ModernGhana logo
11.06.2009 Feature Article

Rejoinder: Asantehene: new progress philosophy, etc.

Rejoinder: Asantehene: new progress philosophy, etc.
Listen to article

My attention was drawn to an article written by Kofi Akosah-Sarpong and published on Ghanaweb. This article is one of the mischievous ones that come up occasionally on Ghanaweb and elsewhere. It contains a lot of historical distortions, and at best, propagandish and manipulative in its reasoning, gestures and rationales. This and other articles bearing the same signature tone have to be strongly condemned and appropriately rebutted by the true and nonbiased historians and social scientists!

What is the article all about? Is it some ploy to promote Asantehene and Ashanti hegemony? What this man Kofi Akosah-Sarpong is virtually telling Ghanaians is that for years, people like him have been secretly plotting with the powers-that-be to establish Ashanti hegemony on our lands without openly letting out a word about it to the Ghanaian public. If this does not amount to the greatest conspiracy in the history of Ghanaians in particular and Africans as a whole, what else is? Modern day slavery? Modern day colonialism? If this happens, it would amount to an unwelcome and resistible occupation that we would be talking about for heaven's sake! We will not be done until all those found to have been involved in this crime are duly charged with conspiracy to commit subversion, subversion against the sovereignty of Ghana, and the concealment of subversion, aiding and abetting an Ashanti hegemony in times of relative peace.

Let me say it categorically once again that: Ghana is a republic and any covert or overt attempt by tribalists to promote one chief over the sovereignty of the republic is deemed as an act of treason. It is only the President of the Republic of Ghana who by our constitution is the supreme ruler of the country.

Reading through the article for the first time, I saw it as a complete tautology and a seemingly confused composition of big words probably designed to confuse the reader or to project the writer as an academic intellectual. It is only after reading through a second time and agonizingly recomposing it that I agree however with the general spirit of the article since there is no dispute over the fact that our African traditional leaders can play vital roles in the emerging African unity and in the socio-politico-economic development of their countries.

One of the facts to be rebutted include, I quote:

"Active till late 17th century, Okomfo Anokye used traditional values and institutions to helped establish not only constitution, laws, and customs but a vast empire stretching from central Ghana to present day Togo and Cote d' Ivoire, bordered by the Dagomba kingdom to the north and Dahomey to the east."

From where did the writer have the information that indicates that the so-called "Ashanti Empire" stretched from central Ghana to present day Togo and Dahomey to the east? Does that include the Kingdom of Anlo as well? Stop the deceit! Asanteman never stretched to the lower Volta Region not to talk of Togo and Dahomey! Did it jump over to reach Togo and Dahomey? What you wrote in your article is all lies! Kofi Akosah-Sarpong, stop spewing lies!

Then comes this meaningless phrase with its associated distortion of facts, and I quote:

"As the Asante ethnic groups increasing becomes an all Ghanaian group through intermarriages and migration................."

It would interest all of us to know that the Asante ethnic group, Ashantis (not Akans: about 49.1%) are only about 15-17% of the total population of Ghana. Other major ethnic groups in Ghana include the Mole-Dagbanis (about 16.5%), Ewes (about 13%), Ga-Dangbe (about 8%) and Guans (4%)! Does this figure of about 15-17% make the Asante ethnic groups "an all Ghanaian group"?

There are other issues that I would not like to go into because I am not a "certified historian" but just a traditional one. Let me state however that our oral traditional history is powerful, coherent and consistent.

One of the main issues that concern me and others is the misinformation being peddled about the genealogy and origin of "Okomfo Kwame Anokye Frimpon Kotobre" as a previous rejoinder written by Kofi Ellison (see Feature Article below; to an earlier article by the same Kofi Akosah-Sarpong. Here is where it becomes dicey and controversial. Let me make this point clear, however. I am not discrediting the whole article as written by Kofi Ellison. Its core message is laudable and deservedly right on the mark. It is a brilliant piece that to me scored very high marks as it relates to our attitudes toward our cultural practices and traditional values. However in that article and others, Okomfo Anokye was always claimed to have originated from either Awukugua, Akuapem in Ghana's Eastern Region or Agona in Asante, a revelation which to some of us is iffy at best and very debatable. Moreover, Okomfo Anokye's ancestry was erroneously linked to Otumfuo Osei Tutu I.

