This post is based on the notes of the Rev. H.L. Anang in which he attributes the story to Ernest Koampa.
Not all parts of the notes are clear. In most cases I have reproduced the text exactly as written. In other cases, doing so renders the text difficult to understand so I have made slight adjustments. I have tried to research elsewhere in order to somehow know which dates are referred to. The notes at the end of the post explain my findings.
The Chiefs referred to here are only the first four. For a complete list of all Chiefs of Apirede, see the following post: Chiefs of Apirede
Brief History of Apirede (as written by Ernest Koampa)
§1 The situation of the town
The town is situated and lying about one mile from Adukrom and about 8 miles from Somanyah on the top of the highest part of the Akuapem ranges. It is the last town in Akuapem.
From the eastern part of the town, a spectator can command the district of Krobo and that of Trans Volta. In these districts are the plains of Kroboe, the Krobo mountain, the “Bepo Sen” lately known as mount Yogaga and the hills and peaks of Krepe countries as far down as Ada Klu Hills and also the gigantic River Volta which runs with its silvery white waters on the plains of Kroboe district together with the towns Somanyah, Odumase, Sra, Bana Hill with the buildings of the Senior School and Kpong.
All these form a picturesque view and the agreeable expressing kind of beauty that always satisfy the curiosity of a spectator.
§2 Foundation and population of the town
The town was founded by one Oboni Ayim, the first chief, and one Opampi, his mankrako and their subjects. There are discrepancies in opinion as the the origin of the inhabitants whether they migrated from a place or not. One statement being that they migrated from Kong mountains and another that they were not immigrants at all. Whether they came from a place is incredible.
The population of the town at that time was over three thousand of whom one thousand five hundred were able men or gunners especially trained for hunting and war. with their leaders Kohene, Asafohene and Apagyahene upon them.
§3 Their Character
The men were best hunters and farmers. They cultivated the dense forest and planted plantains and yams and then hunted for the wild beast which were in that time abundant; whilst the women were busy gathering the yams and plantains and cooked and pended or beat into fufu and made soup with the flesh of the wild beast which their husbands had brought from hunting and carried to their husbands. They also call their neighbours together and eat [with] them. They knew nothing of tribunals. If anyone offended their neighbour, the offender was to be brought before the father or the head of the family or any other substantial person and after the investigation, the offender is to pacify his neighbour with a pot of palm wine, that being their principal drink at the time. They had no clothes. They used the bark of a certain tree called “Obofu” to cover their nakedness. They had no idea of a living God, they rather worshipped some fetishes and juju.One of the most celebrated ones was “Ati”, which is still worshipped today.
§4 Their lands and its boundaries
The land which was situated between the town and the Volta River was formerly uninhabited. This gave the people a free opportunity to seize the lands and made a boundary with the king of Osudoku (by name Enimiri or Enimil) on the northern bank of River Okoi. The boundary extends along the bank of the river to its confluence in the River Volta. This forms the southern boundary.
The eastern boundary: From thence, they made a boundary with Chief Bamforo Dade Nwabiri of Kotropei through a mountain called Bepoten or Yogaga (a part of it belonged to the Chief of Kotropei) and continues to some place called “Kube-Kro” where the boundary with the Chief of Kotropei ends.
The northern boundary: From thence, the boundary extends (from KubeKro) direct to River Pompong at some place called Bonkrum-Akatawira. This forms a boundary between them and the people of Begoro. Then the river forms the boundary between themselves and the Chief of Kukurantumi and Taffo to the confluence of a stream called Abetema (which flows from Kpade-Ale near Okrakwadjo) where a man called Tete Kwasi (or Okoto – a nickname meaning crab) and his wife Adebo settled on the boundary and called their village Okoto Akura, which means “Crab’s Village”. the man and his wife were natives of Larteh. How and when they came, we do not know. Then the boundary turns northwest along the stream to Anyankomase near Okrakwadjo, from thence through Aserema to a stream called Arweh near Kwabena Ayesu’s village and then through and then through Aserema Hill to Dedaku Stream. From Abetema to Dedaku Stream forms a part of the boundary between the people and the Adukrom, or the Apirede-Adukrom boundary.
