THE STORY OF OGUAA
KNOW THE ORIGIN OF TOWNS
(Founder of the Guan Historical Society)
Introduction: This paper has a limited purpose-to trace the Early Settlement and Real Expansion of Oguaa as an effort in historical reclamation rather than historical reconstruction.
I admit that a historical reconstruction exercise has been resolved in the classic style by James Erskine Graham mr. to contradict Kojo founder of Cape Coast” Which is ostensibly full of am iguity and anac ronism (vide: The Daily Graphic of February 21, 2006 and December 30, 2005).
J.E. Graham’s contribution which sounds more accurate is supported by great historians such as the Rev. Graddiel Acquah in “Oguaa, Aban” written in Fante verse of 1364 lines in iambic pentameter, singing the praises of Oguaa, praying for return of former prosperity and glories.
Also by eminent scholars who submitted original research papers at the International Seminar for “The Cape Coast and Elmina Handbook”, held at the Institute of African Studies Legon, in collaboration with UCC, March 23-26, 1995. Then by the 20th Century, historians such as W.W. Claridge (1915), F.K. Buah (1951) W.F. Ward (1957), J.K. Fynn (1974) and NA. Dr. Sharp, Chairman of the defunct Cape Coast Historical Society (1934). Finally, more may be turned by delving into the extant documents of early European navigators of the 16th — 19th centuries such as S. Brun (1624) W.T. Mueller (1676). Bosmann (1705), J. Barbot (1732), Cape Coast is a corruption if the Portuguese CABO CORSO or ‘Short Cape’.
The dominant traditions of the indigenous inhabitants of Oguaa assert that they originated from Fetu, about north of Cape Coast. The site has been identified as that of the present-day Efutu. The Efufu State like its sister State of Eguafo, was founded by the Guan-the undisputed aborigines of Ghana (See: Seminar Paper Ibid). p21, whose account is worth reading).
Legend even has it that one of the early kings of Fetu was a veracious eater of crabs which flourished in the marshy low lying areas around the hills of the present Cape Coast. The settlement was accordingly named KOTOKURABA, viz “Crab rivulet” (op.cit p.21) The early beginning of the town was, certainly, related to the existence of crabs in the area, and the effigy of the crab became the Traditional Eblem(See; “State Emblem of the Gold Coast” — D.A. Sutherland, 1952 p.67).
With time, another collection of reed huts sprang up nearer to the beach which developed into active commercial centre where salt and other commodities were exchanged. This new settlement became known as GWA or IGWA (Oguaa). There was rapid increase in population following the influx of the people from Efutu. When WJ. Mueller was a chaplain in the Danish fort, Fredrickdborg, 1661 — 1669, the king of Fetu was called Aduafo a powerful ruler who was feared ad honoured by his people.
In 1693, the Fetu kingdom was defeated by the allied forces of Assin and Asebu. The Efutuhene Nana Essifie Kuma transferred his capital from Efutu to Oguaa (Graham, Ibid). On arrival, the new migrants settled in three distinctive areas, viz. Bentsil, the area of highland behind the newly-built castle; Nkum, the sloping ground on the west bank of the stream below Bentsil; then lntsin, the rising ground on the east side of the*Stream (Seminar Paper op.cit. p22).
Later, a number of ambitious and influential families broke away, and founded a chain of fishing villages on the east coast. They include Legu, Dwemba-Mumford and Winneba, (Simpa) family groups.
The Real Expansion of Oguaa
When the Swedes first settled at Cape Coast in 1652, they built a trading lodge, Carolusborg. In 1653, before embarking on the Castle itself in 1657 they introduced men and women form the leeward coast chiefly from Benin in Nigeria, to train as bricklayers, coopers, blacksmiths and artisans. With these ‘strangers’ they built the Castle. Upon completion of the contract they were assigned the land near the Castle and formed themselves into No.5 Company under the name Brofu-Mba or Brofu-Nkoa (“Whiteman’s servants”).
The influx of Europeans in an unhealthy climate, and far from their home, naturally led to the birth of a large number of mulattoes who became the No. 6. Company or Akrampa which means mullatto. Finally, the Danes brought more artisans from the Accra district and settled them along the coast, a little east of the town. These became No. 7 Company. Amanful or Oman Fofro, referring to a “New State”.
The No.1 Copipany, Bentsil, sprang from the No. 2 Company or Anafu (Lower Town). The No. 3 Company, Nsin, originally settled on land near the castle, and when the castle was being built, they were ordered to move farther afield, hence Nstin (to stretch out). No. 4 Nkum, No. 5 Brofu-Mba, No. 6 Akrampa, and No. 7 Amanful) which system was the outstan ing eature of political organization in the 19th century.
Recruitment of members was patrilineal. The inhabitants of Oguaa, therefore, seem to be an amalgamation of the so-called ‘foreigners’ and different Fante tribes (of which Abura is the most important), and mostly the aboriginal Fetu people of Guan extraction who occupied the Paramount Stool on the male-line until the destoolment of Kofi Emissa 1851- 1856 (whose predecessor was Egyir alias Boropo 1801 — 1851).
The destoolment of Kofi Emissa in February 1856 due to fractional fights paved the way for Kweku Attah to become the first occupant of the Paramount Stool on Female-line in March 1858 (Kwaku Attah 1856 — 1858, Kwaku Enu or John Crentsil, 1858 — 1865), Kwesi Attah, 1863 and Kojo Mbrah I, drawn from the Abradze royal family.
By this time, Oguaa had reached the apogee of its prestige and prosperity. It began to take appearance of a minor colonial capital, but still dependant on the colonial government in Sierra Leone until in 1874 after the decisive defeat of Asante in the Anglo-Asante war of 1874 that Gold Coast became a fully-fledged colony and Oguaa became the first capital; however, in 1877, the seat of government was moved to Accra.
Earlier in 1872, the Fante inhabitants had influenced the colonial mentors to ban the FETU AFAHYE, alledging that frequent clashes between the various Companies were inimical to peace and progress even the Governor himself had described it as ~The Black Christmas”. Gradually, the Borbor-Fante Ahobar Afahye was ushered in until the 191’Os when the Tufuhin Kwame Edu caused the FETU AFAHVE to be re-instated in view to asserting their Afutu-Guan origin, Moreover, the Fetu Afahye is an aboriginal cult meant to propitiate the Earth God, and it certainly shows that the deity who they honour is older than the Fante invasion (similarly, the citizens of Kyebi in Akyem Abuakwa have, since the arrival of their ancestor from Adanse, celebrated the OHUM FESTIVAL of the Okere-Guan aborigines they met on the land).
The Spectator Page: 31 Saturday, October 16, 2010