Open main menu

Akwamu (also called Akuambo) was a state set up by Akan people (in present-day Ghana) that flourished in the 17th and 18th centuries. The name was also applied to its people.[1] Originally emigrating from Bono state, the Akan founders settled in Twifo-Heman.[2] The Akwamu led an expansionist empire in the 17th and 18th centuries. At the peak of their empire, the Akan created an influential culture that has contributed to at least three countries in West Africa.[citation needed]

Kingdom of Akwamu
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Accra, Brong Ahafo Region, Eastern Region, Ashanti Region, Volta Region of Ghana
Christianity, African Traditional Religion
Related ethnic groups

History of Akwamus national state symbolEdit

Akwamu National State Symbol

Akwamus are the Abrade (Aduana) Clan of Akan tribe. According to the oral traditions, they originated from ancient Ghana. They migrated from the north, they went through Egypt and settled in Nubia (Sudan). Around 500 AD (5th century), due to the pressure exerted on Nubia by Axumite kingdom of Ethiopia, Nubia was shattered, and they moved to the west and established small trading kingdoms which later grew and became wealthy and powerful state. By 750 AD, the kingdom had become the ancient Ghana Empire. The Empire lasted from 750 AD to 1200 AD and collapsed as a result of the introduction of Islam in the Western Sudan, and the zeal of the Muslims to impose their religion, their ancestors left for Kong (i.e. present day Ivory Coast). From Kong they moved to Wam. From Wam they moved to Bono Manso, then to Dormaa (these are both on present day Brong-Ahafo region). The movement from Kong was necessitated by the desire of the people to find suitable Savannah conditions since they were not used to Forest life. Around the 14th century, they moved from Dormaa south and went eastwards to Twifo-Hemang, North West Cape Coast. The move was commercially motivated and settled at the Twifo-Heman forest in the later part of the 16th century. Akwamus are Akans, they belonged to the Aduana family who are blood brothers of Asumennya, Dormaa and Kumawu. According to oral tradition, a succession dispute resulted in Otomfuo (brass-smith) Asare deserted the family to form a new state or city called Asaremankesee (Asare's big state). The modern city of Asaremankese was founded and occupied by the Akwamus.

Akwamu expansion started between 1629 and 1710. They migrated into the Akuapem area, including Kyerepon and Larteh, Denkyera, Ga-Adangbe; and the Ladoku states of Agona, Winneba, Afram plains, Southern Togoland and into Ouidah (Juda) in present-day Benin. The powerful king Nana Ansa Sasraku I annexed the Guan and took over the traditional areas of the Kyerepon. He ruled over them until Asonaba Nana Ofori Kuma and his followers, after a succession dispute in an effort to form their own State, engaged them in a fierce war. The Akwamu were driven away from the mountains.

These Asona family members and their followers were given a piece of land by the Guan and Kyerepon, the original settlers, to form the Akuapem state. But, most of the present Akuapem still have their roots at Akwamufie, especially those bearing the names Addo and Akoto, or who are from the Aduana family.

Nana Ansa Sasraku also played an important role in the life of the King Osei Tutu of Asante by protecting him from the Denkyiria. Osei Tutu's father name was Owusu Panin from Akwamu and his mother was named Manu Kotosii who also was from Kwaaman. She was the sister of Oti Akenten and Obiri Yeboah the late kings of Kwaaman. When Manu was unable to have children, her brother Obiri Yeboah sent her to a shrine priest called Otutu in Akwapim for help. Later she conceived and gave birth to a baby boy (Osei Kofi) and named him after the shrine called Tutu; by then Kwaaman was under the Denkyiria so when Osei was teenager, he was sent to serve at the court of Boa Amponsem, the then king of Denkyiria. Later, Osei got himself into trouble by impregnating the king's sister Akobena Bensua and ran to his father at Akwamu for protection. When Osei got to Akwamu, Otumfuo Ansa Sasraku received him and treated him very well; and also protected him from the Denkyirias. Later, Osei Tutu met Kwame Frimpong Anokye (a.k.a. Okomfo Anokye) and he became his friend. Shortly after that Osei's uncle, Obiri Yeboah, the then king of Kwaaman died in their war against Domaa; and as a result, Osei had to become the next king but he was afraid of the Denkyirias to go back to Kwaaman so Otumfuo Ansa Sasraku detached 300 Akwamu soldiers to guide him to Kwaaman. When the soldiers got to Kwaman, they settled among them and later became citizens of Asafo. The soldiers then restructured the Asante army as the replica of the well-organised Akwamu army and with the help of the Akwamus, they embarked on a series of campaigns which led to the defeat of the Denkyiras; the Asante Stool then became the wife of the Akwamu Stool but when the Akwamu was facing the combined force of Akyem (Akyem Abuakwa, Akyem Kotoku and Akyem Bosome), Ga, Kyerepong, and the Dutch, the Asantes pretended they knew nothing about it and did not help the Akwamus which led to their defeat in 1734. Although Akwamu lost the western part of the Empire, it was quick to reestablished itself and controlled the eastern part of the Empire that was from the east bank of the Volta river to Dahomey.

