The Story of Larteh
KNOW THE ORIGIN OF TOWNS
Story: Kwame Ampene (founder of the Guan Historical Society)
The indigenous inhabitants on the Akuapem Mountains are the Guans (comprising Larteh, Mamfe, Abotakyi, Mampong, Obosomase, and Tutu) and the OKERE (Comprising Abiriw, Dawu, Awukugua, Adutkrom, Apirede, Abonse-Asesieso).
Larteh lies on parallee ridge to the east on the Akonnobepow, while the rest of the towns lie in line along the crest of the main ridge on Bewasebepow.
Akyem-Akan immigrants at Akropong Amanokrom, together with Akwamu-Akan at Ahwerease and Aburi settled on the scarp soon after the powerful Akwamu at Nyanawase had taken refuge in the Mid-Volta Basin, 1733. Before then, a common designation as AKUAPEM was unknown- the indigenous Larteh and Okere inhabitants described themselves as citizens of the various towns to which they belonged.
In general, the oral tradition of Larteh is very rich. They provide valuable corroboration of the massive documentations for the period in the archives of the early missionaries and merchants.
The origin and meaning of the name LARTEH is synonyms with ‘La’(fire) ‘te’ (stone). Larteh, therefore means ‘fire-stone’ or ‘Fire-grate’. And according to this interpretation, the La Boni people represented the fire, while the Larteh, the grate.
Legend has it that the founding fathers of Larteh carried with them flint stone to ignite fire, and for this reason the La who travelled from Boni on the Niger Delta fraternized with the Larteh during their journey along the beach.
The tradition of Larteh-Kubease claims that they came from inland and settled west of the mouth of the Volta among the Kpesi aborigines of Guan extraction. When the Ga Boni met them, two the groups settled temporally on the banks of the Laloi Lagoon at Podoku near Tema.
In 1988, Atowamu had put an army into the field against them and the whole community fled before Akwamu might. The settlement itself became deserted, hence the name Ladoku, meaning “the ruins of La”.
Later,, as a result of Akwamu incursions that swept across the Accra plains, the Larteh ancestors looked around for new and safer site. A section of them were led by Fianko Adeyite, and they moved into the hills and settled at a place called Afianko.
The Afianko sojourn seems to have been the briefest, since no living structures were created there. They moved again to Amanfro, a ruin on the motor road leading from Mamfe to modern Larteh. There is a remote tradition that Kubease was the leader of the Larteh group, but it was through marriage that the leadership passed on to Ahenease.
In the process of fleeing from terrorization the remnants of the Larteh group at LAdoku merged with the Awutu at Ablekuma near Weija. Tradition of Larteh Ahenease, on the other hand, relate that from an in land country, they settled on the cast near the Legon hill in the company of the Senya-Beraku. Later, a split occurred and the Larteh Ahenease group moved from place to place on the Adangme plain till they took the direction of Larteh-Ayikuma road and finally settled on the hills.
Larteh migration story and settlement pattern have been preserved in the following legend which is recited by the old and young:
Ntumuru O, Ntumuru Nte Ntumuru
Ntumuru Senya Nte Senya
Senya Domfoe Nte Domfoe
Domfoe Ebia Nte Ebia
Ebia Sekete Nte Sekete
Sekete Enkpu Nte Enkpu
Enkpu Ala Nte Ala
Ala Konyon Nte Konyon
Konyon Larte Nte Larte
Larte Eko Nte Eko
Interpretation: From Ntwumuru in the north, we came to Senya on the coast, we separated and moved on to Domfoe near the present day Abonse for shelter. After a brief stay we settled again on the Adangme plains at Ebia, Sekete and Nkpu(now extinct). Then we fraternized with a section of the La before we moved on to Konyon (i.e Akonoso), which is modern Ayikuma. From there, we climbed the mountain and founded Larteh. We moved no more! (Recited by Teacher Darko, during the 1st Delegates conference of Guan-Speaking peoples of Ghana, held at Larteh , 6th December, 1981).
Tradition further claims that the ancestors of Larteh, followed by the Larteh Ahenease. To this end Kubease assumed the indigenous name ANTERE, meaning to give the clarion call, while the Ahenease became known as Ekpone, assuming that they responded to the call and “emerged”. During the Annual Eba or Ba Festival, the traditional Gong-beater recalls the names of the settlers at Larteh-ODOSU of Adabide at Kubease, and KUMIBREDU of Asotsede at Ahenease (see, for example, David Brokesha-“Social Change at Larteh, Ghana” 1966 Historical background pp.1-7).
Finally, the geographical location of Larteh which is inaccessible from Ayikuma, coupled with the existence of a deep valley separating Mamfe from Larteh made the latter a safe haven for Guan emigrants to establish pocket communities nestled around Larteh till they decided on counter-migration to their respective location at Krachi, Yeji, Prang, Dwan, Nchumuru, Nawri and Nkonya.
(The present writer is a direct descendant of Nana Okanta Ofori of Larteh. Ahenease whose daughter, YAAH AMENE, married at Boso and became my grandmother).
The Spectator Page: 31 Saturday, January 15, 2011