Traditions of the ruling Abrade (Aduana) Clan relate that they originated from
As a result of the introduction of Islam in the Western Sudan, and the zeal of
the Muslims to impose their religion, their Ancestors left for Kong (i.e.
present day La Cote d'Ivoire).
From Kong they moved to Wam and then to Dormaa (these are both on present day
Brong Ahafo Region). The movement from Kong was necessitated by the desire of
the people to find suitable Savannah
conditions since they were not used to Forest Life. Around the 6th century,
they moved from Dormaa South Eastwards to Twifo-Hemang,
North West Cape
Coast. This move was commercially motivated.
were able to establish close contact with the Europeans on the coast and
profited greatly form the coastal trade. The tendency of the Abrade to live off
trade rather than by it, brought them into conflict with neighbouring Akan
States, particularly Denkyira's expansionist tendencies were also beginning to
threaten the peace and security of the Abrade.
A more pressing problem which faced the Abrade was a succession dispute.
the death of the fifth Twifo King, a section of the Abrade, Under the
leadership of Otumfo Asare (1580-1595), migrated from Twifo-Hemang to Abakrampa
to Asamakese, they became know as "Akwamu", in place of their former
name "Twiforo". From here they left for Asamankese (i.e. Asamankese).
Their stay at Abakrampa was short because the Fantis had authority over the
land . The Abrade found the land of Asamankese, in the Basin of the Densu and Birim Rivers
uninhabited. Akwamu traditions state that they offered part of the land to
Akyem when they arrived from Adanse. The name "Kyebi" which means,
"Offer me a part" was derived from the favour done to them.
After death of Otumfo Asare, the Abrades
led by Otumfo Akotia (1595-1610) moved to Nyanoase near Nsawam. This move was
motivated by strategic reasons. This new position gave the Akwamu the advantage
of warding off enemy attacks. The presence of the strong of Akyem state also
made it necessary for the capital to be sited at a place where it could easily
be defended. After settling at Nyanoaso, the Abrades began to organise
themselves into a powerful State. In the 17th century, under Ansa Sasraku I
(1640-1674); Ansa Saraku II (1674-1689); Basua Addo (1689-1699); Ansa Sasraku
III (1699-1702); and Akwonno(1702-1725), Nyanoaso was transformed into a huge
and powerful Empire. Nyanoaso was sited on the Nyanao Hill. While King resided
at Nyanoaso, the Queen Mother was made to reside at the bottom of the Hill, at
Nyanoase. She was protected by the Gyase and the surrounding Villagers. Nyanoaso
was near the famous Accra
market of Abonse or ABC.
derived economic benefits from participation in the Maritime Trade in gold and
nearness of the settlement near the river
River Densu, made it possible for
Akwamu to collect Tolls from Akyem and beyond who travelled along the Main
Trade Route from the interior to Accra. The King of Accra allowed the Akwamu King to supervise
the Abonse Market. In the course of time, the Akwamu king became so powerful
that he could decide to close the Trade Routes whenever he wished.
the middle of the 17th Century, Akwamu extended her power over the Guans and
Kyerepongs. Ansa Sasraku laid the foundations of the Akwamu Imperial power.
Berekuso, Aburi, Awukugua, Dawu, Larteh, Anum and Obutu became Vassal States.
From the Akuapem Hills, Akwamu was assured of a ready supply of food and
Larteh was also an important Trade Outlet.
This phase of Akwamu expansion provided the resources in wealth and manpower to
enable her embark on other ventures. Some Southern Akan Groups near the Guan
Communities and the foothills of the Kwahu Scarp were also brought under Akwamu
suzerainty. Between 1677 and 1681, Akwamu embarked on the conquest of Accra. Two sets of
considerations went into the Akwamu decision. The first was the Akwamu was the
Economic. By the 1670's, Accra gained the reputation of terminus for Trade
Routes from Asante, Akyem and Western Plains of the Middle Volta.According to
Wilks, Accra handled about a quarter of the "Overseas Trade" in gold
of the whole country. Five European Nations, namely, Portugal,
Sweden and Denmark converged in Accra to participate in the trade in gold and
slaves. The second set of considerations was military/ Political. After
establishing her authority over the Akuapem area and up to the foothills of the
Kwahu Scarp, Akwamu could expand in three main directions, North West, South West, or South. To the North West was
Akyem.While Akyem's neighbours feared and respected Akwamu, Akyem did not.