Our oral Ewe history informs us that "Komfo Anortsie" was a Dogbo Nyigbo man called Amega Atsu Tsala Akpormada who used to live in Nortsie (a well established settlement in the 1450s). Amega Atsu Tsala (aka Okomfo Anokye) and Amega Tse Tsali (of Nortsie and Tsiame fame) are the twin sons of Amega Detor Akplormada ('the thrown spear”), whose father was Amega Tsamla, son of Mama Kegbleape, one of the two daughters of Amega Gemedra of Nortsie, son of Amega Kugborka Gbe of Ketu, who was the son of Amega Kodisenu, the son of Amega Dzoboku. Amega Doe Dallah (father of Amega Anya, the founder of Anyako) was born after Atsu Tsala and Tse Tsali. Amega Atsu Tsala and Amega Tse Tsali had other siblings. Amega Gemedra's other children include Mama Kokui Doe Kutua Asongoe (Torgbi Sri I's mother), Amega Atsu Madokpui Wenya (Dogbo leader and founder of Laofe Clan), Amega Tse Adedze Nyaki (Founder of Amlade Clan), and Amega Awaga Dotse Kpotsui (father of Bate Clan founders).

Just like Amega Kli (son of Torgbi Ekpe), Amega Aga (grandson of Tsamla) and his father Amega Detor Akplormada, Atsu Tsala (Okomfo Anokye) did not migrate with the Dogboawo to the present day Anlo (established around the 1650s). He (Tsala aka Okomfo Anokye), Kli, Aga and others left Nortsie prior to the group migration. Amega Kli was the one who volunteered as a friend to help Amega Aga to escape from King Ago Akorli's wrath after the "ame makumaku pe hlor biabia" episode in Nortsie. Amega Kli subsequently founded present day Klikor settlement and Amega Aga established Agavedzi and subsequently, Agave. Two of the reasons why Amega Atsu Tsala left Nortsie prior to the group migration include his dissatisfaction with and subsequent protest to the Dogbo elders about how the "ame makumaku pe hlor biabia" and the "installation of Kponoe as Fia over Dogboawo under a Tado stool" issues were handled at the time.

After Amega Atsu Tsala left Nortsie (Komfo from Nortsie), he journeyed through several areas until he settled around Awukugua, in the present day Eastern Region of Ghana, where he and Barima Osei Tutu eventually became acquaintances. It has been stated at the time that Barima Osei Tutu was sent to the court of the chief of Akwamu to study statesmanship, so that he could become a successor to his uncle Obiri Yeboa, the ruler of Kwaman. Others intimated that Amega Atsu Tsala did not befriend Barima Osei Tutu. This line of thought argues that Barima Osei Tutu was not sent to Akwamu to learn statescraft but rather he sought refuge at Akwamu, at the court of the Awukuguahene after an affair with a Denkyira chief's daughter when he was serving as a hostage and sword bearer as Ashanti was then a Denkyira vassal state. While with his host, the Awukuguahene, Osei Tutu became acquainted with Amega Atsu Tsala's Healing Powers, and also heard about the miracles or feats he had been performing. Then news reached Osei Tutu that his Uncle Obiri Yeboa, the chief of Kwaman (or was it Kumawu/Kumase) passed away and that he was next in succession. Not sure of how he would be received back in Kwaman or Kumawu/Kumase, he persuaded the Awukuguahene to release Amega Atsu Tsala to accompany him to ''charm'' the sub-chiefs and subject to make his ascension to the throne of his uncle easy for him. With Amega Atsu Tsala's help, he became Chief, but not over all of what is Asanteman (Ashanti State) today. Osei Tutu then made his ultimate ambition known to Amega Atsu Tsala, who then performed the miracles that made it possible, including the ''amlimatsitsi'' that conjured the Golden Stool from the Sky, and the burying of his sword to signify the unifying of the separate states into one big Asante State. That sword is said to be within the premises of the present day Teaching Hospital at Kumasi that bears the name of Amega Atsu Tsala Akplormada aka Okomfo Anokye (Komfo from Nortsie).

