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Ancient residence of Nana Kwasi Akuffo now heritage site, tourist Centre

BY: Naa Lamiley Bentil

At the precincts of Akropong on the Akuapem Range of the Eastern Region is an ancient building which holds memories for more than 127 children born to the legendary, Nana Kwasi Akuffo by his 62 wives.

The Akuffo House at Santewase in Akropong, now being developed into a heritage and tourist centre, was built by the Okuapemhene, Nana Kwasi Akuffo, in the year 1891 from his own resources before he acceded to the Ofori Kuma Stool of Akuapem.

When Nana Kwasi Akuffo died in 1927, he had 62 recognised wives, with wives in each of the 17 towns of Akuapem, 127 children, 142 grandchildren and 54 great-grandchildren.

Collectively, the wives gave birth to 147 children, 127 of whom survived. It is on record that the King currently has about 3,000 descendants.

Family sources indicate that most of the remarkable events of his 20-year rule happened within the confines of the imposing edifice, which has since been remodelled a couple of times to prevent it from collapsing.

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Ancient edifice

It is this ancient edifice, steep deep in history and tradition, which will house the Akuffo Heritage Project recently launched by the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Arts and attended by Akuffo descendants including Justice Sophia Akuffo, the Chief Justice, and Ms Gloria Afua Akuffo, the Attorney General.

The main objective of the project is to use the remarkable history of the Akuapem king to showcase the culture and achievements of the people of Akropong and Akuapem to create a facility for indigenes and visitors to know and learn about the Akuapem culture.

 Nana Kwasi Akuffo sitting with some of his children

Nana Kwasi Akuffo had grown up as a lonely boy being the only child after the parents lost his only sibling, Asare, and decided very early in life to give birth to as many children as possible.

“To compensate for a lonely childhood, Nana Kwasi Akuffo had 147 children but 127 survived”, Mr Frederick William Kwasi Akuffo, also known as Okyeame Akuffo, a renowned linguist whose father was the 69th among the late king’s children said.

Akuffo Heritage Project

The images and placement of the children are on display at the Heritage Site at Akropong during the Daily Graphic ‘s visit recently.

A tall list of all the children is also on display for all visitors to see the remarkable agility of the Okuapemhene.

A tour round the facility shows all the ancient antique including beds, wardrobe, dining table, water cooler and a king’s stool.
Okyeame Akuffo said the king at a tender age exhibited signs of greatness and statesmanship.
He was very intelligent, having started school in 1871.

His educational record was outstanding and as a result, in 1880, he gained admission to the Presbyterian Teacher Training College and Seminary where he was trained as a teacher catechist.

He was renowned in his class as one of the best English, Greek, and Latin students with excellent intellectual acumen.

In his time, king Nana Kwasi Akuffo was one of the dominant royal luminaries in Ghana’s constitutional history.

Because of his knowledge of English, Greek and Latin, king Akuffo attracted lots of foreign dignitaries during his reign and even during his period in exile.

Nana Kwasi Akuffo ruled the people of Akuapem twice. The first was between 1895 and 1907 and the second between 1920 and 1927.

Checkered reign

Nana Kwasi Akuffo had acceded to the throne as the first paramount chief of Akuapem in 1895.

However, prolonged political dispute eventually led to his destoolment in 1907. After he had been destooled, Nana Kwasi Akuffo relocated to ‘Bogyabiyedom, near Nsawam in the Eastern Region.

“ It was there that he took the opportunity to unite all his children and grandchildren under one great family tree and sought to give them formal education as well as educated in Akan customs, traditions, culture, usages and practices of Ahemfi”, Okyeame Akuffo stated.

According to him, by a unanimous consent of the people of Akuapem, Nana Kwasi Akuffo was reinstated in 1919 and reigned peacefully and progressively thereafter.

The shelf that held his books and his water cooler

Achievements

Nana Kwasi Akuffo, who was a member of the Aborigines Rights Protection Society, is said to have established himself as one of the most enlightened chiefs of his time.

“When he attended the first meeting of the joint Provincial Council of Chiefs in 1926, he was elected the Provincial Member of the Legislative Council.

It is on record that he pleaded for the extension of the railway line to Kumasi to be constructed through Pakro, Mangoase and Asuoya, all in the Eastern Region, in order to improve the living conditions of his people.

In recognition of his outstanding achievements, Mr Dumas of UAC Textile in 1925 designed a special cloth named “Akuffo Ahenni fisro,” hence the cross in the middle of the textile to show that his kingship was made in heaven.

Support

The Eastern Regional office of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) has wholly embraced the project describing it as one with the potential to draw hundreds of tourists to Akuapem each year if well executed.

The Regional GTB Director, Mr Frederick Rudolph-Adjei, pledged the support of the GTB in the successful implementation of the project.

The Akuapem North Municipal Chief Executive, Mr Dennis Aboagye, under whose ambit the Heritage site is located, said the project was in line with the assembly’s vision of enhancing tourism for the area.

His dining table whilst alive

He noted that Akuapem was rich in history, culture and tradition which needed to be harnessed for both social and economic gains.

The Project Consultant, Dr Nana Baah Wiredu, said the late Nana Kwasi Akuffo’s story was worth sharing with the world and commended the family for keeping all the family records intact.

The Project Coordinator, Madam Stella Apenteng, said the project would ride on the Odwira festival, for instance, to direct traffic to the heritage site.