Denkyira people are ancient warlords and matriarchal Kwa-speaking people which forms the sub-set of the larger Akan ethnic group residing in the Central Region of Ghana. The Denkyira people who were once a famous kingdom until Asante people brought it to its knees, speak Akan Twi language and can be found in Twifo Ati-Mokwa (Hemang lower Denkyira) and Upper Denkyira districts.
The capital of the Denkyira people is Jukwa and has a powerful and respectable traditional ruler Odeefuo Boa Amponsem III.
The Denkyira people are known for their vast cultivation of palm fruits for oil; production and traditional or small-scale mining of gold which in abundance on their land and in the River Offin. The traditional or small-scale mining of gold is known in Ghanaian parlance as "Galamsey." Some of the Denykira towns are Jukwa, Dunkwa-On-Ofin, Ayafuri, Diaso, Kyekyewere, Mfuom, Dominase, Ntom, New Obuasi, Nkotumso, Maudaso, Asikuma, Jameso Nkwanta, Buabinso, Bethelehem, Buabin, Akropong, Nkronua, Nkwaboso/Akwaboso, and Afiefiso.
Denkyira people are located in both Twifo Ati Mokwa and Upper Denyira East and West districts. The Twifo-Ati Mokwa District (formerly Twifo-Heman Lower Denkyira District) with its capital Twifo Praso is one of the 20 District Assemblies in the Central Region of Ghana.
It has a total land area of 1199km2 and 1,510 settlements. The district also has 8 Area councils and four paramounticies name Hemang, Denkyira, Twifo and Affi Monkwaa.
It is located between latitudes 5’50’N and 5’51’ N and Longitudes 1’50W and 1’10’W. it is bounded on the north by the Upper Denkyira East Municipal on the south by the Abura Asebu Kwamankese, Cape Coast and Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem, on the west by the Mpohor Wassa East District and the East by the Assin North Municipal.
The Upper Denkyira East Municipal is one of the twenty Administrative Districts of the Central Region. It lies within latitudes 5°. 30’ and 6°. 02’ north of the equator and longitudes 1° W and 2° W of the Greenwich Meridian.
It shares common boundaries with Bibiani - Anhwiaso Bekwai and Amansie West Districts on the north, Wassa Amenfi West and Wassa Amenfi East Districts on the northwest and west respectively, Twifo-Ati Mokwa District and Assin North Municipal on the south, Obuasi Municipal on the southeast and Amansie Central on the northeast. The Upper Denkyira East Municipal covers a total land area of 1700 square kilometers, which is about 17% of total land area of the Central Region.
Denkyira people speak Akan Twi language which is a Kwa language belonging to the larger Niger-Congo phylum. Denkyira Twi is just like Asante Twi and is intelligible to every Akan Twi language.
Traditions claim that the founding fathers of Upper and Lower Denkyira in the Central Region originally lived in the Mande areas, inVoltaic Region, south of the Niger Bend. They deserted the region owing to the arid nature of the land that led to famine and hostilities.They migrated south-westwards, crossed the Volta and reached the Tekyiman (Techiman) in the Ancient Bono State around 1570.
After a time, he migrants lived for a while with the Nkyiras in the same region. They were at the time known as ADAWUFO, hence the saying ‘Adawu, Dawu Denkyira, mene-sono.’ (lit’. Adawu Dawu Denkyira, the swallowers of elephants’), which became the honorific byname of the Denkyira people. "They stayed with the Nkyiraa for more than a century and learned their institutions so well that people said ‘’they had become like the Nkyiraa’’ (‘Dan- Nkyiraa i.e. dependency on Nkyiraa) (See: Daaku K. Y. ‘Oral Tradition of Denkyira’, I. A. S., Legon, 1970).
When the Denkyira finally decided to move southwards into the central forest region, c.16th century, they did so under the leadership of Nana Ayekraa Adeboa of Agona clan, the first woman ruler, who settled them at Tutumbe (which had been established by the Asakyiri clan) near Bonatifi, about 3.5 kilometres from Adanse Akorokyere.
It is asserted that the rulers of Denkyira, Akyem Oda and Bodweseanwo belong to the same ethnic group of Agona clan bound together by a common ancestry, Bomaasi. She had three daughters namely, Agobani who became the ancestress of Denkyira Abankesieso (Agona Piesie), Anadineho the ancestress of Akyem Oda (Agona Manu) and Siema’s descendants (Agona Mensah) established Bodweseanowo.
After a glorious long reign, Nana Ayekraa Adeboa died. Her eldest son, Annin Panyin, became the first male ruler; he also enjoyed a long, but uneventful reign. He was succeeded by two brothers, Ahi and Aha, who probably ruled together because of the common name Ahahiaha dynasty. They spent the greater part of their reign in exploration, and by then a highly developed and efficient political unit had already been formed.