Amega Atsu Tsala Aklpormada, when he moved from Akwamu to Awukugua on his travels out of Nortsie, practiced mainly as a ''Healer'' and or ''Herbalist''. He was reported to have cured a very sick woman, distantly related to the ''Awukuguahene'' who invited him into his Court, where he continued healing. He was then made to reside permanently in the Palace of the Awukuguahene. All other famous feats performed by Amega Tsala e.g. climbing a palm-tree leaving footsteps, etc, etc, were secondary to his main occupation of healing people.

It is true as pointed out in the article below that Amega Atsu Tsala (aka Okomfo Anokye), just like his brother Tse Tsali, his father Detor Akplormada and his grandfather Tsamla all had supernatural (spiritual, magical and mystical) powers. The publication testified to some of Amega Tsala's feats, something that runs in their family. Let me therefore recount an encounter that Sandra E. Greene (2002) published in "Nortsie Narratives" (Sacred Sites and the Colonial Encounter - A History of Meaning and Memory in Ghana) concerning Amega Tsala's twin brother Tse Tsali and their father Detor Akplormada. I quote:

"One day in a fit of anger, Tsali ... challenged his father to a public display of supernatural powers (amlimatsitsi). In response to this challenge, the father (Akplormada), removed his own intestines, washed them in a herbal preparation and dried them to give more years of life to himself. Tsali turned into a hawk and carried his father's intestines away into space. Tsali searched in vain for the tallest tree on which to settle and swallow the intestines of his father. But Akplormada [had] commanded all the trees in the vicinity to be dwarfed. [He then] turned himself into the tallest tree upon which Tsali came to settle. Before Tsali could swallow his father's intestines, Akplormada reached out his hands and Tsali dropped the intestines right into his father's unseen palms.

Akplormada [then] ridiculed his son with the words: You know how to turn into a hawk as I had taught you, but you don't know how to turn into a silk-cotton tree." Unquote.

Okomfo Anokye's twin brother, Tsali was also credited with the following and I quote from Sandra E. Greene's articles in "Social History of Africa: Series Editors - Allen Issacman and Jean Hay". Similar accounts are found in books and publications written by Mamattah, C. M. K: Ewes of West Africa. Accra: Advent Press, 3-19-320, 1979; Spieth, J: Die Religion der Eweer in Sud Togo, Leipzig: Gottingen, 135-136, 1911; ATC Minute Book, 1933-1935.

".... [At one time] the whole of Tongu met and decided to drown Tsali. Tsali before his arrest had gathered all his personal effects into a haversack and slung it over his shoulder. At the meeting, he was tied hands and feet ... with a great weight of granite rocks hung over his neck and fastened to his back. Looking like a monster, Tsali was drowned in the ... Volta [River]. The villagers saw him sink, but on the third day, Tsali was seen by fishermen as he moved on the waters floating on the back of a crocodile he had commanded to come to his rescue. Floating adrift on the crocodile's back, Tsali held aloft all the granite rocks in his hands and was shouting "Vinowo, mikpo vida: parents behold your child". There was great consternation in the village: the fishermen abandoned their canoes and ran for dear life. The women yelled and screamed, calling on the whole village to come and see. Tsali [then] decided to leave Tongu for good."

The Anlos watch them do these things and they said "these men are in reality trowo". Unquote.

The granite rock attached on the back of Tsali to drown him still exists and a shrine is built around it on the beach at Konu in Anyako where he dropped the rock. We call it Tsalikpe. The clearing in the Kleve Forest where no plant ever grows to this day was claimed to be the spot where Tsali sat on the ground to explain to his father the problems he encountered on that expedition. These events probably predated their migration from the Kleve Forest to Tsiame.

As pointed out by Kofi Ellison, it is true that the twin brothers, Atsu Tsala (aka Okomfo Anokye) and Tse Tsali did not die natural deaths. They just disappeared and to this day, nobody is able to tell where they went or were buried. In the case of Tsali, the story goes as follows and I quote:

"[After Tsali grew old ... he became so tired of life that he went to the underworld. The dwellers of the underworld drove him back, however, and told him he must die before he could come to them. After his return to [Tsiame] ... he gathered all the inhabitants of the town together and told them he was going to die. He then took [out] his own jawbone and hung it on a tree. Hereupon, he sent a message to a crocodile telling it that it should come to him. When it had come, he sat upon its back and ordered it to carry him to the underworld.... After Tsali's death, the jawbone he left behind was made into a tro. Tsali [the tro] gives the people life and protects them. Before the outbreak of war, the chiefs hold the council of war in Tsali's shrine. Only from there do they move to war.

