THE STORY OF KWABEN
KNOW THE ORIGIN OF TOWNS
Kwame Ampene (Founder of the Guan Historical Society)
IT is worthy of note that the founding fathers of KWABEN in the Akyem Abuakwa traditional area, originally lived at Adanse Kokobiante near the Sebenso River under the overall leadership of Kuntunkrunku.
The main tradition of Kwaben recount how the Asante unified their forces against those who helped the erstwhile powerful state of Denkyira against them. The invaders proved too much for the Akyem ancestors and inflicted a decisive defeat on them, especially during the Benna war (1702) IN WHICH Kuntunkrunku was killed on Wednesday, which eventually resulted in the latter becoming a tributary protectorate.
Asante dominance of this region coupled with the general state of insecurity became necessary for a section of the Asona clan members under Ofori Panyin (Whose immediate predecessor was Anim Kwatia) to penetrate and pell-mell into the forest region, north-east in search of peace and security.
The Kwaben section in the group was led by Boahen, a descendant of Nana Darkwa who was Kuntunkrunku’s sister. Being a sub-chief of the royal Asona family. Boahen possessed an ancestral stool of his own. In his company were his sisters Aboagyewa Akurama. Anim Dompa and Maanu.
The entire party under Ofori Panyin moved north-eastwards and settled at Ejisu, then established by a mixed subject population, predominantly by some Asona families from Adanse.
While at Ejisu, it was observed that Boahen’s sister, Anim Dompa, was suffering from transitory swelling of the heel and the foot (Twi: mpensa) due to the long and tedious journey. Therefore, they were compelled to delay at Ejisu while Nana Ofori Panyin and his followers, crossed the Pra into the Birim valley and settled at Banso.
The sister Maanu, was given in marriage at Ejisu, and gave birth to a son who later became a chief of Ejisu where she eventually established the Asona clan dynasty over the mixed subject population.
Since the Asante intensified their fight against the rebel groups, the Kwaben ancestors crossed the Pra and joined Nana Ofori Panyin at Banso.
The Akwamuhene at Nyanawase was the overlord of people living in the Birim-Densu Basin. However, in 1733, because of the growing anarchy, Ofori Panyin, in alliance with some coastal tribes and the Dutch at fort Crevenceour, drove the Akwamu across the Volta to their present location.
This victory enabled members of the Asona clan under Ofori Panyin to expand. They left Banso and founded new settlements at Akyem akropong, Apinam, Kukurantumi, Osino and Pamen. Similarly, Boahen and his party followed a hunter, Antwi Darkwa, to a place covered with Akanwene trees, hence the name of the settlement Akwanwenem whose ruins is today between Gyebi and Kokoben.
In the neigbourhood were some people who were once under Akwamu hegemony, with varied tradition of origin described as the Kokoben, Mmabaduem, Gyebi and the Kubease. Boahen was determined to attack and subjugate them, but since they claimed to belong to the Asona family they were spared, except the Kubease who belonged to the Beretuo family.
At Akwanwenem the leader died shortly after a short reign. The stool became vacant for many years. Successive chiefs were Bruku, Fosu Pim, Mfodwo, Ataara, Darkwa. Woe during whose reign, they resolved to build a new settlement, since they found themselves completely isolated in the dense forest. The new site was located on a cross-road leading to towns of Akwamu remnants.
Soon they began to raid their towns and farms. There was inter-town and interclan skirmishes, which degenerated into brutal man-hunts as the men, armed with cudgels rushed on them, ransacked and looted their huts. The assault continued unabated until they consolidated their gain without venturing further.
Those who took part in the raid were allegedly water-proof, having fortified themselves with amulets and talisman. Thus onlookers referred to them as “KO-AFOW-BEN-FO” IE. “bullet-proof raiders of plunders.” Eventually, the expression became corrupted into KO-ABEN OR KWABEN.
When finally the people had settled at KWABEN , Nana Darkwa Woe, whose contemporary was Okyenhene Atta Wusu Yiakosan (1796 – 1811), invited the Kokoben. Mmabaduom, Gyebi and kubease to his traditional set-up. But the Gyebi joined the Awenare where their leader became the Mankrado (the first in rank after the chief), while the Kubease evacuated en-masse and founded Anyinam.
Nana Darkwa Woe accompanied the Okyenehen Nana Atta Owusu Yiakosan to war during the Asante invasion of the south in 1811. He encamped at Kwanyako on his way to help the Akuapem against General Opoku Frefre but before he could start his march he fell ill and died of smallpox disease on a Wednesday (hence, “Meka Wukuada,” the famous and sacrosanct Oath of Kyebi) because of this shocking news all the Akyem Generals, including the Kwabenhene committed suicide in honour of the dead hero.
When the Kwaben military contingent returned home, Oware Ofori was enstooled. His contemporary was Okyenhene Kwadwo Kuma (Kofi Asante 1811 – 1816). Tradition avers that Kwabenhene Oware Ofori instantly paid his quota of the war tax, and in addition raised money for Kokobenhene and Osinohene who approached him for a loan to defray their quota. The Okyenhene was so impressed that he recalled the role played by his predecessor and as such honoured him with the office of GYAASEHENE (Head of the palace organization).
On the death or destoolment of Okyenhene the chief of Kwaben would acted as the Head of the Royal family and carried out the functions of Okyenhene at Kibi till a new paramount chief is installed.
Towns under the Gyaase wing were Adansewase, Akrofufu, Mmooso, Pano, Tete (Asikam). Wirenkyiren, Akenkasse, Tweapease, Ekoso, Kyeibi Asaman, Mampong, Moseaso and Topriraman.
This writer is a paternal cousin of Kwabenhene Nana Adu Darko Ampem I, the twenty-seventh ruler 1965, their Asuogyaman District.
Saturday, March 26, 2011, The Spectator, Page 31