Kpakpatsewe Royal Family is one of the early Ga-speaking Wo Sagba emigrants that arrived in the then Gold Coast from Tetetutu or Samè situated between two rivers located in the east beyond the Volta, and settled at Ayawaso with its capital on the hill of Okaikoi or Kplagon in the fourteenth century. The family came to prominence when Queen Dodi Akabi; the grand-daughter of the then King Wyete of Obutu and the mother of crown prince Okai Koi usurped the throne after the death of her husband King Mampong Okai in 1643 and ruled her subjects with iron hands.
In fact, so merciless, cruel and tyrannical was Dodi Akabi that she once ordered the young men in her dominion to execute all the elderly men to prevent any claimant to the throne competing for succession against her son; Okai Koi. Due to the fear of oppression and execution, this wicked order by the Queen was implemented by the young men, except in one family where the life of the father was spared by his sons who hid him in the forest of Ayawaso.
Besides, in order to differentiate the Ga-speaking Wo Sagba emigrants from her native Obutu followers, the Queen instituted the facial scarification for all the Ga people as a permanent mark of identification. In spite of all these acts of high handedness, Dodi Akabi still not satisfied with her oppressive rule ordered her subjects to build her a palace and instructed that it should not be thatched with grass as is usually done, but rather with clay.
However, her subjects could not carry out her instructions since they have no idea or lacked the knowledge of the techniques for the use of swish strings in thatching buildings. In view of this, the sons of the old man (believe to be Nuumo Gua Koi) whose life has been spared consulted their father for solution to the problem confronting them. He advised them to demand from the Queen a sample of the swish strings used in roofing the palace of her predecessors so as to imitate it. When this request was made, she realized that one of the old men was alive and ordered that he should be brought before her.
At the Queen’s court, the old man clearly demonstrated to her the futility of using swish strings for thatching to the extent that, she abandoned the idea of roofing a grass house without the natural materials. Consequently, she appointed the old man as her Chief Councilor or Akwashon Mantse in addition to seven others. This according to C. C. Reindorf (1895) was the origin of constituting seven elders as Councilors to advice kings and chiefs on governance and administrative matters relating to chieftaincy in every town.
Indeed, oral traditions or folklores have indicated that Nuumo Gua Koi (a name now corrupted to Kwakwei) established the Gua war shrine and stool in the forest which is now known as Gua Koo (Gua’s forest) a name derived from the Gua deity. In view of this, the descendants of Nuumo Gua Koi known presently as Kpakpatsewe Royal Family of Asεrε, Gua We are the officially recognized sole custodians of the Gua deity and war stool in the Ga Mashie community and the Ga State as a whole.
Of course since the demise of Nuumo Gua Koi, the care and control of both the Gua deity and war stool has passed on to this noble family from one generation to another. In addition to that they have continued to provide the Ga Akwashon Mantse who now serves as the Chief Justice in the administration of justice and adjudications as well as the Supreme Commander of the Asafo Companies of the Ga State in times of war. Consequently, the occupancy and succession to the Gua war stool as well as to the office of the Ga State Akwashon Mantse have continued from a single lineage of which the list of the past occupants are as follows:
- Nii Gua Koi aka Koi Obredu – circa 1654.
- Nii Guate l aka Kpakpa Osiakwan – circa 1674.
- Nii Guatei ll aka Asahene – 1765-1805.
- Nii Laryea aka Kotobri –1806-1808.
- Nii Kwatei Kojo aka Katamanso Bremah – 1809-1833.
However, during the reign of Kwatei Kojo aka Katamanso Bremah, the then Supreme Commander of the Ga warriors who was regarded as the greatest of all Akwashontsemei of the Ga State due to his exploits in the Katamanso war of August 7th 1826 between the coastal allied forces and the Asantes; a notable slaves owner who strengthened the position of Kpakpatsewe Royal Family at the center of political power in Kinka, the order of succession changed.
Ga Akwashon Mantse Kwatei Kojo married three wives. His first wife Naa Amponsah, the daughter of the then Otublohum Mantse Amponsah was the mother of Kpakpa Kakadann the elder brother of Chief John Quartey. His second son William Quartey-Papafio, who succeeded his father to the office of Ga State Akwashon Mantse due to the sudden demise of his half-brother Kpakpa Kakadann, was from the womb of the second wife. While the third son William Quartey aka Owula Kpakpa Blofonyo (the educated good master), son of Naa Odarkor of the Lamte Djan We succeeded his paternal half-brother William Quartey-Papafio aka Zoti Kpakpafio after his demise in 1889.
These were the children of Kwatei Kojo that constituted the three distinct branches of the Wei or Royal Households namely; Kpakpa Kakadann We, Kpakpa Fio We and Kpakpa Blofonyo We between which the office of the Ga State Akwashon Mantse have circulated after the death of their brave and illustrious father in1833. In view of this arrangement, the office of the Ga State Akwashon Mantse have rotated among these three Royal Households as the family’s established norm in its customary laws, practices and usage as per the list of successions below.
- William Quartey-Papafio aka Zoti Kpakpafio – 1833-1889.
- William Quartey aka Owula Kpakpa Blofonyo – 1890-1900.
- J. Boi Quartey aka Boi Quartey (Kakadann We) – 1901-1906.
- T. R Quartey aka Tsritsriwotsri (Kpakpafio We) –1906-1954.
