Akan History

Door , 22/08/2009 18:06


Okyeman is a traditional area in the Eastern Region of Ghana. Historically, it has been attested that the Akyem were one of the first Akan tribes to migrate southwards after the fall of the ancient Songhai Empire. The Akyem states, commonly known as “Akyem Mansa”, consists of three main independent states, all grouped in the Eastern Region, with common language, culture, customs and historical background. The states are:

Akyem Abuakwa – the largest of the states in terms of land, size, population and natural resources.

Akyem Kotoku – the second largest.

Akyem Bosome – the smallest of the three.

The Akyem, according to history were a part of the then all powerful Adansi kingdom, the first nation to build mud houses in their kingdom at that time; hence the name “Adansi” (Builders). The Asante Kingdom emerged and under the leadership of Nana Osei Tutu, they fought and defeated the Adansis about the 14th Century and absorbed the Adansi kingdom into the growing Asante Kingdom.

The Akyem nations which were then part of the Adansi kingdom, broke away and crossed the River Pra to settle on its banks to avoid becoming subjects of the Asante. Nana Osei Tutu decided to pursue them across the River Pra to teach them a lesson. That was a great miscalculation! While crossing the river with his army, he was shot by the Akyem who were lying in ambush on the other side of the river. He fell dead into the river. This was on a Thursday; hence, the great oath of the Asante, (“Meka Yawada”- I swear by Thursday). For this, the Akyem who carried out this defeat became known as “Abuakwanfo” or “Abuakwafo”, (Guerrilla Fighters). The Asante retreated and this tragedy made it a taboo for any Asante King up to the time of Nana Prempeh I (circa 1900) to cross the River Pra to the south except their armies.

Nana Osei Tutu was succeeded by his nephew, Nana Opoku Ware I, who vowed to avenge his uncle’s death by renewing the war against the Akyem. The Akyem, knowing too well what the Asante intend to do after the death of King Osei Tutu, moved southeastwards. As a result of this movement, some of the Akyem, especially the Kotoku, settled in the present day Asante-Akyem area. The majority of the Akyem, however, continued to move southeastwards and settled in several areas along the way until they came into contact with the Akwamu, who were a powerful nation inhabiting and ruling the tribes from Asamankese to Nyanawase (which was then their capital and part of Akwapim).

The Akyem, especially the Abuakwa, had to fight the Akwamu and got settled in the areas evacuated by the Akwamu. However, the Akwamu left some of their people at Anum Asamankese and Sakyikrom which are today part of Akyem Abuakwa; as well as Adoagyiri, now inhabited by the Kotoku. The Akyem Abuakwa made their temporary capitals in several areas, including Praso, until they finally settled at Pameng. However, it was during the reign of Nana Ofori Panin that the capital of Akyem Abuakwa was finally moved to “Kyebirie” (named after a black hat used by a hunter using the area as his hunting grounds). It is now known as Kyebi , where the Aduana clan had already settled.

Meanwhile, the Akyem Kotoku settled at Nsutam-Bososo area with their capital at Gyadam. During the reign of the great warrior king of the Akyem, Nana Owusu Akyem Tenten, the Guans and Dawus appealed to him for help to drive the Akwamu out of their area for them to enjoy peace. He agreed to send his nephew, Odehyee Safori, with an army made up mostly of the people of Akyem Akropong (the Twafo section of the Adonten Division) to go to the aid of the the Dawus, the Guans and others. Odehyee Safori succeeded in driving the Akwamu out of what is today known as Akwapim, with its capital called Akropong, named after Akyem Akropong. Safori pursued the Akwamu across the River Volta, where they settled up to this day, with their capital at Akwamufie.

On the return to Akwapim by the victorious Akyem Abuakwa army from the banks of the Volta river, Odehyee Safori and his army, with the consent of the Okyehene, Nana Owusu Akyem Tenten, his uncle, agreed to stay in Akwapim to protect the Akwapims from any further attacks by the Akwamu. To signify this agreement, a stone was “buried” and that the Akyem were to return to Akyem Abuakwa only when that stone had “grown”. Odehyee Safori became the Paramount Chief (Akuapimhene) with Akropong Akwapim as his capital of the newly founded Akwapim State. His nephew also became the Amanokromhene and the Gyasehene of the Akwapim state.


The Anyi people are a subgroup of the Akan who migrated to their current location from what is present day Ghana between the 16th and 18th centuries. They were never as powerful as the Asante and Baule and as a result were indirectly under their rule during the height of both empires.

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