ORIGIN OF THE AKAN

                       
                                                 THE AKAN
Image result for akan people   
           Copied from the book, Reality as Myth by Onyeji Nnaji.                       
The influence of the Akan on their content nations lies on their population and commonwealth of their brother nations. The Akan are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. Their population is scattered across West Africa and beyond. Among this huge population of the Akan, the Ghanaians are more popular, perhaps because of the political influence of the Ashanti Empire in the area. Not much is heard or known about other Akan settlements like the Akwamu, the Akyem , the Akuapem, the Denkyira, the Abron, the Aowin, the Ahanta, the Anyi, the Baoule, the Chokosi, the Fante, the Kwahu, the Sefwi, the Ahafo, the Assin, the Evalue, the Wassa the Adjukru, the Akye, the Alladian, the Attie,the M'Bato, the Abidji, the Avikam,the Avatime the Ebrie, the Ehotile, the Nzema, the Abbe, the Aboure, the Coromantins, the Ndyuka people and other peoples of Côte d'Ivoire. Every Akan nation adopts the image below as a pointer to his consanguinity with the rest of the Akan nations beyond her. 


Among the most notable Akan people of Ghana are Kwame Nkrumah who started the pan-African movement which liberated many states from European Colonialism. Kofi Annan is the first Sub-Saharan African to head the UN organization and was awarded the Nobel Prize. Others believed to be of Akan origin include Arthur Wharton who was the first black professional footballer in the world; Paul Cuffee, built a lucrative shipping empire and by the first years of the nineteenth century was one of the wealthiest men in the United States. His largest ship, the 268-ton Alpha, was built in 1806, along with his favorite ship of all, the 109-ton brig Traveller.

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Elements of Akan culture can generally be seen in many geographical areas. The depiction of this artistic display of female artist adored in the cultural attire and facial designed which reflect the image shown above is seen every year among the Efik settlement, especially during the Annual Calabar Carnivals. It remains one of the reserved for provable trace of the Akans’ historical origin. Their cultural similitude with that of the Efik/Ibibio sect cannot be underscored as mere coincidence without a strong historical tie. For instance, the Ashanti dynastic kingship of old looked almost the same with the pre-colonial Obong (kingship) of Calabar. Specific elements of Akan culture are especially seen in neighboring West African peoples and some Central African populations. Akan culture has also been historically important in the New World, where Akan names are or were common for example among the Coromantins of Jamaica, and the descendants of the Akwamu in St. John.


      Origin of the Akan

We have discussed the root of the Akan communities in chapter three above. As was noted earlier, the Akan did not leave their mother home immediately after the Ibibio migration of 9000 BC. The Akan travelled much later. It should be noted that the Akan is different from the Bantu travellers. Even when they have similar historical background with the Zulu Bantu, the Akan are different set of travellers entirely. According to the oral traditions of the ruling Abrade (Aduana) Clan,

They originated from ancient Ghana. They migrated from the north; they went through Egypt and settled in Nubia (Sudan). Around 500AD (5th century), due to the pressure exerted on Nubia by Axumite (Aksumite) kingdom of Ethiopia, Nubia was shattered, and the Akan people moved west and established small trading kingdoms. These kingdoms grew, and around 750AD the Empire of Ghana was formed.
The Empire lasted from 750AD to 1200AD and collapsed as a result of the introduction of Islam in the Western Sudan, and the zeal of the Muslims to impose their religion: their ancestors eventually left for Kong (i.e. present day Ivory Coast). From Kong they moved to Wam and then to Dormaa (both located in 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 14th century, they moved from Dormaa South Eastwards to Twifo-Hemang, North West Cape Coast. This move was commercially motivated.
From the Oral tradition account we can observe that the Akan and the Zulu passed through similar situation as was mentioned above. The Zulu left Nubia in the days of Pharaoh Snefru (2575 BC) and settled in the equatorial plane before their journey to South Africa. In the case of the Akan, they settled earlier at the lower Nubia. This part was called Nubia because it was under the Nubian territory. They were called the Noba.  

