off the debt they had incurred by inviting them to assist in the war. The
negotiations went on until 1733 when the Akyem dynasty finally established itself on the hills.
The Guan community met at Abotakyi where an oath was administered with a promise that they
would never throw off their allegiance to the Akyem or any of their successors (Rcindorf 1966:
89-90). The name of the Hill Guans was changed to Akuapem. The etymology means nkoaapem, a thousand slaves, a name that the Akwamu used to refer to the Hill Guan during their
rule, or akuw-apem, a thousand companies as they called themselves (Kwamena-Poh 1973:34).
The invitation of Akyem to establish political authority over the Hill Guan was a major
turning point both politically and artistically. The Akyem set out to establish an Akan political
state with accompanying elaborate art and regalia. This was intended to project, enhance, glorify
and enforce the image of chiefship in Akuapem, The Akan black stool became the single most
important item of regalia, which transformed the political structure and introduced new art forms
among the Guan. This has eventually come to run parallel to the stone seats sometimes used by
the Guan odede or asofo as their politico-religious seats.

Akan Art in Akuapem
As stated above, the Akan black stool became a central, political and religious art
work that led the process of change. Akan stools are made out of wood, often osese (Funtwnia
africana), and believed to be a potential abode for spirits to inhabit. Several other objects such as
plates, ladles, combs, shoes, bowls and carved figures are made from this tree (irvine 1961: 621).
Stools are made with various symbols in the central part to communicate Akan values and
beliefs.

Oyeeman Wereko Ampim, the late Omanhene of Amanokrom-Akuapim dancing at Odwira festival

Chiefs are surrounded with attendants and elaborate paraphernalia so much so that, sitting in
state, they become a complete exhibition of the arts of their people. Art projects the chiefs' image
and several of these symbols and imagery reflect just that. A chief has spokespersons whose
insignia are staffs. On these staffs are a variety of symbols ranging from clan totems to proverbs
and historical incidents encoded in abstract or symbolic forms. Sandals, jewellery, headbands and
umbrellas all became important during ceremonial functions of chieftaincy. Special minor chiefs
were created to be in charge of the chiefs' regalia and were responsible for ordering appropriate
ones. Gold, multi-colours, wealth, power, and all forms of symbols depicting these became the
mark of this new political institution.