Tesi (Teshi) is the wife of Tsali; [she] possessed many charms. After her death, she was made into a tro. She has seven white hens and a child. To this day, all are still alive. If some disaster is imminent, she goes out and gives emergency signals by clapping her hand to her mouth and calling “There comes disaster." … Her descendants are among the inhabitants of Tsiame. They are the beheaders in war for Tesi herself placed the sword into their hands for this purpose.” Unquote.

Tesi's spirit/ghost however had been sighted by many people around the Kleve forest. It was reported that a blind youngman in Koviefe became blind because he was very rude and arrogant to her when she visited them literally naked at the Diamond Shamrock oil exploration depot built at the outskirts of Kleveme.

On his sojourn to Awukugua, Amega Atsu Tsala left several footprints on the way. He is credited as the powerful priest of ancient time who stabbed a rock with a dagger in Savalou, in Dahomey which is the present day Republique du Benin. The place is now a shrine called Dankoli, and the family that plays the care-taker is Salako. The chief of Savalou is called Torgbi Dada Gouma Gbagidi.

It has been documented that the father of Atsu Tsala (Komfo Anortsie) and Tse Tsali, Amega Detor Apklormada also sojourned from Nortsie through Akwamu prior to finally settling in present day Anlo. In 1877, C. Hornburger (Hornburger, Christian. "Etwas aus der Geschichte der Anloer." Quartalblatt der Norddeutschen Missionsgesellschaft, 440) recorded traditions that described the Akwamu as the brothers of the Anlos, all of whom left their ancestral homeland, Nortsie, together. The tradition goes on to state that the Akwamu split off from the Anlo at some point in their westward journey and settled in a different area, but that this could not erase the fact that they were still brothers. In the 1930s, D. Westermann also noted that the Tsiames of Anlo also identified their clan ancestor Akplormada, as coming from Akwamu (Westermann, D. "Die Glidyi-Ewe in Togo". Mitteilungen des Seminars fur Orientalische Sprachen, XXXVIII, 148, 1935, v-332).

Thus after getting acquainted with Barima Osei Tutu at Awukugua, Amega Atsu Tsala (aka Komfo Anortsie) moved on to stay with his acquaintance in present day Kumasi and helped him to conjure the Golden Stool (Sika Dwa Kofi) and subsequently used it to establish the Asanteman Kingdom, whilst his father Detor Akplormada moved on to rejoin his descendants in Anlo. Oral history also indicated that Amega Etse Tsali was also trying to commercialize his spiritual powers like his bother Atsu Tsala did, but run into some problems with the people he was trying to help. We are not sure if he had the problem with the Adas. Some think that it was with the Akwamus.

I am happy to report that the true and correct genealogy of Okomfo Anokye could be determined and the issue settled once and for all by eventually conducting modern day tests on both “his Agona and Awukugua descendants” assuming that Okomfo Anokye had a wife and on the children of Amega Doe Dallah.

Let me conclude therefore that it is no wonder why the Anlos and the Asantes have never directly fought any major wars in the history of pre and post Republic of Ghana! Historically, there was a military alliance between the Asantes and the Anlos, a coastal/southern sub-group of the Ewes. The Anlo and Asante were allies who assisted each other in times of wars by opening diversionary war-fronts to engage their enemies that were at war with each other friendly states. At a time, the Anlo State sent an emissary to the court of the then Asantehene to relate a message from the Anlo Awoamefia and his war-council. This emissary who spoke Twi (Akan) fluently was the grandson of Awhalorwhu, elder brother of Besa Sru Akpate of Srogboe, who the Asantehene enstoolled as a chief of Anlo under the stool name of Akrobortu. Akrobortu is therefore an ''Honour Stool'' that was created for the emissary's role as Linguist-Messenger-Emissary between the Anlo Awoamefia and the Asantehene. These are some of the reasons why the late Otumfuo Opoku Ware II, the fifteenth (15th) Asantehene sent gold dust and other items for the burial and funeral rites of the late Torgbi Adeladza II, coincidentally the fifteenth (15th) Anlo Awoamefia (Paramount Chief) in 1998. Anlos as allies supplied large quantities of arms to the Asantes whenever the trading parts west of Accra were blocked to the Asantes (see J. K. Fynn, Asante and Akyem Relations 1700 - 1831, page 16-17). Those of you who may have read it several years ago, Prof. Devine E. A. Amenumey has rebutted Prof. Albert Adu Boahen's claim of Asante's hegemony over Anlo. The Akwamus were also, historically, allies of the Anlos against a military alliance of Adas, Gas, Krobos, Akwapims, Akyems and the Danes.

