The Story of Awutu
Story: Kwame Ampene (Founder of the Guan Historical society)
ORAL tradition has it that the founding fathers of AWUTU in the Central Region, migrated from inland along the Volta River, till they reached the seashore, trekking westwards. They halted at a place called Awutu Ampi (Awutu Rocks) sometimes described as Bleku Abo (le. Sky-god Bleku’s Rock), about eleven miles west of Accra, which today forms the boundary-line between Accra and Awutu, popularly called MILE ELEVEN.
It is believed that the Awutu arrived somewhat later than the Ga Mashi who settled near Nkorang (Anglicized Accra). The dialect of the Awutu is GUAN, variants of which are spoken in Gonja and Larteh. The word is sometimes corrupted into Afutu and Obutu, The term AWUTU AMASA (The Three Awutu States) refers to Awutu-Effutu-Senya District. The inhabitants speak a language of the same name, Awutu, an indication that the Awutu people have a very long history.
The immigrant Awutu people arrived under the leadership of “King Whietey who had a lot of gold and brought this wealth with him.” (See: M. J. Field Social Organisation of the Ga People” 1940, p.143,seq.).
At Awutu Ampi, they camped on the Dampa hill, and were organised in local patrilineal groups. The leading ones known as Dode Shiapa and Pete. Worshipped the gods Odzobi, Afi Tutu and Odai Tutu respectively. The immigrant leader belonged to the Dode lineage, and possessing a Stool (Pru) which is round with three handles, coated white annually, and being kept in a room of its own apart from the two war stools.
Tradition indicates that relations between the various immigrant groups were cordial, for each had something to offer which its neigbour valued. For example, the Adangme were famous potters, the La were skilled makers of fire, the Ga Mashi supplied maize, the Awutu were renowned as rain-makers, the Akwamu specialized in warfare and hired themselves out as mercenaries (see; M.J. Field, “Awutu-Beraku Story” published by Speed will Press, P. 0. Box 10,Awutu-Bawjiase, 1962,p.4).
On account of King Whietey’s enormous wealth, some of the Ga Mashie under Ayikushi coveted the gold trinkets with which he was richly decorated and transferred their allegiance from Ayi Kushi to the Awutu King. The Ga Mashi group at Nkorang (Accra), therefore, attempted to subdue him which resulted in bitter quarrels till Ayi Kushi, irritated beyond limits, gave up his leadership and was never seen again. (lbid. 1940, p.143).
The quarrel continued unabated till King Whietey died and was succeeded by his son, Ndamkoi, who deserted Dampa. Settlement with his people in search of good drinking water. They pitched a number of isolated camps at Ayawaso which derived its name from modern Sempi village close to Amasaman, and finally a Apetuma near the Apara hilt, Obutu Ofanko, Obutudzrano, Awutu Kpehe Obutu Kwabenya near Nsawam and Awutuakwa near Odorkor (op. cit.1962,p3)
Ndamkoi died a natural death. Since his son, Okai Koi, was a minor; Dode Akaabi who was the mother took over the leadership. The word DODE means Ancient, and has nothing to do with the common Ga name DEDE. Dode Akaabi was a powerful and diligent ruler, and succeeded in uniting the Ga and the Awutu under her rule. With due respect to a beautiful Queen, the Akwamu King at Nyanawase left the Awutu and the Ga alone. She married a rich slave-dealer by name Okai Mampong who went about in a wheeled carriage obtained by barter from the Portuguese. She had by him, two daughters and a son called Okai Koi.
Later, her lust for power increased considerably as she grew older, and she became a savage tyrant who could punish crime without mercy, often against the Ga people whom she accused of murdering her husband.
One day she ordered the deepening of a well at the foothills with their bare hands. As the hole deepened, they encountered hard rocks and decided to rebel; so they sent word to the queen that there was someone obstructing their work.
Legend has it that the Queen, enraged beyond endurance, dashed to the work place and quickly descended into the well to deal ruthlessly with the intruder. The rebels then closed in and stoned her to death, and filled the well with stones.
The myth is that her ghost lived in the pit, and to pacify her annual sacrifices were performed till 1939 when a famous medicine man from Northern Ghana was commissioned by the Awutu Elders to exorcise the dead Queen’s spirit out of the welt and bring it to a place among its kinsfolk: The invisible ghost was seated upon a white horse and led in procession to Awutu where it was bidden to rest in peace (op.cit. 1962. p.6).
Her son, Okai Koi, succeeded her. Since he was not a member of Dode patrilineage he was not eligible to succeed in Awutu; moreover he had been circumcised by the Ga — a practice repugnant to the Awutu Stool.
The Akwamuhene who was watching this dangerous event unfold, lost no time as he rushed his troops to take positions around the Okai Koi hill during which many of the Awutu and the Gas deserted him. This unfortunate situation compelled Okai Koi to commit suicide on the battlefield by blowing himself up with a gun.
This sad event certainly took place on 20th June, 1660; however, lvor Wllks noted that 1677 was the precise date (vide: “The Rise of Akwamu Empire, 1640-1710” in Transaction of the Historical Society of Ghana 111.2, 1957). The next ruler was Ashangmo who succeeded in driving the Akwamu, but afterwards chose to find a more peaceful abode at Aneho in Togo land.
The next Awutu King, Whietey, pulled out his people from the war-torn area, and by so doing he gained their confidence as brave and well-judged warfare, earning for himself Victor’s title, “AGYEMAN” (ie.Saviourofthe nation).
The Awutu, wearied of their proximity to Akwamu sphere of influence, trekked farther afield to Apekuma near the Pompom Stream. However, a few of the Awutu remained with the Ga Mashi and became the Akumadzei quarter of Accra (op. cit. 1963. P7)
Wheity Agyeman was succeeded by his son Wheitey Ndamko. Since the Pompom Stream Was often flooded, the Awutu embarked upon the last leg of their journey till they arrived at the present site. On arrival they planted a giant Baobab tree which still stands. This is a desideratum!
The present writer is very grateful to Madam Comfort Abequaye, the late F. B. Agyeman (Author) and the late Wheit Agyeman Larbi II who help immeasurably with arrangements for the inauguration of The National Associatior of the Guan-speaking peoples of Ghana 1983, dubbed THE GUAN CONGRESS.
The Spectator Page: 31 Saturday, March 12, 2011