Nkusukum are one of the matriarchal, highly educated, fearless and agriculturalist Fantse-speaking people that forms the subset of the larger Borbor Mfantse (Fante) ethnolingusitic group residing in the Mfantseman Municipality of the Central Region of Ghana. Nkusukum people were custodians of the Nananom Mpow (ancestral grove of the Fantes) and became the first among equals among the Fante groups.
Nkusukum young royal in her traditional cloth, Yamoransa, Ghana.
These Fante sub-group reside predominantly in Akyemfo (Saltpond), Yamoransa, Biriwa, Akatakyiwa, Asafora, Abeadze Dominase, Abeadze Kyeakor, Abonko, Nankesedu, Wuraba, Duadze, Abenum, Kuntu, Anokyi, Mpesedadze, Peyim, and some parts of Mankessim. Their capital city is Yamoransa.
Nkusukum Chief (Obaatan) in a palanquin during Odambea festival of Nkusukum-Fante people at Saltpond, Mfantseman Municipality in the Central Region of Ghana. Source Regina Bouuillon.
Nkusukum people were among the original Fante people that migrated out of Bono Kingdom, after the reign or the death of a Fante king of Bono, Kunkumfi Ameyaw and its subsequent disagreement with their Bono relatives. In 1229, the Borbor Fantse started their migration from Bono Kingdom under the leadership of three legendary leaders: Oburumankoma (whale), Odapagyan (eagle), and Oson (elephant)—patriarchs and priests who, in addition to their magical regalia, also possessed mfoa (short swords) signifying their judicial authority. They also represented the three-tiered system of the natural order and the mastery that each animal is said to have had over its sphere (Bartels 1965, 55).
Traditional Fante drummers from Nkusukum Traditional Area, Saltpond
It is said that three sub-Fante ethnic groups- Abora, Nkusukum and Ekumfi, moved together with the Nkusukum forming the “ridge” in the middle whiles the Abora moved on the right and the Ekumfi on the left. Through these trekking formula the Fantes came to settle on Kwamankese and later moved to Adowegyir, then settlement of Guan Etsi people now know as Mankessim. Here the dead body of three great leaders Oburumankoma (whale), Odapagyan (eagle), and Oson (elephant) was interred in the thicket of trees some ten miles from the city of Mankessim. The place became in time the “habitat of ghosts [asamanpow] or of spiritual powers inhering in nature [abosompow]” (McCaskie 1990, 135).
Posuban of Nkusukum Fante people of Biriwa. The Posubans are beautifully decorated, elaborate, concrete shrines originally used to store the armaments and uniforms of the Asafo companies (military units) that traditionally defend the town.
Borbor Mfantse were organized in five distinct mboron (groups, quarters, or wards; sing.,boron). The kurentsi amanfu boron was the northwest; the nkusukum boron was the southwest, present day Mankessim; and the edumadzi boron was the southeast, presentday Ekumfi. The others were bentsir boron (the north), present-day Enyan, and the anaafu boron (the east), present-day Abura.
In time the people of the Nkusukum boron (the southwest ward), custodians of the Nananom Mpow, became the first among equals among the Fante groups. This development was partly because of deference to age, experience, and leadership qualities, but principally, according to McCaskie, because of the “nimbus of magical power” associated with their oversight of the ancestral grove.
Nkusukum people of Kuntu Village dancing traditional Fante dance
Nkusukum were the only Borbor Fantse people with their Saltpond people very close to sea but refused to “go to sea” or engage in fishing occupation but rather mine salt. As a result the Akyemfo (Saltpond) Nkusukum people have an appellation:
“Akyemfo Brefi Akyemfo Saltpond mighty Saltpond
Woda mpoano so wonnko po A town beside a sea but refused to go sea
wontsetsew kube nko kromantse but rather have rather chosen to harvesting of coconut to Kromantse
nkegye nkafona mmbedzi e!” to batter it for fish to come and eat!”
Nkusukum Asafo posuban at Saltpond
The Saltpond town originally consisted of the three villages of Nankesidu, Bakadu, and Okukudu. These three towns became Saltpond because of the big salt pond that is left behind when the tide goes out. The community is able to fish in the pond as well as in the Ocean.” So when the first Europeans came they settled near the pond and gave it that name. This later became Salt pond.”
