By: Kwame Ampene
(Founder of the Guan Historical Society)
The town of BODWESEANWO forms an integral part of the Adanse Traditional Area, and lies south-east of Fomena behind the Kusa hills. It is situated some 11 kiometers inland from Obuasi junction through Brofoyedru.
Tradition holds that the ancestral founder of the town was Owusu Gyameradua who belonged to the Agona clan relating to the Stools of Denkyira and Ntoamu. The three clan-brothers were bound by three daughters namely, Agobami (ancestress of Denkyira), Anadineho (ancestress of Akyem Oda) and Siema (whose descendants established Bodweseanwo). Denkyira is referred to as Agona Piesie (first-born), Akyem Oda as Agona Manu (second born) and Bodweseanwo as Agona Mensah (third born).
In the earliest times, the major agricultural product in the area was groundnut which rapidly became the chief source of income to the inhabitants. The story adds that Gyan Panyin who succeeded the aboriginal settler, had many sons and slaves who worked on his groundnut plantations. Prospective buyers from far away Nzema and neighbouring places came to buy groundnuts. The place was therefore, described as a classic monoculture, and acquired the indigenous name NKATEESO, i.e. the place of groundnuts.
During the reign of King Obiri Yeboa (1660-1697), the people of Nkateeso were suspected of spying on the King’s regime. As a result, some scouts were dispatched to Nkateeso on espionage; but they were treated hospitably with food and drinks. When they returned to Kumase, they recalled the cordiality of the people of Nkateeso by saying: “Woko ho a, wo bodwese mu nnwo da”, lit. Meaning” if you go there your beard is never dried.” Which frequently uttered became. BODWESEANWO.
Legend has it that a courageous hunter called Samankanta from Bodweseanwo, discovered some cave-dwellers by the stream Busumuru who claimed to be members of the Toa clan, a moiety of the Agona clan. Their leader was Boboti and they were escorted to the town by the hunter. Bodweseanwo Chief, Nana Owusu Gyameradua assigned to them the responsibility of being the custodians and worshippers of the Busumuru, water-god. The indigenous inhabitants and the cave-dwellers, gradually inter-married and to this day their descendants exist and are known as Busumfifo.
Earlier Nana Owusu Gyameradua had introduced a horn with the epigram” Owusu da wo ho so oo!” and the response “Mada ne ho so dada dada!” i.e. Owusu be prepared” and the response was” I am prepared already.”
Upon his death his sister Anko Abena’s son called Owusu Gyakari, succeeded him. It was during his reign that King Osei Tutu I declared war on Denkyirahene Ntim Gyakari, 1699. Since the two clan brothers – Bodweseanwo and Akyem Oda (who lived at Denkyira Ntoamu under the leadership of Nana Yarawere) helped the Denkyira in the campaign in which Denkyira was brutally defeated; the King initiated a policy of divide and rule affecting the three Agona clan brothers. Thus the Bodweseanwohene was placed under the surveillance of Dadeasoabahene, the Anantahene of Kumase. Fosu Twitwi Akuma had charge of Kotokuhene Ofosuhene Apenten; Denkyirahene Akafu Brempon who succeeded Ntim Gyakari was supervised by the Bantamahene Amankwatia Panyin, Krontihene of Kumase.
Soon the three clan brothers conspired to escape from Kumase on the Saturday preceeding Akwasidae. In furtherance of the scheme, they escaped unnoticed at dawn and managed to join their subjects. It is alleged that their narrow escape came to the notice of the Asantehene only when they failed to pay the customary homage at the Akwasidae Celebration.
On one occasion, the Queen-mother of Bodweseanwo, Anoodeneho, ordered the men to dig a pit latrine, and in the process they discovered a large quantity of gold dust. Somebody broached news about the treasure-trove to the Kumase elders who ordered the Queen-mother to appear in person before the Asantehene; but her subjects persuaded her not to attend the call. Therefore her son, Adu Gyamfi Kumanin, volunteered to go to face them in Kumase. He chose to appear before them in a pair of native sandals contrary to court etiquette. And when they cautioned him, he took offence and left unceremoniously with his retinue and reported the incidence to the chief of his town so the chief prepared his people for any impending catastrophe.
Subsequently, the Asante army made a punitive expedition against Bodweseanwo who quickly repulsed the attack and fully offered a determined resistance six times intermittently. It was during one of the brief halts in the campaign that the Asante troops marched against Akyem in which Osei Tutu’s death was reported. Thus the campaign came to an abrupt end following this national disaster.
In another development, the Asante army detailed by King Opoku Ware (1731-1742) invaded Bodweseanwo without the least provocation. So vigorously was the assault that Bodweseanwo was overrun and the inhabitants were forced to flee. They took refuge at Akrofum, the seat of the Akwamu division in the Bodweseanwo realm.
Before leaving the theatre of operation, the war-mongers rushed to the shores of the Busumuru water-god with impunity and looted as spoil of war, its brass pan filled with water to Kumase, a conduct tantamount to first degree sacrilege.
The day of their defeat, Tuesday (Benada) became the national Oath even to this generation. After a sojourn at Akrofum the refugees returned and settled permanently in their home town.
It is pertinent to recall that a second national Oath was established during the reign of Bodweseanwohene, Nana Asimen Amoo whose contingent joined the army of his clan brother, the Kotokubene, and aided the Akyem Abuakwa against the Awuna in June, 1874, during which Peace Treaty was signed with the Awuna, and the whole of Awuna country was taken under British rule (vide: W.E. ward short history of Ghana, 1954. P. 165).
The valour exhibited by the Bodweseanwo contingent was proverbial, and the periphrastic way of referring to the war as the Oath by Nana Osimen Amoo is NSUANI’ (on the river), thus the earlier Oath BENADA are used conjointly – Benada ne Nsuani as judicial formula by which disputes are taken to the local Court (Additional Information. Kwabena Ameyaw, History of Bodweseanwo, 1967, LAS. Legon).
The Spectator Saturday, January 7, 2012 Page 31