The Story of Koforidua
Know the origin of Towns
(Founder of the Quan Historical Society)
KOFORIDUA is the seat of the Paramount Stool of New Juaben Traditional Area and the administrative capital of the Eastern Region of the Republic of Ghana.
Tradition indicates that Ofori, a prince of the chief of Kukurantumi founded a village at a vantage point on his father’s estate. The Headman of the village was affectionately called KWA-OFORI, meaning Servant of Ofori”. Kwa-Ofori established a market under a huge tree where prospective buyers and sellers came to transact business. This is the origin and meaning of the name KWA-OFORI-DUA-ASE, now corrupted into KOFORIDUA.
Now let me digress a little. Among the Akans peaking people of Ghana “Kwa is the shortening of koa” or “akoa”, i.e. a male servant. The Sumerian of Ancient Mesopotamia and the Ancient Akan started the lunar calendar and the seven system of calendar time. Each day was named after one of the “moving” heavenly bodies: the sun, the moon and the five planets known at that time, namely Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn. Thus Kwasi (Awusi –servant of the sky-god, the sun), Kwadwo, (Adwo –servant of the sky-god, the Moon), Kwabena (Aben –Mars), Kwaku (Aku –Mercury), Yaw or Kwao (Awo –Jupiter), Kofi (Afi –the Venus), and Kwame (Amen –the servant of the sky-god Saturn). It was believed that these “moving’ heavenly bodies influenced human destiny in a way that the fixed stars did not. Briefly, proper names of persons such as Kwafum, Kwadade, Kwapon Kwakye, Kwatia, Kwatiemo and Kwafo indicate appurtenance to a possessor. But let us go back to my search and learn how KOFORIDUA became the capital town of the New Juaben State.
The founding of New Juaben is attributed to the acquisition of land for the Asante refugees. The traditional account indicate that on 7th August 1826, the day of the Asante debacle at Akuantamansu, the Golden stool was lost for a short time when it actually fell into the hands of Anlo and Ada troops. The Juaben and Kuntenase recovery team saw them gazing in wonder at it; they fired on them, they fled leaving the stool behind.
The two chiefs both received a great ovation when they returned with it. However, the Juabenhene Kwasi Boaten, was accused by the king of having kept to himself a box containing a very large sum in gold-dust, which he vehemently denied. There was also another potential source of friction between Kumase and Juaben as the latter refused to spare the life of an accused person who sought protection of the Asantehene. The two events led to a civil war between Juaben and the rest of Asante. The Juaben were defeated and the whole tribe fled to Kyebi in Akyem Abuakwa where they put themselves under the protection of Nana Ofori Atta Panyin.
While in exile, they heard of the sudden death of King Osei Yaw in Kumase, 1838. The new King Kwaku Duahi (1838-1867) sent a request to the Juabens to return home. In November 1841, therefore, they arrived in Kumase under the leadership of the Queen- Mother Nana Ammah Serwah, after having lost all the eligible male heirs to the Juaben Stool, including Kwasi Boaten, who died at Saman near Osino , and Kofi Boaten who died eighty days after enstoolment.
Nana Ammah Serwah became the Juabenhene and set to rebuild the ruins of Juaben (Random details are found in “ATETESEM” Waterville Publication, 1972 pp 112-115 by Kwame Ampene, titled KOFORIDUA-ASE anaase KOFORIDUA)
She was succeeded by her daughter Afrakuma Panyin. who in turn was succeeded by her daughter Akua Sapomah whose husband was Asafo Adjel.
In October 1875, the Juaben again returned to Akyem Abuakwa as refugees for the second time as a result of another civil war between Kumase and Juaben which was far more serious in it consequences on the Juaben — with the support of troops from Kotoku, Asumegya and Bekwai. They attacked Juaben. When Juaben ran short of ammunitions on 3rd November, they broke off and took refuge in Akyem Abuakwa.
The remote cause of the war is said to be Juabens, active part in the Sagrenti War 1874. On this occasion, the Juaben refugees were accompanied by some other Asante dissidents:
Effiduase. the Nifahene of the Omanhene of Mampon; Asaman, the Nifahene of Nsuta, Asokore, a prominent Bremanhene chief who served the Asantehene directly. Bremanhene who lived at Qyoko and served the Oyokohene of Kumase (culled from GNA, Koforidua 26-6-1921)
The bulk of the refugees moved southwards and settled in the virtually uninhabited forest land in the neighbourhood of Koforidua which was owned by the Stool of Kukurantumi.
A little over a year the Government, having observed that the refugees who were present in their numbers constituted a menace, decided to regulate the New Juaben settlement and define its status. (GNA. ADM 11-1 824). And in 1877 Capt. Hudges approached the Okyenhene Nana Amoako Atta 1 with a view to obtaining a parcel of land on which the refugees were squatting. Eventually, a free gift of land was obtained from the Kukurantumihene in the vicinity of Koforidua, making the Nkwankwadae stream the natural boundary.
In 1984, the chief of new Juaben protested to the King of Yilo krobo, Nene Akrobeto, about the encroachment of his subjects on portions of his subjects on portions of their land.
The District Commissioner of Akuse was sent to investigate the dispute and found Yilo Krobo justified in their claim. It was decided that a new land is purchased north of the River Amusow from the stool of kukurantumi to compensate the New Juaben for what thy had lost. In accordance with the arrangement, a sum of 400 pounds was paid to the kukurantumi Stool and an indenture signed on 28 May1894 by the Adontenhene of Akyem Abuakwa, Nana Kofi Aberante, who received the money.
It then became necessary for New Juaben to hold their territory under two tenures – the northern portion being held on the basis of arrangement made by the Government with the chief of Kukurantumi and occupied under license by the New Juaben.
The chief who led the Effiduase refugees was Amanie who was succeeded by Asama Kofi in whose reign the Asante refigees scattered and eventually built a new settlement at Suhyen, Jumapo, Asaman, Kankan, Engiresi, Abakoase, Old Krobo, Kwadowase and Ahweam. His successor, Yaw Kra was ordered by the Government to return to effiduases Asante to organize his people who were returning voluntarily from exile. Out of the seven stools, he could return with only three, including the great stool at Effiduase Koforidua.
Nana Ammah Serwa. However, returned to Old Juaben with all the stools which were retrieved by the Ankobenhene and Okyeame Mensa from Osu Castle where they were sent for safe keeping after Asafo Adjei had been in Lagos where he died. The stool of Asokore was also returned to Asante.
The deep urge for freedom continued to build up, so they employed all possible means to occupy the New Juaben land. The chief of koforidua and Asokore in the south occupied new consecrated stools. After the return of the Juabenhene to Asante, the krontihene was left to look after the settlers who remained behind and became the first Omanhene of the new Juaben state with its capital town at Koforidua created to exist for eternity.
SOURCES: A more detailed historyof the new Juaben state can be found in the Archives, GNA, Accra. ADM 11/13. Case no. 145/1908 ‘Ashanti refugees and the people of Eastern Akim’. Also ADM 11/1/579. Case no. 7/1915 “Juaben Settlements in Akim lands”. Random details are found in other sources such as R. S Rattary: Juaben “History and Constitution of Juaben” 1956. Pp169-197, (According to Rattary JUABEN is said to be derived from ‘dwa’ and ‘ben’ lit” “Cut up for us”. “Ben” stands for “Yen” the Brong dialect ‘we are all origin hunters’ op. cit p167.)
The Spectator Page: 31 Saturday, February 19, 2011