The local allonym, Akyemfo is purported to have its origins from the Akyems who are thought to have migrated from the Eastern Region of Ghana to domicile at the coast during Akyem-Fante alliance but later integrated well into the Fantes; hence Akyemfo, meaning ‘people from Akyem’.”
Nkusukum people pride themselves as very brave and fearless. They have no fear for police nor soldiers. They proudly say “mefir Akyemfo, me nsuro polisinyi,” meaning “I am from Saltpond, I do not fear police.” If you threaten a Saltpond man with a police, you are just wasting your own time.
Nkusukum people singing and clapping
Nkusukum town of Saltpond has historically served as the venue for important political meetings and activities. Ghana`s two great political parties or traditions, United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) and Convention Peoples Party (CPP) that fought for Independence were formed in Saltpond. The UGCC was formed at Saltpond in August 1947 under the chairmanship and financial sponsorship of George Grant, better known as Paa Grant- a wealthy businessman, with an idealist slogan of “Self-Government within the shortest possible time,” whilst the CPP was founded by Ghana’s First President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah at Saltpond on June 6th, 1949.
Nkusukum is also the first land people in Ghana to have their sea territory producing oil for Ghana. The Saltpond Field located about 12 kilometres offshore Saltpond. The field was discovered in 1970 by Signal-Amoco Consortium. The field is currently managed by the Saltpond Offshore Producing Company (SOPCL), Ghana’s oldest producer of crude oil.
Nkusukum has produced some of Ghana`s finest Scientists, eminent jurists, renowned writers/novelists, quality journalists, medical practitioners, clergymen and host of intellectuals. The most notable Nkusukum people include Professor Francis Kofi Ampenyin Allotey, internationally respected mathematical physicist known for the “Allotey Formalism” which arose from his work on soft X-ray spectroscopy, “Prof Mariama Ewurama Addy (c. 1941 – 14 January 2014), Ghanaian biochemistry professor who was the popular host of the Ghana National Science and Maths Quiz,
Dr. Lanalee Araba Sam, grand-daughter of the first black African general manager of AGC and the daughter of a celebrated medical doctor, Dr Francis Sam and a Diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Sir Kobina Arku Korsah (3 April 1894 – 25 January 1967), the first black Chief Justice of Ghana (then the Gold Coast) in 1956,
Justice Sir Samuel Okai Quarshie Idun (1902 – 1965), puisne judge of the Supreme Court of the Cold Coast, Chief Justice of Western Nigeria and also a member of the Supreme Court of Nigeria; and the first black African President of the East Africa Court of Appeal, Justice John Nicholas Kobina Taylor (1925 – 2008) former judge of the Supreme Court of Ghana and Acting Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Ghana 1969,
Justice G E K Aikins, retired Justice of the Ghana Supreme Court; and formerly the Hon Attorney-General and Secretary of Justice 1982-1990, Professor Ama Ata Aidoo, renowned author, poet, playwright and academic, who is also a former Minister of Education in the Ghana government,
Professor William Otoo Ellis, Vice Chancellor, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana, “Professor George P. Hagan, prominent academic and politician who was one-time director of Institute of African Studies of the University of Ghana and the presidential candidate for the Dr Nkrumah`s CPP in the 2000 elections, Professor Paul Archibald Vianney Kwesi Enu Ansah (PAVA), Former director of School of Communication Studies, Legon, fearless and hard-hitting socio-political critic and columnist,
Frances Ademola (nee Frances Quarshie-Idun) ace and pioneer broadcast journalist and the owner of the Loom Art Gallery Adabraka, Accra, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, entrepreneur, ace journalist and former Joy FM Super Morning Show host, Emeritus Professor Kwesi A. Dickson, priest, theologian, author and academic. He was seventh President President of the Methodist Church of Ghana and the Immediate- Past President of the All African Council of Churches,
Professor Paul Archibald Vianney Kwesi Enu Ansah (PAVA), Former director of School of Communication Studies, Legon, fearless and hard-hitting socio-political critic and columnist
Dr. Esi E. Ansah, Professor of Organizational Behaviour and Human Resource Development at the Ashesi University, Kofi Baako, sportsman, teacher and politician, father of veteran ace investigative journalist Kweku Baako Jnr and a former Minister for Defence in the Nkrumah government during the First Republic of Ghana until it was overthrown in 1966, Dr. Gilbert Abeiku Aggrey a.k.a. Abeiku Santana. Versatile Radio Presenter, Actor and all round entertainer,
Bee Arthur, adventurous and flamboyant fashion guru whose label B’EXOTIQ has resonated across the African continent and beyond for over a decade and her Bee’s originality won her the highly coveted KORA FASHION AWARD in Sun City in 2001 and thus established her reputation within the elite African fashion designers’ community etc.
