How New Dwaben (KOFORIDUA) came to be….

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Though Dwaben is an integral part of the story of the foundation of Asanteman, and all the panoply, culture, and traditions thereto, the relations between Kumase (Manhyia) and Dwaben, until the 20th century, was quite frosty.

Today, we are posting, in short detail, the circumstances leading to the establishment of the New Dwaben Traditional area in the present Eastern Region of Ghana, by immigrants from ‘old’ (Asante) Dwaben and its environs, to offer the basic understanding as to how it emerged.

Asante Dwaben is one of the FIVE Asanteman Piesie Nnum: Kokofu; Nsuta; Kwaeman/Kumase; Mampon; and Dwaben. These are viewed as the core of Asanteman. Asumenya, Bekwai and Offinso receive very honourable mention. It was these states, and others; and their people who joined together in a Confederation from 1690. The Confederation of Twi-speaking States fought to liberate themselves from Dankyira in 1700. Their unity was cemented by the defeat of their common foe and overlord, Agona Piesie Ntim Gyakari and the Dankyira Nation at Feyiase.

After the Dankyira victory, the Confederation became a Federation……..; ASANTEMAN 1701, cemented with the SIKADWA.

Osei Tutu Opemsuo became the first Asantehene/King of Asante. Prophet Okomfo Anokye provided the religious and spiritual underpinning or the glue to cement the unity of the new Asante Nation by commanding the SIKADWA/Golden Stool from above [the sky] to serve as the unifying agent and symbol of authority for the new Nation.

Thus, was born the Asante Trinity of: SIKADWA; OTUMFUO ASANTEHENE; and ASANTEMAN.

Dwaben is a member of the Asante matri-clan called Oyoko, members of which also include Kumase; Kokofu; Bekwai; Nsuta (Adako), and others. Indeed, The Chief of Dwaben is considered as the head (Abusuapanin) of the Oyoko Abusua (family) in Asante. It is therefore regrettable, that Dwaben and Kumase did not enjoy peaceful relations in the past.

Dwaben and Kumase relations began on the wrong foot when Nana Dwabehene Adakwaa Yiadom, who fought brilliantly in the Asante-Denkyira War, was accused by Asantehene Osei Tutu and the Kumase Abrempon, of not surrendering all of the gold artifacts and emblems captured at Abankesioso from Dankyira, to Asanteman.

It was Asante custom, and customary for Chiefs to surrender war booty to Asantehene who would then give a portion to the Chief, and the rest to the Asanteman treasury, per the [unwritten] Asante Constitution.

According to Asante tradition and lore, Okomfo Anokye caused an ant to enter Nana Dwabenhene’s inner ear during a grand durbar of Asante Chiefs, creating an embarrassing situation for Nana Dwabenhene. Nothwithstanding, Nana Adakwaa Yiadom did not return the alleged gold in his possession.

Other claims against Dwaben were made in subsequent Asante Wars, which Dwaben as usual fought with distinction.

In 1817, the British diplomat T.E. Bowdich visited Kumase. He lived, and traveled through Asante for nearly six months learning and studying about everything Asante. He upset Asantehene Osei Bonsu by implying that Dwaben appeared to be larger than Kumase……

Then, in 1826, Asante went to war against the Europeans on the coast….Britain, Denmark, Holland, and their African allies….for the control of the coastal areas of modern day Ghana.

This was the Dodowa War of 1826, or the Second Anglo-Asante War…as British Historians put it. The final battle was fought at Akatamanso. It was total defeat for Asante, and ended with the 1831 Anglo-AsanteTreaty.

By this 1831 Treaty, Asante gave up any control/influence over the coastal areas, and adjoining territories…. with the River Pra as boundary. The British converted theose areas into the British PROTECTED Territories of the Gold Coast, forerunner to the Gold Coast of 1874…post-Sagrenti War…. and currently comprising of the… Eastern; Greater Accra; Central; and Western Regions.

Significant for our topic here, is that, in the heat of battle at Akatamanso on August, 7, 1826, Otumfuo Osɛi Yaw Akoto left the battlefield at Akatamanso in the face of unrelenting barrage of shots from the Europeans and their allies. In the confusion, the SIKADWA was temporarily abandoned, and got in the possession of the enemy.

Instinctively, Antwi Panin, the Chief of Kontenase mounted recovery team to retrieve the SIKADWA. He was joined by Dwabenhene Daasebre Akwasi Boaten, They succeeded in recovering the SIKADWA from the enemy who as was reported, were “gazing at it (the SIKADWA) frightfully,” unable to comprehend what it was… according Carl Reindorf “A History of the Gold Coast and Ashanti,” published in 1885,” based on interactions/interviews with people who actually took part in that war.

The two Asante Chiefs received a great ovation when they returned with the SIKADWA… to Osei Yaw Akoto who had camped at Sawua in Asante, awaiting word from the battlefield at Akatamanso.

The Dwabenehene was accorded the accolade “OWORƆKOMA,” that is, one upon whom the nation depends on to fight in the heat of battle…the dependable one in battle. Nana Antwi Panin, the Kontenasehene, reportedly received thirty nine bullet shots, but he survived the ordeal, according to Reidnorf, and Kontenanse lore. His bravery at Aktamanso in fighting unceasingly, earned him the accolade OGYEABUƆ….that, is, he who receives, yet, repulses bullets…. undefeated by bullets.

The Dwabenehene surrendered the Stool to Asantehene Osei Yaw Akoto on Asante territory in the ancient town of SAWUA.

Once in Kumase, again, the Asantehene and Kumase Abrempon accused Nana Dwabenhene of keeping to himself, a box containing gold dust. The charge, and additional claims of desecration of SIKADWA, remain an unspeakable crime in Asanteman. Dwabenhene Akwasi Boaten took serious offense, and vehemently denied the charges.