When the Asantes fought the British in their third and fourth wars, the Akwamus tried to help but withdrew their help because in 1867 Akwamu and Anlo, the two allies of Asante signed diplomatic agreement with British government; therefore based on the agreement, Akwamu could no longer team up with Asante to fight the British again and Asante was defeated. Despite all these Akwamus and Asantes are still strong allies. They fought in many wars as allies, one of the most difficult ones was the “Krepi war” in 1869 where the Dutch and the Ewe forces inflicted heavy casualties on Asante and Akwamu forces to the extent that Otumfuo Kofi Karikari, the then Asantehene decided to withdraw from the war, so he ordered Adu Bofo, the then Asante army general to abandon the Krepi war; but Bofo continued to the end, and later demanded heavy ounces of gold for the captured Dutch (German) missionaries. After the Krepi war, Peki and the majority of Ewes gained their independence; the Akwamu domination over the Ewelands came to a halt; and the empire finally collapsed in 1869. Unfortunately, the Akwamus were displeased with the performance of Otumfuo Kwafo Akoto I (Okorfroboo), the then king of Akwamu empire.

Nana Osei Tutu was assisted in execution cases by the Anumfuo (later Adumfuo) who accompanied him from Akwamu. In the 21st century, numerous Asante trace their ancestry to Akwamu especially; these included people from Asafo and Adum, as well as sections of the people from Bantama and Barekese.

After the death of Nana Ansa Sasraku, he was succeeded by two kings collectively, Nana Addo Panin and Nana Basua. It was during this time that the Akwamu took over the possession of the trading Danish Castle at Christianborg at Osu, in present-day Accra.

Because of the cordial relationship between Akwamu and Asante, during the 19th-century expansion of Asante, Akwamu, Anlo and Asante fought as allies. Akwamu controlled eastern part of the Volta river and the Asante also controlled the western part of it until all of them came under British, German, and French control. During the Golden Anniversary of Nana Kwafo Akoto II, Nana Opoku Ware I crossed the Pra River to spend two days at Akwamufie.

At the peak of their power, the Akwamu state encompassed much of the eastern part of the present-day Ghana. It is traditionally thought that between 1677 and 1681, the Akwamu state conquered the states of Ladoku, Agona and the fort of Whydah, as well as the Ewe people of the Ho region.[3] The Akwamu also conquered the Ga people and occupied the old Ga Kingdom.[3]

In 1693, the Asimani of Akwamu led a raid and seized Osu Castle (currently the seat of the Ghanaian government), from the Danish colonists.[4] The Akwamu thus controlled many of the trade routes from the interior to the coast in the eastern half of what is now Ghana and created a capital at Nyanoase.[5]

In the 1720s a civil war in the Akwamu state caused great hardship. The victors sold most of the King's allies as slaves and they were transported to the Caribbean island of St. John. In 1733 they fomented a slave revolt on the island.[6]

In 1734 the Akwamus were defeated by the Akyem (Abuakwa, Kotoku and Bosome), Ga, Kyerepong, and the Dutch forces, and lost half of their empire. The Akwamus were pushed to Akwamufie, the location of their current capital; but in 1869 while Akwamu was facing the Dutch and the Ewe forces in the Krepi war, Akyem, Akuapem, and others saw an opportunity to join the Dutch and the Ewe forces to crush Akwamu once and for all; so Dompre, the then king of Akyem Kotoku organized the Akuapem, Ga, and Akyem forces and matched against Akwamu, unfortunately, the Akwamus saw revenge so when W. H. Simpson, the then Acting-Administrator of the Gold Coast tried to intervene diplomatically, the Akwamu arrested him and kept him for five days until Adu Bofo, an Asante army general persuaded them to release him without provoking British to war and they released him, but went ahead and captured Dompre and executed him; and also defeated his forces and Akyem never made such an attempt again.

