Feature: The Anti-Akan Rawlings – By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jnr., Ph.D.

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jnr., Ph.D.
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jnr., Ph.D.

I read Peter Mawunyo Dzidza’s version of the “settled history” of interethnic relations between Akans and Ewes, titled “Professor Mike Ocquaye Worsens The NPP’s Plight” (Modernghana.com 4/16/14), with no small measure of amusement. One, because the history of Akan conquest of other West African ethnic polities goes well beyond Anlo- and Eweland, that is present-day Ghana and Togo, to the very doorsteps of modern-day Nigeria, and about 250-300 miles north of the West African littoral.

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And that Akan history of conquests, of course, far predates 1750, as Mr. Dzidza would have his unsuspecting readers believe. But even more significantly, the history of “Akan Imperialism,” if you would, does not begin with the Asante subethnic polity of the Mega-/Supra-Akan Nation. Rather, it begins circa 1500s with the Akwamu. I was amused because Mr. Dzidza clearly appears to gloat on the specious authority of his crass and abject ignorance, thus his curious concept of what he calls the “settled history” of interethnic relations between Akans and Ewes.

I was, however, delighted by the fact that the author, a vitriolic critic of Prof. Mike Ocquaye, the renowned Ghanaian politician and distinguished political scientist, lawyer, Baptist minister and academic, chose to restrict the purview of his discourse to Anloland, rather than the relatively far greater geographical space of Eweland as a whole. Avid readers of my columns are well aware of the fact of a portion of my matrilineage being traceable to the Peki-Blengo royal paramountcy.

In the end, though, the critically thinking reader gets the quite sustainable, or provable, impression that Mr. Dzidza would have his readers accept his rather comical characterization of the retired University of Ghana Law School Dean as an “idiot,” primarily because a Ga-Dangbe-descended Prof. Ocquaye has dared to call a spade by its proper name. On the latter score, this is what the critic has to say: “In the end, the question for Prof. Ocquaye to answer is: Is Prof. Ocquaye an Akan?” And my own question for Mr. Dzidza is as follows: “Does the identity of the truth-teller make the message any less truthful because of this organic fact of civilized human cultural existence?”

Mr. Dzidza also confirms my hitherto “fluxional” or tentative suspicions about the so-called Anlo-Ewe siege mentality, a perception that is widely held by many a non-Ewe Ghanaian, particularly among the members of the Akan ethnic majority. On a purported Danish-led war against the Anlo-Ewe in the late 18th century, this is how Mr. Dzidza prefers to cast matters: “From 1782 to 1784, the entire Gold Coast Colony [read “Akan”], led by the Danish governor, Salvatore, waged an offensive against the people of Anlo, an expedition known as the ‘Sagbadre War,’ which saw the death[s] of many warriors in Anlo land. As if that was not enough, eight years later, Awadada Kowuga I was captured and killed in the Battle of Someawo in 1792. This was followed by the Keta War or the Agudza War from 1844 to 1847, during the reign of Awadada Axorlu I, who drove them out to settle later at Agbozume.”

There are several predictable problems with the preceding paragraph. First of all, in 1782, there existed no such organic polity by the geopolitical designation of Gold Coast Colony. That would come about a half-century later. The rabidly anti-Akan intention of the author is, however, quite unmistakable. And it is that, somehow, the entirety of Akan groups like Fante, Ahanta, Agona, Gomua, Akyem, Akuapem, Assin, Okwawu, Denkyira, etc., had actually ganged up with the Danish colonialists to subjugate the Anlo-Ewe. Well, for Mr. Dzidza’s information and only one striking example among many, Akyem-Abuakwa did not join the Gold Coast Colony, or the Bond of 1844 Signatories, until 1853; and so what is this nonsense about the Akan of the Gold Coast ganging up to subjugate and destroy the Ewes? How preposterous!

It is also interesting how the author downplays the legions of Anlo-Ewe defeats at the hands of the Great Asantes, by simply noting, glancingly, and mischievously affecting the pathetic tone of an innocent victim: “…many Anlo warriors perished.” Innocent warriors, indeed! On the other hand, Mr. Dzidza rapturously celebrates the several and occasional setbacks suffered by the Asantes. Maybe Mr. Dzidza may want to read up a bit on how the Great Asona monarchy of Akyem-Abuakwa came to occupy such a prominent status in the Akuapem State between 1680 and 1720.

There is also mention of an Anlo-Ewe chieftain by the name of Awadada Aboazdi (Aboagye?), I, who was captured and executed in 1750 by the Asantes. Well, anybody with a passable knowledge of Akan names knows that “Aboazdi” is decidedly not an Ewe name. Very likely, Awadada Aboazdi was the descendant of one of the Great Akwamu warriors who had conquered and occupied Ewe-Fon lands since the 1500s, thus the prevalence of Akan day-names among Ewe groups and polities stretching from present-day Volta Region, all the way to Benin.

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D. Department of English Nassau Community College of SUNY Garden City, New York

E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net

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