                                                                 Akuapem drummers

Okuapemhene`s regalia
The most important paraphernalia of Okuapehene is asssegua or egua, stool. It is his symbol
of authority. There are different types of stools; these are ceremonial, ritual and domestic. The
akonwa timtutn, black stool, is a ritual stool and not displayed in public. These are stools
representing the ancestors. A chief, who during his lifetime led a good and upright life according
to the ethical and cultural traditions of his society, had his stool blackened after his death. It is a
ritual process of smearing the stool with a mixture of human blood, gunpowder and spider's web
amidst invocation of ancestral spirits.
 The other type is the ceremonial stool, which is displayed in public. One of such stools is sika gua. This is a stool covered with gold leaf, and paraded during the Odwira festival as a demonstration of Okuapehene's wealth.
The afena sword, is also an important item in Okuapehene 's regalia. The blade is made out of
iron and the handle carved out of osese. There are three types of swords for Okuapehene,
namely, mpomponsu, a ritual sword, afena, ceremonial sword and akofena, war sword. The ritual
sword is kept beside the akonwa tuntum in the stool room. The stool room is a sacred place
within a palace or a special room where blackened stools of previous chiefs are kept. The rooms
are visited periodically especially on Awukudae and Akwasidae to venerate the ancestors through
the stools. The Okuapehene's ritual sword is a war relic captured from the Asante in 1826. The
sword (fig. 6) is given further spiritual impetus by being kept in the hide of a leopard. It is
believed that the leopard is a fearful and brave animal and its skin possesses some aspects of this.
Swords also represent those used by the ancestors: some during war, while others are potential
abodes for war gods, ancestors and other deities to inhabit. Because of its believed spiritual
powers, the blade is never pointed towards a chief when subordinates come to swear oaths of
allegiance to him. Ceremonial swords are usually plated in gold or covered in gold leaf and used
by a chief during public functions such as Odwira. Ceremonial swords carry proverbial messages
in the symbols engraved or cut out of the blades. Okuapehene may use akofena on special
occasion, which have reference to war. This is usually accompanied with the wearing of
wardress.
Akyeampoma, linguist staff, is the official insignia of the okyeame, linguist, as well as a symbol of the okyeame's status as spokesperson, counsellor and advisor to Okuapehene. The office of okyeame is ascended to by inheritance, with a few exceptional persons attaining it on personal merit. He is expected to modify and present the messages of the Okuapehene and elders in public. He is the visible intermediary between the Okuapehene and those who wish to speak to him. Dabehene or Nfoahene, a minor chief responsible for the Okuapehene's regalia, orders the akyeampoma. There is a vast array of akyeampoma. Some are used for rituals and others for ceremony. An example of. Okuapehene's ritual akyeampoma in Akropong is called assmpa ye tia, meaning, "truth is brief. It is believed to be the abode of the spirits of ancestors who used to be linguists. This can be taken to the stool room because tradition maintains that gold is not permitted in rituals for ancestors. It has a dark appearance which is either painted or the result of accumulated residue of sacrificial blood after years of use in ancestor veneration.
Kente or kente from Ghana, a royal cloth.
The ceremonial akyeampoma carry proverbial motifs and are often covered with geometric designs and gold leaf. These akyeampoma announce in non-verbal form the arrival of a chief. The bearer of akyeampoma need not always speak, for the symbols on the akyeampoma are intended to communicate. These carry a minimum degree of spiritual power as compared to the asempa ye tia. These staffs are intended to "envelope" and enhance the institution and ceremonial aspect of chiefship as well as a chiefs aesthetic appearance. For example, a chief may choose to be represented as omnipotent by the benue bird called sankofa, meaning, "going back to the past." This bird can bend its head to touch its back. It is used to represent the chiefs ability to perceive things that happen in his absence. Another interpretation to this is the chiefs ability to tap into ancient wisdom. Other examples of symbols on linguist staffs are an elephant
standing on a trap meaning "a chiefs undefeatable position." A hand holding an egg with a finger pointing to the sky expresses the concept of authority, powerful, yet so delicate it must be handled with great care. A linguist staff, omaa mee shows the resourcefulness and responsibility of the Queenmother to feed her people.
Kente or kente from Ghana, a royal cloth.
Abotiri, headbands, are used as part of a chiefs accessories in dressing. These are a rich source of aesthetic decoration and proverbial communication. In addition to Akan symbols, animal skin and bones may be added to abotiri. These are usually added during funerals and ritual ceremonies. Akokyew, war hats, may have the skin of a lion or a leopard attached to it. This is usually worn together with a hatakari, smock. Amfohenfo, military leaders, and abrafo, executioners wear hats. Okuapehene has an ntakrakyew, feather hat  called oboaman worn by his okra, soul, represented by a virgin boy who sits in front of him. It is a composite hat made up of male eagle feathers, gold-covered ram horns and a human skull wrapped in leopard skin (Gilbert 1989a: 75}. It also compares the strength of the chief to an eagle.

