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Takoradi has always been the pride of Ahanta and will continue to be despite the language shift from Ahanta to Fante. There are many factors to that and hopefully history will correct itself someday for Ahanta to gain its lost glory in Takoradi. Natives of Takoradi have always identified themselves to be Ahantas and that alone brightens the future for us and hopefully with concerted efforts, we will make things right.

As far as Ahanta is concerned, there has not been any group of people who have been loyal to the traditions of Ahanta more than the people of Takoradi. It used to be one of the strongholds of Ahanta in ancient times until very recently when everything turned upside down in Takoradi making it to lose its Ahanta fragrance.

I hear there has always been litigations to cede Takoradi from Ahanta Traditional Council and that saddens me a lot. Oh my beloved Ahanta! Where did we go wrong? How did we get here?

Know and understand that unity is strength and for that matter no combined forces can break brooms if tied together. It is time to pull our strength and come together as one people with common destiny than continously allow ourselves to be used to serve the interest of others against our own collective well-being. We still have chance to make things right for ourselves and our future generations.

Takoradi has always remained the largest, prominent and most influential town in the history of Ahanta. Whereas Owusua (Busua) remained the central seat of government, governance and politics, Takoradi remained the seat of commerce and the "life wire" of ancient Ahanta. When the Europeans came to Gold Coast, they described Takoradi as "populous" and why popolus? They found more people living in one town or village in Takoradi more than all other places they have been, especially along the coast of West Africa.

Life in Takoradi was already "cosmopolitan" and booming before the arrival of the Europeans. Life there has always been vibrant with trading and commercial activities way before our European friends arrived on the shores of Takoradi. The Ahantas of ancient days were converging there for their trading and commercial activities. It also served as a link between the coast and those Ahantas in the hinterlands. In fact, we were told that it used to be a large market center in ancient Ahanta.

Whereas the native name of Takoradi has been buried deep in the crust of the earth, the current name traces its origin to Fort Tacaray also known as Fort Wisten which was built by the Dutch in 1665. I have heard several accounts and narrations including one of a certain "Ntakor tree" under which the forefathers of Takoradi were believed to have first settled but that narration is actually very inconsistent with Ahanta. The argument that Takoradi means "NTAKORASE" which is translated to mean under the "Ntakor tree" does not resonate with Ahanta but this is academic exercise and a subject of research. I on the other hand find the Tacaray narration more appropriate and convincing as it shows how the "Tacaray" became corrupted and eventually came to be known as Takoradi that we know today.

Fort Tacaray as I earlier mentioned was built in 1665 as a trading post for the Dutch but the native Ahantas protested them constantly. The natives of Takoradi have a long history of protesting and resisting the Europeans, particularly the Dutch. They never wanted to have anything to do with them and let alone to find them on their shores so they were constantly at war with them. Whereas the Europeans seemed to have found comfort in the neighboring town of Sekondi, the natives of Takoradi were always at war them and that made Wellin Bosman the Dutch explorer who toured Gold Coast in 1700s to describe Ahantas as martial. Martial because they were always protesting and fighting them.

In 1864, Fort Tacaray was again destroyed probably because of Ahanta resistance and left abondoned by the Dutch. In 1864, Badu Bonso II had been killed and for more than 10 years the Dutch had prevented installation of a new Ahanta king by maintaining large presence of military and deployments in Ahanta particularly in Busua but the Ahantas were involved in guerrilla tactics with the Dutch. However, a Dutch map of 1791 showed that the Dutch renewed their presence there and actively involved in trading activities until 6th April 1876 when the Dutch sold Fort Tacaray together with all their possessions in Gold Coast to the British and left.

In fact, that is the exact spot where Badu Bonso II killed then Dutch governor of Gold Coast Tonneboeijer during the first Dutch-Ahanta war of 1838. Badu Bonso II had killed two Dutch officials who were dispatched by Tonneboeijer to have him arrested and brought to him at Elmina castle whether dead or alive but when the news got him, he decided to go and have Badu Bonso arrested by himself. When Badu Bonso II heard that Tonneboeijer was heading to Ahanta with forces to have him arrested, he met them at the site of Fort Tacaray and in less than 30 minutes, Badu Bonso II had annihilated the forces of Tonneboeijer and had him killed at the entrance of Fort Tacaray and took his head to his palace at Busua.

That very action of Badu Bonso II attracted reprisal attacks from the Dutch when the news reached Haque and in July 1838, the Dutch launch a reprisal attack on Ahanta after they brought mercenaries from Haque lead by General Verveer. In second Dutch-Ahanta war of 1838, Badu Bonso II himself was killed and several Ahanta nobles and royals were captured and sent to Elmina to be transported to Dutch West Indies. Takoradi was completely destroyed and left in ruins. After the war, the natives returned and resettled until the Dutch left in 1876.