Before this time Meroe, the Nubia king, was powerful, but towards the 300 AD, Precisely, Meroe’s power declined rapidly, weakened by the advance of people from both East and West. The Nobatae were not subjects of Meroe any more by this time. This condition attracted the attention of the first Christian ruler in Ethiopia, Ezana (330–356 AD). In an inscription found in Meroe, Ezana the Aksumite announced thus:

I took the field against the Noba when the people of Noba revolted and did violence to the Mangurto; Hasa and Barya, and the Black Noba waged war on the Red Noba. I fought on the Takkaze [Atbara] at the ford of Kemalke. They fled, and I pursued the fugitives twenty-three days slaying them and capturing others and taking plunder; I burnt their towns, and seized their corn and their bronze and the dried meat and the images in their temples and destroyed the stocks of corn and cotton; and the enemy plunged into the river Seda [Blue Nile].
I arrived at the Kasu, slaying them and taking others prisoner at the junction of the rivers Seda and Takkaze. I dispatched troops up the Seda against their towns of Alwa and Daro; they slew and took prisoners and threw them into the water and they returned safe and sound. And I sent the troops down the Seda against the towns of straw of the Noba and Negues; the towns of masonry of the Kasu which the Noba had taken were Tabito, Fertoti; and they arrived at the territory of the Red Noba, and my people returned safe and sound after they had taken prisoners and slain others and had seized their plunder
Despite advances made by archaeologists and linguists in unraveling the complex situation around Meroe, it is still impossible to say what really happened. But from Ezana’s observation, it is apparently that the Black Noba was the ones revolting; they attacked the neighbouring people, including the Red Noba and they took over some Kasu towns. From the account in the book, History of Wars, details about the land situation that made Ezana (King of Land) to move towards the Nubian direction was revealed to have been orchestrated by inter-tribal wars among the Nubian Kingdom in the reign of Meroe. The red Noba and the Black Nobas were in continuous squabble over superiority of race. We have discussed the origin of the Red Nobas who lived in the Lower Nubia region in the history of Egypt.

The red Noba were the first set of white colour to dwell in Nubia. They were the surviving remnants of the descendants of Esau (The first son of Isaac). Their father originally settled in Egypt in the days of King David. David destroyed many cities of the Edomites. He destroyed Amalek a few days after Ziklag was invaded by the Amalekites. He burnt the land and destroyed it totally. Amalekites were the home of the descendants of Amalek who was the grandson of  Esau's eldest son, Eliphaz (Gen. 36:16). By this time the king of Amelek was King Hadad. At his defeat, Hadad ran to exile in Egypt. There he acquired  wealth of cattle. 

When David died, Hadad returned and gathered the remnants of his subjects alongside the nations in the surrounding, including the Medianites to fight Solomon. History has it that the nations turned against themselves in confusion and slew themselves; Hadad ran away and Edom remained vassal hence as David had subjected her. Edom was ruled by delegates from Judah until Edom was shared between Israel and Jordan. Accoding to Tanakh, a history book on the dwellers within the red sea, Hadad settled at the lower Nubia kingdom where he is survived by the dominant Fulani race today.
Read The Origin and History of Nubia or 
           The Origin and History of the Fulani
@ ajuede.com for details. 

In the Nubian territory, many communities were involved in the civilization even after the departure of the Zulu Bantus and the Kambas who moved over to Kenya. Apart from the original Nubian who was the descendants of the Anu race and those of the Walker Travellers (Ndi Ojukwu), Nubia still had other minor populations; call them tribe etc. There for instance were the Nuba, Nouba, Nubi, Nobae, Noba and the Noubai, all under the mega tribe, Nubia. These are the areas researchers have been having problems trying to differentiate. Our research findings in the treatment of the history of Nubia clarify these differences. Therefore, among these multiple populations came the Akans who were among the Nobas. Beware, Noba, not Nuba.


The Formation of Akan City States

It is not confusing, except anyone would want to get himself confused or tell a false story about the Akan. The oral tradition revealed above that the first movement of the Akan from Nubia was during the invasion of the Aksumite king of the Lower Nubia. As a result, Nubia political strength was shattered, then the Akan left the Nubian territory to Kong. As revealed by the oral history,

The Empire lasted from 750AD to 1200AD and collapsed as a result of the introduction of Islam in the Western Sudan, and the zeal of the Muslims to impose their religion: their ancestors eventually left for Kong (i.e. present day Ivory Coast). From Kong they moved to Wam and then to Dormaa (both located in present-day Brong-Ahafo region).
The movement to Kong is wrongly dated here. Of Course, the Ezana's in version of 355 AD was successful with the introduction of Christianity in Nubia. basically the kingdoms of Nobatia, Makuria and Alodia were dully immersed by the new religion. From here it spread to other parts of the Nubian civilization which was quite ailing before that time.  When these kingdoms: Nobatia, Makuria and Alodia fell to the Islamic invasions in 650, it followed respectively to the rest of the tribes involved in the population of the ancient Nubia. It was about this same time of the Islamic invasion that the Akan finally departed from Nubia for Kong. The date by the oral tradition as shown in the excerpt is overstated.