Sandals, mpaboa, worn by the Okimpehene bear symbolic works expressive of his status. They are worn primarily to protect the chiefs feet from touching the ground. Mpaboahene is the official in charge of the different sandals worn by the Okuapehene. It is his duty to select the appropriate sandals accompanying the chiefs cloth. Sandals with cocoa beans worn by Okuapehene represent the wealth of the state, which is derived from cocoa. Similarly, snail symbolises contentment; apese, hedgehog symbolises "a feeling of total ownership," and a snail and tortoise symbolise peace. These Akan-type regalia were over a period adopted by Guan towns as the Okuapehene set out to create a unified Akuapem state.
Two examples cited below from Abiriw and Late, both Guan towns, demonstrate the Akanization process. The Guan accepted the new political structure, and the need to separate priesthood from chiefship. They made political appointments that eventually used Akan regalia and adopted the black stool as their new source of political authority. This marked the separation of the asofo's role and the complete loss of nnadefo's judicial powers to the newly created positions of chiefs. While the chiefs dealt with political matters, the asjfo focused on spiritual concerns.
Otu even dates the Akanization process earlier and argues that Late was the first Guan town to adopt a blackened stool during the Akwamu period in the mid-seventeenth century. This suggests that the process of Akanization began before the Akyem arrived on the Hills in 1733 (Oiu 1987: 37-38). At the beginning of Akyem rule, they positioned representatives in some Guan towns, who were called either Kurontihene or Mankrado, to influence the Guan and ensure the success of Akyem rule.
 Blier cites a somewhat similar siluation in the Dahomey and Kuba Kingdoms where kings sent potential family rivals to distant territories. These exiles helped to disseminate royal authority and art through the display of courtly regalia (Blier 1998: 29). Similarly in Akuapem, these Akyem representatives provided the Akan style of political leadership to the Guan towns with its art and regalia from which they could copy. The Late asofo relinquished their political roles and nominated new leaders to assume new political status known as chief who adopted black stools as their source of political power. These new chiefs adopted some regalia from the Akyem representatives in Late. It is said that the Late-Ahenease stool room has a black stool and a brass pan—all adopted from the Akyem while the sword and arrow are war trophies. Late linguist staffs originated from the Akyem rulers. Today, Late Kubease and Ahenease chiefs have both ritual and ceremonial staffs. These staffs identify a chief. They precede the chief and are supposed to cast evil spirits away. The Late black and ritual linguist staffs can be taken anywhere and its presence is usually an indication of a problem which needs to be resolved. The ritual staff is called sunsumakyeampoma, spiritual staff, because of the sacrificial human or animal blood poured on it. This means the spirit of the dead man have been transformed into the staff.
A Guan chief may have several staffs with various designs referring to proverbs. Examples from Late are as follows: Wo fro dua pa a na wo pia wo, means "if you climb a good tree you will be pushed", akoko batan na onim nia ne mma bede means "it is the hen which knows what its chicks will eat", and ti koro nko agyina means, "two heads are better than one." These are all popular Akan proverbs adopted as symbols on Larteh linguist staffs. Other regalia which Late adopted were ceremonial stools, palanquins, umbrellas and elaborate dressing with accessories to make the chief the best dressed person present, and a retinue of attendants. Today, Late chiefs possess almost all the stool paraphernalia of an Akan chief. They include state swords,
headgear, bracelets, gold necklaces and finger rings, ankle bangles and musical instruments such as fontomfrom> atumpan, twenesin and horns including mmentia. The creation of several Akantype chiefs in Guan towns introduced new sources of power, namely ancestral stools and their accompanying regalia, as seen in Late and Abiriw.

