The story of Fante
Know the origin of towns
By Kwame Ampene
FANTE ORIGINS: THE TAKYIMAN KWAMAN- MANKESSIM PERIOD: all versions of BoriBori Fanti tradition of origin migrated from Takyiman in present-day Brong Ahafo Region where they were once part of the Ancient Bono State with its capital at Bono Manso (located about 16 kilometres north of modern Takyiman).
Tradition relates that in the autonomous city-state of Bono Manso, the ancestor of Gomoa lived in one of the wards called Dwomo, and were, therefore, known as the Dwomofo. The Anomabo royals of Oyoko (Anona) clan belonged to the Offuman group of people; the word Akumfi was a stool title of the Bono State; this word is the same Ekumfi in the Fante area, and so in Ekumfi today the assembly is addressed ‘Bori-Bori Kumkumfi’, and the people reply, Kumkumfi Gyadu’. When this happens, know that there is a matter to be decided by brains/not by braw! (See, for example, Sutherland D.A. ‘State Emblem of the Gold coast’ 1952, p.43).
Again the name Takyi or Tekyi is common among the early rulers in both States. Moreover, some of the coastal Fante are said to celebrate same Apo Festival as that of Takyiman (See: Rattray, R.S 1923, P. 153). It was during the Apo Festival that all the faults and shortcomings of the King and Chiefs are publicly renounced in the form of chants so that they would no longer ignore their traditional and ritual responsibilities (The term Apo means ‘to reject’, which implies period of rejection of all wrongs in the state ). Finally, whenever the paramount Chief of Mankessim dies, the Takyimanhene is customarily notified to go and bury him and vice versa.
Their ancestors broke off due to succession dispute; so Takyiman people remarked; FA ATE. Translated literally this means ‘break away’. The separatists were led by three royals of the Bono state who eventually became warlords namely, Oburumankoma; Osono and Odapagyan. Their first place of abode was on a hill from where they could spy their enemy. This place was recommended by Okomfo Edu. She had two priest assistants – Kurentsi and Korado. The land belonged to the Etsi Guan aborigines at Okornafo and Korado who were subdued and named the place Akan-man, meaning Akan State, now known as Kwaman.
They settled at Kwaman for some years; however, due to population pressure, a large section of them migrated southwards towards the coast. Those who stayed behind were organized into a state under Chief Idan I, and the place became corrupted into Kwamankese (Great Kwaman).
The story goes that Abeadze and Bisease in Komenda did not join the main party southwards. Also the Gomoa were later immigrants from Takyiman . Again the word “Anyan” means ‘Wakers’ because when the cock crew during the journey, then the congregation woke and started their journey, because according to the rules of the stool, they were not to travel with it during the day-time, but during the night only since they left Takyiman (Vide: D.A. Sutherland , Op.cit,p.35)
Tradition recounts that during the journey the Nkusukum walked in the middle serving as a ridge with Abora at the Right flank, and Ekumfi at the extreme left, braced up on their journey. This is the origin of the appellation ‘Odamea’ – a ridge connecting the two side posts (see Sutherland, op.cit.P63)
While trekking southwards, they fought the Etsi-Guan autochonous inhabitants whose chief was Akraman and drove them to the present –day Gomoa country. Their capital town Adoweggyir, was occupied by the Fante and renamed Mankessim.
At Mankessim, the three warlords died and they were interred in a nearby grove which became the famous Nananom Pow- the national shrine or oracle of Bori-Bori Fante. Their meritorious deeds are worthy of emulation.
At Mankessim, the BoriBori Fante (ie. ‘The host of innumerable Fante people’) lived in five wards (Abono) namely, Kurentsi Amanfo Edumndze, Anaafo or Ntsetse, Nkusukum and Bentsi. Each ward had its own Brafo and enjoyed absolute independence of the others; however, they recognized one of them as the supreme Head whose position was one of pre-eminence among equals (vide! Adu Boahen , Fante origins: The Mankessims period’ in ‘A Thousand years of West African History, 1968pp.180-1820.
They remained at Mankessim a long time before they began to from new territorial states. The dispersion did not take place earlier because the Etsi –Guan until the 1620s, and the Assin until the 1960s, presented an impenetrable barrierto the Fante. On the coast they came to meet the Abrem, Edina, Oguaa (Cape Coast), fetu, Asebu who lay claim to an autonomous origin within their own localities , and are recognized by the Fante themselves as non- Fante States. It was only after gradual suppression of those nearer Mankessim that the dispersion of the Fante became possible. Eventually, they emerged as identifiable geopolitical entities:-
1. Out of Anafo(Ntsetse) were formed Abora and Anomabo states
2. Out of Edumadze was formed Ekumfi State
3. Out of Bensti were formed Anyan Abaasa.
4. Out of Nkusukum was formed Ekumfi State.
5. The Kurentsi Amamfo people remained at Mankessim and did not form any new state.
The wards of Edumadze and Nkusumun left Abaatan in their original wards at Mankessim. Note that the Gomoa Assis and the Gomoa Ajumako were later immigrants from Takyiman who joined the Fante at Mankessim. They emigrated eastwards to carve kingdoms for themselves. (Vide: Fynn, J.K.’ The pre Borbor Fante States)
Additional Sources: G. R. Acquaah, ‘Oguaa Aban’, 1946, Line 225seq. Collins K.E. Borbor Fanti’ SEMINARY PAPER. Dept of History, Legon 1966. Also GNA, Accra. ADM II/413 ‘The Humble Petition of Omanhin Amanfi II d. 10/2/1920.
The Spectator Page: 31 Saturday, May 21, 2011