Akyem grew into an equally strong state and could easily thwart any Akwamu
expansionist moves. To the South was the confederation of Fanti States. The
Fanti were considered the second in the military power to Akwamu among all the
Coastal States. In fact some of the literature refers to Akwamu as both a Forest/ Inland state and as a Coastal state. The only
option left to Akwamu was expansion southwards. Under the able leadership of
Akwamuhene Ansa Sasraku II, Akwamu launched an attack against Accra in1677. The immediate cause of the
attack was an opportunity for the Akwamu to realise their long-term military
prince was sent to the Accra
coast to learn the ways of the European trade and the Portuguese language,
which was the lingua franca" of the coast until the late 18th century. The
Gas, according to their custom, circumcised the prince and this was contrary to
Akwamu custom. It meant that the prince would not succeed to the Akwamu stool.
The Akwamus demanded the prince's forestin, and the Accra's were unable to meet this demand.
Akwamu launch the offensive first against "Great Accra "the capital
at Ayawaso. King Okai kwei resisted, and he was captured together with his
eldest son and beheaded. The capital was sacked and burnt. The second offensive
was directed at the Beaches, where the trading Companies were established.
Ofori a younger son of Okai kwiei had escape with his mother to" Small
Accra "and he assumed leadership over the Accra people. He asked for Danish, Dutch and
English help. When the Akwamus attacked Osu they realised that the" Guns
of Christian Borg were active and ready to protect the gas, they therefore
1680 and 1681, the Akwamus attacked "Small Accra" again. Accra and Osu were burnt
and refugees fled to little pope and Whydah. King Ofori fled to Afutu, where
the Danes in Fort
Fredricksborg offered him
protection and support. Eventually he retired to little Popo.
long afterward, Akwamus launch a third attack. Accra
became a Tributary
Province of the Akwamus
for about 50years. Akwamus came to enjoy economic benefits and enjoy economic
benefit s and to also influence Accra
`s social and political structure. From Accra,
Akwamu received fixed source of revenue such as the rent s from the forts and
the tolls from sources of revenue such AKwamu gained direct access to the trade
in gold and local merchants monopolised the trade. They acted as Middleman
between the Europeans and the inland people.
1646 and 1681, Akwamu also conquered the Ga-Adangme state of Ada, Kpone, Osudoku, Ningo, Prampram, Shai
and Lodoku. Lodoku stretched from Agava in the Volta
side to Tema. The Agona state was also overrun by the Akwamu. The expansion of
Akwamu continued after the deaths of Ansa Sasraku the first and second Kings
Addo, Basua and Akwonno undertook a series of military campaigns and won more
who was supposed to have succeeded Sasraku was so young that his uncle Bausa
acted as Regent. When Addo came of age. Basua refused to vacate the stool and
therefore both Addo and Basua ruled Akwamu , each had his own Army. Basua `s
engineered the capture of Christiansburg
Castle from the Danes in
1693. After Basua death in 1699, Addo assumed full control of the empire. He
made fostering of renew trade at Kpone where there were good supplies of ivory
and slaves. During Addo`s reign, Akwamu a number of time took away 100
prisoners. In 1700 they captured another town. Addo opened negotiations with
the Akyems and sent them a gift of 30 slaves" spirit "and other
goods. The Akyem in reply demanded the whole Estate of Busua. Addo paid almost
40Ibs weight of gold, and the Akyems kept their peace.
spent the whole of 1701 in Accra,
paying "Courtesy Calls" on all the Forts. A year later, in their
attack against Ladoku, the Akwamus were forced to march to little Popo, where
the Ladoku forces had run. The Akwamus were initially resisted but they soon
gained the upper hand and overrun little Popo. In that same year they entered
Whydah without opposition. Whydah became dependant on Akwamu for about 15years.
The king of Whydah paid tribute to Akwamuhene from time.
king Akwonno succeeded Addo when he died. Akwonno had a long reign of 23 year.
