THE STORY OF KYEBI
KNOW THE ORIGIN OF TOWNS
By: Kwame Mpene
(Founder of the Guan Historical Society)
It is my honour and pleasure to reproduce in exactly the same words, the origin and meaning of the name KYEBI as narrated by Teacher Owusu Koranteng at the time I was a tutor at Abuakwa State College in 1978.
And according to the resident traditional historian, the historic town of KYEBI, the capital of Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area, was established originally as a hunting camp by Kwaku Wuo who hailed from the Aduana family at Kuwmamu in Asante.
He was a wealthy trader at Burumase where he was prospecting for gold, but later escaped southwards and settled at Akyem Ahwenease when it came to light that he had had a secret love affair with the wife of a prominent Asante chief. At Akyem Ahwenease he was the guest of Awo Boaa of the Asona family and even married her daughter, Abena Aponkye.
In response to the reports of abundance of hunting grounds, Kwaku Wuo roamed about in search of game which he sold to traders.
Later, he decided to establish a hunting camp at a vantage point. So he obtained permission from the Odikro of Pano who owned all the lands between Ahwenease and Asafo Akooko.
The Odikro permitted him to establish a camp between the Birim River and the village of Pano. He brought his family from Ahwenease to new site to clear the bush, felling all the trees in the course of the operation to allow plenty of sunshine, hence the saying “Kyebi abuansua” meaning “Kyebi noted for a well- cleared site”.
This period witnessed the influx of traders and pedestrians. As the village flourished with brisk activities, Kwaku Wuo named the place “Oyentraso” ie “extraordinary achievement.”
Kawku Wuo’s occupation of Oyentraso was a feat of great strategic and economic significance, for it was important on the ancient trade route from Kumasi to Accra. As his fame spread far and near, his hideout was no longer a secret.
No doubt, the Asantehene sent an envoy named Kyeremante to go and bring Kwaku Wuo dead or alive. When he arrived at Oyentraso, the elders prevailed on him to accept a handsome price for the release of Kwaku Wuo.
For this reason, the envoy placed before them a great brass pan and ordered them to fill it with gold dust to the brim. Kwaku Wuo’s mother- in –law and some elders of Agona families at Ahwenease Pamen, Akropong and Banso, promptly paid the required amount, an indication of wealth of the members of the Asona families.
Surplus of the gold dust was melted by the envoy to decorate the monkey-skin caps worn by Kwaku Wuo’s sons. Therefore, pedestrians traveling to and fro renamed the place KYEBIRI i.e. BLACK CAPS. This is the origin and meaning of the name KYEBI.
On the eve of his departure, an opportunity for revenge presented itself. They conspired to exterminate him. This plan was accomplished by Kwaku Wuo’s sons. The matter was kept secret, hence the saying: Kyebiri Nyansapo-a-amanfrafo di no same nna” Meaning “the knot prepared by the Kyebi is designed to outwit strangers.”
When Kwaku Wuo died, some family members from Kumawu headed by Kwasi Agyako Tutu attended the funeral, but they were unable to refund the amount of gold dust by the Asona families to redeem Kwaku Wuo.
Therefore, the Asona royal family of Pamen who raised the bulk of the amount began to play the traditional role as Kyebi Sanaahene. Some descendants of Kwaku Wou were Goldsmith Asante, Thomas Yaw Kani and Senior Presbyter Apea Korang.
After the defeat of Akwamu at Nyanawase in 1733, Nana Ofori Panin deserted Akyem Banso and settled at Akyem Akropong while other Asona royal families at Banso founded Pamen, Apinaman, Kukurantumi, Kwaben and Osino.
In 1817, Queen Dakua - a very distinguished, forceful and influential ruler, removed the paramount stool from Akyem Akropong to Kyebiri and set herself the task of building the capital and centralizing the political organization in the hands of Five Wing Chiefs and three Cantons.
During the reign of Nana Sir Ofori Attah I (1912-1943), a decision was taken by the Okyeman Council to substitute the name KIBI for KYEBI in order prevent their letters being sent by post either to Kyebi near Asante Nsuta or Kyebi near Ajumako. This anglicized form, KIBI, has since been substituted for the original name KYEBIRI. (Vide: ATETESEM by Kwame Ampene, Waterville Publications 1972, pp 118-119).
It is noteworthy that a similar change of name was adopted by the Akyem Kotokus where letters meant for NSEUM (the capital) were often misdirected to NSAWAM. They adopted the name ODA for the capital in memory of the ancient capital DAMPONG in Asante –Akyem.
The spectator page: 31 Saturday, April 10, 2010