Akan History

Door , 22/08/2009 18:06


One of the problems of the researcher into the history of Sefwi is how to determine the various phases of settlements and migration. This problem is made more difficult by the incessant land succession disputes and litigation among the three paramount stools on the one hand, and between the paramount stools and some of the divisional chiefs on the other. All are however agreed that the Anhwiaso state was the first of the three to be established. Bordering on Asante to the northeast, it is most probable that this was the state, which was known to Dupuis as Safey. The traditions of many of the towns of Anhwiaso trace their original homes to southern Asante and to Brong Ahafo. The most important of these towns is Wenchi, the name of which is, at times, used to describe the whole of the Anhwiaso traditional area. Now ruled by members of the Asona clan who trace the home of their lineage to Ansa in Adanse, Wenchi appears to have been founded by people from Brong Ahafo. It is interesting to note that the Asona of Kesekrom and Ahibenso in the Wiawso area who claim to have come from Anhwiaso Wenchi, emphatically assert that their original home was in Wenchi in Brong Ahafo. There is enough circumstantial evidence to show that people from Wenchi in the Bono-Takyiman area may have founded Anhwiaso Wenchi and named it after their old home. This is partly evidenced by the similarities in the yam festival of the two towns and partly by the traditions of Bono Wenchi which assert that early in the reign of Osei Tutu the Asante sacked and destroyed their old capital, Ahwene Koko. As a result of the destruction, the tradition continues, many of their people moved and settled in Sefwi, Aowin and Nzema areas. It is most probable that many of the refugees from Ahwene Koko moved into Anhwiaso Wenchi, the original founders of which might have been related to them. Now enjoying the status of a divisional chief (the Benkumhene) to the Anhwiaso Omanhene, Wenchi has for a long time disputed the claim of the Adum-Aduana of Anhwiaso to occupy the paramount stool. To Wenchi the Adum-Aduana are usurpers. According to the Asona traditions of Wenchi they lost virtually all the male royals of their clan as a result of wars with their neighbours. In order that the necessary customary rites would be regularly performed they entrusted the custody of the stool to one Nipa Panyi, the eldest of the stool sons. Until that period their sons of the Aduana clan were the principal state executioners (Adumfo). Unfortunately for the Asona it took them a long time to be able to get a male royal capable of occupying the stool. But because of this long period of regency, and the love of the power which their sons had wielded they refused to hand over the stool to them and thereby, made permanent an arrangement which had been intended to be temporary.

The confusion in the Anhwiaso state is made worse by the existence of two rival groups of Aduana each claiming to be the rightful rulers. The chief of Chirano, who is said to be the head of the Aduana clan in Anhwiaso, and whose branch of Aduana is collectively known as the Sawua, maintains that the Adum-Aduana have worked themselves into a position which had formerly been occupied by them. The Sawua claim that they once lived at old Wenchi with the Asona, with whom they were only separated by a brook. Both the Adum-Aduana and the Sawua people maintain that they are autochthonous. Whilst the former assert that they brought their stool from their old home at Old Anhwiaso, where they emerged from a hole in the ground, the latter also claim that their ancestors emerged from a hole at a place near old Wenchi. It appears that the claims of both the Sawua and the Adum-Aduana are mere rationalizations to support a position which the Aduana have come to occupy not by right but by force.

The traditions of Sefwi Bekwai assert that the Anhwiaso people were already settled in their present territory when they arrived there. Perhaps because of the smallness of their number, Bekwai was not prepared to fight it out to capture land from the original settlers. This may explain why it is the smallest of all the three states. The Ekoona of Bekwai who occupy the Omanhene’s stool, claim to have emigrated from Adanse, where they belonged to the royal family at Fomena. Owing to family disputes they moved away. First passing through Denkyira, Wassa and Nzema they were later granted land near the Sobore River by Obumankoma, chief of Agona in Wassa Amenfi, then a vassal of the powerful Aowin king. Sometime in the 18th century the strained relationship between Bekwai and Wiawso, who had lately arrived in the area, led to a war in which Bekwai was forced to take refuge in Asante. They were however, later granted land by the Anhwiaso stool, thanks to the intercession of the Asantehene.

The history of Sefwi Wiawso is clOseiy connected with Asante-Awowin relationship. Of all the three states Wiawso appears to have been the one which was much more directly influenced by developments in the Asante capital – Kumasi. Indeed the evidence seems to suggest that the vast tract of territory which Wiawso came to control was obtained with the help of the Asante whom they faithfully supported after the Asante-Denkyira War. Like the other states, many of the people in Wiawso trace their origins to Asante and Denkyira. Here the important clan is ‘Asankera’ which occupies the paramount stool. The beginnings of the settlement of the Twi-speaklng people in Wiawso may be traced to the rise of Denkyira to power between 1640 and 1660. Reluctant to submit to Denkyira rule, some members of the Asakyiri clan left Adanse Akrokeri and eventually settled a few miles west of the Tano at a place known as Bauko. Together with the Agona rulers of Bonzan, which had once been a powerful Aowin out-post, the Asakyiri of Bauko, succeeded in despoiling Aowin of much of its land lying between the Bia and the Tano. But the period of Bauko rule in this area was soon to be cut short during the last phase of Denkyira imperial drive towards the end of the 17th century. From about the 1680’s refugees from Wassa and Twifo came pouring into the area to avoid being brought under Denkyira rule. It was at this time that the modern state of Wiawso was established. It appears however, that for some time there existed a mutual working relationship between the Asakyiri of Buako and the new Asankera people who had lately arrived from their former home near Asankaragua, in the Wassa Amenfi area.

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