About Okere

Short History of the Guans

The Guan-speaking people live mostly in Ghana though there are some pockets in Togo, Benin and Cote D’ivoire.

Modern historians more or less agree that since time immemorial the Guans have been the original inhabitants of Ghana, because unlike the Akan who arrived from Bouna in the north west, the Ewe from Notsie in Togo in about 1720, the Ga-Adangbe from certain parts in Nigeria and the Mossie-Dagomba group of state who emigrated from the north-east ,the Guans ,on the other hand, migrated from nowhere thus Ghana is the ancestral homeland of the Guans.

Even the pockets of the Guans in Togo  (The Anyanga),those In Benin (The Gbede ,Wese, Okomfo) and The Baule In Cote D' ivoire claim migrant origin from Ghana.

There are numerous studies, which support Guans claim to their autochonous (i.e aboriginal) status. However, for lack of space the present writer may confine himself to the factual information provided by Professor Adu Boahene who says;neither the Akan nor the Ga-Adangbe found the coastal district of Ghana unoccupied.

It is clear from oral tradition as well as the linguistic evidence that these immigrants met the Guans who were living in these areas in different degrees of concentrations and political organization”. These Guans are represented today by the Anum, Kyerepong, Basa, Breku,Etsii, Afutu, and Asebu.

 When these immigrants arrived, they pushed the Guans eastwards and southwards and either totally or partially assimilated the Guan culturally and ethnically.(vide: a thousand years of west African history 1970.page.167)

By 1482, when the Portuguese led by Don Diogo d’Azambuja negotiated with the local chief of Edena for the construction of a fort, there were not any Fante, Ga Noeewe on the coast.The Edena people originated from one of the ancient Guan kingdoms namely Aguafo,the rest were Asebu Fetu near Capecoast, Agona in the Central Region and Guan kingdom in the Afram plains under the Ataaras, they were all state builders.

Gonja is the oldest Guan settlement ,but whether or not it is the nursery ground and the guans ideas or institutions, is one of the  problems which archaeologists are now called upon to solve. But one thing is certain, and that is the patrilineal groups so typical of the Guans definitely evolved here .

Historians assert that the growing Poer of the Songhai empire pushed the Mossi-Dagomgba ancestors south of Niger bend, so that by AD 1333 they become a threat to the very survival of the Guans in the Gonjaland ,these waves of Guans moved southwards in search of nucleated settlements.

Earlier the desire to move southwards into the forest country had been felt by the Guan, because the climate and vegetation were not conducive to intensive human occupation. Eventually members of the kindred group broke away and wandered afield to their present habitats.

The first group penetrated in the Afram plains where they built a powerful state under the Ataaras.The last of the Ataaras ,by name king Ataaras ofinam viii,was ousted by the Akan who migrated from Adansi in a seven-year war (1690-1697)so the inhabitants fled to Atwode Akpafu,Lolobi,Logba,Kpado,Abanu and Okere as well as Nchumuru.

The Okere ancestors first settled at Tafo ,Kukurantumi and Osiem, from there they moved to Aboboase near the present day Adawso before settleling on the mountains. At Tafo the Okere established the Ohum festival which has since become the aboriginal cult of Akyem Abuakwa. In  the same way the Fetu afahye of the original Efutu at Oguaa had remained the aboriginal cult and not the Ahogba of the Bobor Mfante.

The second group moved towards the Lower Volta basin, among them were the Senya,Larteh,the Kpeshie aborigins of the Ga country side ,the Obutu (Awutu)whose leader by the name Awietey had gold and brought this with him.

The third group moved to Sefwi,Nzema,Aowin,Wasa,Ahanta,Shama,Asebu, Aguafo and the Etsii settlements. They have all been subjected to Akan imperialism and have lost all cultural traits,which made them identified as Guan.

The Fetu founded the Oguaa. Some of them moved eastwards along the coast and founded Mumford and Winneba,while the Nkonya continued the journey to Nyanawase, thence to Larteh before crossing the Volta. Almost all Guan communities now living on either side of the Volta, north of Kpando traditions of counter migration .migration southwards and backwards to the north.these was counter migration from ancient town of Larteh across the Volta to Nkonya Prang, Yeji dawn Nawuri.

The Guans now live in five regions in Ghana,namely Central,Eastern, Volta,Brong Ahafo and Northern. Their institutions and language operate side with those of their close neighbor and it appears this sense of cultural distinctiveness is intensified and justified by the practice of partrilineal succession  in all the Guans speaking areas ,except Anum and Boso who became matrilineal by adoption .

In conclusion,let me disagree a little with a plea that the Guans should value their heritage whatever the origins, they should preserve and not neglect their links with the past.