Where we see as Takoradi of today is is not the original township. The original settlement is somewhere near Takoradi Harbour along the Coast. In fact, there were dotted Ahanta settlements there but were all relocated to pave way for the construction of Takoradi Harbour in the 1920s by Gordon Guggisberg's colonial administration. It the reason why the current city of Takoradi is one of beautifully outlayed cities in Ghana. The English modelled it to look like their cities in England.

As years go by the name Tacaray corrupted and by 1700s, the Dutch themselves called the place Taccorari and similar pronunciations by other Europeans like the Portuguese, the Germans, the Danes and the Swedes. In 1880s the place had come to be known as Takorady and then eventually Takoradi as we know today.

Takoradi is Ahanta land and remains our pride.

Ahanta Apemenyimheneba Kwofie III

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The traditional food for the people of Ahanta is "Foomfoom" and the best of it is the one prepared with RED MAIZE also known as "Abele Azani" in Ahanta language. Preparing "Foomfoom" is a bit hectic and time consuming but it is actually what a traditional Ahanta man or woman would want to have as his or her last meal of the day. Why? Our forefathers said it cures and heal us of our diseases, sicknesses and grant us long life with good health.

Aside being their traditional food, Ahantas believe in the spirituality of "Abele Azani". For them, "Abele Azani" is a source of long life and good health. They believe it has spiritual connotations and ancestral connections which tightens the bond between the living and the dead. They consider it as a weapon to drive away demons and evil forces their homes. It fortifies them against dark powers and misfortunes but bring them good luck and fortunes during planting and harvesting seasons. Today, Ahantas especially those in Sekondi-Takoradi have lost touch of "Abele Azani" and it spirituality. That is very sad and it tells our true state as people and reasons why meaningful Ahantas should be worried.

In 1700s, Wellin Bosman the Dutch explorer toured Gold Coast and on reaching Ahanta, he noticed that they were the only people in then known Gold Coast and other places he had toured in Africa who had the "Abele Azani" which he described as SWEET. He further described how Ahantas were religiously , spiritually and customarily attached to these red grains apart from using as a staple food. They performed almost all their customs and practices with it and in fact, their whole lives as people centered on it.

How Ahantas came to possess this maize remains a mystery but our oral traditions and myths say that it is the exact maize that Dwarfs handed over to Akpoley when he chanced on them dancing while he was on a hunting expedition. There other accounts which say that maize in general was introduced to Africa by Portuguese from South America but Bossman's account indicates that the RED MAIZE was unique to only Ahantas. If this is true, then Akpoley's account certainly predates the arrival of Europeans in Africa though one should admits inaccuracies in oral traditions and myths. In as much as we should admit inaccuracies in oral traditions and myths, we should also admit the fact not everything good came from Europe to Africa.

Our oral traditions and myths narrate that Ahanta had been hit with intense famine as soon as they settled at their present locations after long years of migration from Bono. Akpoley being one of Ahanta's chief hunters was on a hunting expedition to find food or possibly another suitable area for settlement considering the intensity of the famine. In the course of his expedition, he chanced on Dwarfs dancing under a certain palm tree. He hid himself and studied how they danced for several days and in one of days, the Dwarfs noticed his presence and caught him. He pleaded with them to spare his life and also narrated how hunger was killing his people. Out of pity and mercies, the Dwarfs spared his life. They also gave him some red grains and asked him to go and grow it to feed his people and that was how the Kundum festival celebrated by Ahantas and Nzemas begun. The Dwarfs also taught him how to dance the ABISA which eventually became the traditional dance of Ahanta and Nzema people and the official dance for the Kundum festival.

Today in Ahanta, Kundum is gradually fading away with the Abisa dance. It is only celebrated in villages around Agona Nkwanta. Kwesimintsim has also been celebrating it and that is really commendable by the chief of Kwesimintsim, Nana Egozi Esoun VII and his people. They are probably the only people in Sekondi-Takoradi who are keeping alive traditions and spirituality of Ahanta in Sekondi-Takoradi. It saddens some of us how we are throwing away such dignified cultural heritage bequeath to us by our forefathers. We are greatly losing touch with our spirituality as people and the very reasons why many Ahantas especially the youths shy away from their identity.

