Ghana's Regions - Ashanti & Brong Ahafo Region

Okonfo Anokye Sward Site

Okomfo Anokye (active late 17th century) was an Ashanti priest, statesman and lawgiver. He occupies a Merlin-like position in Ashanti history. A co-founder of the Empire of Ashanti in West Africa, he helped establish its constitution, laws, and customs.

The original name of Okomfo Anokye was Kwame Frimpon Anokye (Okomfo means "priest"). Some traditions say that he came from Awukugua-Akwapim in the Akwamu Kingdom southeast of the Empire of Ashanti, but his descendants claim he was simply born in Kumasi of a mother and father from Awukugua-Akwapim. At any rate, he was introduced to the military leader Osei Tutu (the other co-founder of the Empire of Ashanti) by a maternal uncle.

When Osei Tutu succeeded about 1690 to the leadership of the small group of Akan forest states around the city of Kumasi which were already grouped in a loose military alliance, Anokye was his adviser and chief priest. Tutu and Anokye, who must be considered together, carried out the expansionist policy of their predecessors, defeating two powerful enemies, the Akan Doma to the northwest and the Denkyera empire to the south. It was and still is said by the historians of Ashanti that their people are descendants of the great Mali Empire, which is said to have given them their knowledge and war-like nature. The Ashanti conquered large parts of Ghana during the 17th century by overthrowing their powerful overlords, the Denkyera. Okomfo Anokye was essentially a powerful cleric who served to rally the people to the cause of his king. The Okomfo is also said to have placed a dagger in the middle of the Ashanti region in Ghana which the Europeans have not being able to take out with any type of technology for over around 500 years. Ashanti was one of the fews regions in West Africa to achieve victories against the British in battle.

To throw off the Denkyera yoke required a powerful unity that transcended the particularism of the Ashanti segments, and Anokye employed not only the political influence of his priesthood but also the spiritual ties it engendered to transform the loose Ashanti alliance into a "national" union in 1695. Anokye and Tutu established rituals and customs of the Ashanti state to diminish the influence of local traditions. They designated Kumasi the Ashanti capital. They then established a state council of the chiefs of the preexisting states admitted to the union and suppressed all competing traditions of origin. Finally, they reorganized the Ashanti army.

The war with Denkyera from 1699 to 1701 went badly at first, but when the Denkyera army reached the gates of Kumasi, Anokye's "incantations" supposedly produced defections among their generals. The Ashanti broke the Denkyera hegemony and captured the Dutch deed of rent for Elmina Castle. This gave the traders of the empire access to the African coast and involved them henceforth in the commerce and politics of the coastal slave trade. After Tutu's death in 1717, Anokye is said to have returned to Akwapim and died there. The real cause of his death is not known.

Komfo Anokye Sword

Just behind the Okomfo Anokye Hospital, one will find the Okomfo Anokye Sword. It is named after a famous traditional priest who, in the 17th century, was said to have conjured the ""Golden Stool"" from the sky. Legend states that as high priest of the Akan kingdoms, he drove his sword into the ground with such force that it has remained there ever since, marking the site of the new imperial city, Kumasi, which unified the Akan kingdoms. The site is revered by all as a sacred shrine. The unmovable Sword of the Komfo Anokye remains in the grounds of the Okomfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, where he pushed it. It is believed the Komfo pronounced that no one would be able to remove the sword, and so it has remained in spite of many attempts.

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