Akan History

Door , 22/08/2009 18:06

The foundations of the modern state of Wiawso are associated with two early rulers, Obumankoma and Nkoa I. Tradition has it that it was Obumankoma who led the migration of the people from Wassa Amenfi to their first settlement at Bosomoiso, by the Sobore. It is not known whether it was the fear of Denkyira which urged Obumankoma on to move westwards. Not long after his settlement at Bosomoiso, however, the ever victorious armies of Boa Amponsem I of Denkyira overran the new settlement. Obumankoma once again moved and founded his capital at the strategically superior site on top of the hill where the modern town, Wiawso, stands. By correlating traditional with documentary evidence one may be able to establish the period of the foundation of both the Wiawso town and state.

It is traditionally remembered that very early in his reign, Nkoa I, the second ruler of Wiawso, was presented with the Etwie drum by Boa Amponsem. Although Wiawso traditions describe this as exchange of gifts, yet it appears that by accepting this all important drum from Boa Amponsem, Nkoa was acknowledging his vassalage to Denkyira. Boa Amponsem is known to have died in 1692. It is therefore highly probable that Nkoa might have been enstooled around 1691. If Nkoa was the second ruler as Wiawso traditions assert, then it is most likely that the foundation of Wiawso state goes back not earlier than the 1680’s or late 1670’s. It is most probable that the Asante soon followed the victory over Denkyira with the capture of Wiawso and Bekwai. Asante traditions maintain that the defeat of Sefwi took place at the time of Osei Tutu. From all appearances, the Sefwi soon learned to adjust themselves to their new situation. This enabled them to play a leading role in the Asante drive towards the southwest in the 1710’s. Nkoa I (Ntwan) whom the Europeans mistakenly identify as king of Wassa, instead of Wiawso, was known to have played a leading role In the Asante-Aowin War when the Asante forces under General Amankwatia carried all before them to Apollonia in 1715. In the Sefwi Wiawso people the Asante found brave and willing allies competent to guard their southwestern frontiers against Aowin. It might be due to Nkoa’s services to the Asante in the war that Wiawso was allowed to annex much of the land west of the Tano, which had formerly belonged to the Aowin. It is significant to note that the traditions of Wiawso describe Nkoa I as the warrior king and credit him with the conquest of Aowin and the extension of their territory to much of its present frontiers.


Whatever the intentions of the founders of the Sefwi state in moving westwards from the centre of Akan politics, they soon learned that ‘War is not yet over” as they had hoped. They had to fight with some of their neighbours over land or fight wars for their allies and overlords. In spite of the traditions of early settlements in Wassa country by both the Bekwai and Wiawso states, their relations with the former soon deteriorated. It is said that Obumankoma of Wiawso defeated Wassa (presumably Amenfi) probably towards the end of the l680’s. Wiawso hegemony over Wassa could not have lasted long because Obumankoma was himself defeated by Boa Amponsem. To the period of Denkyira overlordship in Wiawso may be traced the influx of the large number of Denkyira immigrants, as testified by the many stools occupied by people of the Agona clan. Indeed, Denkyira political institutions were greatly copied by Wiawso. It is interesting to note that two of the most warlike towns, Amenfie and Bodi, trace their origins to this period. Although most of the stools interviewed in this area tried to play down their subjection to Denkyira, there is enough evidence from their war songs which lends support to the early phase of Denkyira dominance. It is not unlikely that Nkoa I of Wiawso, like Osei Tutu of Asante, learned much from the military tactics and political organisation of Denkyira.

It was not only the Wiawso state but Bekwai and Anhwiaso also came under Denkyira rule. The traditions of the last mentioned state hold that they were once overran by latter power while most of their able-bodied men were away to war with their northern neighbours. By the end of the 17th century the Denkyira army under their fearful general, Agya Ananse Obooman, had carried their arms to as far west as the Bia and south westwards to bring Aowin under their rule.

As Bosman and the other European observers reported, all the former tributary states of Denkyira were anxious for its downfall because Denkyira rule tended to be harsh. Indeed it is known that most of the tributary states overtly supported Asante. To them the Asante war of liberation would also win them their independence. Unlike Akyem Abuakwa, little did they realize that Asante which had objected to Denkyira rule, was itself embarking on an imperial drive. It was perhaps with a view to gaining the confidence of the Asante that Anhwiaso immediately transferred its allegiance to Asante after 1701. It is not certain when and why Wiawso and Bekwai came under Asante rule. If the information collected by Bowdich at the beginning of the 19th century is to be believed then the defeat of Wiawso soon followed that of Denkyira. It is known that Osei Tutu’s General Amankwatia, conquered “Sawee Bomancumma”. By 1700, however, Obumankoma was dead and had been succeeded by Nkoa. Any Asante war against Sefwi then would be against Nkoa but not Obumankoma. It is interesting to note that within less than a decade and a half, Nkoa I had so successfully adapted himself to the changed political situation as to play a prominent role in the Asante-Aowin War of 1715. Nor could Anhwiaso preserve its friendly relations with Asante for long. In 1715, Amankwatia’s army on its way to Apollonia overran its capital and thus completely reduced Anhwiaso to a tributary status. Perhaps the role played by the Bantamahene Amankwatia in bringing these states completely under Asante rule explains why Wiawso and Anhwiaso served the Asantehene through the Bantamahene.

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