The next ruler was Mumunumfi. He felt envious of the Adansehene Otibireku Asare who had amassed wealth and was powerful. He declared war on Adanse, inflicting a crushing defeat on them. He appointed Awurade Basa to steer the affairs of the vanquished Adanse.
Mumunumfi was succeeded by Wirempe Ampem (1624-37). He operated a military machinery consisting of divisional units, and after routing the Aowin, he founded the famous capital, ABANKESIESO BANSO which consisted 77 localities about 24 kilometres from Jacobu, westward from Adanse Akorokyere territory which became a large sprawling kingdom.
The king had a strong organized state army, and he became an absolute ruler. That was the beginning of the reign of terror, hence the saying: “Wirempe Ampem a wo din yem mo”, meaning, ‘Wirempe Ampem, whose name is not to be uttered’. Unfortunately he died in one of his campaigns in the west and was succeeded by a young boy at the tender age of eight. He was rushed to the battlefield to boost their morale amid great jubilation. Then, the blood royals were minors. The new king was Boa Amponsem Dakabere.
Throughout his reign, Boa Amponsem’s authority was felt over much of Asante and its hinterland. To this effective rule was the allusion: ‘’Kotoko som Amponsem’’, i.e. ‘the porcupine (Asante) is servant to Amponsem (Denkyira)’. The Denkyira kingdom grew very rich and became known to the Europeans on the Atlantic shores as a people with great quantities of alluvial gold. During the reign of Boa Amponsem I, he could afford to have new gold ornaments cast for every ceremonial occasion; gold used once for anything was never used again. This earned him the epithet "Boa Amponsem a, odi sika tomprada" (Boa Amposem who eats fresh gold). Even when Osei Tutu was young; his uncle Opoku Ware sent him to the court of Denkyira to serve as a page. At the same time, Okomfo Anokye was the sorcerer and visionary of King Boa Amponsem. The kingdom at the same time grew so rich that Denkyira was the principal State for the Dutch merchants for their abundant and reasonably pure gold. He ruled wisely and was unrivaled. Upon his demise (1692), the people were bereft of their leader.
His nephew Ntim Gyakari, succeeded and ruled by pride and arrogance. This is confirmed by documentary evidence as Bossman, an impartial and contemporary observer wrote: ‘’Denkyira, elevated by its great riches and power became arrogant that it looked on all other Negroes with contemptible eye, esteeming them no more than slaves.’’ (See: W. Bossman – ‘A New and Accurate description of the Coast of Guinea’ reprinted 1907). Everyone hated Denkyira and waited for the time when their power would fall.
IN 1699 the Denkyira Kingdom was at its fullest extent, while wealth and conquest brought with it pride and arrogance during the reign of Ntim Gyakari.
Meanwhile, King Osei Tutu I assisted by Okomfo Anokye, his great friend, priest and constitutional adviser, were busy trying to find a casus belli in order to launch a full scale military operation. And as if by fate or design, Ntim Gyakari did a thing that made war inevitable. The king “sent a messenger to Kumase, bearing a brass pan, and told Osei Tutu and the chiefs of Asante to fill the pan with gold and send it back to him.
Each Asante chief was to send to Abankesieso, his favourite wife to act as wet-nurse (mmagyegyefo) to the king of Denkyira” (See: W.E. Ward, ‘Short History of Ghana’ pp. 32 – 33). Indeed, they considered the demand, an insult to their dignity.
War drums were sounded across the length and breadth of the state. This was equivalent to a declaration of war. The whole of the various independent units were commanded by the Mamponhene Boahinantuo. Ntim Gykari was sure that he would beat the Asante army so he was not seen at the battlefield, instead he stayed in his tent playing the Oware-game with his wife.
The main Asante army eventually met the opposing force at Feyiase between Kuntenase and Kumase. The Juaben unit hurriedly closed in and surrounded Ntim Gyakari who was sitting with golden fetters upon his ankles and made him a prisoner. They took him to Kumase where he was tried and executed.
Ntim Gyakeri’s body was divided as follows: his head was given to the Asantehene, his left-leg bone to Asumegya, right-leg bone to Mampon, the vertebrae to Aduaben. These three Stools were permitted by Kumase to copy the regalia of Ntim Gyakari (vide: R.S. Rattery, “Ashanti Law and Constitution”. 1956, p.132).
The Asante carried their victory into Denkyira proper and ransacked its capital Abankesieso, mid-1701. They carried into slavery, many of the best craftsmen of Denyira and employed them in making weights in Kumase. In fact, it was a war which left indelible impressions on the history of Denkyira.
