Akan Clans

Door , 22/08/2009 18:20

The list of the towns of the various clans is by no means exhaustive.

These days because of ‘modernisation’ and ‘progress’ it is nearly impossible to tell what clan a person belongs to unless you know what town a person comes from. Even coming from a particular town does not necessarily mean that the person is from the dominant clan in the town. In Asante, the occurrence of this is fairly remote. This problem is likely to occur among Fantis. For example, although Saltpond is considered to be a Fanti town, their ancestors are likely to be Akyem. So to find the clan of somebody from Saltpond, one might have to head in the direction of Oda. However, the Fantis have found a back to front but remarkable solution to the problem. Among Fantis, you don’t need to know beforehand what clan a person is from. S/he tells you how to respond to his/her greetings. In doing so they have ditched the clan somewhat and gone for the nton. There are fewer of them, nton, and the replies are therefore not that many. It is a rather straightforward way of dealing with the tradition because it is less tasking on the person being greeted. In addition to the nton, the person greeting might opt for the duties associated with that nton. A Fanti might therefore say by way of greetings, ‘Amanfo mema hom atsenase, wogye me anyaado’. Anyaado indicates that the people of that nton are drummers. The reply would then be ‘Yaa anyaado, okyerema ba.’

In addition to these clans, there are 6 Nton (spirits) in Asante which are Bosompra, Bosomtwe, Bosomuru, Bosompo Tano and Bia. But the number among Akans is anything up to 12. These are Bosomkrete, Bosomafram, Bosommran, Bosompra, Bosompo, Bosomuru, Bosomakom, Bosomkonsi, Bosomsika, Bosomayesu, Bosomdwerebe and Bosomafi.

These spirits, at least in Asante, reside in water. Legend has it that when God created the earth; he left his six sons on earth that if man wanted anything, they could ask him through any one of his six sons. Bosompra resides in River Pra; Bosomtwe in Lake Bosomtwe, Bosomuru in Birem, Bosompo or Bosom Nketia resides in the sea, Tano in River Tano and Bia in River Bia.

The question that people tend to ask in order to ascertain a person’s nton is to ask, ‘In which river do you wash?’

Both the nton and abusua performed a useful function of holding the society together and what might perhaps be seen these days as conservation of animals and plants. Each of these clans and nton had rare animals and plants that they were forbidden to kill or destroy. It made it possible to live in harmony with nature.

In the past when a man travelled and needed overnight lodgings in a village, he would seek out a member of his clan in the town or village. When found, he would take the traveller home and treat him like a brother. If it happens that the traveller should die, it would be up to the people of the clan in the town to trace the traveller’s people, inform and liaise with them as to what should happen to the body. If it should become impossible to trace the traveller’s relatives, then they would take it upon themselves to take charge of burial and funeral. Marriage among the same clans was forbidden. It was acceptable to marry one’s mother’s brother’s child; it was unacceptable to marry one’s mother’s sister’s child although they are both cousins. It was totally unacceptable to marry any cousin whatsoever on one’s father’s side.

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