THE STORY OF BUEM
KNOW THE ORIGIN OF TOWNS
By Kwame Ampene
(Founder of the Guan Historical Society)
JASIKAN is the Administrative capital of the Buem Traditional Area in mid-Volta Region, physically an integral part of the Togo-Atakora system, but historically a part of the former German Colony of “Schutzgebiet Togo”, 1899 – 1918, when Buem became part of Togoland under United Kingdom Trusteeship till Plebiscite was held in May 1956 to determine its unification with an independent Gold Coast.
Linguistically, the word BUEM is identified with people belonging to the indigenes locally known as the Lefana-speaking group of Borada, Guaman, Kadjakrom, Jasikan, and the Lelemi-speaking people of Bagio and Teteman. There is no doubt that the Lefana and the Lelemi are cognate races.
Beginning with the history of the Buem traditions, the inhabitants disclosed that there are three versions of the origin of the word BUEM.
One version relates that the name was originally BUEFO, initiated by the Worawora people in consequence of their yielding when aimed at with a gun, and they would plead saying: “Boe, Boe!” which means “softly, softly”. At this time, the Worawora immigrants could not understand the language of the early inhabitants; so they gave them the name BUEFO.
Another version is given that the root of the word came from ‘Bue’, an expression in the language of the people which also means ‘slowly’, farewell’, or ‘sound sleep’, depending on the context it is used. Thus, “Meyina Bueme”, lit. “I am going to the land of the Bue”. – The familiar saying among the Ewe travelers.
The last of the theories for the origin of this name says that at the start of a fight between the Buem and Kwawu Dokuman, then resident at Jinjiso, the Dokumanhene is said to have remarked in Twi: “Mibue moi ani a, mo ani nte” meaning: “you cannot be civilized after indoctrination”, hence ‘Mibue’ became corrupted into BUEM.
Be that as it may, this seems to be a good example of ‘folk etymology’ i.e. a commonly accepted tale invented to provide a pedigree for a word whose real origin is unknown.
The Buem tradition further disclosed that the Djolu were the early inhabitants of the district and that their oldest settlement was Kubuja close to the Togo border. This settlement flourished up to 1800 when it was ransacked by the Akposp. The most powerful Djolu chief, Nifu, ruled for fifty years. He had three handsome children, namely: Amoah, Adzo and Ayah. On his death, Amoah succeeded as chief of Kubuja and its surrounding villages.
Since women at Kubuja had to walk long distance to fetch water, Edze settled near the Adze (Dayi) Stream which later became known as Edze-ulu, ie, ‘on the way to Edze’ which gradually became corrupted into DJOLU.
Ayah also built a settlement close to Edze-ulu, to it was given the name ‘Ayaoma’ or AYOMA, ie. ‘Ayah’s estate’
Later, certain individuals abandoned the three towns and founded new settlements at Chichia on the Opera Hills. One of these new villages was KUDJE which got its name from the fat that it was a suitable place for growing local ground for making calabash – Okedge.
In the 19th Century, considerable dispersion look place at Kudge because of constant attack by bands of warriors from Kwawu Dukoman living at Ojinji Stream, tributary of River Asukawkaw. Settlements they created were Akaa, Atonkor, Borae, Abanja, Ominasa, Asapah and Juakoman, but only the first three survived by 1884, the rest having been destroyed in the Asante invasion, 1869 – 1871.
By mutual consent the town of Borada, situated at the centre, and convenient to all the village folks was chosen as the meeting place. Therefore, the principal convener of such tribal meeting held at Borada became the accepted Head of the gathering and gradually developed his position to the status of a Paramount Chief of the Buem State while the Djolu Headchief accepted the rank of Akwamuhene of the traditional area.
Formerly, the people of Borada, Jasikan and Okajakrom were living at Danda near the Kowisabe hills near Bowiri Amanforo. However, in 1820, an old man of Jasikan deserted Danda and settled on the bank of Odome Stream. This settlement flourished and was later renamed JASIKAN, because during the Asante invasion of 1869 – 1871, the Asante warlord lost a sword there. Therefore, JASIKAN is derived from the expression ‘Gya sekan’ – “leave a sword there”.
Nana Nyanya also left Danda, and his new settlement JASAKAN AKURA (Jasikan-village) on the land originally the domain of Kudje. In 1927, however, the name was changed to OKADJAKROM by the then chief Adje II, a pensioner of the Railway Department, because the name Jasikan-Akura showed lack of respect for the people.
Although the Lefana and the Lelemi are highly bilingual speaking either Ewe or Twi in addition to their own language, their oral tradition shows clearly that the substratum of the population belong to the Guan ethnic group. Their linguistic characteristics tend to support this assertion.
Finally, on 3rd November, 1991, I visited Borada for the third time in my capacity as the organizing Secretary of the Guan Congress. (Association of Guan-Speaking Peoples of Ghana), this time I was sent to invite the Paramount Chief of Buem, to attend the 4th Guan Congress scheduled to take place at Winneba on 6-8 December, 1991. While traveling across the District I became more and more fascinated by the origin and meaning of the names of their settlements as indicated in this paper.
(See), for example ‘A Note on the Peopling of the Forest Hills of the Volta Region of Ghana’ in Ghana Notes and Queries, June, 1970. Also by the same author “An Historical Geography of the Ho-Kpandu-Buem Area of the Volta Region of Ghana 1884 – 1956”.
Unpublished MS. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Public Records And Archives Administration Department, Notes on Togoland People, ADM 11/1/603/case No. 58/1915 ALSO Togoland under United Kingdom Trusteeship For the Year 1948” – His Majesty’s Stationary Office, London, 1949).
The Spectator Page: 31 Saturday, August 13, 2011