His first act was to negotiate a treaty on 3 April 1703 with the Dutch in which
the Dutch bound themselves to assist Akwamu in any " Just War" with
100 fully armed men, 3000 Ibs of Gunpowder, 300Ibs of bullets etc. in returns,
Akwonno agreed to keep the Trade routes from the interior open and to prevent
his subjects from trading with European "interlopers" Akwamu began
Territories Expansion to North and the North East. The marched to the Krepi
district and overrun them Agava, Anlo, Keta, Kpandu and Peki were all
subjugated. These town are currently regarded Ewe town but during this they
were known as "Krepi "Akwonno`s next move was towards Kwahu. His
forces given a surprise attack by the Kwahu forces and they were forced to
return to their capital. Akwonno made a second attempt against the Kwahu 1708,
but he was repulse. Akwonno stopped any major venture s but sent small
expendition from time to time to harass them. In 1710 the Kwahu retaliated and
destroy the large Kwabeng
town, North of Akwamu. Akwonno reacted. He made large purchase of Gunpowder
from Accra Forts, and in February 1710 moved towards Kwahu. Within four months,
Kwahu was overcome and made a vessel state. The conquest of Kwahu marked the
end of Akwamu expansion. The Akwamu Empire reached its fullest extent.
relationship with the Asante was based on mutual friendship throughout the
duration of the Empire. It continued in the Volta Gorge until the 19th century
when the Akwamu came under British "protection ". It started during
the reign of Ansa Sasraku I when Osei Tutu Stayed at Nyanaoso for some time,
where he was well treated. At the death of his uncle Obiri Yeboa, Osei Tutu was
grand Royal Escort to Kumase. Okomfo Anokye was release to upon his request.
SOCIAL AND POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS
Akan and Ewe traditions portray the Akwamu as a people who were rich in culture
and well versed in military and political Organization. All published work on
Akwamu describe then as an early Akan
State noted for its
wealth the, military organization and power. The Foundations of Akwamu social
and political institutions were laid at Nyanoaso.
Akwamu made important contribution to the kingship system. Kingship was still
is vested the Royal
Abrade Clan. Any member of the Dispersed Abrade Clan is
eligible to the stool. This decision arose from the succession dispute in
Twifo- hemang. This practise spread among the Akan.
1882 King Akoto I of
Obomeng- Kwahu ruled after the death of Kwafo Akoto I. This
confirms the fact that any member of the dispersed Abrade Clan is eligible to
the stool. Royal Twins were and still are eligible to the stool.
State Drums became part of the institution of kingship. Among these the Atumpan and Fontonfrom.These
drums were and still are common to many Akan States, but the act of
"adorning" them with Human Skulls and Jaw-Bones originated from the
Akwamu also claim to have originated the Apirede
Drums.The Apirede Drum was adorned with Skulls and Jaw-Bones.
Prempeh Drum was instituted at Twifo-Hemang to rally round soldiers in time of
war, and to summon the people to important political meetings in time of peace.
was the Akwamu who introduced the Asesedwa, the Four-legged Stool into the kingship
system, and this spread to Akan and non-Akan tribes. They also evolved the
concept of Oman (State), and it
spread to both Akan and Non-Akan Areas. Adu Boahen and Wilks refer to Twifo and
Akwamu as the earliest of the centralised Akan forest States.
made several contributions to Traditional Dancing in the fields of Adowa and Mmeamu. Adowa spread from Akwamu to Asante.
also introduced Adowa
to the Gas.
All Akans celebrate the Adae
festival, but the Akwamu claimed to have instituted the Akwasidae, Awukudae and Odwira Festivals.
SasrakuI invented Akwamu Military Organization, which was
copied, by Akans and Non- Akans. It consisted of a Central Wing (Adonten); RightWing
Left Wing (Benkum);
the Household and Bodyguard (Gyase
ne Twafo).The Commander in Chief was the Krontihene.
1682 and 1730, the Army consisted of between ten to twenty thousand men. The
Akwamu possessed Artillery but the main strength of the army lay in its
infantry, which consisted of Musketeers, Bowmen and spearmen. Osei Tutu
introduced the war model into Asante,
when he recruited Akwamu military Advisers to assist the newly formed Asante Union.
After the re-organization of the Army, the post of Deputy Army Commander was
evolved and given the name Akwamuhene. To this day, in every Asante State,
this officer is still known as Akwamuhene.It was the Anum Bodyguard from
Akwamu led by Anum
who taught the Asantes the military organization and the state-craft.Asamoah
became the first Akwamuhene next in command to the Krontihene.
