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Akans and their Various Abusua

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Written by

Baafuor Ossei-Akoto

 

 

 The various Akan families are the root of all Akans. On migration the people were living together as one Abusua or family. This family is often wrongly referred to as Nton, which is something completely different.The family or Abusua is matrilineal and each Akan belongs to one of them. Every Akan whose mother is an Akan belongs to one of these Abusua, and it is along these lines that inheritance is determined with regard to Akan stools or family properties.On creating a stool, if not stated that the stool is for the children of the first occupant, the inheritance is automatically matrilineal.When Otumfuo Opoku Ware ll created the Nkosuo Stool of Kumase, he categorically said it was for the first occupant and his children and so the inheritance is patrilineal or Nton.

 

 

According oral tradition it is believed that the families Asona, Ekuona and Aduana are the oldest among the eight Akan families.

 

 

I will talk about the Aduana (Atwea, Abrade, Amoakare ne Ada) Abusua or family. These people are believed to have been led out of the ground by a dog which had fire in his mouth. Hence they are referred to as Ogyaasefuo. This has also become one of the accolades of the Dormaahene who is also from the Aduana family. It is also believed that the first Aduana had a dog that once was out to search for food and on seeing fire the dog thought there was something to eat for him and in doing so got his mouth seriously burnt. When the owner saw it coming with the fire he then said , “m'atwea woabre me adie†meaning my dog you have brought me something worthy. This gave birth to the name of the Aduana people Aduana Atwea Aberade. Another accolade “Aduana Nyankonpa Sakyire!!!

 

 

 Some hundred years ago people from different tribes could even claim a stool from another tribe if they were from the same Clan.That means an Aduana from Akwamu could go to Kumawu and could be given the stool if it becomes vacant. The totem or symbol of Aduana is the dog and fire. It is believed that their Patriach was Nana Bomaa Kusi of Wam. Although Akwamu was there before Wam this has become the general belief and this has been accepted. Their symbolic qualities are honesty and industriousness. If someone from the Aduana Clans greets you the response is, “Yaa Aberade or yaa ogyabaâ€. The Aduana is beside Asona the largest family among Akans. Here are some of the major Stools occupied by the Aduana Clan:

 

 Akwamuhene    Akwamufie

 

 Takyimanhene

 

 Assumnnyahene

 

 Kumawuhene

 

 Dormaahene

 

 Boamanhene

 

 Agogohene

 

 Denyaasehene

 

 Awua-Domasehene

 

 Tikuromhene

 

 Apagyahene Kumase    President Kuffour's family

 

 Nsuatrehene

 

 Drobohene

 

 Bompatahene

 

 Manso Memhene

 

 Kadehene - Akyem

 

 Obo Kwahu

 

 Obomehene    Kwahu

 

 Asamankesehene

 

 Kwaasohene

 

 Kwaamanhene

 

 

 

2.

 

 

The Asona Abusua or Clan is called Nsunafo or Dumana in Fantse. Oral tradition has it that they were led out of a cave by a snake and protected by the elephant to their various destinations like Buabinso in Akyem and Edweso in Asante.According to oral tradition every Asonaba originated from Adanse Akurofuom. The first known Asona woman was Asonaba Nana Ano Boadie who gave birth to Nana Ofori Panin, Nana Nyaako Braae and Nana Aberewa Dokuaa. It is interesting to know that all other members of the Asona Family trace their origin from this root, irrespective of what tribe they belong to today. A tribe is something that later came into existence and created a serious problem for the families because it divided them and eventually made them strangers to each other. 

 

 

The akyenaboa or totem symbol of the the Asona Clan is the crow(Kwaakwadebi) and their patriarch is Nana Kunkuntunkununku l of Akyem Abuakwa. It is also a taboo for an Asona to come across the red snake popularly known as Asonawo, this might mean the death of a family member. It will be recalled that Nana Kuntunkununku was not the first Asona Chief because he also originated from the Akurofuom family of Nana Atta Apeanim Kwaforamoa who is said to have been the originator and founder of the Akyem Abuakwa Tribe.The first known Asona chief was Nana Amponsa Ahenasa. Among the Asantes the Offinsohene is considered the head of the Asona family.