- Nii Kwatei aka Oyotse (Kpakpafio We) 1955-1961.
- R. Q. M. Quartey (Regent) aka Asuasa (Kakadann We) 1965-1994.
- Benjamin Bamidele William Quartey aka Nii Owula Kpakpa Blofonyo ll (Blofonyo We) 1994 till now.
Of interest is the position of the Principal Head of the family (Weku Nukpa) who according to A. B. Quartey-Papafio traditionally served as both the Akwashon Mantse and the Wolomo of the Gua deity. He, however, noted that it was during the tenures of his late father William Quartey-Papafio and his missionary educated uncle William Quartey, that the office of the Gua Wolomo was separated from that of the Akwashon Mantse due to their Christian faith, beliefs and practices.
In view of this new development and innovation to the age old customs and traditions of Kpakpatsewe Royal Family, it has since 1833 been without a substantive Gua Wolomo. A situation that was recently rectified in September, 28th 2008 with the confinement, consecration and investiture of John Nii Kpakpa Quartey nominated from Kpakpa Kakadann We; stool named Nuumo Guate Asuasa ll as the new Gua Wolomo.
At the moment, Kpakpatsewe Royal Family in trying to revive its past glory and assume its rightful position in Ga Mashie as well as the Ga State political space, has since 2008 in consultation with the Principal Head of Family Alhaji Suleiman Kasim Kwatelai Quartey instituted a 15 member Djaase Council selected from the three Royal Households to administer the affairs of the family. This arrangement finally culminated into the nomination of Nii John Kwatei Quartey, the Chief Executive Officer of Pegasus Security Company and a member of Kpakpafio We who was confined on Thursday, 30th June; consecrated and out-doored on Saturday, 2nd July 2011.
He was finally invested to the office of the Djaasetse and stool named Nii Kwatei Olemla l after he had sworn the oath of office and allegiance to the Principal Head of Family in the presence of Nii Amarkai lll the Asεrε Djaasetse and acting Asεrε Mantse and other dignitaries in the Gua stool house. Later in the forenoon, he was formally presented to the people of the Ga Mashie community amidst the throbbings of the Obonu drums and firing of muskets at a grand durbar to usher in this historical, memorable occasion and day in the annals of the family’s history.
In addition to all these efforts, the Djaasetse on the assumption of office and in consultation and collaboration with the Djaase Council has set up the Kpakpatsewe Royal Family Descendants Union International to gather data on all Quarteys in Ghana and the Diaspora. This organization has been tasked with the planning of a home-coming ceremony to welcome all its sons and daughters both at home and abroad for the unification of this noble and august family; an event scheduled to take place very soon.
THE ASΕRΕ DIVISION OF THE GA MASHIE COMMUNITY
After the destruction of the Ayawaso Township by the Akwamus and the fall of Great Akra, remnants of the Ga-speaking Wo Sagba emigrants, the Aboras and the Obutus felt threatened by the insecurity caused by the victorious Akwamus on their Kplagon hill abode. In view of this, they decided to join their relatives and the aborigines (Kpeshie or Guans) along the coast due to the presence of the Europeans who were offering protection to the coastal villages.
Among the early migrants from Ayawaso to the coast were the Asεrε and Abora groups made up of Saku Olenge, Akotia Owosika, Oshamra, Ayikwei Osiahene, Osu Kwatei (whom I believe established the Kpakpatsewe dynasty in Asεrε), Anyama Seni, Amantiele Akele and others. These were the people that constituted the six sub-quarters of the Asεrε divison of the Ga Mashie community in the Ashiedu Keteke Sub-Metro District of Accra.
Indeed, the social organization of the Ga Mashie Community made up of the seven quarters or Akutséii of Asεrε, Gbεsε, Sempe, Abola, Otublohum, Akanmajen and Ngleshie is an amalgamation of the emigrant Ga-speaking people of the Wo Sagba tribe, the Kpeshie or Guans (Shitsemεi), the Obutus, Akwamus, Fantis (Ofateufo), emancipated slaves from Brazil, slaves from Allada or the Bight of Benin among others.
However, among these seven quarters or Akutséii, the people of Asεrε division are the known “Ga Kron” or pure blooded Ga-speaking people who migrated from Ayawaso after the fall of Great Akra in the sixteenth century to Little Akra on the coast. Originally, the six sub-quarters of the Asεrε quarters of the Ga Mashie community consists of the following clans:
- Abetsεwe and Awirimona.
- Amatsewe, Anumsa, Agbon and Frimpong We.
- Kpakpatse We and Lamte Djan We.
- Tsokunaa and Soŋmεsεε.
However, the composition of Asεrε has presently changed with the addition of the following families or clans:
- Odoitse We.
- Oyeadu We.
These are the known members of the Ga Mashie community whose customs and traditions are akin to that of the Hebrews as found in the Scriptures among which are the Homowo celebration (Exodus 12:1-14), naming ceremony (Kpodjiemo; Luke 2:21-39), circumcision (Genesis 17:10-14, 23-27) and many others which shall be subject of discussion in my next article titled “Religion of the Ga People”.
- Reindorf, Carl C. History of the Gold Coast and Asante , 3rd edition, Ghana Universities Press: Accra, 2007.
- Henderson-Quartey, David K. The Ga of Ghana, 1 Prince Avenue: Kingsbury, London, 2001.
- Quartey-Papafio, A. B. Native Tribunals of the Akras, 1926.