Anum were also Executioners in Akwamu and they became Executioners in Asante. Akwamu
Military, political and social institutions spread from Asante to Akan
and Non Akan tribes who came under the Asante Empire when it was established.
and Wenchi for example were Akan States who were influenced in this way. Gyamanhene
Adinkra did not only model his army on that of Asante, Asante Military influence
was felt among the Dagomba with its Kambonsi Organization in Salaga, Yendi and
COLLAPSE OF THE EMPIRE
Akwamu collapsed in 1730 as a result of a combination of internal and external
factors. Internally, first, the empire grew beyond its optimum size and it was
difficult for the resources of the empire to meet the organizational demands
required. Second, the rules of succession were not very clear and this led to several
patricidal struggles, the most of which ocurred in1730 when Prince Amu joined
the Forces of Akuapem and Akyem to defeat Akwamu.
before 1730, there was mounting unrest in the Akwamu Dominions caused largely
by the social problems created by a switch from Gold Trade to Slave Trade as
the basis of the economy. In 1713, the British signed a contract for the supply
of slaves to the Spanish possessions in the "New
World" Following this, the rivalry between the British, Dutch
and Danish Trading Companies on the Coast become extremely fierce, producing a
sharp rise in the export of slaves. In order to cash in order fierce, European
competition and satisfy the larger demand, Akwamu looked for new source of
supply. In customary law, strict rules governed the processes of Enslavement.
The Pawn as security could not be sold, but the Enslaved criminal or one who
placed himself voluntarily in slavery could, there were also restrictions on
the sale of captives / war prisoners slaves brought from the open markets.
Throughout the latter half of the 17th century, Akwamu Traders met the demand
for slaves in Accra
on the leeward side of the coast by selling member of the saleable grades of
the Akwamu Slave population. Slaves who had been employed on the cultivation of
the Akwamu fields were made part of the saleable Grades. This had the effect of
denuding the farms of their labour and undermining an important element in the
economy- Agriculture and pushing the economy towards greater dependence on the
first three decades of the 18th century, good government changed to bad
government. Power was abused and there began to sprout up all over the country
Organization s concerned purely and simply with the illegal enslavement of
freemen and women, and their secret sale to the trading companies on o the
coast. The Europeans as Siccadingers knew these organizations. This is derived
from the Ga word Sikadin (Black Gold). Band of Siccadingers prowled about the
countryside at night, pouncing on the inspecting and carrying them into
slavery. The Akwamu rulers did not check this abuse and they also became guilty
of it. King Akwanno employed his own Bands who raided and kidnapped
neighbouring territories. His successor, Ansa Kwao(1725-1730) went even further
and sent Bands to enslave his own subjects and to kidnap people from the Akuapem
by side with these Slave-Raiding organization occurred an increase in the
deliberate fabrication of "Palavers" aimed specifically at reducing
freemen and women to slave Status " Palaver could be "
manufactured" against the whole communities. Thousand of Slaves passed
through the Accra Forts than ever before. Roemer, the Danish Trader in charge
of Christianborg Castle at OSU, considered that each of
the three Accra Forts was able to send off a ship every month with 500-600
slaves on board. This period was one of the prosperity for Akwamu but
prosperity was only was won at a price. Unrest and discontent spread not only
among the Subject People but also among the Akwamu Commonalty
was a deep feeling of soreness and injustice After Akwanno`s death, opposition
mounted. In 1726 the people of Berekuso killed a Sword Bearer of the King. In
early 1727 open revolts flared up in the Coastal Regions between Accra and Volta. In the
East and West the External Enemies that is Dahomey and Akyem were threatening
the frontiers of the Empire.
1728, the relationship between the European companies in Accra and Akwamu deteriorated. The Dutch
Trader Bosman observed that despite the rent s the king of the Akwamu collected
from the British and the Danes the Akwamu often harassed the Europeans
Companies on the coast of the three companies, that is British, Dutch, the
Danish were the hostile. The Dutch and the British were very hostile. The Dutch
were of the view that the activities of the Akwamu disrupted the trade with the
Inland State. Further more King Ansa Kwoa was
portrayed as o man with a hot temperature, who preferred the councillors. With
such men in authority under such hostile condition snit was not unlikely that
trouble could flare up under the least provocation.
1729, the Gas launched a war of independence and joined forces with the Akuapems.