The Akan political system was adopted in Abiriw in about 1843 (Otu 1987: 31). Prior to this, Abiriw priests from the patrilineal clans sat in a circle on stones to administer justice under the leadership of the Bosompra priest. The Akan who had earlier migrated and joined them with black stools had to put them aside. Gilbert confirms Otu's view that it was only in the mid-nineteenth century that the powers of the Bosompra priest and the Abiriw chief were separated.
Since then there has been an increase in the number of chiefs created with black stools. Gilbert gives detailed background to the introduction of black stools in Abiriw. She admits that the "nnadefo, who originally governed the town, while not eliminated in the new political order, have had their political functions usurped; they have become subordinate to Akan-type chiefs with Akan paraphernalia such as black stool, linguist staffs, palanquins and umbrellas" (Gilbert 1997:511-513).
An Abiriw elder says that: Before, all we knew was judgement of the gods, and this judgement was sometimes quick, sometimes slow and always costly: it cost lives and much money. Akuropon people brought a revolution to our society. They told us we should let them settle it civilly with less cost (Gilbert 1997: 509).
Abiriw reformed their political system and accepted Akan chiefship with its accompanying judicial powers. Between 1846 and 1866, one of the Bosompra asofo nominated his son, Kwadwo Bosompra, to be his successor while he assumed the position otOhene of Abiriw (Otu 1987: 32). Similar situations and changes occurred in all the Guan towns.
It cannot be said that the introduction of Akan art and regalia was an imposition, as some Guan chiefs enjoyed this new political structure. In 1867, the Benkumhene, who is from Late arrived in Akropong in magnificent attire. He rode in a palanquin, wore a black silk cap and was shielded by an umbrella (Otu 1987: 7). This supports the acceptance of the new art forms and institution. Furthermore, the protracted dispute between chief Akrofi of Late and Okuapehene, Nana Kwasi Akuffo, over the title "King of Larteh," inscribed over a medallion given to him by the colonial government in 1885 is another case of some chiefs wanting to elevate themselves within this new political structure to paramountcy. In July 1885, chief Akrofi even signed a letter as "Frederick Akrofi, King of Larteh." The inscription was later changed to chief of Larteh in 1898 following a long dispute after which the British replaced the medallion (Brokensha 1964:12-17). Several such disputes of allegiance have plagued Akuapem till today.
In addition to the elaborate regalia and display of wealth, in constitutional terms real power (political, religious, judicial and administrative) was combined with military command in times of war (Kwamena-Poh 1973: 46). These powers were vested in the Akyem chief at Akropong. This centralised authority completely overshadowed the non-centralised Guan priestly political system headed by odede, asofo, nnadefo and asafohenfo and their regalia, namely white cloth with beads and bangles. In many instances, there was a complete separation of powers between worship of the gods by the priests and ancestor veneration practised by the chiefs.

               Akuapem adowa dancers entertaining Akuapem chiefs with a special adowa dance

The traditional Guan art associated with the priests was not integrated in the new political regalia dominated by gold, symbolic imagery and black stools. In fact, it was and still is a taboo for the priests to use gold, which is a mark of wealth and glory frequently displayed in many of the new Akan political ceremonies. They also abhor the use of black stools. The blood used on the stools is a taboo to the odede or asofo. Hence, the Guan priests, for religious reasons passed on this responsibility to the asafohenfo or other leaders. The wearing of war regalia in the form of smocks, hats and the use of swords and knives contradicted the sacredncss and sanctity of the position of priesthood. The new chiefs swore allegiance to Okuapehene and paid homage annually during the Odwira festival whose origins date from the second decade of the nineteenth century. This further cemented the Akanisation process.

                                  Okuapimhene and Omanhene of Akropong, Oseadeayo Addo Dankwa III

The Second Phase of Akanization: Akuapem Captures Asante Odwira suman
The second stage of the Akanization process began with the Akuapem war with Asante. In the early nineteenth century the Akuapem and Akyem, who were usually allies, went into an alliance with some coastal states, and were supported by the English and Danes and fought the Asante at Nsamankow and Akatamanso in 1824 and 1826 respectively. 
Photographer: Herbert Cole http://library.artstor.org/library/iv2.html?parent=true#
                                         Akuapem women performing traditional dance

During the Akatamanso war, the Akuapem captured the Asante war god, Odwira Apafram, and the stool regalia connected with the celebration of the Odwira festival. The accompanying odosu, war deity or magico-religious objects which provide abode for spiritual entities to inhabit when invoked, was also captured from the Asante. This gave the Akuapem the spiritual authority to celebrate the Odwira festival.
Since then, during the month of September or October every year the Akuapem have been celebrating the Odwira festival climaxing in a five-day series of rituals and ceremonies with several small scale pre and post Odwira activities.