When Ewes and Asantes come together with a united front and cooperate on several platforms, Ghana would become one of the real bacons of Africa in particular and in the whole world in general. It is therefore very important for Ewes and Asante to continue with the centuries old friendship and relationship that existed between them and stop insulting each other on the web and openly in public.

Herein, I reproduce below the rejoinder that Kofi Ellison wrote (, The Great Prophet Okomfo Anokye, 31 October 2005) to an article written by the same Kofi Akosah-Sarpong titled, 'Politicians, Spirituality And Development'; (; October 28, 2005), regarding how nations have been brought forth and sustained in governance, by the power of myth and religion. In that article and others, Okomfo Anokye was claimed to have originated from Awukugua instead of Nortsie.


Dr. A. Kobla Dotse
“Nunya la adido tsie, asime tu ne o”
[email protected]

The Great Prophet Okomfo Anokye
I was quite impressed by the article written by Kofi Akosah-Sarpong titled, 'Politicians, Spirituality And Development'; ( October 28), regarding how nations have been brought forth and sustained in governance, by the power of myth and religion; to provide this short account of Okomfo Anokye whose tactics the writer correctly places at the pinnacle and as an example ( most worthy of emulation), of how successful nation-builing and governance are articulated.

In spite of, or perhaps because of his generally acknowledged incredible achievements, the origin of Okomfo Kwame Anokye Frimpon Kotobre, popularly known as Okomfo Anokye, like his ?death? is shrouded in myth and mystery. In 1921, Nana Kwadwo Apau, Chief of Agona and ?direct descendant? of Okomfo Anokye recounted the ancestry to the English anthropologist R.S. Rattray, that curiously linked Okomfo Anokye?s ancestry to Otumfuo Osei Tutu I.

Similarly, at Awukugua, Akuapem in Ghana?s Eastern Region, there are ?descendants? of Okomfo Anokye who are adamant that the Great Priest was born at Awukugua and ?comes from Awukugua?. I have viewed a video tape of that statement from a friend who happens to be from Awukugua.

I will not go into the merits of either claim here. I will only say that had Okomfo Anokye remained at Awukugua, he would have been merely remembered as a great priest who climbed a tall palm tree with his sandals on; and who also carved a traditional game of Oware out of a huge slab of stone with his bare fingers. Both items are still extant in Awukugua, and draw endless visitors to the town.

However, by befriending Barima Osei Tutu at Akwamu (much closer to Awukugua, than Agona in Asante!), in the 1680's, Okomfo Anokye became ?the catalyst through which the project of the (Asante) state in time (history) is given definition and launched on its way?, as one historian has eloquently put it.

One thing is certain and irrefutable about Okomfo Anokye. He was a friend of the then Barima Osei Tutu, and both of them lived at Akwamufie, the capital of Akwamu. Osei Tutu, a royal of the Oyoko lineage of Kwaman (now called Kumase) had been sent to the court of Nana Ansa Sasraku, the King of Akwamu to learn statecraft.

Upon the death of his uncle Obiri Yeboa, Osei Tutu was summoned to Kwaman to assume leadership of the Oyoko clan of Kwaman. Legend has it that upon realizing his mistake in allowing Anokye to travel with Osei Tutu, Ansa Sasraku sent his men after the group. With the spiritual support of Okomfo Anokye, Osei Tutu was able to turn away their pursuers. Thus, began the legend of Okomfo Anokye, and the successes he attained together with Osei Tutu.

Upon becoming the chief of Kwaman, Osei Tutu made Okomfo Anokye his chief advisor in all matters. Every military or diplomatic success was attributed to the magical powers of the great Okomfo Anokye. His fame extended far and wide, and the magical things he could do were innumerable. Among other incredible deeds, it was said that Okomfo Anokye fetched water in a basket, and yet the water did not spill! Okomfo Anokye?s house was without a roof, and yet it was sheltered from the rain!! Okomfo Anokye could dissect an ant and expose its intestines!!! (As a child, I recall singing the great deeds of Akomfo Anokye which had been turned into a song!).

