Akuapem People: Their History II

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”).

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