                                       Fetish priestess in spiritual trance at Odwira festival

This second phase of the Akanization process underscores the importance of the Odwira festival which brings all Akuapem chiefs together in Akropong to celebrate before they each in turn celebrate their own festivals in their respective towns.
The Akuapem Odwira festival is reflective of a community experience made visible through its art. Hence, in the week of the main celebration, all major art works made and acquired throughout their history are displayed. Odwira is celebrated to cleanse and purify Akropong and the entire Akuapem State from evil and defilement while venerating the ancestors. It is also to propitiate the stools and ensure that members of the state congregate in joyful fellowship through sacrifice and the eating of a communal meal. During the period, Akuapem chiefs also come to pay homage to the Okuapehene. The Sunday preceding the ninth Awukudae, the Akuapem sacred day celebrated every forty-two days which always falls on Wednesday, is when all the
stool occupants assemble to celebrate Odwira.

                                                Gathering of Akuapem chiefs at Odwira festival

The festival begins on Monday, Akwammo, clearing of the path to Amamprobi, the royal cemetery. This is to enable the ancestors to be invited for the festival. Libation is poured in the morning to seek permission from the ancestors to lift the ban on drumming which has been imposed six weeks earlier called adae butuw, in preparation for the Odwira. Adumfo, security officers, Banmufu, custodians of the royal mausoleum and Asenfo pour this libation. This facilitates the invitation of the ancestors to join them in celebrating the festival. The Akyeamehene hands over a cutlass to Banmuhene who then strikes the ground on both his left and right sides three times each signifying the commencement of weeding of the path to Amamprobi.
akradwarefo (Soulwasher) for Akufo, Akroponghene (King of Akropong)

At odum anim, a site believed to be the spot where one Okuapehene died, and also a place for the execution of people in the olden days, the elders prepare the grounds thoroughly for the matspreading ritual amidst the sounding of the nkrawiri, executioner's drum. They spread odwen hahan {Baphia nitida), also known as camwood leaves on a raised wooden platform with sticks across it to prevent the offering form touching the ground. On this they place, sapowpa, plantain fibre sponge used as a towel, sawee, chewing sponge, aburow a watoio, roasted corn, mankani a watoto, roasted cocoayam, ankaa, lime, kwadu, banana, abe, palm fruits and brode, plantain, on the odwen haban. After this, they seek permission to enter the sacred grove. They return to the chiefs palace and are then given some palm wine to quench their thirst.

                                        Gathering of Akuapem Chiefs

Tuesday morning marks outdooring of new yam. It is after the ceremony on Tuesday that new yam, banned six weeks earlier, is officially brought into the town and eaten. Early in the morning the Okuapehene's white stools are washed and lined up in the palace for a while . Later on in the morning, there is procession with sacrificial offerings to Amamprobi led by Banmuhene, Adumhene> the chief responsible for the security of the person of Okuapehene as well as head of abrafo, executioners, Nkowasuafohene, chief of stool carriers, Ankobeahene, chief of traditional counsellors and Osodohene, chief cook in the stool house or palace. The dress is a dark smock, a battle dress or dark coloured clothing to signify the importance of the ceremony. Banmuhene presents sheep, food and drinks to the ancestors on behalf of the Omanhene, and a concoction of sheep blood and herbs is used to mark the forehead of participants during the rituals at Amamprobi. On their way back they are met by a delegation of the Omanhene led by the Akyeamehene on the outskirts of Akropong to pour libation with water, palm wine and schnapps. 
When they arrive in the palace, a cloth is wrapped round the  Omanhene in order for him to secretly receive the odosu, war religious items, used to provide physical strength and war strategies to fight and the spiritual strength and authority to celebrate the festival. The Banmuhene hands this over to him by marking his forehead with ointment prepared at Amamprobi. The Omanhene is dressed in the black cloth traditionally used during mourning. There is a small gathering in the palace later in the evening for the Omanhene to
perform dapaa tu, preparation and announcements for the celebration of adae kese or the ninth adae, big adae and adae bue, lifting of the ban on drumming, dancing and noise making imposed six weeks earlier.