 

 

 The symbolic quality of the Asona Clan is statesmanship and patriotism and this is even portrayed by Asona women of today. The Asona Clan is among the few families where the women were given the privilege to rule as Kings or Chiefs three examples could be given here. Nana Abena Boaa who ruled Offinso (1610-1640),Nana Afia Dokuaa who ruled Akyem Abuakwa (1817-1835),  and Nana Yaa Asantewaa who ruled Edweso (1896-1900). One of the accolades of the Asona family is that they look so beautiful and pretty. The saying goes this way: "Asonafuo a  ahoofe adware won, won atiko tese obi anim." Literal meaning is -  the people of  the Asona family are so pretty that the back side of the head is as beautiful as someone's face. Nananom asonafuo a yennko nsuo ngu obi ahinam.

 

 

 If you are greeted by an Asonaba the response is "Yaa Oforina" or "Yaa Asonaa". The writer is a proud Asonaba who proudly traces his roots at Asaremankese in Akyem and Akurofuom in Adanse. I recall that when I was a child my grand mother made every effort to keep our links with Asaremankese, Akurofuom and Mpreaso. I did not understand until I was old enough to understand what it all meant.

 

 Here are some of the major Stools occupied by the Asona family:

 

 Okyehene        Ofori Panin's Stool

 

 Offinsohene     Wiafe Akenten's Stool

 

 Edwesohene     Diko Gyima's Stool

 

 Okuapehene     Ofori Kumaa's Stool

 

 Mpraesohene       Kwahu

 

 Buabensohene     Akyem

 

 Edwirahene

 

 Mankessimhene    Fantse

 

 Nkwatiahene       Kwahu

 

 Tafohene         Kwahu

 

 Beposohene

 

 Adanse Akurofuomhene

 

 Manso Nkwantahene

 

 Onwehene

 

 Feyiasehene

 

 Bonwirehene

 

 Taabuomhene

 

 Kronkohene         Kumase

 

 Akwamu or Asafohene   Kumase

 

 Akomferehene     Kumase

 

 Atwima Agogohene

 

 Toasehene

 

Kwahu Aduammoahene

 

Tanodumasehene

 

Asotwehene

 

Abrankasohene

 

 

 

 

 

3.

 

 

 

The next Abusua or Clan is the Oyokuo (Yokofo or Dehyena in Fantse). This is the most powerful family in Asante because it is the ruling family and the occupant of the Golden Stool. The Ayokofuo ( plural) have up to date tried to maintain that is forbidden for two Ayokofuo to marry irrespective of town or tribe. There are only few such marriages.

 

   

The Oyokuo family is said to have come out of the Ekuona family. The first known Oyoko woman was Nana Ekuru who had migrated from Adanse to settle in Asuom. She had two children called Nana Yita and Nana Antwiwaa Nyame. Nana Antwiwaa Nyame and her people migrated from Asuom to Betenase in the Akyem area. Since they did not have the ambition to stay there they renamed the place “Yesii-ha-kwa or Asii-ha-kwaâ€, this later changed to become Asiakwa.

 

 

They then left Asiakwa but left some of their people to take care of the place and that is the reason why the Asiakwahene, who is the Nifahene of the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Council, belongs to the Oyoko family. And that is also the reason why in the olden days the Asiakwahene was not always loyal to the Okyehene with regard to Wars against Asantes.

 

 

After leaving Asiakwa we heard that Antwiwaa Nyame and her children emerged from a hole at Asantemanso in Asumnnya. Nana Antwiwaa Nyame had the following children: Nana Twum, Nana Antwi who ruled the Oyoko family together, Nana Kwabea Amanfi, their younger brother who succeeded them as the next ruler, Nana Pinaman Panin who was the first queen of Kokofu and the direct great grandmother of the first Asantehene King Osei Tutu ll, and Nana Oti Akenten who moved the Ayokofuo from Kokofu to Kwaaman, which later became Kumase.

