By: Kwame Ampene
(Founder of the Guan Historical Society)
Boso Gwa Traditional Area forms an integral part of the Asuogryaman District in the Eastern Region. Linguistically, the people of Boso belong to the Guan ethnic bloc, and had lived in the Mid-Volta Basin long before the Akamu arrived from Nyanawase to establish a permanent home at Akwamufie, 1733.
In 1984, I accompanied the Paramount Chief of the Boso Gwa Stat ostensibly to tap the numerous myths, legends and traditions of Boso from the late Kwao Tawia, the 92 year old Abusuapanyin of the Paramount stool. He was the real custodian of Boso tradition. I felt so privileged.
According to Kwao Tawia, the founding fathers of Boso originally lived at Dan near Atebubu in the Sene-Pru Basin. They emigrated southwards towars the coast and settle at “Afutu near Simpa” were they acquired the name DANKE. In support of this assertion, tradition relates that the ex-Queen mother of Kokofu, Amma Birago, who had beeeen destooled and deported together with her son, Kokofuhene Osei Yao; because they were overfond of disclosing the origins of tsome their subjects (ie referring to their descent from slaves), escaped to Nyanewase to seek political asylum. The story adds that the Akwamuhene, in consultation with Osei Tutu then residing at Nyanawase, requested the Danke people to host them on the account of their proverbial hospitality. The Twi expression “wodan won a, woaka” (lit. If you stay as a lodger, you become permanent) became corrupted into DANKE.
Due to constant tribal wars on the coast, the Danke migrated. They were led by Obeng Kwatia whose nephews were Brakatu and Mfodwo. Other members of the group included the Oyoko royals from Asante Kokofu. After several rest-stops they reached the Kamana town of Pese on the west bank of the Bolta River where some unforeseen cirecumstances forced them to delay. It is alleged that Obeng Kwatia’s sister (unnamed) as barren so was taken to Kamana fetish called NYAKO where she gave birth to twins, Nyarko Num and Nyarko Lebi in memory of whom the Nyarko stool (and still the reigning stool of Boso) was consecrated. Because the Kamana at Pese were dominated by the Oyoko clan, the Kokofu royal showed great resentment against her ancestral Oyoko Stool being placed in a subordinate position, so she advised the migrant-leader to search for a new site; they settled at a place called OSASE (OKYEASE) where modern Anum is located.
At Osase, they were joined by a group of about sixty people from Basa believed to be Gonja origin. Their leader was Otu Atram and his two brothers – Akofi and Obanyin-yena. The fetish they carried was kept in the house of one Opare, a cousin of the Kokofu royal. And because Opare refused to disclose the origin of the deity, he was nicknamed Opare-anka. The name Akomfi also originated from the word Akomfie (Fetish shrine)
Later two groups of immigrants namely Asiedu Pone and Amoakade clan families from Bono Takyiman came to augment the population at Osase.
The first Anum to arrive in 1724 was Kwasi Anyane who had been sent by his Elder, Kolihue, the occupant of the then Anum stool at Nyanawase- it was the object of Kwase Anyane to seek their old Guan friends with the object of severing their connections with Akwamu and establishing together and independent Guan settlement on new lands. Four years later, the rest of the Anum arrived in 1728.
Due to frequent shortage of water, the Danke settled permanently near the Chachi stream. It is a common misconception that their move was promted by a deliberate act on the part of the Anum by spreading the tabooed mushroom (Eble Kpomo) at the Letsu shrine to sabotage the effort of the deity. However, Abusua pinyin Kwao Tawia debunked the suggestion because the deity had been purified when the Anum were living at Nkwanta-Kpomo on the Anum-Labolabo bush path.
The new settlement was named BOSO. The etymology of the name is hazy. Legend has it that the town was built on rocks (Twi “abo so”), but this may be a degraded legend, because there is one passer-by inquired from them about progress so far, the evasive answer was “Ene bo so(ie we are progressing) the expression ‘bo so’ therefore became BOSO.