Wednesday is the ninth Awukudae, a day for mourning the dead. The traditional dressing is black cloth or dark brown, red or other dark patterned cloths. Families cry and mourn their dead relatives of the past year. It is also devoted to feeding the ancestors in the stool room, a sacred indoor rite. Omanhene sits in the palace to perform adae kese. The linguists pour libation and the Omanhene offers drink, which he pours on his left and right hand side. Appeals for funds and donations are made for development projects in the year. Later during the day the Okuapehene dresses in war regalia - a smock with amulets and talismans and a war hat, and is paraded through the town joining in the mourning. Some of the oldest forms of art, such as carved stools dating from ca. 1850 (Cole 1975: 17) are brought out and ritually cleansed. During this sacred rite, a curfew is imposed and the public is strictly warned to stay indoors. On Wednesday night, the blackened stools of past Okuapehenfo, namely: Safori, Kwapong Kyerefo, Obuobi Atiemo, Kwame Fori I, Asa Krofa and Kwadede I are taken to the Adami river by the Adumfo and Abrafo to be cleansed and guns are fired at Nsorem.
Photographer: Herbert Cole http://library.artstor.org/library/iv2.html?parent=true#
During the early hours of the following morning, Thursday, the Adumfo light a fire to roast some new yam. It is also the day when the Asona clan eat yam, and stool occupants offer food and drinks to the ancestors at Nsorem, the original site of Akropong. The colour of clothing changes from black, red or dark brown used in mourning and worn during the first three days of the festival to colours such as greens, blues, yellows and white to mark the festive mood. This is a day of celebration and the predominant colour of clothing worn is white, meaning joy and peace. The black stools are placed upright and fed with pieces of meat and mashed yam. The Omanhene also performs rites for the Odwira suman at Banmuhene's house, after which the
public may consult Banmuhene for a ritual bath with a concoction of sacred water and herbs. At the end of the day, the Omanhene receives the various groups from Nsorem, with the Banmuhene presenting the Omanhene's empty food container by placing the container three times on the laps of the Omanhene and then taken away to the stool room. After this, the canier of the food is also placed three times on the lap of the Omanhene. The last activity for the day is Sesadompe during which leaves and other sacrificial items on the odosu are removed and deposited at Nsorem under the cover of darkness. This rite is finalised with three resounding gunshots (see also Gilbert 1994: 99-108). There is strict curfew and lights are supposed to be turned off. In recent past and during the 2002 Odwira festival the Electricity Company turned off the lights but I am unable to ascertain whether it was because of traditional demand or pure coincidence.
Friday is a state durbar to which all the chiefs in the remaining sixteen towns are invited to pay homage to Okuapehene. Prior to this the Asonahene, head of the Asona clan in the morning sends his food, mashed yarn and water to Nsorem before the durbar commences. All the communities, their chiefs as well as government officials and well-wishers join in the celebration.
Larteh people of Akuapem

 In addition to the ritual, military, social and political aspects, it is also a display of elaborate art forms. By the fifth day, the dark coloured clothing, military attire and seriousness attached to the festival has changed to that of bright colours and the use of gold and silver and wearing of elaborate ornaments.

                                                       Larteh people

There are a variety of art forms displayed during the Odwira durbar because repetitions are avoided and variations encouraged. For example, no chief should wear the same attire, or dress more elaborately than, the Omanhene. If a subordinate chief wears the same cloth or dresses with similar regalia to that of a superior chief, the subordinate is advised or encouraged to change the dressing. In the scheme of things no two chiefs dress or embellish themselves identically nor should their entourages have the same number of people (Cole 1975: 22). Each chief sets himself distinctly apart to show that he is the only one possessing that specific regalia. Cole's article summarises the Odwira festival as bringing together the various art works and compares their display to a pointillist painting where each minor unii contributes to the impact of the whole
(1975: 60).