 

 

The present occupant of the Golden Stool is the direct descendant of Nana Antwiwaa Nyame in the 21st generation. The patriarchs of the Oyoko family are Twum and Antwi of Asantemanso and Kokofu and their totem is  the falcon. Their symbolic qualities are statesmanship, patience and bravery. If an Oyokuo greets you their response are “Yaa Eburu, Yaa Oyokuoba or Yaa Odohyie Nanaâ€. Here are some of the Akan Stools that belong to the Oyoko family:

 

 

 

 Asantehene

 

 Kokofuhene

 

 Dwabenhene

 

 Koforiduahene

 

 Bekwaihene

 

 Asiakwahene         Akyem

 

 Pesehene            Akwamu

 

 Potsenhene       Fantse

 

 Nsutahene

 

 Juasohene

 

 Kontaasehene

 

 Adwumakaasekesehene

 

 Sawiahene

 

 Sresohene

 

Dwansahene

 

Oboguhene

 

Kwaabre Kenyaasehene

 

Ayebiasehene (KNUST village) 

 

 

 

 

 

4.

 

The next family or Abusua in this series is the Ekuona Abusua (Fantse, Kwonnafo). They are also referred to as Ekuo ne Asimpi. Ahwenie a eda yaawa mu. The family is also sometimes referred to as Asokorefuo. It is believed that most the Akan families originally belonged to this family and this makes them the mother of all the families. They were the first settlers in Adanse and thus the royal family was Ekuona. The Ekuona family members are believed to be the first among the Akans who built houses hence the name “Adan-sifuo†house builders. Esono nni ho ekuo ne Piesie. It is traditionally believed that it was the Ekuona family that gave birth to the Oyokuo. This started when some portion broke their taboo and ate the meat of a buffaloo. The  people were then refrred to as Owekuo. Those who eat bufalloo meat.

 

 

 

 After Adanse was defeated by Denkyera a lot of the members of the family started migrating and this took them to a small town near Kwaaman (Kumase) called Asokore Mampong. From here Nana Kwaku Tia left with family to Berekum and Nana Sefa Atweneboa left with his people for Asokore Kesiem.

 

 

 The Asokorefuo generally love their sons so much that they have always made it possible for them to occupy their various stools although succession or inheritance is matrilineal. This for example has created a problem in Berekum that when the last Chief died the real Asokore family claimed their stool and it nearly led to a war. This problem started when in 1770 Nana Amankona Diawuo succeeded his father Nana Kyere Diabour.

 

 

 According to oral tradition, it was the Ekuona family that introduced the job of an Okyeame into the Akan system when their chief Nana Awurade Basa of Adanse in the 15th century appointed the first Okyeame. A linguist is capable of  changing the original speech of his chief without making him look stupid, hence the name “Okyea-ameneeâ€. Literally translated means somebody capable of bending or straightening up the brain.

 

 

 The patriach of the Ekuona is Nana Asante Gyima of Adanse and their totem is the Buffalo (Ekuo). Their symbolic quality is honesty and uprightness. If someone from the Ekuona family greets you the response is “Yaa kuona or yaa obatanpaâ€. Here are some of the Akan stools that are from Ekuona family:

 

 

 

 

 

 Adansehene

 

 Berekumhene

 

 Oguaahene

 

 Asokorehene

 

 Asokore Mamponhene

 

 Abenkyemhene

 

 Wiamoasehene

 

 Manwerehene      Kumase

 

 Adumasahene

 

 Dua Yaw Nkwantahene

 

 Konahene

 

 Kokofu Asaamanhene

 

 Adanwomasehene

 

 Pakyihene

 

 Awua Domasehene  Nr.2

 

 Agona Akurofosohene

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.

 

 

The next in the series of Abusuafuo or Families are the people of the Bretuo ne Tena family (Fantse - Twidanfo). This family is often referred to as “etene ne bretuo†because etene or tana is said to be a younger sister of the big Bretuo family. Bretuo is also said to be the sister of the  Agona Abusua. According to Rattray, the Bretuos are said to have descended from the skies to settle at Ahensan in Adanse. It is believed that it was a Turkey buzzard that directed them from the skies to settle at Behenase from Adanse. According to the oral tradition, the first known ancestress of the Bretuo is Nana Asiama Guahyia. She gave birth to seven children including Nana Bafuo Antiedu.