The western boundary: The Apirede-Adukrom boundary continues from River Dedaku (stream) through Nyawora ((Intehawora) Hill and then descends into a valley called Intehawora-bon. From thence the boundary turns to the left through the valley and then turns again to a valley called Aworowara, and then contrinues through the valley to River Aprachey, then Aprachey forms the boundary through Akodi to its confluence in River Okoi.
The Chiefs of the town
§1 Chief Obonu Ayim
Obonu Ayim was the founder of the town and the first chief. His mankrado was Opampi. How or when they cam, we do not know. Their men were trained especially for farming and hunting, their guns were made of iron barrels fixed in a piece of wood and unlike our modern muskets, they have no striggers or hammers and for their place a fuels were used when shooting.
He reigned peacefully and died.
§2 Asamoa Sirih (2nd Chief)
Asamoa Siri was the second chief and successor of Obonu Ayim. It is said that this chief and his predecessor and successor were brothers (Nsokae) were brothers but whether they were real brothers or half brothers is unknown. Nothing important is kown about him but it still exist in the town. He died and was succeeded by his brother Nsokae.
§3 Nsokae (3rd Chief)
Asamoa was the third chief and a successor to his brother Asamoa Siri. Nothing is known clearly about him than his name and that he was made chief after his brother. Even no wars or any particular events occure during his reign to leave an account of him for us to be told.
§4 Gyekete I (Part I)
Nsokae was succeeded by Gyekete I known as “Obofo a omo nnyane” (meaning a hunter with precious beads around his waist). He was a best hunter who used to put on a string of precious beads called nyaanne around his waist and put a piece of cloth to cover his private parts when he set out for hunting. A queer dress, but most respectable persons in that time used it for the beads of the kind was worthy that no any common man can wear it. This distinguished him from all the hunters and he was called obofo a omo nyaanne.
During his reign, the population of the town increased to enormous quantity living in peace. Some doubts have been allowed to rest on both the following numbers: 1,500 and 500,000, as to the total number of the population of the town during that time. Some say the number was one thousand, five hundred which we call “akpe olofe eni” in our language and some say it was five hndred thousand, which we call “mkpe olofe eni”. there is a slightest difference between the writings and spellings of these two numbers that is you substitute the letter “A” in Akpe olofe eni (1,500) by the letter “M” in the other (500,000) it answers the same. We find the same difference in the English language that if you change the first syllable thousand five hundred and put it at the end it changes to frive hundred thousand. [??]
But the truth is, to have a population as five hundred thousand in a town like Apirede is very ridiculous and rather incredible. Secondly, as the population is numbered at about three thousand during the reign of Obonu Ayim, it is not possible for it to have reduced to 1,500 when the people were not troubled by any wars or plagued by disease. Therefore the exact number is not known.
Some traditional statement says that the people who live on the banks of River Volta at a place called Dodi near Anum in the Volta River District were formerly living at Apirede. There were many traces to prove the fact that some people had sometimes settled on the spots. Towards the northern parts of the town, we see some traces such as pottery, graves, human bones, teeth and dunghills which are said to belong to those people.
The second proof is that they speak the same language as we do. The third proof is that they bear the same names and titles as we do, that is they are called “Okonkronomone” etsu ono tsu ono ebi. They are said to have fled during the destruction of the town by the Akwamus.
§5 Gyekete I (Part II)
Dark and Stormy days or the destruction of the town by the Akwamus.
- During their peaceful life, the unfortunate Akwamus who have been defeated by the Accras some Europeans at Nyanowase and had been put to flight appeared unexpectedly here and settled at some place near Okrakwadjo with their Queen mother Akonobea at their head. Since then the place is called Akonobease, after the name of the quenn mother of the Akwamus.