 According to Cole, the "artistic impact of the festival stems not from isolated artistic forms of actions but from formally orchestrated interaction of all the aesthetic resources of the community" (1975:61). Each of these art works used during the festival has a specific historical and cultural meaning which creates good reasons for the community to come together and share in the display, values, hope, peace and prosperity of Akuapem.
Gilbert perceives Akuapem art as "deliberately and metaphorically exposed in royal rituals in the politics of chieftaincy affairs and in regalia" (1993: 123). The Odwira festival provides an appropriate occasion for the display of art in a ritual and royal setting intended to project the image and status of the Okuapehene. She argues that Akropong regalia form an external envelope for the person of the body politic of the Okuapehene. Those who provide this external envelope are the various attendants, divisional chiefs, minor chiefs, and the host of art and regalia they use.
They are all centred on paying homage to the Okuapehene. These historical and cultural works epitomise the artistic life of the Akuapem people as a whole. Art and regalia of the Okuapehene and other Akuapem chiefs are summed up as "public representations of the secret power that lies within and behind kingship and the power that holds it together" (Gilbert 1993: 131). Indeed these are more than public presentations of what holds kingship together. They are also representations of the history of art in Akuapem.
The Akropong Odwira festival is a great drama, which embraces all the Akan arts in Akuapem. It is an occasion when the spiritual power of the chief is re-charged. It is a celebration of the highest and total expression of culture as horn blowers, drummers, linguists and various state officials display ait and regalia. All the wing chiefs in Akuapem have over the years acquired Akan regalia such as palanquins, umbrellas, swords, multi-coloured and patterned cloths, gold plated sandals, linguists staffs with proverbial icons and jewellery made or covered with gold leaf, and come with these to pay homage to the Okuapehene. This is perhaps the most significant occasion for the display of art. Dress and other body arts reveal distinctions, changes in status and temporary display of roles as well as personal preferences and affiliations.
During the Akatamanso war, other Akuapem towns also captured war gods and regalia from the Asante. Therefore, Late also celebrates the Odwira festival because of the gods and trophies they captured. It also involves the clearing of path to their ancestral home to bring the Odwira. It is a festival of purification from war through rituals performed with the odwira odosu, cleansing from defilement, evil, and a time when the Late feed and venerate their ancestors. The Late celebration is also associated with rites to make the eating of new yam healthy so that people do not suffer stomach ache and other ailments from eating new yam. In addition to the religious celebration, it is also an artistic display, exhibiting the totality of Akuapem art.
The process of Akanisation separated the Guan priests from participating in the Akropong Odwira festival. No gods are worshipped during this festival, rather, it is ancestor veneration. Because of this distinction, priests and priestesses do not participate in it. Their non-participation in chieftaincy is also because of their abhorrence of black stools, gold and works which bear symbols on them, which are emphasised in Akan regalia.
Kente or kente from Ghana, a royal cloth.
The introduction of the new Akan regalia was only for political reasons, as the Guan were left
to practise their beliefs during which the adede, asofo and akomfo continue to worship their gods
and celebrate their festivals. Despite the separation of religious roles from political and judicial
functions, there still exists some collaboration between the chiefs and the odede, asofo, nnadefo
and akomfo in certain aspects of Guan communal life. For example, in some Guan towns such as
Adukrom, Amanokrom, Obosomase and Late-Ahenease, gods are attached to the black stools
and the periods for propitiating and feeding these gods are part of the festivals involving chiefs.
In Late-Ahenease the god Konkon, which is regarded as male, because it appears as a man with
half body and resides in a cemented shrine is worshipped on Tuesdays, Fridays and during the
Ohum and Odwira festivals, in fact, the Konkon osofo is the nnedefo kyeame, and during these
festivals, should there be any rituals and rites to be performed it then becomes his responsibility
to do so. In Late, the following Wednesday after the Odwira, the priests and priestesses of the
shrines gather to cook, offer food to the gods and dance. In the night, every house that has a god
lights a fire and the head priest goes round to roast a piece of yam in it and throw it to the ground
for the gods.
It is evident that Guan priesthood is still active in the Guan communities, going by the
number of shrines in Akuapem. During my fieldwork in 1988, I documented as many as ninetyone shrines in Akuapem, though the number may be higher. These communities maintain their
altars and still adhere to the traditional regalia and art forms and celebrate their independent
festivals (fig 14). They also train priestesses from other towns. The popularity of shrines may be
illustrated with the Akonnedi shrine. During the Asuo Gyebi festival at the Akonnedi shrine, past
trainees of the shrine come from other towns in Ghana and the United States to worship this deity
and celebrate the festival.
Kente or kente from Ghana, a royal cloth.
In Akuapem today, all seventeen towns celebrate annual festivals with Akan regalia during
which many of the chiefs are carried in palanquins and paraded through the principal streets on
the last day of the festival, culminating in a grand durbar. During the Mamfe Ohum for example,
the asofo and other traditional leaders perform traditional rites including the drinking atasafosa
and the women enact aworebe, a ceremony of sweeping and cleansing the town, prior to the
durbar, which climaxes the celebration on Saturday afternoon with Akan type regalia.
The Akuapem Odwira, Abiriw Akpe Odwe, Mamfe Ohum, Mampong Odwira and Late Ohum
and Odwira are all festivals celebrated in Akuapem in which chiefs display regalia of Akan
origin. The new art works introduced in Akuapem articulate new Akan values. These were the
use of gold and the display of power, pomp and pageantry. Today all Akuapem chiefs display
Akan art. Political and social importance are placed on regalia and reflect the values of the
people of Akuapem as a whole.
Whereas these Akan influences tend to overshadow Guan priestly art a typical Guan religious
festival, such as Asuo Gyebi of Akonnedi shrine and the celebration a week after Late Odwira of
the priests and priestesses including Konkort and Tshawe is more a display of various rituaJs,
spirit possession and dance. The priestesses wear white cloths, beads on their necks, wrists, knees
and ankles and smear their bodies with white clay. During the Asuo Gyebi festival, which 1
observed in January 1989, the late Nana Oparebea, the then priestess of Akonnedi shrine had a
special stool on which she sat. The emphasis is on the religious appropriateness, symbolism and
suitability for the gods rather than the aesthetics of colour, as well as the projection of the
personhood and power of the priest or priestess of the shrine. Some Guan religious festivals are
celebrated alongside the state festivals such as Ohum, and Akan festivals such as Awukudae and
Akwasidae. The process of introducing a new political order did not entirely wipe out the Guan
priestly art and way of relating to and celebrating the gods.

























