Saturday, February 6, 2010

3 Interesting Historical Tales - Fante, Asante, Ewe

Oburumankoma, Odapagyan and Oson

3 great warriors who split from the wider Akan group at Krako (modern-day Techiman in the middle of Ghana). Their names meant “The Whale”, “The Eagle” and “The Elephant”. Oburumankoma and Odapagyan did not survive the difficult journey, but Oson did (almost Romulus and Remus, huh?). Oson led the Fante southwards towards the coast and conquered the original inhabitants of Adoakyir who they called “Etsi fui fo” (the bushy-haired people). The Fante renamed Adoakyir “Oman Kesemu” (the Great State), which is now known as Mankessim.

Osei Tutu Kwame Asibe Bonsu – The Hostage-King

During the scramble in pre-colonial Ghana for gold-rich land, the Denkyira people dominated other groups. The Oyoko clan became refugees in the town of Kumase, which became a vassal of the Dekyira King. The Denkyira King, Nana Boa Amponsem, requested for a young, male Kumase royal to serve at his court, and the Kumase Chief sent his nephew Osei Tutu Kwame Asibe Bonsu. Osei Tutu rose to become a great General in the Denkyira army who won many battles. Circumstances compelled him to flee back to Kumase (accompanied by 300 elite warriors given him by Nana Ansah Sasraku, the Akwamu King). When the Kumase Chief died, Osei Tutu became chief (the biblical Joseph, huh?) He founded the Great Asante Kingdom with the help of his friend, the Chief Fetish Priest Okomfo Anokye. The Asante Kingdom (at its peak of power) covered to an area bigger than present-day Ghana.

Hogbetsotso Za – The Great Escape

King Agorkorli of the clay-walled city of Notsie (in present-day Togo) was one very cruel king to his own subjects. He would, for example, order broken bottles to put in the clay used for buildings, and force subjects to knead it. To escape, the subjects (engineered by the women) used laundry and dish-washing water to soften a section of the city wall, until it collapsed (Berlin, huh?). Then, they escaped at night by walking backwards out of the city. Seen from afar, the escapees appeared to be entering rather than leaving the city. The last to escape, scattered millet grain on the ground, and when the birds came to peck, they erased the footprints too, throwing the King’s trackers off-course. Totally brilliant! To celebrate the Great Escape, the descendants of the escapees – the Ewe people – have the Hogbetsotso Za Festival.


  1. Eii! You want the fantes to grab a hold of you eh? Oburumankoma and Odapagyan. We're so particular about these things lol.

    Great post. It's always refreshing to learn a little something about our history. You've a wealth of knowledge in the few lines you've written. You have such a way of saying what you mean with as little words as possible. I need to take a page from your book lol

  2. Love this post Nana Yaw; Three tales that are partly myth, partly historical but all very relevant to the rich Ghanaian identify. I always knew Fantes came from Bono but this is the first time I'm hearing about Obrumankoma, Odapagya and Osun.

  3. @ Daixy: Thank you so much for the correction. I can usually spell in Akan - don't know what was going on there.

  4. lol I'm awful at speaking and spelling in Akan so don't worry. I only remember these cuz I had to write an essay on them in Primary school. Chances are, you could teach me to speak fante and twi lol

    @ Abena. Never heard of our heroic chief priests? The story changes a lot. What I know from childhood tales is that they were priests who led the fante faction down south. Bottom line is, some people led the group down lol. And don't tell a fante it's myth. you'd get slaughtered. As far as we are concerned, it's all true. And Asebu Amanfi had a hut on his head where his mother lived, roasting corn and tossing it into his mouth :P

  5. oooh a history Is the great(ewe) escape real or fiction? Just asking. Daixy tell him oh. He makes me feel dumb..writing little yet meaning so much...hehe

  6. @ Daixy: Awww, you flatter me. It's the only way I know how to write. I couldn't write a long sentence to save my life (ok, that's extreme). But thank you for the kind words.

    @ Abena: I admit that I myself only knew an "Asafo" song with their names until I did the research yesterday! I am glad you "love" it.

    @ JuaNita: The Great (Ewe) Escape appears to be quite true! But I, myself, do not believe the little part about the pigeons pecking off the footprints. And, thanks for your kind words.

  7. Kwame Mensa-Bonsu08 February, 2010

    A historical piece! Nice and refreshing!!

  8. Great story, thanks for sharing this. I loved the great escape by the Ewe!!


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