Indeed, Wellin Bosman is on record to have been the first European to witness the Kundum festival in Ahanta and he gave a vivid account on how it is celebrated with "Abele Azani" featuring prominently in all activities as far as Kundum is concerned. He spoke about how they used it to prepare all their meals as well as performing other practices including spiritual fortifications with it. On the Kundum festival, Bosman spoke about how Ahantas danced at nights in circular forms around fires with bangles tied to their legs. They would stamp their feet hard on the ground with the bangles making noise. They also used the same formations when they are going to war.

While growing up with my grandmother at Apemenyim, she held certain spiritual and traditional beliefs about "Abele Azani" that wondered me. She treated it with some kind of reverence and specialty. She always made me feel that our whole lives as people depended on it. I never understood her until I started researching on Ahanta and red maize. In fact, I never believed my grandmother in those and felt she was being overly superstitious with her beliefs in "Abele Azani" but she kept on telling me that I would understand it someday and I guess I have understood it now.

Even though we lived on subsistence, we sometimes had enough maize and sold some of them for cash for household needs and my grandmother would sell most of her farm produce but certainly not "Abele Azani". No matter how she is in need of money, she would never sell it but would rather give it out freely to anybody who needs it. If I ask her, she would tell me "Abele Azani" is not for sale. She would never trade "Abele Azani" for anything that bring money. According to her, their forefathers cautioned them not to trade it for money and wealth but rather they should give it out freely to anybody who is in it need of it.

She recounted to me how in the olden days, Badu Bonso would call all his sub-chiefs in the kingdom to gather at his palace in Owusua (Busua) and share among them grains of "Abele Azani" . He would then charge them to grow it into larger folds and return some to his palace after harvesting so that he does not ran out of stock. The chiefs would return to their various communities and share the grains to heads of various families and households and also charge them to produce them in folds just as Badu Bonso charged them. Tthis is done every year to religiously ensure the sustainability of "Abele Azani" in the Ahanta kingdom. Sharing of the "Abele Azani" signifies the beginning of the planting season for Ahantas and after harvesting, the first yield must be sent to Badu Bonso at Owusua and failure to do that can result in your death based on the orders of Badu Bonso. To those who were faithful to this ancestral tradition, rewarded with dusts of gold and elevated some chiefs for keeping faithful to this tradition to ensure that Ahanta does not go back to the days of famine as it happened in Akpoley's days.

She further narrated how "Abele Azani" signified the passage between life and death in the Ahanta beliefs and customs. She recounted in the olden days in Ahanta and how Abele Azani was considered the most important family inheritance that must be shared equally among members of a family before one's death. It is the reason why she always had some grains of "Abele Azani" hidden somewhere and ready to share before her death.

If an elderly person in the family calls family members together and shares his or her stock of "Abele Azani" among them, it signifies that he or she is prepared to leave the world of the living and join the ancestors. Soon after sharing "Abele Azani" among family members, that person may not live beyond one week. It is for this reason that every Ahanta must have some stock of "Abele Azani" and pass it on to the family members before dying else it is believed that the ancestors will not welcome such a fellow in their midst.

Today Ahanta has lost in touch with "Abele Azani". I personally don't remember the last time I set my eyes on Abele Azani and let alone to taste it. How sad when we cherish the culture and practice of others and spite our own which gives our identity and spirituality as people.

Things are not the same anymore in Ahanta and I am very worried.

Ahanta Apemenyimheneba Kwofie III

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Ahanta has lost its glory and shine in present Ghana. We are regarded as minority ethnic group with no social, political and economic relevance in the affairs of Ghana. It's like we have nothing on the table to offer socially, politically and economically.

Even in Sekondi-Takoradi, we have allowed ourselves to be relegated to the background and have become more of second class citizens who feed on leftovers and crumbles falling from the dinning table. We have stakes in nothing as far as Sekondi-Takoradi is concerned but who do we blame for all these woes ? I blame no one other than ourselves but the question, is it too late to wake up as people and take our place? I think it is not.

For more than 10 years, I have been researching on Ahanta and trying to trace our roots as people by connecting the dots and the missing links. In these years of researching on Ahanta, some of the things I have found beat my imagination. They are mind boggling and often leave me in me in awe if I look at the present state of Ahanta. We are failing our forefathers, ourselves and the generation to come after us.

How did we end up with high poverty levels and completely disintegrated as people when our forefathers and ancestors lived in glory and riches? Other tribes which suffered similar fate as we, have put the past behind them and moved on. They are rallying their strength socially, politically and economically for their collective well-being and interests but unfortunately my beloved Ahanta still lie in desolation nursing fractures of colonial wounds. To wake up and heal from colonial wounds and take charge of our destiny since the colonialists are long gone

The Ahantas are believed to be part of the Akan waves who were on migration from old Ghana through Bono and around 1229, they crossed the Pra river with their leader who was described by his followers as the one who possessed whimsical powers. They soon settled between Pra and Ankobra rivers and organized themselves into chiefdoms with the king himself residing at "Owulosua" which later came to be known as "Owusua" and came to be known as Busua by the colonialists. Between 1300 and 1400, they had already mobilised themselves into a powerful force occupying the territory between Pra and Ankobra rivers and the Atlantic Ocean stretching from Shama to Axim and beyond.