4 comments:

  1. This a well elaborated history of the people of Akuapem descent in Ghana,as a lover of history and research myself,I dissent certain aspects of your write up pertaining to how the Akyems liberated Akuapems from Akwamu terror.Haven read extensively on Akuapem history it comes as a surprise to me to read from your write up that its not the Akyem Abuakwa but rather Kotoku that led the forces to defeat Akwamu.I believe that aspect is highly distorted.

    Again recently the divisional chiefs who as it were seceded from the Okuapehene's rule are back.A new accord was subsequently signed in Koforidua recently to that effect.Aside these minor distortion of history highlighted,its an exciting read.Kudos!

    I have being following your blog and waiting to read something extensive on the most powerful of the Akan states of the late 18th century and early 19th century Asanteman and Okyeman.I would be very grateful to read on these two powerful kingdoms

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  2. With all due respect, the photo entitled "Akuapem men with his traditional cloth dress" is not Akuapem, it is a photo that I took of my own son, who is Fante. It was originally posted on my own blog, "A Journal From Africa" under the entry entitled "My Son, My Mirror."

    http://ajournalfromafrica.blogspot.com/2012_09_18_archive.html

    I took the photo at the wedding of one of my cousins in Cape Coast two years ago. Since you didn't ask for my permission to use this photo, I'd like you to take it down.

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