THE STORY OF SENYA-BERAKU
By: Kwame Ampene
(Founder of the Guan Historical Society)
The people of Senya–Beraku belong to the AWUTU AMANSA group of States comprising Winneba, Senya and Awutu who occupy the same geographical area in the Central Region on the coast. Linguistically, they speak the same language or related Guan dialects which are more or less mutually intelligible. Despite ties and language and culture they are largely independent of one another.
There is sufficient agreement about the fact that the founding fathers of Senya Beraku fraternized with the Larteh, a kindred group as migrant neighbours, and settled together near the Legon hill-their ancient settlement.
In about 1660 when the Akwamu at Nyanawase overran the inland Ga people, separation occurred, and the Senya moved away and settled near Berekuso in the valley below Aburi where they came under Akwamu hegemony from 1688-1720. From the early beginning, the Senya were under the leadership of Akondoh I who adopted Anona clan (a moiety of Oyoko) for his stool due to the long historical connection with the Akwamu which gives an inherent probability that clan affiliation completely cut across tribal boundaries.
In 1720, the Senya were determined to assert their independence form the Akwamu, so they wandered from place to place towards the coast and settled and settled on the Dampah hill. The deep urge for the freedom continued to bubble to the surface, so as soon as the neighboring Ga started to harass them, they followed King Akondoh I to the Mbronan hill about 12km, east of the Ayensu River where they discovered gold and other minerals.
One day a sailing ship anchored at Ndaditorh. The captain of the ship told them that as they were sailing pass the area, they saw thick smoke which engaged their attention to land and interact with the people of the village. The sailors showed great interest in the mining activities and helped them to dig the giant quantity of gold and mineral deposits at a place called sika-Bura (Gold mine).
Again, the Akwamu were engaging the Senya in their wars which urged them to move towards the coast and founded Amanfoso. Finally, they abandoned the place and settled at the foot of the Dutch Fort de Goede Hoop (i.e. Fort Good Hope) built 1667 (taken over by the English in 1782, and given back in 1985, afterwards abandoned).
The Senya made this place their permanent home which they nostalgically named SOWANYA, meaning “rest your soul or heart”. This is the origin and meaning of the name SENYA.
Because they were led to this place by Oma Odefey Akondoh I who possessed the Anona royal stole, tradition credits him as the founding father of Senya-Beraku State.
Successive rulers at Senya, therefore, hailed from the Anona royal family with stool name Akondoh I-IX. They were Kwa Nkwanta, Edubartey, Barkewa, Akondoh, Queen Adede, Akondoh, Nkwanta and Sarkwa Edubartey as Akondoh IX after whose reign a rival clan TWIDAN (a moiety of Beretuo) emerged.
According to traditions which are current in Senya, a young man called Nkwanta, who hailed from the Anona royal family at Senya, joined a group of Biriwa fishermen to Apam fishing expedition where Nkwanta married a woman from Twidan clan Anokyi in the neighbourhood of Mfantsiman Secondary School in the Nkusukum Traditional Area. They brought forth Otua (known as Nkwanta Otua).
Later, Nkanta returned to Senya with his family, accompanied by some of his wife’s relatives. One of them got married at Senya and brought forth Issiw, said to be a maternal cousin of Otua.
Nkwanta being a royal of the Anona family succeeded Sarkwa Edubartey as Akondoh IX after whose reign the Twidan clan members started to gain recognition.
The story is that during the Breman Asikuma War in April, 1863, all the eligible members of the Anona royal family were under age and could not produce a leader; so Issiw, a cousin of Nkwanta Otua of Twidan clan volunteered to lead the Senya-Beraku contingent – well equipped with guns and powder provided by King Serkwa Edubartey.
However, the whiteman Major Cochrane ordered the Allied Forces to return home and the campaign came to abrupt end to the annoyance of the coastal tribes (vide: W.E. Ward, “short History of Ghana” 1957 pp 133-134).
Meanwhile, the Biriwa fisher folk had introduced the socio-military organization, and had formed the No.1 and 2 Asafo Companies in the town. Since the stool was vacant, the Asafo Companies prevailed on Issiw to remain in office as the Tufuhin cum chief, and ruled for forty years and died in 1903 at age sixty-four.
The year 1903, therefore, marked another stage in the history of Senya as the Twidan family members demonstrated their inherent right to rule the people, even though Issiw was neither the pathfinder (Pioneer settler) nor someone in possession of ancestral royal stool, and by overstepping their privilege they planted seeds of discord among the people.
After Issiw the Anona royal family took possession of their ancentral stool, but the Twidan family had already installed a Mulatto (of Dutch father and Twidan mother) who, however was destooled that same year in1903. There was interregnum after which the Twidan family again installed a business man called Kweku Money as Nsie III (1913-1923).
Fortunately, K.K. Asibu of the Anona royal family was enstolled as King Akondoh X, 1930 and abdicated 1944. Next the Twidan family was installed; Issiw V (1958-1975) followed by Regent Abudulai Eseku III, Kyidonhene (1975-1985) then A.A Abew was enstolled as Akondoh XI on 12th February,1994.
The rest of the interesting story of Senya is enshrined in the Report of the Judicial Committee of the National House of Chiefs, May 10, 1979, and also the Judicial Committee Central Region House of Chiefs, April 11, 1983 and April 1994.
Informants: J.K. Asibu and Nicholas Tettey, Senya - Beraku.
The Spectator Saturday, 5 November, 2011 Page 31