List of rulers of the state of Akwamu (formerly Twifo-Heman)Edit

Akwamu rulers Period of reign
Otumfuo Agyen Kokobo (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1505–1520
Otumfuo Ofosu Kwabi (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1520–1535
Otumfuo Oduro (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1535–1550
Otumfuo Addow (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1550–1565
Otumfuo Akoto I (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1565–1580
Otumfuo Asare (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1580–1595
Otumfuo Akotia (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1595–1610
Otumfuo Obuoko Dako (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1610–1625
Ohemmaa Afrakoma (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1625–1640
Otumfuo Ansa Sasraku I (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1640–1674
Otumfuo Ansa Sasraku II (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1674–1689
Otumfuo Ansa Sasraku III (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1689–1699
Otumfuo Ansa Sasraku IV (Addo) (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1699–1702
Otumfuo Akonno Panyin (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1702–1725
Otumfuo Ansa Kwao (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1725–1730
Otumfuo Akonno Kuma (Regent) 1730–1744
Otumfuo Opoku Kuma (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1744–1747
Otumfuo Darko Yaw Panyin (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1747–1781
Otumfuo Akoto Panyin (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1781–1835
Otumfuo Dako Yaw Kuma (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1835–1866
Otumfuo Kwafo Akoto I (Okorfroboo) (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1866–1882
Otumfuo Akoto Ababio (Kwame Kenseng) (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1882–1887
Otumfuo Akoto Ababio II (Okra Akoto) (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1887–1909
Otumfuo Akoto Kwadwo (Mensa Wood) (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1909–1910
Otumfuo Akoto Ababio III (Emmanuel Asare) (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1910–1917
Otumfuo Ansa Sasraku V (Kwabena Dapaa) (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1917–1921
Otumfuo Akoto Ababio IV (Emmanuel Asare) (Yaa Ansaa Royal) 1921–1937
Odeneho Kwafo Akoto II (Kwame Ofei) (Regent) 1937–1992
Odeneho Kwafo Akoto III (Bernard Oweiredu) 2012-present[7]
Tenure Incumbent Notes
Akwamuhenes (Rulers)
c. 1480 to c. 1500 Agyen Kokobo, Akwamuhene (Yaa Ansaa Royal) Founder of Twifo-Heman
c. 1500 to c. 1520 Ofusu Kwabi, Akwamuhene (Yaa Ansaa Royal)
c. 1520 to c. 1540 Oduro, Akwamuhene (Yaa Ansaa Royal)
c. 1540 to c. 1560 Ado, Akwamuhene (Yaa Ansaa Royal)
c. 1560 to c. 1575 Otumfo Asare, Akwamuhene (Yaa Ansaa Royal) Founder of the Akwamu State, with capital at Asaremankesse
c. 1575 to c. 1585 Akotia, Akwamuhene (Yaa Ansaa Royal) Relocated capital at Ayandawaase
c. 1585 to c. 1600 Ansa Saseraku, Akwamuhene (Yaa Ansaa Royal)
(Ansa Saseraku I)
c. 1600 to c. 1620 Ansa Saseraku, Akwamuhene (Yaa Ansaa Royal)
(Ansa Saseraku II)
c. 1620 to c. 1640 Ansa Saseraku, Akwamuhene (Yaa Ansaa Royal)
(Ansa Saseraku III)
c. 1640 to c. 1660 Abuako Dako, Akwamuhene (Yaa Ansaa Royal)
c. 1660 to c. 1680 Afera Kuma, Akwamuhene (Yaa Ansaa Royal)
c. 1680 to 1702 Manukure, Akwamuhene (Yaa Ansaa Royal)
1702 to 1726 Akwano Panyini, Akwamuhene (Yaa Ansaa Royal)
1726 to 1734 Dako Booman, Akwamuhene (Yaa Ansaa Royal)
1734 Conquest by the Akyem peoples
2012-present Odeneho Kwafo Akoto III


  1. ^ "Akwamu". Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 28 March 2007.
  2. ^ "The Akwamu". Archived from the original on 13 December 2006. Retrieved 28 March 2007.
  3. ^ a b Muḥammad Zuhdī Yakan, Almanac of African Peoples & Nations, p.161
  4. ^ "Ghana Castle". Government of Ghana. Archived from the original on 3 April 2007. Retrieved 28 March 2007.
  5. ^ Kwamina B. Dickson, A Historical Geography of Ghana, p.23
  6. ^ Hartman, Saidiya. Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route. (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007) pp. 91-93
  7. ^ Territory comprised part of present-day southern Ghana

Further readingEdit

  • van Dantzig, Albert; Barbara Priddy (1971). A Short History of the Forts and Castles of Ghana. Accra: Liberty Press.
  • Wilks, Ivor (2001). Akwamu 1640–1750: A Study of the Rise and Fall of a West African Empire. Trondheim.