 

 After the death of Nana Guahyia at Odaso which is on the present Oboase road, there was a conflict over her succession and two of her children migrated towards Akyem and Kwahu. Nana Bafuo Antiedu led a section of the Bretuo to Behenase and finally to Akrofoso. From Akrofoso they moved to make a final settlement at Mampong. The other brothers and sisters and their family that left for Kwahu settled at Obo and Abetifi. Those who left for Akyem settled at Kukurantumi and Apedwa but were however not the first settlers. They were offered a piece of land for settlement by the Asona families who had previously been there.

 

 

 It is not very clear who the patriarch of the Bretuo family was. Their totem is the leopard and their symbolic quality is Bravery and Aggressiveness. It might be interesting to know that it is as a result of the bravery of the Bretuoba Nana Boahene Anantuo of Mampong that the Silver Stool was created by Okomfo Anokye, this stool was meant to be next to the Golden Stool of the Asantes. If a Bretuo greets you the response is “ yaa twidan or yaa tanaâ€. Here are some of the Akan stools occupied by members of the Bretuo family:

 

 

 

 Mamponhene      Asanteman Kontihene

 

 Kwahumanhene

 

 Affigyaasehene     Asante

 

 Affigyaasehene     Koforidua

 

 Abetifihene         Kwahu

 

 Amoafohene      Writer's village

 

 Adankrannyahene

 

 Gyammaasehene

 

 Baworohene

 

 Apaahene

 

 Agogo Hwidiemhene

 

 Abuontemhene

 

 Ofoasehene

 

 Domeabrahene

 

 Ahensanhene    Adanse

 

 Ayaasehene

 

 Donyinahene

 

 Atasemansohene

 

 Gyamaase Kyekewerehene

 

 Asenemasohene

 

 Adudwanhene

 

 Pepeasehene        Kwahu

 

Apaahene

 

Kyekyebiasehene

 

Nintinhene

 

Bedomasehene

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.

 

 

The next family in this series is the Agona Abusua or Family (Fantse- Eguanafo). This family is classified as a brother to the Bretuo family. According to Rattray, these two family both lived together at Ahensan in Adanse and as a result of  expansion, some members left to settle at a place they later called Denkyera, in so doing they changed their family and became the Agona family.

 

 

According to oral tradition, these people were very powerful in terms of statesmanship and governance. With the help of their first King Nana Boa Amponsem l they formed the first Akan Empire. The Empire controlled the whole of the Akan states and also had a direct access to the coast and were also the middlemen to the white traders at the coast.

 

 

The Agona family members are by nature very good businessmen because it is said that their ancestors had always controlled the gold and kola trade before arriving at Adanse. From Denkyera two brothers who were hunters left with their families to seek for a new settlement. One of the families found themselves at Nsaabaa and the other at Tafo in Kwaaman (later Kumase). Much is not known of the family that arrived at Nsaabaa. Those who settled at Tafo became the first settlers of modern Kumase.

 

 

Nana Oti Akenten’s hunter who discovered Kwaaman actually on behalf of his chief bought the first piece of land for settlement from Agonaba Nana Adwoa Nkraa Awere. She and her people were living around the present location of the SAT building in Kumase and they were those who gave the name “Subin†to that small stream in Kumase. The river was small but very close to them and they used to say “nsuo yi ben†meaning the river is very close. This later change to become “Suben†and eventually “Subinâ€

 

 

Because the Agona’s were the first settlers in Kumase the chief of Tafo still controls a large portion of the land in Kumase. After Kumase was burnt down it was the Tafohene who offered a piece of land for the new palace at Manhyia. The patriarch of the agona family is Nana Boa Amposem l of Denkyera. Their totem is the parrot and their symbolic quality is eloquence and perfect management. If an Agona greets you their response is “Yaa Adome or Yaa Otwidamâ€. Here are some of the major Akan Stools that are occupied by members of the Agona family:

 

 

 

 Denkyerahene

 

 Tafohene           Benkumhene of Kumase

 

 Nkaawiehene

 

 Fomesuahene

 

 Tredehene

 

 Asuowinhene

 

 Ahwaahene

 

 Ampaamehene

 

 Sepehene

 

 Bodwesanwohene

 

 Asieninponhene

 

Gyenyaasehene

 

Adwumamhene

 

Akyenakromhene

 

Amoamamhene

 

 

 

 

 

7.