They were however defeated by the Akwamus. When the Allied forces realised that
they were no match for the Akwamus, they looked elsewhere for assistance. The Akuapems
sent a delegation to King of Akyem Abuakwa called Ofori Panin . This delegation
to the Akyeame
(linguists) of Abiriw,
The Okyenhene agreed to provide them with a force and deputed his own relative
Safori, to go to their aid Safori raised a large Army to fight side by side
with the Gas, Akuapem and Fantis. This was because of the relationship between
Akwamu and Asante.
July 1730, fighting broke out and the Akwamus were defeated. In November, the
capital was ransacked Ansa Kwoa beheaded. The Akwamus were evicted from
Nyanoaso and forced to seek a haven across the Volta River.
A Division Chief called Bekai led the Abrade Group across the Volta.
The removal of the Royal House of Akwamu to its present location at Akwamufie
marked the end of Akwamu power.
the arrival they met the Nkonya,
people. The Nkonya had an open conflict with them but they were defeated and
force northwards. The rest of the people submitted to Akwamu domintion. After
the defeat, the Guans and Kyerepong communities organized themselves into the
present Akuapem State. The boundaries
were widened to include parts of the Akwamu country. Safori, the Akyem War commander
was granted a paramountcy, and together with his followers they founded the
Towns of Akropong and Amanokrom, with the consent of the Okyenhene Ofori Guan
and kyerepong Tribes into the Unified state of Akuapem. Safori requested them
to take the Oath of the Traditional Priest called Kyenku at Obosomase to endose
their voluntary allegiance to his rule. The Akyems impose on Akuapem a new
political conception, the idea of territorial and secular leadership, in place
of immemorial institution of a Ruler who was the High priest of the Clan god or
goddess. The Akyem Ruler of Akropong was recognised as the Omanhene of the Akuapem
state and Akropong became the focus of the Union.
Akwamu Miltary organization was introduced into the union.
the Akwamu Royal Family and the main Army moved to Akwanufie , others remained.
According to Roemer., only about 500 families escaped across the Volta . The remnant Akwamus became concentrated in
Asamankese, Akwatia, Kwaaman Tafo. They remained largely Akwamu in character
and maintained their political, social and linguistic modes of life. Their Oral
traditions give various reasons for not migrating Across the Volta. The first
they refused to join in the war against the Akyems in 1730 and they remained
neutral. Their neutrality was due to a succession dispute. After King Akwanno,
the next line of succession was Amu, but he was by - passed for Ansa Kwao,
nephew of Amu . Amu was acting as Envoy of the Akwamus in Accra.
second reason was the that they resent the oppressive Rule of Akwamu Kings. The
Provincial Akwamu resented the over centralized nature of the Akwamu political
system. The king had the final say in the affairs of the state, contrary to the
Customary Practise that the king should consult all the important Divisional
Chief mater of National importance. Everything was centred at Nyanoaso without
consulting them. It was not uncommon to find out that king had been sent to
wage war on a Neighbouring Tribe without knowing the causes of the raid. Third
reason is that they were against the internal witch hurt for slaves. In
addiction to the other source of supply, the chief of Asamankese had to supply
Remnants at Kade , Apapam and Tafo state is that though they went to war
against the Akyems , they decided to make peace with them after experiencing
the harsh brutalities of the war. They were not convinced to move across the Volta River.
defeat of the Akwamus by the Akuapems, Gas and Akyems saw the total take over
of all the Akwamu lands up to the Densu
River. These lands were
incorporated into the Akuapem and Akyem Abuakwa Traditonal Area.,. Up to the
present day, there are Social Ties between Akwamus and the town, which were,
absorbed into Akyem Abuakwa. At every Odwira festival of the Akwamu,
Delegations from the Old Akwamu state are expected to attend. Whenever a new
Chief is elected in the old Akwamu town, the Akwanuhene is informed. The
Akwamuhene is also the Arbitrator in dispute among the old Akwamus.
the first Volta Gorge, Akwamu monopolised the Volta Trade and concerned itself
with political developments on the coast. Akwamu was fortunately sited on the
trade route east of the Volta
River. The trade routes
that linked Salaga in the interior to Kete-Krachi and coast converged at
Akwamufie. The slave and salt route all passed through Akwamufie. By the second
half of the 18th centaury, Akwamu controlled the trade east of the Volta River.
They continued to portray their fighting and trading and characteristics in
their New Homeland.