KNOW THE ORIGINS OF TOWNS
THE STORY OF THE AKPAFU
BY: KWAME AMPENE
THE ancestral homeland of the Akpafu (in the Hohoe District of the Volta Region) is a difficult historical problem which has so far defied any satisfactory solution.
However, a few oral traditions survive which purport to describe events in the distant past, particularly during the time when the founding fathers of Akpafu were living in the Sene-Pru basin together with Lolobi, a related speech group of the Guan bloc.
The Akpafu and Lolobi originally were one ethnic group. Modern research has tentatively ascribed the split to the elimination of their overlord, King Attaara Ofinam VII, from the Afram Plains by the combined forces of Akan immigrants from Adanse, 1690-1697, an encounter which led to the fall of the Guan kingdom itself.
According to nana Akuamo II, Paramount chief of Akpafu, his ancestors followed the artery of the Volta down stream till they reached the Mid-Volta Basin where they lived in scattered settlements on the hills now occupied by the Anum. Thus the Nyangbo, Kpedze and Akpafu factor referred to by the Anum State horn were according to Anum traditions, people who once lived on the land and were ruled by Tatabiri, chief of the Nyangbo, but were ousted by the Anum. The Akpafu were blacksmiths whose iron pits can still be seen on the Okrako hill at Anum (vide: E.Y Aduamah. Traditions from the Volta Basin-Dodi and Anum Area: IAS, Legon 1965 No 10pp3-4)
Again the experts from Vakpo E.P. church, history indicates that the Vakpo met the Akpafu on the present –day land) as recorded in the Daily Graphic Friday 22, 1989 p2). They overwhelmed the Akpafu so the latter emigrated northwards and took refuge on Mt. Owarebo 2,750 feet above sea level. Additional oral traditions indicate that the Nkonya attacked the Akpafu on this mountain and they sought refuge on the Mawukebe hill inside the Togo Plateau Forest Reserves, and finally settled on the high ranges of iron bearing Mt. Ogage, where they established three patrilineal family groups.
The geographical setting in which the people of Akpafu lived affected their history, for the mountainous ranges protected them from invasions, while the dense forest kept them isolated from troublesome neighbours. Iron had been mined by the Akpafu and Santrokofi who both shared common boundary generations before the German occupation in 1899.
Large quart zitic rocks impregnated with black ore could easily be mined. Although the industry disappeared before the First Great War in 1914, disused ovens, pits and their signs of iron works are still extant at the smithing centres being Todzi and Mempeasem (at Akpafu) and Godome (at Santrokofi)
Besides smithing they also practiced mining at Gbodome mines. Regular customers from outside the district were blacksmiths and farmers from Kpandu, Nkonya, Kebu, Akposo, Buem, Atwode, Adele, and Krachi. Soon Akpafu and Santrokofi quickly outstripped their neighbours economically.
During my visit to Akpafu in August 1984 and the 27th July, 1985, I made frantic efforts to climb to the hilly abode known as Akpafu Todzi (i.e Akpafu on top of the hill). I met the paramount chief who told me amazing and interesting stories concerning their relationships with Asante warlord, Adu Boffour who had been invited by the Akwamu to subdue Anum, Boso Peki and neighbouring tribes in 1870. And according to him the General a friendly message to the Akpafu saying that he had not come to fight “those who live in flat roof top houses” referring to the Akpafu, SantroKofi, Baika and Teteman who built houses of this type. These communities began to court their friendship and give them safe passage across the territory.
It is an accepted fact that the Lolobi and the Akpafu are closely related and speak a dialect which is very similar. And it is on record that before the two attained separate paramountcies, the Lolobi voluntarily joined the Akpafu Division which was then part of the Buem state” (vide: Chief Commissioners Letter No064/S.F2/21 OF 3rd May1946).
The ancient settlement had been AKPAFU TODZI (Akpafu on the hill top). Later a section of the people deserted the place and created a new settlement at the foothills on the border-line with Santrokofi which they nostalgically named MEMPEASEM. The expression Mempe me ho asem “literally means I do not want to get into any difficulties” or “I wish to keep myself out of palaver” – sentimental memory of things of the past.
The Spectator Page: 31 Saturday, January 22, 2011.