By Fred Obrempong-Dwamena
Knowing the importance of swearing a great oath in Akan traditional religion, most Akan ethnic groups do not joke with them at all. Great oaths come about as a result of a disaster or misfortune of the past which involved considerable loss of lives to the tribe. In Akwapim, the main oath is called Wukuda ne Sokode, and refers to the great loss by the Akwapims in a town called Sokode about a hundred years ago. The Great Oath of Ashanti is Kormante ne Memeneda. It refers to the great loss of lives and defeat of the Ashanti by the Fante in Kormante on a Saturday (Dr. Dankyi Berko, 2011). Kwawus are not in isolation; they also have a great oath call “ Akuamoa Asaase Aban” which occurred during Kwawu-Nkonya war in 1872. This war claimed a lot of lives even though Kwawu were victorious in the end. Beside this great oath, there was another oath and occurrences which came about as a result of the war which lasted for almost 3 years.
Nana Yaw Preko succeeded Nana Saka Tia and became the Kubaasehene of Abetifi. It was during his reign that Okwawu-Nkonya war broke up. An accusation of sexual intercourse occurred between one Ewe man from Nkonya and the wife of Okwahuhene at the time; which resulted to a clash. The Asantehene intervened and appointed a war captain called Ahenkora Osei to assist the Okwawuhene. On his part, Okwawuhene, Nana Kwaku Adofo, appointed one of his royals, Nana Yaw Preko of Kubaase to lead the war ( Odehyee Ankoa Akoa guane). A challenge Nana Yaw Preko accepted in good faith. Accompanying him were troops who were members from the Bretuo clan of Pepease and Okumnipa stool of Twenerasee.
Nana Yaw Preko received his braveness and support from the fetish “ Amoah Koromansa” which is attached to the Kubaase royal stool. When the war became tough and Kwawus were losing most of their men, the fetish “ Amoah Koromansa” prophesized that another sister stool of the family must be recalled to assist. This fell on the Brebo Adamu stool which was then occupied by a female royal called Yaa Asantewaa. The war continued.
One Sunday, news broke out that one of the royals of Nana Yaw Preko and others had lost their lives to the Nkonya troops. This message did not sit well with him and he swore to fight till his last blood was taken. This Sunday incident, in particular, generated another great oath for Kubaase stool called “Nana Yaw Preko Kwasida”.
The Bretuo clan of Pepease equally suffered from this war; a lot of their clan members lost their lives. On the day of the funeral, Opanin Kwaku Aniwaben carved a wooden image called “ Atiwa” which was tied to a bag that carried the nails and the hairs of the warriors. Till today, the “Atiwa” is still in existence and that wooden image can drink as many gallons of alcohol as possible without any difficulty. Pepease felt neglected during the war and was very embittered. This is why Pepease introduced a horn message “ OKWAWU MEYEE DEN NI O! “
How we won the war?
During the course of the war, Kwawu warriors captured an Nkonya fetish girl who was dressed in white cotton cloth carrying the juju meant to divert bullets that were targeted at the enemies. Before the girl was captured, Yaa Asantewaa from Adamu stool house embraced the girl and brought her to Kwawus base. The girl’s life was spared on the basis that she would lead them to the hiding place of the Nkonya forces. The war intensified and the Kwawu fought a good fight to defeat the Ewes. The little girl, who was captured from the Nkonya forces, was brought to Kwawu and was attached to the “Gyeni Poma” stool also known as “Kata Boafori”.
Despite all the casualties that Pepease and Kubaase suffered, the warriors returned to Kwawu with jubilation.
It was at the gathering to welcome the warriors that, the Okwawuhene Kwaku Adofo initiated the great oath of Kwawu and called it “ Akuamoa Asaase Aban”. The response, “ Yente Gyae” is to signify that, despite all the lives Kwawus lost during the war, they never gave up. For 3 continuous years, they fought for our freedom. What a sacrifice?
Indeed, “odehyee ankoa akoa guane”! Similar wars between the Ewes and the Kwawus occurred; one of which was led by Nana Kwaku Saka II also Kubaasehene of Abetifi. Interestingly enough, Kwawu and Ewes are best friends so much so that, inter-marriages between the two ethnic groups are extremely common.