THE STORY OF NSAWAM
KNOW THE ORIGIN OF TOWNS
By: KWAME MPENE
The founding of Nsawam, the district capital of Akwapem South, is attributed to Dompreh Kwadwo, the famous Akyem Kotokou war veteran. He was then the Asantehene and occupant of the Adu Kokoo Stool of the Ankobeahene.
According to the tradition of Akyem Kotoku, the death of Omanhene Nana Kofi Agyeman, sparked a series of succession disputes, thereby planting seeds of discord among members of the royal family. Briefly, there were two contestants to the paramount stool, namely; Kwabena Fua (son of ‘faa Akyaa, a sister of the late Omanhene), who was really the choice of the kingmakers, and another claimant by name Atia Yaw who lost the fight for the stool. Therefore, the stool elders enstolled Kwabena Fua in succession of Nana Kofi Agyeman.
Atia Yaw insisted on his claim to the stool, supported by Asenehene Dompreh Kwadwo and Adoagyirihene, Nana Toa Dompreh. The story adds that Dompreh Kwadwo became completely dissatisfied with the choice, and as a result he broke off and wandered south-east with a large retinue to Accra, eventually succeeded in severing his connection with the Akyem Kotoku state.
Not being accustomed to life on the coast, they left for Mayera on the Accra-Nsawam roads where they lodged with two persons from Akuapem called Ntow and Opare. Since there was not enough water to support them, they migrated to the bank of Densu River where they met an Akuapem woman called Otumo, a royal of Bosomprah, and her husband, Kwadede.
They advised Dompreh to go and introduce himself to Aburihene who was owner of the land. He politely obeyed and proceeded to Aburi to request for land to settle on. His humble request was granted, having paid an amount of £2,11s as customary drink for the gift of land.
In about 1862, Dompreh established a village on the eastern bank of the Densu river at a vantage point near the Mateta stream which is the present site of the Anglican Church. Sweet-berries were very common on the land which attracted monkeys and birds, thereby spreading the seeds all over the place. The village became known as Asowamu, i.e. the place of Sweet-berries. Inevitably, the name Asowa-mu became corrupted into Nsawam.
In 1969, the Asante warlord Adu Bofour, invaded the Mid-Volta Region acting upon the invitation of Akwamuhene who needed help to win back his former territories, comprising Anum, Boso, Peki and Awudome who overthrew Akwamu yoke in 1833. When Dompreh learnt of the unexpected invasion, he led a contingent to support the Guan and neighbouring tribes, because his nephew had been killed in one of the Akwamu raids at Dodi near Anum where predatory raids adversely affected peace in the sub-region. Dompreh was accompanied by his nephew Obeng Darko.
Legend has it that Dompreh never wanted matters to take him by surprise. It is probably on this account that he was baid only at the back of the head, was short in stature, yet a man of formidable appearance.
On June 9, 1869, the Asante army launched a full-scale military operation, and during the bloody march they burnt a mission house at Anum, and took three Europeans prisoners at Anum, and one at Ho to Kumase. Many times, the Asante and Akwamu force defeated them by committing brutalities, but Dompreh always led them to fight till Adu Bafour began to find the war difficult. The moment Adu Bafour executed a grandiose series of campaigns of reconnaissance against the Buom, Nkonya, Kpandu and neighbouring tribes, Dompreh and his allies hurriedly retired in the direction of the Lower Volta Basin after having been in exile for one whole year, 1869-1870.
Soon King Tachie of Accra and his general, Owu Sikasoso, rushed to the west bank of the Volta to ensure a safe passage for them.
Simultaneously, Dompreh, as if invigorated by the news, led some men to welcome the relief learn from Accra. A soldier mistakenly shot Dompreh from behind; he succumbed to his injuries at Aboatia in November, 1870. He was succeeded by his nephew Obeng Darko in whose reign the Base! Mission extended it work from Sakyikrom to Nsawam. In this time was Akyem Kotoko submission to the British government for protection and friendship (vide:
EXTRACT from Despatch No.15 1 of 21~ December, 1871).
He was succeeded by Nana Ampeh in whose time the Accra-Kyebi road was constructed. Thereupon migrant pioneer farmers began to establish themselves at Asowa-mu and formed new communities at Akyem Kogyi, Duayeden, Gyankrom, Ayigbe Town, Teshi Town and Kujoe.
Dompreh’s name ought to be more celebrated than a marble slab seen in a house at Nsawam bearing the simple legend: DOMPREY. This marble slab is seen to have been given to chief Ampeh’s predecessor, Obeng Darko, by the Assistant Governor Mr. Ussher at the instigation of Capt. Glover in 1874. W.T. Balmer added that in other countries, a public monument could have been erected to the memory of Dompreh.
As it is, not many people know of the existence of this tablet far ajiay in an obscure house (vide: “A history of the Akan people 1925 p.142). In 1945, Governor Sir Alan C. Burns, K.C.M.G. (5: 11 : 1941 — 2: 1944) with commendable promptitude intervened and ruled that the natural boundary between the two principal factions — Akyem Abuakwa - and Akuapem — has been formed with the RIVER DENSU, thus Nsawam remained under the jurisdiction of Okuampenhene, while town and villages on the western side of the river Densu came under the suzerainty of Okyenhene.
The Spectator Page: 31 Saturday, July 3, 2010