Nkusukum people celebrates Odambea Festival, which derives its name from the role of the “ridge” they (Nkusukum) played in the Borbor Mfantse migration where the Nkusukum formed the “ridge” in the middle whiles the Abora moved on the right and the Ekumfi on the left; and it is likened to the long beam that joins one end of a roof to the other end to make roofing possible “Odan-Mbeae”.
Nkusukum girl carrying sand during communal work, Kuntu village near Saltpond
Nkusukum is located and scattered in the Mfantseman Municipality of central Region of Ghana. The Mfantseman Municipal with its Administrative Capital Saltpond is one of the Twenty (20) Metropolitan, Municipalities, and Districts in the Central Region of Ghana.
Kuntu village beach, Nkusukum traditional area near Saltpond, Ghana
The Municipal is located along the Atlantic coastline cf the Central Region of Ghana and extends from latitudes 5* T to 5* 20’ North of the Equator and longitudes 0* 44’ to 1* 11’ West of the Greenwich Meridian, stretching for about 21 kilometers along the coastline and for about 13 kilometers inland and constituting an area of 612 square kilometers. The Municipal shares boundaries with Gomoa West District to the East, to the West with Ekumfi District , to the North with Ajumaku-Enyan-Essiam District and to the South with the Gulf of Guinea.
Biriwa beach in Nkusukum traditional area
Nkusukum speaks a dialect of Mfantse kasa (language), an Akan language of Kwa language group which also belongs to the larger Niger-Congo language phylum. It is largely spoken in the Mfantseman Municipality of Central Region of Ghana.
Nkusukum Cultural dancers, Kuntu village, near Saltpond
Nkusukum are among the original five Borbor Mfantse people that migrated out of Bono Kingdom in 1229 (my personal interview with J B Crayner, the great Fantse historian and folkloric writer). According to Crayner the Fantes left the Bono State after chieftaincy feud and land litigation with their Bono (Brong) relatives after the death of the last Fantse King that ruled the Bono Kingdom, Nana Kunkumfi (Ekumfi) Ameyaw.
Nkusukum chiefs at Odambea festival, Saltpond
On their trekking downwards to their present locations the separatist Fantse group were lead three Fantse royals (patriarchs) of the Bono state who eventually became warlords namely, Oburumankoma (whale), Odapagyan (eagle), and Oson (elephant). Their first place of abode was on a hill from where they could spy their enemy. This place was recommended by Okomfo Edu. She had two priest assistants – Kurentsi and Korado. The land belonged to the Etsi Guan aborigines at Okornafo and Korado who were subdued and named the place Akan-man, meaning Akan State, now known as Kwaman.
Nkusukum stool women, Nkusukum Amanase-Mankessim. Source Regina Bouuillon.
They settled at Kwaman for some years; however, due to population pressure, a large section of them migrated southwards towards the coast. Those who stayed behind were organized into a state under Chief Idan I, and the place became corrupted into Kwamankese (Great Kwaman).
While trekking southwards, they fought the Etsi-Guan autochonous inhabitants whose chief was Akraman and drove them to the present –day Gomoa country. Their capital town Adoweggyir, was occupied by the Fante and renamed Mankessim. Here the three legendary Borbor Mfantse patriarchs cum warlords who had died on their “b]dob]do” (long exhaustive host of innumerable people on a journey), now corrupted into “Borbor,” were interred in a nearby grove which became the famous Nananom Pow- the national shrine or oracle of Borbor Fantse. Their meritorious deeds are worthy of emulation.
Nana Brebo of Nkusukum Kuntu village, near Saltpond with her queenmother in street procession during Odambea festival of Nkusukum people at Saltpond.
