Monday, January 14, 2013

The Tribute-Prince

The Denkyira State held sway over the towns and peoples surrounding it. That was most of southern Ghana today. It had subdued the Akan-speaking clan-towns for miles in all directions. As a sign of its dominance, Denkyira required periodic tribute from the defeated clan-towns. The Oyoko clan which had settled around Kumase was required to send a tribute of a young male royal to serve at the court of the Dekyira king, Boa Amponsem, at the capital of Denkyira, Abankesieso.

One particular tribute was an Oyoko prince: tall, handsome, lean-muscled and quick-witted. He showed early signs of military genius and quickly endeared himself to the warlike king, who treated him like a son... almost. However, the young man was not free to come and go as he pleased because he was still a kind of slave. He was the toast of all at the court - both men and women.

One day, the tribute-prince succumbed to the power of his charm over the women of the court and (not knowing his place) spent the night with Ako Abenaa Bansoa, the King's sister. Abenaa became pregnant. In accordance with the law, the ‘offender’ had to be put to death. But he was a man of lofty fate, and his spirit would not give up easily. He fled to the kingdom of Akwamu where he was given refuge by King Ansah Sasraku. On several occasions, King Boa Amponsem sent people to King Ansah Sasraku to demand the return of the fugitive tribute-prince, but the Akwamu king refused. Although Akwamu was a powerful, warlike kingdom, Denkyira was undoubtedly superior in power. Akwamu sheltered the prince at great risk of war. But the war did not happen.

The tribute-prince was dearly loved by the Akwamu king who had him drafted into the army. He learnt the disciplines of strategy and tactics (and stratagem), and the complex war formation of the Akwamu army. After many years, the tribute-prince wished to return home. He had grand designs brewing in his head and in his heart. In Akwamu, he was neither a tribute nor a slave. Therefore, King Ansah Sasraku not only permitted him to leave, but also gave him 300 men from Akwamu's elite forces. The men were tasked to ensure that the prince arrived safely, and remained safe upon arrival, at Kumase.

With little incident, the prince's party arrived ‘home’. He formed a strong bond with a priest of unrivalled manipulative, hypnotic and mental power. They set about uniting the Oyoko clan with the other clans through coaxing, manipulation and passion. A new State was born – Asante. When Asante was ready, it marched a colossal army against Denkyira. King Boa Amponsem had long died and been succeeded by his 'son' Ntim Gyakari. In the Battle of Feyiase, the prince and his priest friend struck a blow for independence by killing Ntim Gyakari and routing the Denkyira army by using the Akwamu-style military formation.

The free Asante State was born. It would soon become a massive empire. The name of the tribute-prince was Osei Tutu. In a dark, romantic twist of the tale, some historical accounts hold that the slain Denkyira king, Ntim Gyakari, was the very son Osei Tutu had had with princess of Denkyira, Ako Abenaa Bansoa. 


  1. Interesting - I see where "Gladiator" stole its plot... well, part of it. More of this please!

  2. i would have loved History in school if only i could have read the accounts like this.

    1. It is my dream to change that through historical fiction (yes!). I have a few historical tales on my blog.

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  6. I can't tell if this story indeed is true or not. But what I can say is, the power the Asante Kingdom wielded years ago, has been filtered through sieve which has made it more and more feeble than it used to be. I wont be surprised in i history books decide to throw it out in a 100 years.

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