 

 

The next family in the series is the Asenie Abusua or Family (Fantse-Atwafo). They like almost all the families also originated from Adanse.The first known woman ancestress of the Asenie family was Nana Ama Gyata who is said to have emerged from a cave at Bona Bon in Adanse. She gave birth to two children Nana Damte and Nana Dufie Gyampontima. They migrated to Dompoase and Nana Dufie gave birth to six children at Dompoase including Nana Adutwumwaa and Nana Dwirayikwaa. Some of Nana Dufie’s children then migrated to places like Asantemanso, Amakom, Aduaben and Awukuguaa.

 

 

From Asantemanso section of the family migrated to Nkuroso, near Bonwire and finally to Agona Akyempem. Nana Dwirayikwaa gave birth to Okomfo Yamoa and Okomfo Anokye. After Anokye and Nana Osei Tutu had met at Denkyerahene’s palace they became friends and Anokye Komfo helped Nana Osei Tutu to escape execution and eventually followed him to Akwamu.

 

 

Okomfo Anokye later became the chief and priest of Agona Akyempem and eventually the caretaker of the Golden Stool of Asantes. During Adae Kesie the Stool is sent to Agona and brought by the Royals of the Anokye Amoampon Stool to join the Asantehene to the durbar grounds.

 

 

The Asenie family has at one time occupied the Adanse Stool which belongs to the Ekuona family. Nana Bonsra Afriyie, from the Asenie family, the son of Nana Akora Foripan, became the Adansehene after his father’s death and performed so well that the Hausa scholars and merchants who had to deal with him in terms of trade gave him the name "Abu" meaning the great. This gave birth to the name Abu Bonsra among Akans.

 

 

 Two Ghanaian prominent members of this family were the late Dr.K.A. Busia and the late Victor Owusu. The patriarch of the Asenie Family is Nana Amakom Akosa and their totem is the bat. The symbolic quality of this family is Diplomacy and Faithfulness. One can always rely on their loyalty and support. If you are greeted by an Asenie the response is “Yaa Abrawoâ€. Here are some of the Akan stools occupied by Asenie members:


 

 

 

Wenchihene           Family of Dr Busia

Agonahene             Family of Victor Owusu

Amakomhene         Kumase

Adontenhene          Kumase

Antoahene

Nkoransahene

Dompoasehene

Denyaasehene

Atwoma Tekyimanhene

Mpataasehene

Kofiasehene

Poanohene

Kobirisohene

Abenasehene

Asuboahene

 

Atwomahene

 

Kwaamohene

 

Akyaakuromhene

 

 

 

 

 

 

8.

 

 

 

The last and final Clan on this series is the Asakyiri Abusua or family, (Fantse – Anonafo). These people are also referred to as Amoakaadefuo. Unfortunately this family is relatively small in their numbers and according the late Dr. J.B Danquah, it is due to the fact that the Asakiyiri family comprise of people who were originally from other families until the main family members decided to move on to a new settlement, those who will decide to stay behind sometimes were cast out of the family and they later became Asakyiri members.

 

 

This, he said, might be the reason for the name and also the reason why they are so small in number. Some historians also say the name might mean that initially the Asakyiri people were in their numbers and very prosperous but for some unkown reasons became very few and less successful and thus were given the name to mean that they are now behind the other families.

 

 

Historians like Rattray and Sarba don’t even mention the Asakyiri as part of the Akan family. They also settled at Adanse and founded the State of Akorokyere. They lived here until the beginning of the 17th century when some of them migrated to place like Asakyiri (Amansie) Aberankese-Nyame –Ani, Nzema and Wassa.

 

 

Their patriarch is Nana Yankyimadu of Akorokyere and their totem is the Hawk. Their symbolic qualities are calmness and patience. If an Asakyiri greets you the response is “yaa Amoakaade Nanaâ€. Here are some of the few Akan stool that are occupied by the members of Asakyiri today:

Akorokyerehene

Asakyirihene – Amansie

Abofuohene

Abrenkese-Nyame-Anihene

Apeaduhene

Bobereasehene

Kusahene

Afedwaase Adukromhene

Odumasehene – Adanse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article is published subject to the condition that it shall not be reproduced or printed without the prior permission of the Author