As Okomfo Anokye?s fame and influence grew, so did the need to create a powerful kingdom that would unite the Asante, as a prelude to the unification of all the Akan. With the defeat of Denkyira, then the most powerful kingdom, by Asante-speaking forces under Osei Tutu, the idea of a new united kingdom of Asante became a reality. To this end, Okomfo Anokye invited the various independent and fragmented Asante Chiefs to an important meeting one Friday in Kumase, the new name that Okomfo Anokye gave to Kwaman.

The meeting was held at Dwabrem, which was situated at the present site of the Kumase Post Office, in 1701. Okomfo Anokye whose mystical powers and his role in the defeat of Denkyira had made him a recognized and unquestioning authority, told the Chiefs that he was about to command a Stool from Heaven, with the powers given to him by God. He added that the Stool will rest on the lap of one of the assembled Chiefs. He made the Chiefs agree and swear by Oath that the one upon whose lap the Stool from Heaven rested would become the King of the new Union.

It was a Mount Carmel (Bible's Old Testament), type of assembly. Here was Okomfo Anokye, impressing upon the assembled Chiefs and people that the powers he assumed from his God were more potent than whatever gods the individual Chiefs claimed to acquire their symbols of authority from. Lo and behold, the Stool commanded from Heaven landed safely onto the lap of Nana Osei Tutu. The Stool was laden in Gold, it arrived on a Friday; so it was given the splendid name Sika Dwa Kofi, or Friday?s Golden Stool. Every Asante child knows this story, and it is passed on from generation to generation.

Okomfo Anokye decreed that the Sika Dwa represented the collective well-being of all Asante, their unity, and strength; and it must never be defiled or taken away from them. The occupant of the Sika Dwa must be respected as their supreme ruler and authority. By prior agreement, all the Chiefs accepted Nana Osei Tutu Opemsuo I as the occupant of the Sika Dwa, and the first King of the new political union called Asante.

Okomfo Anokye warned that if the Golden Stool is ever captured, Asante would lose its power and disintegrate into chaos. This explains why in 1900, when the British colonial governor demanded the Golden Stool for the British monarch, Nana Yaa Asantewaa , without any prompting led Asante in a fight against Britain and her allies for two years --The Yaa Asantewaa War? to deny the British their sacrilegious request.

Okomfo Anokye created lesser Stools for all the other Chiefs. In this manner, no Stool in Asante could claim to have preceded the great Golden Stool. What political mastery and strategy! What political wisdom!! What symbol of unity and nationhood!!!

Just to underscore the historical fact: My own several times great-grandfather Obrempon Nana Firam Gyereba, (Asuonwunhene), was present at that momentous occasion. He was the main gunner or ?Tufuo? protecting Otumfuo Osei Tutu I and Sika Dwa at that very moment of the birth of Asante at Dwabrem. He had accompanied Osei Tutu to Denkyira and Akwamu as one of his seven military guards. Okomfo Anokye created a Stool for him that very Friday evening as he did for all seven military guards who had served him in Denkyira and Akwamu. This led to the establishment of the powerful Kumase Ekonti Division, also known as the ?Atuo Nson? or the Seven Gunners. The Bantamahene is the head of the Kumase Ekonti Division. According to the historical record, Okomfo Anokye was rewarded with the Stool of Agona by Nana Osei Tutu for services rendered to Asante.

Okomfo Anokye helped in instituting other symbols of authority and unity for Asante such as the annual Odwira festival, at which observance, the Asantehene gave a state of the Union account to all Asante. The Odwira served to rekindle the spirit of belonging among all Asante and a dedication to serve Asante better the coming year.

Okomfo Anokye was also a great Law-Maker and Law-Giver. He is reputed with giving Asante a set of codes known as ?the Okomfo Anokye Seventy-Seven Laws?. It covered everything from birth and child rearing; observance of puberty rites; sexual relations; installation of Chiefs; the governing of the nation; to death and burial rites. Even today, in Asante, whenever a grandmother advises that something is a taboo, the grandmother is unwittingly referring to one of Okomfo Anokye?s codes of conduct. Such was the political and legal acumen of the great Akomfo Anokye.