There is the saying: “Ntim Gyakari asoa ne man akobo Feyiase”, ‘lit. ‘Ntim Gyakari carried his nation and wrecked her at Feyiase. ‘Which catastrophe occurred on a Friday, hence the origin of the Denkyira Oath, “Fiada ne Denkyira’ following this national disgrace.
The Agona clan brothers–Akyem Oda, and Bodweseanwo – went to the assistance of their senior brother, Denkyira, in this war; therefore the Asantehene initiated the policy divide and rule among the three clan brothers. By this measure, Akyem Odahene was placed under the Anantahene of Kumase, Boadweseanwohene under Dadeasohene, while Denkyirahene came under the Bantamahene. As a result, the supremacy of Denkyira waned.
The narration is that after the death of King Osei Tutu Mpimso (in 1717 according to Prof. Adu Boahen in his Article ‘When did Osei Tutu die?‘ THSG, 1975, Legon, pp. 87–92). Denkyinahene Buadu Akafu Brempon resolved to take revenge on Asante, but the Asante army quickly moved in to nip the insurrection in the bud.
Yet, there was another revolt during the time of Denkyirahene Owusu Bore I which proved a fiasco. Again, the Denkyira took advantage of the death of the Asantehene Osei Kwadwo (1781) and made another effort to re-establish their independence, but the revolt was suppressed for the third time.
The Denkyira stay in west Adanse had been stormy, so they vowed to quit the region. Consequently, during the reign of the 15th Dekyirahene Nana Kwadwo Tibu I, they moved southwards after the Asante – Gyaman War, 1818, and founded their new state JUKWA.
The immediate cause of the flight was that the Asante army took the field against Gyamanhene Adinkra. The Denkyirahene and his troops entered Gyaman under the pretext to smoke a peace pipe with Adinkra who claimed Agona clan relationship with Nana Tibu. However, Adinkra realized that the rapidity of Denkyira advance was rather for war than negotiation for peace. Adinkra fired and he was hit on the mouth by the explosion of his own gun and died instantly. The skull was brought to Kumase as a war trophy accompanied by Apau, the son of Adinkra.
Traditions aver that the Denkyira contingent received a cold welcome in Kumase with the following remarks by the Asantehene himself who pronounced: “Kwadwo, woko ma ni woko afa e?“ That is: “in your fight for another, this is your zeal; then what are you if fighting on your own behalf’?”
This statement was unaccepted by, and upset, the Denkyira. It was an expression that the Asantehene had hatred for the Denkyira.
The call for emigration southwards went across the length and breadth of Denkyira, and they followed Nana Tibu to the south across the Offin River at Nkyenkyenso near Aboaboso, passing through Wassaw, Fiase Mpoho, and finally halted at Cape Coast.
The Governor advised them to stay at Kakomdo (or Essakyiri). But this place could not contain their large number, so after a sojourn, they moved through the forest and finally settled at a place about 22 kilometres north-west of Cape Coast.
The indigenous settlers were of the Abrade family at Banaso under Tueni Kodee. Since they were few and had no Paramount Chief, the Denkyira decided to absorb them and there was a recrudescence of inter-clan skirmishes. The Governor, therefore, intervened and ruled that the Pra River should become the natural boundary between them definitely to safe-guard the frontier of their new state.
Upon their arrival, the Denkyiras observed that the whole area was very peaceful, hence the new name DWOKWA, ie. ‘Nothing but peace’. Thus ‘EHA DWO KWA’ became corrupted into DWUKWA (Anglicized JUKWA).
In 1868 Denkyira entered the Fante Confederacy to fight for Great Britain against the Ashanti and the Dutch. When the confederacy proved unable to defeat the Ashanti, it became a part of the British colony Gold Coast in 1874. In 1957 Gold Coast became independent as Ghana. JUKWA became the principal town and the seat of the Kyidom Wing, while Dunkwa has been the administrative capital since 1943.
Agriculture and its related activities constitute the most important activities in the district. It provides employment for about 46.0 per cent of the active working population. The predominant farm practice is mixed cropping. The main crops grown are sometimes inter-cropped with vegetables and other crops cultivated for both home consumption and for sale. They grow crops like cassava, Cocoa, palm oil trees etc.
Farmland therefore becomes an important ingredient in agricultural production and its ownership and use have a significant effect on total output. The district farmlands are acquired in several ways including individual ownership or inheritance from landowners and mortgage.
The extensive forest has given rise to a large-scale timber extraction and illegal chainsaw operations in District. Apart from lumbering, the other major economic activities include crop/livestock farming and small-scale mining.