The five original distinct mboron (groups, quarters, or wards; sing.,boron) which was the Kurentsi Amanfu boron to the northwest; the Nkusukum boron to the southwest, present day Mankessim; and the Edumadzi boron to the southeast, present-day Ekumfi. The others were Bentsir boron (the north), present-day Enyan, and the Anaafu boron (the east), present-day Abura (Abora). Each ward had its own Brafo and enjoyed absolute independence of the others; however, they recognized one of them as the supreme Head whose position was one of pre-eminence among equals (see: Adu Boahen , Fante origins: The Mankessims period’ in ‘A Thousand years of West African History, 1968pp. 180-1820).
Kofi Baako Nkusukum man and celebrated Ghanaian sportsman, teacher and politician. He served as Minister for Defence in the Nkrumah government during the First Republic of Ghana until it was overthrown in 1966. He was also as Minister for various other Ministries throughout the reign of the Convention People’s Party. He is the father of ace investigative journalist Kweku Baako jnr.
Tradition recounts that during the Borbor Fantse journey the Nkusukum walked in the middle serving as a ridge with Abora at the Right flank, and Ekumfi at the extreme left, braced up on their journey. This is the origin of the appellation ‘Odamea’ – a ridge connecting the two side posts (see Sutherland, op.cit. P 63). According Fantse historian and Theologian, Dr Casely B. Essamuah, in his seminal work “Ghanaian Appropriation of Wesleyan Theology in Mission 1961-2000” published in 2004 for Methodist Missionary Society History Project, he averred that Nkusukum became very powerful and spiuritual oversears of Nananom Mpow, the grove where the three Fantse patriarchs were buried. “In time the people of the nkusukum boron (the southwest ward), custodians of the Nananom Mpow, became the first among equals among the Fante groups. This development was partly because of deference to age, experience, and leadership qualities, but principally, according to McCaskie, because of the “nimbus of magical power” associated with their oversight of the ancestral grove (Essamuah 2004: 22)
Professor William Otoo Ellis, Nkusukum native and Professor of Food Science and the Vice Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
According to the legendary Ghanaian professor of Geography, Kwamina B. Dickson in his renowned book “A Historical Geography of Ghana,” published in 1969, “The Nkusukum group founded most of the settlements between Saltpond (which originally consisted of the three villages of Nankesidu, Bakadu, and Okukudu) and some parts of Cape Coast.They later founded more settlements west of Cape Coast including Akatakyi or British Komenda, and extended their territory right up to the eastern bank of River Pra (Dickson 1969: 22). It must be noted that Nkusukum Amanase-Mankessim (also part of the town of Mankessim, market area), is seat of the Nkusukum Obaatan (chief in a high position). The seat of the Nkusukum Omanhene had been transferred to Yamoransa.
Nkusukum Obaatan of Mankessim
Agriculture: Farming and fishing constitute the main economic activities of the Nkusukum people and Mfantseman municipality in general, employing about three-quarters of the total workforce (source: “Ghana: We Mean Business. A Guide to Ghana’s 110 Districts” page 274). Farming is done in almost all parts of the Nkusukum traditional areas, especially in the inland areas and crops cultivated include cocoa, oil palm, pineapples, oranges, plantain, beans and cocoyam.
The most well-known Nkusukum town that engage in active fishing occupation is Biriwa and they are very hardworking fishermen among the larger Borbor Mfantse people. They travel to the Gambia, Guinea, Benin, Nigeria, Gabon, Liberia and as far as Angola to engage in their fishing trade and form smaller communities there.
Minerals Exploitation: Minerals exploited include Kaolin (for building and ceramics) that supports the Saltpond ceramics factory, talc, granite and silica. Crude Oil is also mined off the coast of Saltpond. Although these mineral resources exist, sometimes in feasible quantities, only a feeble attempt is made at making them a strong base of the Assemblies economy because the Assembly itself has exercised little control or influence on their exploitation.
Traditionally, Nkusukum like all Borbor Mfantse believe in Supreme being and Creator God, Nyame (Onyame), or Nyankop]n. He an Indivisible One with and, at the same time, superior to all other deities, spirits and numerous gods, the Abosom. Prayers and libation offerings are made through the abosom (deities) and nananom nsamanfo (deified ancestors) to Twereampon Nyankop]n (Almighty God).