They came into contact with the Europeans particularly the Dutch around 1590 and early 1600s. They established friendly relations with them initially until the Dutch wanted more out of the their friendly relationship with Ahanta. At some point in time, the Dutch wanted the whole of Ahanta for themselves and that was when the hostilities between the Ahanta chiefs and the Dutch begun. The climax of the hostilities were the events which lead to death of Badu Bonso II and several Ahanta royals. Several others were also shipped to Dutch Indies and were made slaves in sugar plantations. For more than 10 years, no king was placed on the throne in Ahanta because the Dutch had deployed heavy military presence in Ahanta.

In the Dutch - Ahanta war which led to the death of Badu Bonso II, the Dutch invaded his palace after killing him and made away with all the gold dusts stored in the palace since the foundation of Ahanta. They also took away other treasures, chieftaincy regalias, precious stones and jewelries belonging to the king and the queen. They had heard that Badu Bonso II had a lot of gold dusts and other precious stones in his palace so as soon as they killed him, led by General Verveer, they stormed his palace and made away with everything. Apemenyim which was known to be source of gold and wealth of the kingdom at the time was completely destroyed together with prominent towns like Busua and Takoradi.

Whereas we are reminiscing the pains and agonies inflicted on us by the Europeans particularly the Dutch, we can also credit them with facts of records they left behind giving us the true state of Ahanta and its riches before they raped and robbed of everything. Apart from oral traditions and folklore handed down to us by our forefathers, the Europeans themselves kept accounts of their encounter with Ahanta and that partly confirmed what our forefathers and ancestors told us. One of such European who recorded his encounter with Ahanta was Bosman, the Dutch explorer who toured Gold Coast in the 17th century.. Douchez, F. (1839), Tengbergen, H.F. (1839) and Van Dantzig, Albert (2013) some of the recent European sources on ther encounter with Ahanta.

The early Europeans who came into contact with Ahanta described their king as the one who wear gold clothes and also sat on gold. They further described him as one who is rarely seen in public unless on special occasions, festivals and gathering of the people. They also mentioned that the king had his palace close to sea where a lot of whales are found. Of course! Still the palace of king of Ahantas is found at Busua and Ahantas themselves hold the account that they came this earth through the mouth of a whale. In as much as this appears to be a myth, it proves the fact and the significance of titles of Ahanta kings which suffices with "Bonso" meaning the whale which is known to be the biggest creature in both the sea and on the land

Europeans again described the king of Ahantas as one who has the power to grant life and death. If he forgives you, you are made to serve in his palace for a number of years and on the grand day of the festival, you would return to your village and people. If he condemns you to death, there is an execution square deep in the forest where they would kill you and bring your head to him as a proof. This is to ensure that the executioners carry out strictly the orders of the king. If he speaks, it is final and no one dare to challenge the words of the king. The one who does that will be put to death. Their king is greatly feared, they said.

They described the festival of Ahantas as one which is accompanied by drumming and dancing during the nights at the square. During the day, a strict ban is placed on noise and other activities because It is believed that their ancestors and gods will be visiting them with fortunes to have good harvest in the years ahead. A lot of sacrifices are made to appease their gods and ancestors and on the grand day of the festival, chiefs and people would come from all the villages and gather at the square of the king's palace to pay homage. Their king would then sit in public to receive gifts brought to him from all the villages. The grand festival lasts for about a month with full of activities after which the people would return to their village by walking.

They described our rivers and streams to have their banks covered with dusts of gold and they described Ahantas as natives who have gold in abundance. The above description is typical of how the Europeans describe many Akan states they came into contact with and Ahanta is not different. The history of Akans and gold can be traced from the golden kingdom of Kush through the old Ghana empire where the Akans were known to have been trading in gold and other precious metals. The story of Ahanta couldn't have been any different from all other Akan states. Ahanta was a state of gold and until the Europeans particularly the Dutch looted everything and left Ahanta in tattered penury.

We are now left with rifted chieftaincy and political fronts which is deepening our woes and agonies more than what the colonialists inflicted upon us but it is still not late to wake up and build Ahanta.

Ahanta Apemenyimheneba Kwofie III

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