Given his supernatural powers and achievements which are still visible today, and validated by the pomp and pageantry of Asante; as well as the entrepreneurial spirit of Asantefuo; Okomfo Kwame Anokye Frimpon Kotobre could not be expected to die a natural death! Death could not conquer him. Legend has it that the Great Priest left specific instructions to his nephew and eventual successor as Chief of Agona, Kwame Siaw Anim. The instructions were that the Great Priest would be traveling in the spirit world for Seven days, after falling into a deep trance, to search for a cure for Death, after which he would re-enter his human form. During the course of the seven-day waiting period, the nephew, impatient to inherit the Stool and all the wealth accumulate by his uncle Okomfo Anokye; pronounced his uncle dead, and presided over a ?noisy funeral?; as the historian T.C. McCaskie eloquently puts it in his book ?State and Society in Pre-colonial Asante?.

During the course of the funeral, as related by McCaskie, Okomfo Anokye in his human form appeared at the outskirts of the town. He met a hunter from Gyamase (a nearby town), who upon the Great Priest?s enquiry as to the commotion at Agona answered that a greedy nephew of Okomfo Anokye had disobeyed his uncle?s instructions and had pronounced the Great Priest?s death, hence all the commotion at the funeral in Agona.

Okomfo Anokye revealed himself to the hunter, and gave him a medicine called ?Nkontwima? for the hunter?s own prosperity. Okomfo Anokye also gave the hunter a message that he had found a cure for Death, but to tell the people of Agona and Asante that because of his nephew?s greed, the cure will be withheld from them forever! The lesson in this story is that calamity follows upon wilful disobedience of Okomfo Anokye?s instructions! This explains why in Asante traditional matters, every word and instruction given by the Great Priest are accepted as gospel. Further, claimants to Asante Stools legitimize their claim by appealing to the role of Okomfo Anokye thereof.

After the encounter with the hunter, the great Okomfo Anokye disappeared. Folks, Okomfo Anokye did not die, he simply disappeared, and that is what our history says! To this day, nobody can tell where that Okomfo Kwame Anokye Frimpon Kotobre was buried. Whatever Okomfo Anokye provided to the hunter is today part of the heirloom of the Chief of Gyamase.

The great things that Okomfo Anokye did are still extant for people to see: the Golden Stool, the buried Sword at the present Komfo Anokye Hospital in Kumasi; the palm tree he climbed with his footmarks still evident in the bowels of the tree; the Oware game carved out of a huge slab of stone with his bare fingers, at Awukugua; and numerous others, not least the pomp and pageantry of Asanteman.

Upon reflection, it is sad that of late some of our misguided Ghanaian Christian Pastors and other similarly misguided people, have taken to deriding the achievements and personality of Okomfo Anokye as idolatry and anathema. It is this sad reality due to the colonization of the African mind that concerns me. In every corner of the globe, people respect their tradition and culture in spite of so-called ?modernity?. Other cultures still regard similar feats as the gospel truth. To wit: Moses received Ten Commandments from Heaven and resulted in Judaism; a virgin birth of Jesus resulted in Christianity; Mohamed?s vision led to Islam; think about Buddha and Buddhism; or Hinduism and its prophets; in the United States, Joseph Smith had a ?vision? in the 1820's in New York and that led to the birth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or Mormons. Examples are legion. It is only Africans who tend to undermine and disrespect their own culture while hanging on to the ?truths? of received ideas from foreign lands.

I have never heard a white Christian Pastor condemn Julius Caesar or any of the Roman and Greek gods. Rather, the collapsing temples of Greek and Roman ?idolatry? are promoted as national treasures, visited by Popes, Cardinals, Pastors, Christians and countless tourists. I wonder if one cannot be an African Christian, and yet remain respectable of what his ancestors accomplished, just as Europeans seem to have done. Why should some African Christians view Chieftaincy and its regalia as idolatrous, when the white missionaries who converted Africans to Christianity were sent to do that job with the blessings of their Queens and Kings? Okomfo Anokye never met any Christian missionary, black or white. He accomplished his task by his God-given talents. In the least, we must revere him, and in so doing show respect to ourselves and to our customs and to our tradition.

Source: Ellison, Kofi

Dr. A. Kobla Dotse
“Nunya la adido tsie, asime tu ne o”
[email protected]

Join our Newsletter