Matters came to a head when both the Dwabenehene and Asantehene supported rival candidates in the succession to the Agyen and Oduro Stool of Nsuta, following the death of Nsutahene Yaw Ɔsɛkyerɛ (Yaw Sɛkyerɛ), who died on the battlefield at Akatamanso (Dodowa War).

The upshot was that the candidate supported by Dwabenehene, and his supporters were invited to Oseikrom for settlemeent.

But the Dwaben delegation, was callously, murdered in cold blood. Nana Dwabenehene was peeved at what he described as treachery, and NEVER forgot that.

So, when a bosom friend of Dwabenhene by the name of Kotiako, sought asylum in Kumase after he was accused by a wife of Dwabenhene for taking liberties with Dwabenhene’s wives, it added fire to the already tense situation.

The Kotiako case which also led the Dwabenehene to declare, after Kumase forces lined up against Dwaben,

“Sɛ Brebre a mma a, anka amaneɛ nso a amma….Kotiako na me ne no wo asɛm….”

(echoing a previous Adanse saying, regarding problems created for Adansi after an Adansi royal impregnated Brebre a wife of Dankyirahene Ntim Gyakari).

The Kotiako issue was the immediate cause of the war between Dwaben and Kumase in 1832. As a result, Dwabenehene Akwasi Boaten left, and settled his people, mainly in Akyem Abuakwa.

However, after the death of Asantehene Osei Yaw Akoto in 1834, the Dwaben returned…after being assured of peaceful relations by the new Asantehene Kwaku Dua Agyeman (Kwaku Dua Panin).

However, before their return, Dwabenhene Kwasi Boaten died at Saman near Osino. His brother, Kofi Boateng who succeeded him, also died eighty days after enstoolment.

Therefore, the Dwaben people were led on their return to Dwaben , by Queen Amma Seiwaa who ruled concurrently as Dwabenehene, and Dwabenhemaa. He became known as DWABEN SEIWAA.

There were no male heirs left for the Dwaben Stool. Much of the Dwaben royal family members had died at Dwaben during the Dwaben-Kumase War of 1832.

Nana Amma Seiwaa was succeeded in 1846, by her daughter Ohemaa Afrakoma II aka Afrakoma Panin. She was succeeded by her daughter Akua Sapomaa. Nana Akua Sapomaa’s husband Agyei Twum (son of Dwabenhene Kwasi Boaten) also known as Asafo Agyei, was a member of the Asona Abusua.

But Asafo Agyei, later manouvered and got enstooled as Dwabenhene much to the opposition and consternation of fellow Oyoko Abusua in Asante.

The OYOKO ABUSUA in Kumase, Nsuta, Kokokfu and elsewhere felt an Oyoko royal from any of these towns, should have been enstooled as Dwabenehene, instead of the ASONANII Asafo Agyei.

Asafo Agyei proved to be singularly cantankerous and

anti-Kumase. No wonder then, that Dwaben withheld support from Asante during the SAGRENTI WAR 1873-1874. Asafo Agyei wanted British support to fight Kumase.

Thus, ensued what is known in Asante as ASAFO AGYEI KO…1875…Kumase-Dwaben War.

After this war, Asafo Agyei led Dwaben out of Asante. This time…1875, other towns such as Afigyase (Effiduasi), Asɔkore, etc., joined in the migration. Through the efforts of Akyem Abuakwahene Nana Amoako Atta I, the government secured land from the Kukurantumihene. The new settlement became what is now known as NEW DWABEN, with major towns…Koforidua; Afigyase; Asɔkore; Ɔyoko; Dwumaapɔ, etc in the Eastern Region.

Koforidua was built from scratch; and it became the capital of NEW DWABEN, and also the new region…Eastern Region.

Something Okomfo Anokye prophesied in 1701: wherever Asante goes, it will shine.

Even the British were concerned about Asafo Agyei’s rabid

anti-Asante stance. In 1880 he was exiled to Lagos, Nigeria. He died there.

Until 1898 a triumvir consisting of Akyeampong Kwasi, Okyere, and Asafu Boateng managed the affairs of New Duaben State on behalf of Princess Ama Serwaa.

But, in October 1901 Ama Serwaa left Koforidua and settled at Asante Dwaben.. In her absence Chiefs Okyere and Asafu Boateng acted as caretakers.

In June 1907 the Chiefs of New Dwaben elected Asafu Boateng as their head, and petitioned the colonial government for his formal recognition as Omanhene of New Dwaben.

In Asante Dwaben, the young teenager Yaw Sapon became Dwabenehene.

And, that completed the formation of New Dwaben as a separate “Omanhene” in addition to ‘old’ Dwaben. The current Omanhene of New Dwaben…Daasebre Oti Boaten, and Nana Otuo Serebuo, Omanhene of Asante Dwaben are brothers from the same mother…as is Nana Dwabenhemaa of Asante Dwaben.

Some of the Dwaben immigrants also founded towns such as

Enyiresi (Anyirasi), Kankan, Asaman, Osiem, etc., in Akyem Abuakwa itself. These towns owed allegiance to Asante Dwaben. The Dwaben migrants also founded towns in Akyem Kotoku. They swore Oath of Allegiance to Dwaben.

In the 1920’s, Akyem Abuakwahene Ofori Atta I appealed to the British colonial government to change that. He wanted the Dwaben towns founded within Akyem Abuakwa and Akyem Kotoku to serve the Amanhene where they were located.

The allegiance of the Dwaben towns in Akyem Abuakwa and Akyem Kotoku were therefore transferred to the respective Amanhene in the area of their location.

Source : Sankofa Asante.

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