Kong is at the region of the Eastern Ivory Coast. There the kingdom of Bonoman (or Brong-Ahafo) was established as early as the 11th century, and between the 12th and 13th centuries a gold boom in the Akan area brought wealth to numerous Akans. During different phases of the Kingdom of Bonoman groups of Akans migrated out of the area to create numerous states based predominantly on gold mining and trading of cash crops. This brought wealth to numerous Akan states like Akwamu, and ultimately led to the rise of the most well-known Akan empire, the Empire of Ashanti.        

The movement from Kong was blamed upon different factors by different writers. Şaul, Mahir (1998) was of the View that at the early 16th century, Dyula speakers, (an important branch of the Mandé) migrated from the declining Mali Empire into the area and founded the city of Bego. The immigrants were largely Muslim while the Senufo and Tyefo populations were primarily animist. Bego was destroyed at some point and the Dyula residents moved to the city of Kong. The area became a site for expansion, raiding and warfare of a number of regional powers, mainly Gonja and Dagomba. In this context, a set of heterogeneous populations and a set of different ware houses (merchants with a large number of mercenaries and slaves dedicated largely to warfare) developed in the city of Kong. This warlike situation finally disintegrated the Kong Empire and the Akan were divided. But the Akan oral tradition insists that,

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 14th century, they moved from Dormaa South Eastwards to Twifo-Hemang, North West Cape Coast.
The Akan oral tradition reveals that This movement was commercially motivated” This was the situation that brought Akan to the Gold Coast where the Kingdom of Ashanti finally became an empire.




The Akan Civilization

The Akans consider themselves one nation. Akan means the Enlightened or Civilised. They basically trace their descent philosophically as from one woman. Within this nation are branches based on many dialects, widest (and possibly the oldest) one used is Twi. Each branch subsequently holds a collection of states and stemming from city-states. The state or Oman is typically ruled by several kings known as Ahenfo. The state is the basic unit of Akan polity. Several states and city-states can band together to form a Confederacy regardless of clan or Abusua they belong to, while those outside of the Akan tribe or the Abusua were usually conquered or annexed via war or mutual agreement. For example, the Guan state of Larteh and the Akyem state of Akropong joined together to form the Akwapim Kingdom to avoid the Akwamu, who the Guan deemed as oppressive. Under the State there are Divisions and under these Divisions are towns and villages.

Akan kings are ranked according to their jurisdictions. The head of an inter-clan Confederacy is usually considered a King, as in the Kings of Ashanti, Akyem and the Akwapim. Under these are the heads of the constituent states who equates an Emperor that only heads an Empire (for e.g. Asante Empire and the Denkyira). In Asante's case, as an Empire the Asantehene reigned over non-Oyoko clan city states and ruled over the kings of those states as an Imperial head or Emperor (a hardly used but rightful equivalent term as Emperor literally mean king of kings.) but right Next, there are divisional Chiefs, they are primarily arranged according to the five divisions of an Akan army. The Akan army or Asafo formation resembles a cross or an aeroplane. The battle formation has the Frontline, the West Flank, an East Flank, the main body and the Vanguard. There are therefore five divisional chiefs in each Paramountcy. These are followed in rank by the Kings of the city and then the Kings of the town and then king of the suburbs.

Ashanti solders has a peculiar way of executing judgement. criminals and law breakers who were found wanting in their acts and would not be forgiven are brought to an open place, probably the playground, for execution. Crimes like man slaughter and other related crimes associated with blood are punishable by cutting off the criminal's head at a strike of a machete. Also included in this kind of crime is treason. A typical criminal execution is shown below:  

The Akan tribe mostly have seven Abusua in each state. They do not have the same names in each state but each has an equivalent clan (for e.g. in Fante areas along the coast, the Asante clan of Oyoko is referred to as Dehyena or Yokofo). The clans are assigned States which they rule by virtue of their status as founders of that jurisdiction. The Ashanti Kingdom is ruled by the Oyoko Clan. Ashanti princess is shown below.

However the Bretuo or Twidanfo(in Fante) as well as other clans rule States, Divisions, Towns and Villages within the Kingdom. The Fante-speaking tribes usually have the Asona Clan ruling most of their States (like Mankessim). Certain sub-clans or lineages have exclusive rights to some stools within Akanland such as the lineage of Afia Kobi in the Oyoko Clan who alone sit on the Golden Stool of Asante.


