THE STORY OF ASANTE-AKYEM
KNOW THE ORIGIN OF TOWNS
By: KWAME MPENE
(Founder of the Guan Historical Society)
The etymology of the name Asante Akyem is never obscure. Many learned theories have been advanced which corroborate in past with indigenous traditional histories and the surviving Missionary Records. They are a rich mine of knowledge.
It is, therefore, gratifying that the “Brief introduction to the History of the Presbyterian Church of Bompata” (vide” Ghana Notes and Queries No. 12, 1972 p. 20) has shed more light on our knowledge of ancient links between the regions to the north and south of Asante Akyem. The contributor, BA. Kyerematen translated the original Twi version written by N.P. Frempong.
It says: “Asante Akyem is the southern portion of the Asante Region of modern Ghana in the early history of the Asante Empire, the area served as a buffer state between what may be called metropolitan Asante and her southern neighbours of Akyem Abuakua, Kwawu, Akyem Kotokou and Akyem Bosome
It appears that control of this part of Asante changed hands very often. The result was that people from the Akyem State visiting this area referred to it as Asante. People from metropolitan Asante considered it as part of Akyem Kotoku, because many of the villages often came under the suzerainty of the Odahene.
This lack of preciseness of the controlling power gave the area the vague name ASANTE AKYEM. In extent, it may be said to have its southern limit at the River Prah on the Accra — Kumasi lorry road. To the north Asante Akyem ends at about 45 km on Road A2. On the west, it stretches to the Lake Bosomtwe area, and on the east its limit is on the part of the Afram which is Agogo Stool land………………………”
The above material gives credit to N.P. Frempon for being an extraordinary competent recorder. What seems certain is that the name Akyem itself was acquired by Akyem Abuakwa, Akyem Kotoku and Akyem Bosome since they were suppliers of edible SALT which they obtained from the coast for people living in Asante, Brong and beyond.
The commercial links among these people were considerable so far as the salt industry is concerned. This very essential commodity often attracted people from Asante and beyond to the “Salt Region” i.e “Nkyene” was derived and corrupted into AKYEM.
It is clear from the records that early history of Asante Akyem was inextricably bound with the history of metropolitan Asante and that of Akyem Kotoku. The narration is that, prior to the arrival of the Kotokuhene in the beginning of the eighteenth century, the vast area now known as Asante Akyem, though sparsely populated, had been occupied by independent Akan groups, not merely to escape wars, but in response to reports of abundance of game and hunting grounds.
Frempon Manso himself was fleeing from the ravages of the Asante-Denkyira war (1701), having succeeded fosuhene Apenten who died in a war with the Asante army at Bonfa. He led his followers to Kokoku Adukow near Juansa, and finally settled at Dampon near Asankare (vide: Petition of Asankare to the Chief Commissioner of Asante “dated 29th November 1935. Also “Asankare Notes” d.29:5:1935).
Frempon Manso acquired tracts of land which he presented to his children and relatives who became the future founders of Hwediem, Amantena, Aninsua and Bompata. Inhabitants of villages and towns which came under his protection were collectively known as the Amantena people.
As soon as the immediate overlord of the Amantena people deserted Dampon finally, and settled permanently at present-day Akyem Kotoku Traditional Area, all the sub-chiefs and nobilities on the land gained their independence.
Consequently, they began to fall asunder. This enabled metropolitan Asante to intensify their incursions into the virgin land. All the chiefs and their subjects individually and collectively, therefore came under the umbrella of the Golden Stool.
From this time onwards, the region, formerly referred to as ASANTE or Akyem, assumed the official name ASANTE AKYEM nostalgically.
The Spectator Page: 31 Saturday, July 31, 2010