- The Cause of the War
The Akwamus who settled at Akonobease did not get provisions to satisfy their hunger because there was a dense forest and nothing in it to be eaten. They then became troublesome to the people of the town by plundering their farms and taking away everything they came across by force.
- In order to get rid of them, the people thought they should flog the plunderers in their farms and drive them away by force. This brought war between them. But to compare these mere hunters and farmers to the war-like Akwamus is very ridiculous. They were simply no match.
- The Akwamus immediately fell upon them, destroyed the town and put all the men on sword and the women and children were put in disorder.
- Thus the part of the population fled and crossed River Volta and settled on its banks. They called their new settlement Dodi.
- The town was reduced to ruins and out of the large population, only 25 men remained with the Chief and some women and children. This was the cause of the Akuapem-Akwamu War.
- No sooner had this news reached the ears of the people of the other towns of Akuapem than they gathered a large army and came to their help. They were defeated once more by the unresistable (?) Akwamus. They then called the Akims for help and an army under “Safori” was sent by the King of Akim to help them; and after a very terrible and hottest fight, the Akwamus were driven away with a heavy loss. They were chased till they crossed the River Volta and settled there. [Other sources date the retreat of the Akwamu beyond the River Volta after being chased by the Akyem, Ga and Kyerepong to 1734]
§6 Gyekete I (Part III)
- Among the inmates of Gyekete I were two particular persons namely Saaty and his wife Osei-Tia. Saaty was a native of Krobo, as his name betrays, and was bought as a slave by the Chief. He was a faithful servant and his master the Chief trusted him in any way.
- The woman also was a native of Akropong, a grand daughter of Ofei Adjemang of Akropong. The reason for her coming here and being married to Saatey was that the condition of her birth on finger was abominable and disagreeable to the custom of Akropong people, especially their stools although she was heir to the stool of the senior Adontenhene of Akuapem, she was sent away from the town and came to Apirede as an exile. As we do not as much follow them in that custom, the kind Chief took her to his house and took great care of her until she was fully grown and was married to Saatey in the same house. But her people promised that if she born an unmistekeable person [i.e. had a child with no deformity] they would come and take him or her to substitute her.
- The woman and Saatey brought forthe eleven children. The primogenial Gyekete Kofi was named after the Chief according to our custom. 2) Abena Dansoa 3) Aba Osei 4) Ode Ke 5) tetebea and others. Tetebea had a female child called Afua Asi and owing to her beauty and her unmistakeable condition of birth, she was carried away to Akropong. She was married and brought forth one Boafo Ansa who afterwards sat on the Adontenhene stool. The heirs of the stool did not forget their family residing at Apirede, especially Nana Boafo Ansa who often visited the town and even sojourned about a week or two with his attendants. Sometimes a mere visit, sometimes he decided cases and sometimes they came for the adoration of the fetish “Atti” even if it happened to be vacancy (i.e. some of the Chief died), they used to elect a person from the family to fill the vacancy. Thus Yaw Boafo II was elected as heir apparent from the family to succeed Offei Kwasi Adjeman.
§7 Death of Gyekete I
The destruction of the town and the unexpected change of the town and the population, their plundered farms and chiefly the women and children who had been left fatherless, penetrated the heart of the old chief and he died of a broken heart. When the war came to an end, Safori (the leader of the Akims) and his people asked the Akwapims to pay some amount to them as a reward or “Ntoatew” according our native customs but they were so poor that they could scarcely pay one third of it. Again, they were afraid of the return of the merciless Akwamus in future and therefore asked Safori and his followers to rule over them instead of paying them and let them go. Safori and his people were too cunning and being aware of any plot against them, they wisely dealt with the people, posting some people of their own tribe throughout all the towns (from Aburi to Apirede) as a mere “Nhenkwafo” or Keepers of the Oath “Wukuda” and to watch the movements of the people.
Gyekete death after the wars between the Akyems and the Akwamus ca. 1734
Text on the boundaries are difficult to understand, but reproduced as best possible. Book by Kwamena Dickson could help confirm some dates (Geographical History of Ghana)