Matrilineal inheritance makes it easier to trace the line of succession. Within each lineage or House are the branches. The chief of a family is called an Abusuapanin(lit family-elder). Ranking above a family chief (a family's Abusuapanin) is the clan's chief (or clan's Abusuapanin). These branches are called Jaase or literally Kitchens. Each Kitchen takes its turn to present a candidate for the stool to the kingmakers of the lineage. Once accepted their candidate rules till death. This means until all the Jaase have presented their candidates they have to wait their turn.

Akan Kings of whatever rank have other noblemen who serve them as Sub-Chiefs. Example of these important sub-chief in the Akan sosiety is shown below,

These sub-chiefs do not have hereditary titles and therefore do not have black stools. In addition each King has a female co-ruler known as the Queenmother. The Queen-mother is more like a figurehead representing the King's or Emperor's eldest sister and hence the mother of the next King or Emperor, she could rule as a King if she wishes(for e.g. queen-mothers mainly from the House of Asona clan: Nana Abena Boaa who ruled Offinso 1610-1640, Nana Afia Dokuaa who ruled Akyem Abuakwa 1817-1835, and Nana Yaa Asantewaa who ruled Edweso 1896-1900.) . They present the candidate for consideration as King. An assistant king does not have a Queen mother as his title is not hereditary. The head of an Ashnti Queen is shown below,


A Prince or Daakyehene(lit Future-king) is any of the members of the lineage eligible to sit on a stool. However, not all the noblemen or noblewomen are Princes as some may be ineligible. A prince is not necessarily the son of a King but rather the former King's nephew on the mother's side. As such nobles strive to achieve the position of prince in their families or for their children.

A sub-chief does not however need to be a nobleman. He only has to be suitable for the position he is to occupy. Some sub-chieftaincy positions can be abolished at will. They include the heads of the ruling house or Mankrado, the Linquist, the Chief Kingmaker or Jaasehene, the Supi or General of the Army, the Captains of the Army or Asafohene among others.

The way Akans ruled their nation fascinated the tribes of other West African nations and as the Akans conquered or formed alliances with these nations parts of it was transmitted to them. The British particularly felt the Akan system was efficient and tried to establish it throughout their dominions in West Africa using the Indirect Rule System. The Ewes and the Ga-Adangmes with their close affinity to the Akans have modified certain aspects of it to fit their societies.

In Ghana and other modern states where the Akan tribe is located the Kings, Assistant Kings, Princes and Noblemen of the Akans serve mostly a symbolic role. Modern politics has side-lined them in national politics although it is common to find that an elected or appointed official to be of Akan royalty. And, especially in the villages and poor areas, traditional Kings are still very important for organizing development, social services and keeping peace. Some Kings have decided to push ahead with the leadership of their Kingdoms and States in a non-political fashion. The Asantehene and Okyehene have emphasized Education and Environmental Sustainability respectively. Others push the national government and its agents to fulfill promises to their people.

In modern Ghana a quasi-legislative/judicial body known as the House of "Chiefs"(a colonial term to belittle African Kings because of the racist belief to not equate an African king with a European king in rank) has been established to oversee "chieftaincy" and the Government of Ghana as the British Government once did certifies the Chiefs and gazettes them. Several Akan Kings sit at the various levels of the National House of "Chiefs". Each Paramountcy has a Traditional Council, then there is the Regional House of "Chiefs" and lastly the National House of "Chiefs". Akan Kings who once warred with each other and Kings of other nations within Ghana now sit with them to build peace and advocate development for their nations

Other characteristic lifestyle of the Akan society include their beautiful culturally conditioned marital custom 


We cannot overlook the most lasting legacy that the Akan has adopted to, both commemorate and, still rehearses their history succinctly. This unquantifiable cultural embodiment explicated through the artistic display of the Akan children as shown below is not just a display of their characteristic life as hunters but also an endless linear path that narrowly traces their original history as Bantu.


     
What is your view about all these? Do share so we may learn together about our world as Africans.



Comments

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks greatly. But a little information about what you knew earlier would be of interest here. We do not mind even when such information is contrary to this detailed account. provided it is your own suggestion based on what you have been told, you have read, or what you think is not well or clearly stated; it is welcomed.

      Again, we expect that you suggest for members the next areas of the African history you would want scholars to look into.

      Do not forget that you can subscribe notifications of new post and also join us in this research work of making Africa more visible.

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  2. very informative and a better platform form for calling and keeping African history. It is better for us to know who we are as Africans, where we are now and where we came from as well as where we want to go or are supposed to go

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