Soon there was unprecedented influx of Akan immigrants who came to seek political asylum because they deity Letsu abhorred the shedding of blood. Most of them arrived with their ancestral Stools-Asafo Agyei Stool from Asante Ejisu, Agyeman Koboa Stool from Akyem Begoro, Osafo Afari Stool from Asante Mampon, etc.
The Story of Boso Part 2
In those days, Boso had no principal ruler, except independent stool Elders who looked upon Letsu priest and Mankrado as their senior partners.
On one occasion Akwamu Akoto, Paramount Chief of Akwamu, whose sovereignty extended over Anum, Boso, Peki and Awesome, visited Boso and advised the people to enstool an Omanhene to unify them into a political organization on Akan pattern. The story adds that the seventh occupant of the Boso Amoakade Stool by name Addo – a handsome and energetic man – had an affair with an Akwamu royal Abrade woman and bore a son who grew to become Akwamu Akoto.
The same Addo married Abena Safoa (from Obideasor line) from Dwumana family, thus the issue became the patrilineal brother to Akwamu Akoto who was elected and installed the first Paramount chief of Boso, though he was neither the Pathfinder (Pioneer settler) nor did he possesses an ancestrial Stool, but it all happened upon the express command of the dreadful Akwamu Akoto. Obidiasor’s two other sisters Atuabea (Boafoa) and Abam (Prah) married at Anum and Abora Kwaman respectively.
Prior to the arrival of the Awamu in 1733, there reigned at Asabi, a power Kwamu chief called Baadu Okoampata (NOT Baadu Mankanta) whose Agona Stool originated from Kwahu Bukuruwa. He was succeeded by Adom Opumpuni, more properly known as Adom Puni or Asabi Adom in whose reign the Akwamu arrived in the Mid-Volta basin.
And beginning from 1740, Akwamu defeated the Island state of Akrade, and gradually conquered the rest of Kamana towns and by 1769, the Akwamuhene felt strong enough to challenge the power of Asabi Adom whom he conquered in that year, and in consequence of Adom’s defeat all the tribal fragment came under the suzerainty of the Akwamuhene till they united to overthrow the Akwamu yoke in1833.
To wipe out the shame, Akwamu entered into Tripple alliance with Kumase and Anlo in 1867. And in January, 1869 the main body of the Asante army 40,000 strongmen, under General Adu Bofour marched into Akwamu and with the support of 10,000 warriors mobilized from Anlo, the Anum, Peki and the Awudome were driven into exile. Adu Bofour met and unexpected resistant as soon as Dompreh Kwadwo of Akyem Kotoku, the brave soldier of fortune came from Nsawam to organize the Guan into regular fighting order. They took refuge into the mid-Volta region, 1869-1871 till they managed to cross the Volta in safety after Adu Bofuor’s abortive campaign had ended and had returned to Kumase on 4th September, 1871.
In that year, the Colonial government proposed to resettle the Guan at the present site of Koforidua; however, they declined the offer on grounds that it was on the warpath of the Ashanti army. The Boso established a settlement at eh foothills of Adukrom. When they left, a group of discontented people from Abonse occupied the place and renamed it Asesieso.
In 1881 the fugitive Boso people returned to rebuild the ruins of their ancestral home. Traditions has it that Kwasi Letsu, reputed to be the stool carrier of Nyenye Letsu during the war, swore to lead them to Boso. Having accomplished the task, he received the sobriquet of “Ama-okwan-da-mu” (the path finder) hence the Golden axe on the top of the State Umbrella of Nyenye Kwasi Pong and successive occupants of the stool created for the family.
This is, indeed, a summary of the Evidence provided by Abusuapanyin Kwao Tawia. And if, therefore, I have been accurate in my presentation, it is because I have been well-informed made one permanent settlement near the Chachi stream. It is a common misconception that their move was prompted by deliberate act of the part of Anum by spreading the tabooed mushroom (Eble Kpomo) at eh Letsu shrine to sabotage the effort of the deity; however, Abusuapanyin Kwao Tawiah debunked the suggestion because the deity had been purified when the Anum were living at Nkawanta-Kpomo on the Anum-Labolabo bush path.
The Spectator Saturday, July 23 and 30, 2011 Page 31