The main Agro-processing industries identified in the district are Palm-Oil Extraction, Rice – Milling and Soap Making, Cassava processing and Akpeteshie Distilling. The major processing activity goes on within the premises of the Twifo Oil Palm Plantation (TOPP), which is the largest in the Central Region.
Industries play an important role in the socio-economic development of the district. Processing of agricultural and other primary products are predominant in the district. The industry sector could be grouped under the following sub-sectors.
a. Value addition/processing
b. B. Construction
c. Artisans and craftsmen
Palm Oil Extraction
This activity is carried out mainly at Mampong, Hemang, Ampenkro Eduaben, Ntrafrewaso, Jukwa and Nuamakrom. The source of the raw material, which is palm nut is from local farmers in the district.
An average of 5 casual labour are engaged in the activity. The average production of palm oil during the peak season is 10 drums per day and 6 drums per day in the lean season. The market centers are in Cape coast, Techiman, Sunyani, Obuasi, Kasoa, Accra Tema, Takoradi and Elmina.
The rice milling activities are located in Aklomah, Twifo Praso, Akwkrom Benponso, Agona, Ampekrom, Nuamakrom, Yao Annany No 4, Asarekwaku, Benpongya.
The raw rice is purchased from one local farmer within the catchment area. An average of 2 casual labourers are employed and an average of 10 bags of rice are processed a day during the peak season. The main market Centres are located in Twifo Praso, Elmina, Kasoa and Takoradi
The cassava processing industries are located mainly in Kenkuase, Nuamakrom and several parts of the district. The products, gari and Konkonte use raw cassava as their main source of raw material. Averages of 2 people are employed in each of the establishment. Tow bags of gari are produced a day. Markets for the products are located in Accra, Tema, Kumasi, Takoradi, Kasoa and Techiman.
One of the main locally produced Alcoholic drinks in the District is AKPETESHIE which is brewed from palm wine tapped from palm trees. The distilleries are located in Twifo Praso, Agona, Benpogya, Mampong, Hemang, Jukwa, Wawase, and Bukrusu.
Apart from the average of two people who are employed to distill this drink, palm fruit farmers, palm wine tappers and other also benefit from this venture in terms of employment. The main market centers are in Kumasi, Accra, Cape Coast, Elimina, Sekondi, Kasoa, Sunyani, Aflao, and Lome.
The production of soap is concentrated at Twifo Praso and New Mampong. This could be attributed to the presence of the raw material thus palm oil in the District. An average of 6 people are employed with about 7200 cakes of soap produced in a day, employing almost half of the youth in the area.
It is worthy of note that when the youth are employed, they tend to put up their best to attract more investors to the are, enhancing development projects. This is so because they believe that they can contribute their quota to their district instead of migrating to other parts of the country.
This helps government in its fight to curb the rural-urban drift in the country which has caused the capital cities to be densely populated. The prevention of this rural-urban drift can, however be achieved through the creation of employment not only for the youth, but the entire people of a particular area.
The cakes of soap manufactured also create employment in areas like Kumasi, Accra, and Lome in the Republic of Togo, Aflao, Ho and Cotonou in the Republic of Benin where the demand for the soaps are very high.
An example of soap manufacturing company in the district is “Yewodze” Enterprise. With the availability of such raw materials and cheap human resource, the investing public would be most welcomed if they take advantage of these opportunities.
Mining, Quarrying And Construction
The district is rich in mineral deposits including gold, diamond and manganese. These have given advantage to those engaged in small-scale mining in gold and diamond since they cover about 106 acres of land.
Some mining companies are already operating at Twifo Kojokrom, Twifo Aburochire, Twifo Brofoyedur, Twifo Praso and Atti Mokwaa. Mining thrives in the District since the District has extensive mineral deposits of God and Diamond that are found at Mfuom, River Botro, and Afiafio with several small scale mining firms involved. In addition to mining, small scale activities in quarrying are undertaken in the district.
Entrepreneurs in the business rely on rocky outcrops and boulders found on the hills and along the hilly slopes. Stones are conveyed to the lowlands mainly along the roads and then broken into chips. The chips are used as aggregate in building and road construction, both in and outside the district. In addition to these industries are artisans and craftsmen of various types ranging from hairdressers to goldsmiths.
The kinship system is of matrilineal lineage and as such inheritance is traditionally passed on from brothers to their sisters’ children.
The land tenure arrangements include owner occupancy where the farmer is the owner of the land on which he/she works and provides all the necessary inputs for production and the other is the share tenancy where a land owner engages a farmer to work on his land and the proceeds shared.
There are six major ways of acquiring land for farming purposes. There are allocation by chiefs, by family heads, lease, inheritance, private ownership and hiring.