THE STORY OF TEMA
The people of Tema, in the Greater Accra Region, were once known as TORMAN, meaning a town of gourd and calabash, which became corrupted in Tema.
Tradition says that their ancestors were well-noted for the cultivation of gourds. In the Ga language, TOR means gourd, and MAN means nation, for this reason they named the town after the gourd. In the annual ceremony of welcoming the lagoon in the rainy season, the lagoon song runs: “May our fruitful women be like gourds”, an affirmation that the origin of the name Tema is derived from the gourd once cultivated by their ancestors.
The Early History of Tema: on either side of the present site of Tema were farming settlements at Podoku and Atsendoku some three kilometres apart; another settlement at Tebiano and Lashibi on the Nungua side of the Wulome lagoon. The indigenous settlers belonged to two distinct ethnic groups, namely the lagoon worshipping Kpeshi and the people of La extraction whose worship was associated with sacred animals.
In those days, there was much guerilla warfare between the people of Nungua and La for the purpose of taking captives to sell as slaves to Europeans. In danger of extermination, the indigenous settlers around Podoku and Atsendoku deserted – one section from Podoku emigrated eastwards and founded Kpeshi in Ayigbe(Eweland), while the despairing remnants joined forces and came to live together on the present site of Tema. The Podoku and Astendoku sites became unoccupied, hence the suffix “doku” which simply means “deserted”.
Traditions further relate that those who gathered at the present site of Tema made frantic efforts to organize themselves for warfare in order to get permanent footing; and for this purpose they put themselves under the tuition of one Adzeto-Afari; an Akwamu refugee who procured for them a stool to take to war for the first time. Afari lodged with one Adzeite, the Wulome of the deity Tsade. He married Adzeite’s daughter and was commonly called Adzetie-Afari.
On the death of Adzeite, Afari became theTsade Wulomo, and simultaneously filled the newly created post Mantse to take the new stool to war.
About the same time, the town created the Mankralo’s Stool and thereafter chose a substantive Mankralo from among relatives of old Adzeite, while the Mantse still was the Tsade Wulome.
It is noteworthy that the descendants of Adzeite with their two deites – Tsada and Awudu – formed the half of the town known as Ashaman (i.e. Ashare’s town). The other half was composed of Kpeshi descendants worshipping the three senior lagoons – Tsemu, Siketo and Sakumo – and the deity Akpitioko. This second half of the town became known as Awudun, because the site was abutting on Awudu’s sacred grove.
Soon, the Abeitsewe people arrived from Larteh-Akuapem with their goddess Na Yo, and became a part of Awudun.
Initially, the Mantse at Tema was not recognized as a monarch, and that the people themselves were capable of thinking out and carrying through severe self-organization without destroying a single existing institution. Thus, till 1931, Tema had almost escaped the notice of the British administration, and no Mantse was recognized as such by the Governor.
All disputes were settled by the Ga State Council because there was no registered tribunal. The government of the town went on in its own ancient fashion. The daily duties of the Mantse or Mankralo were then performed by the four chief Wulomei who were greatly respected, and that their word on all fishing and farming matters were considered law.
In the 1930s when the Mantse was invited by the Govenor to appear in person on the Coronation celebrations in Accra, the relatives, assisted by reluctant town’s folk, had to scrap together the money for him.
The recent history of Tema details of which does not concern us here at the moment, opens at a time when the town felt that it would help them in their intercourse with the British government to have a literate representative. So they appointed a Mantse, a man called Nyado, who from his youth had been absent from the town employed as a Book-keeper by a trading firm in Accra, without regard to the choice of a Mantse who should also be a Wulome, since all the Wulome specialized in the sacred and ceremonial part of the town’s affairs.
DATE: Saturday, December 14, 2013
Source: THE SPECTATOR, Page 31