Apart from that the Nkusukum people believe in the deities (Abosom). Like all Borbor Fantse people, every Nkusukum have 77 deities, that represent the secret ‘appellative’ and functional attributes of Nyame (God). There are gods of the days of the week, those of the rivers and the sea, those of the trees, mountains, the rain and so on. One famous Nkusukum deity in Biriwa is Nana Abaka, its a deity that gives fortune to those whose seek its assistance. Most fishermen consult these bosom (deity) when going for fishing.
Ancestor worship: The ancestors, the souls of the unborn and the souls of the living people belong to the category of the spiritual universe. Birth and death is seen as moving from and to the place of the dead and the spirits; that is the underworld. Apart from the Supreme Being the people paid, and still pay , much attention to household deities, state gods and Asafo gods. This household god could be represented as a triple-forked branch, set up in the ground with on the top a black pot for offerings. The Summan (household god) was kept in a basket which was full of pieces of clay, raffia, chicken bones, egg shells and dried blood.
Religious Communities Methodist, Catholic, Anglican, Pentecost, Apostolic, 12 Apostles, African Faith, United Faith, Assemblies of God etc. and the Muslims are the main religious bodies in the area.
History of the mission at the: “Gold Coast” 1471-1880 The Portuguese Period 1471-1637 The Capuchin Monks 1637-1684 French Dominicans monks 1687-1704 Protestant Missionary works 1737-1880 The Catholic Missionary works 1870-1880
Odambea is a festival in Nkusukum Traditional Area in Central Region, Ghana, which is celebrated every year in the end of August. Odambea reminds of the Fante migration from the Tekyiman area to Mankessim and further. Tradition recounts that during the Borbor Fantse journey the Nkusukum walked in the middle serving as a ridge with Abora at the Right flank, and Ekumfi at the extreme left, braced up on their journey. This is the origin of the appellation ‘Odamea’ – a ridge connecting the two side posts (see Sutherland, op.cit. P 63). The parades strengthen the role of Akan Chieftaincy (Ghana).
The festival was first celebrated 200 years ago but had become meaningless in the 20th century. Nana Essandoh VII who was installed as Omanhene in the 1970`s, revived Odambea.
Ceremonies: During the festival week, Omanhene with nananom (chiefs) and citizens visits different historical places. In each of these places, the guests are welcomed and a sacrifice takes place. There is drumming and dancing, ceremonial gun fire and Asafo (traditional civil defense unit) singing.
From Monday until Friday, everyone is dressed in black and red because they are mourning over the ancestors who had suffered so much hardship during the migration. On Saturday, the arrival of the ancestors is celebrated in Saltpond, and people are wearing splendid dresses. On Sunday, during the ecumenical church, people wear the usual Sunday dress.
NKUSUKUM HALL OF FAME
Dr Araba Sam, Nkusukum ewuraba (lady) and the grand-daughter of the first black African general manager of AGC and the daughter of a celebrated medical doctor, Dr Francis Sam and a Diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Nkusukum native and entrepreneur, ace journalist and former Joy FM Super Morning Show host with his wife Akua Osae-Addae
Dr. Esi E. Ansah, Nkusukum ewuraba (lady), daughter of legendary Prof P.V.A. Ansah and a Professor of Organizational Behaviour and Human Resource Development at the Ashesi University.
Frances Ademola (nee Frances Quarshie-Idun) Nkusukum ewuraba (lady) and ace and pioneer broadcast journalist and the owner of the Loom Art Gallery Adabraka, Accra.
Nkusukum man, Dr. Peter A Sam is an international expert on urban and rural environmental interlinkages. As an Adjunct Professor of Environmental Sciences Dr. Peter A. Sam is also the Founder and President of an International Environmental Consortium Group (AERCG) -An IRS 501(c) (3) Organization with its global headquarters in the USA and regional offices in Africa.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of L’aine Services Limited and Vlisco Ambassador, Mrs Ellen Hagan, has been honoured by the chiefs and people of Nkusukum Tradition Area in the Central Region during this year’s Odambea festival.
Gilbert Abeiku Aggrey aka Abeiku Santana, of Okay FM, who has carved a niche for himself in the showbiz industry being honoured by the chief and people of Nkusukum Tradition Area in the Central Region during this year’s Odambea Festival.
Nkusukum people, Yamoransa