Chakosi people


Chakosi / Anufo

The Chakosi are an Akan people who trace their origin to an area in the Ivory Coast in a place they call Anou or Ano. Thus, they refer to themselves and their language as Anufo "people of Anu". They inhabit three countries: Ghana, Benin and Togo.

Globally, this group totals 232,500 in 3 countries. The Chakosi of Ghana are numbering 112,000 (, 2023)

Chakosi People

Their primary language is Anufo.

The primary religion practiced by the Chakosi is Folk Islam, a syncretistic belief system that blends traditional elements of Islam with superstitious practices such as warding off spirits with incantations and magic amulets, and reciting verses of the Qur'an to bring about miraculous healings.

Orale narrations had it that they were in Ghana and Togo not later than 18th century and they were warriors in nature and fought a couple of battles including the ones they helped the Gonja people and the Mamprusi in building the Mamprusi Kingdom. They have names like Amoin, Akisie (Agishie), Kouasi, Adjoah, Amlan (Amanna) Ouwe, Yao, Koffi, Afoueh, N'gisah all depicting names of the days Mueneh (Sunday), Cishe (Monday), Djore (Tuesday), Mana (Wednesday), Ohue (Thursday), Ya (Friday) and Fue (Saturday) Kwa Chakosi speak the Akan dialect Chakosi language.



The Anufo (or Tchokossi) people mainly live in the northeastern part of Ghana’s Northern Region and on the Oti river plane of Togo’s Savanes Region where their traditional capital, Sansanne Mango, is situated. Main neighbors are the Mamprusi and NgangamDye in the north, the Konkomba in the south and Lamba in the east. They name themselves ‘’Anufo’’ (i.e. the people from Anu, Ivory Coast) but they are denominated ‘’Tchokossi’’ or ‘’Chakosi’’ by their neighbors.



Their language, Anufo, is a Kwa language, the only nonGur language in northern Togo.



Following a request for support from the Mamprusi against a Gurma invasion, the Anufo immigrated in the mid18th century into the current settlement area where they later raided, enslaved and assimilated the local inhabitants, i.e. groups from the Konkomba, Moba, NgangamDye, etc. They established a kind of feudalistic society composed of three classes: nobles, commoners and Muslims (abridged version).

Early 18th century

It appears that migrations in the early 18th century brought together Mande horsemen and their malams from the North and Akan peoples from the East.

Together with the indigenous Ndenyi people, they were amalgamated into one people with a mixed language and culture.

Mid 18th century

In the mid 18th century, a small band of mercenaries left Ano to the Upper West region, Upper East region, Northern region, and North East region The band consisted of Mande horsemen, Akan musket-toting foot soldiers, and some Muslim scholar amulet-makers. These groups provided the basis for a society divided into three classes or estates: Nobles, commoners and Muslims.

Eventually, the small army established a camp on the shores of the Oti River where the town of Mango in Togo stands today. Since they were warriors and not farmers, they made their living by conducting raids into the farming communities around them. This provided them with wives and slaves as well as foodstuffs and livestock. Eventually the people settled in the surrounding farming communities, and assimilation took place.



In 1974, the Anufo religion was pluralistic, Islam and animistic beliefs coexisted, e.g. divination was performed by Muslim sandwriters as well as by animistic cowrydiviners and clients of both were Muslims as well as nonMuslims. In 1986, the animistic beliefs were predominant in the autochthonous population (i.e. the commoners) and were very similar to those of the surrounding peoples, i.e. several types of benevolent and malevolent spirits acted as intermediaries between the High (or creator) God and the population, such as territorial, kinoriented, personal and medicine spirits; the ancestors formed part of the kinoriented spirits. Each type of spirit was venerated in specific shrines.
Medicine shrines, for instance, had the typical conical earthen mound structure found almost everywhere in northern Togo; ancestor shrines were either trees in front of the compounds or the graves inside the compounds.



Concerning anthropomorphic representations attributed to the Anufo, no references could be found in the tribal art literature or corresponding archives (e.g. in the Frobenius archive). Kirby however mentioned that fertility shrines often contain ‘’rude figurines’’ called ndam. He referred to identicallooking figures, but admitted that their signification is different.
In fact, these identicallooking figures were typical ancestor figures of the Dagari, exhibiting an inverted Y shape.
While it is understandable that the autochthonous people maintained some of their animistic practices and traditions, it is surprising that only this short note about the existence of Anufo figural work could be found in literature. The German and French colonial officers and researchers (Zech, Frobenius, Froelich, Cornevin, etc.), who performed detailed studies of the neighboring people (see following chapters),
including their socioreligious life and figural work, unfortunately did not establish any similarly detailed research concerning the AnufoTchokossi.