Ahanta simply means the land of twins. Others have varriedly interpretated it to have come from “hata” which means to dry oneself after being wet or cold. Ahanta just like all other tribes are also surrounded by myths and legendary. The Ahanta language itself is one of the Akan groups and sub unit of the several Kwa languages across the forest zone of Sub Saharan Africa.
There are varied traditions about the origins of the Ahantas. Some traditions recounts that Ahantas are part of group Akans who migrated from the old Bono Kingdom in the present day Brong Ahafo region, migrated further southward, cross the Pra river and settled at their present day location. Other traditions also narrates that the Ahantas are believed to have come from the mouth of a Whale being led by their king and warlord Badu Bonsoe. Whatever the story is about the origins and the migration of the Ahanta story, we are part of the sovereign state of present day Ghana. We are all Ghanaians with a common destiny but the Ahanta must carry on with the pride of his identity and live in harmony with all tribes to create a conducive atmosphere for development of our motherland Ghana.
The Ahantas are presently located at the south western part of Ghana. Share boundaries in the North with the Wassas, West with the Nzemas, East with the Fantes and South by the gulf of guinea. For easy political and local government administration, the Ahanta land is divided into Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis (formerly of Shama Ahanta East Metropolitan Assembly) with administrative capital at Sekondi-Takoradi and Ahanta West District with the capital at Agona Nkwanta. The traditional capital of the Ahantas has always been Busua but currently Esikadu is also another capital whilst Dixcove has maintained its independence of Ahanta states. Some notable Ahanta towns are , Sekondi, Kwesimintsim, Apremdo, Beahu, Ewusiejoe, Bokro, Aboadi, Agona Nkwanta, Butre, Esikado and Akwidai.
According to 2010 population census, there are some 2 million Ahantas in Ghana presently involved in various trades and profession with religious distribution of Christianity, Traditional African Religion and Islam in some lesser extent. The Ahanta kingdom was believed to be one of the richest kingdoms in the sub region which reached its peak in the 19th century. Traditionally, the Ahantas have been farmers, those along the coast practicing fishing and pockets of them involved in trading. The modern day Ahanta is involved in almost all occupation that cut across the social life of every Ghanaian. Ahantas are gradually creeping into teaching, nursing, engineering, medicine, business and a lot more into other profitable ventures.
Ahantas have never lived in isolation but rather filled their space in history and time. The Ahanta state and Ahantas are one of the first tribes to come into contact with Europeans and their civilizations as far as Africa is concerned. On 27th August 1656, the Ahantas and Dutch Gold Coast signed the Butre treaty. The Butre treaty eventually became the longest partnership agreement between an European nation and an African state. It lasted for 213 years. The treaty expired on 6th April 1876. Ahantas just like other tribes along the coast of the Atlantic ocean, suffered the injustices of slave trade and colonialism. Unrecorded number of Ahantas were shipped to the Americas as slaves and the beheading of Nana Badu Bonso II leaves scars of foreign rule and domination in the memories of the Ahantas.
The Ahantas have contributed their quota perfectly to the struggles and the liberation of blackman from foreign rule and domination. Badu Banso II was constantly fighting the Dutch rule in efforts to drive them away despite the Butre treaty binding. Ceasure of Forts and Castles along Dutch and British Gold showed how the Ahantas believed in self rule and dignified their self respect, custom and practices.
In politics and struggles for independence, the Ahantas played their key role as required. Hannah Cudjoe also known as Esi Badu from Busua was one of the first and finest female political activists to have graced Ghana. She and the brother Emmanuel Dadson were actively involved in UGCC movement in Tarkwa. When the big six were arrested, she went round raising funds for their release. When Kwame Nkrumah broke away from the UGCC and formed the CPP, she followed Kwame Nkrumah and become the propaganda Secretary of the CPP. She travelled extensively with Kwame Nkrumah and toured the whole of Ghana as part of Kwame Nkrumah’s entourage. She was also a philanthropist who fought nudity among Northern women. She was constantly seen distribution second hand clothes in the Northern parts of Ghana. In education, she is credited with the concept of nurseries as she opened a lot of nurseries schools across the country.
In modern Ghanaian politics, the likes of Paapa Owusu Ankomah, the current member of parliament for Sekondi, Hon Joseph Cudjoe, the current member of parliament for Effia, Joe Baidoo Ansah of Kwesimintsim and former Minister of Trade and Industries under the presidency of J.A Kuffour, Hon George Kwame Aboagye, the current member of parliament for Ahanta West, Samuel Johnfia former member of parliament for Ahanta West, the late Mr. S.K Kwofie also a former member of parliament for Ahanta West and a host of others have contributed their quota meaningfully to the political development of our democratic processes and nation building. There are enviable number of youth involved in party politics as well as local government administration.
Nana Kobina Nketsiah IV, the Omanhene of Esikadu and Otumfour Nadu Bonso XV are great Ahanta kings alive today. Nana Kobina Nketsiah is renowned lecturer with several years spanning at the university of Cape Coast. He is a pack of wisdom as he is currently and constantly seen and heard speaking at public forums. Otumfour Nadu Bonso XV is also a former member of council of state and one of the longest reigning kings in present day Ghana. He is 50 years on the throne.
If Ahanta’s have been able to stand the test of time all these years, then what is missing now? I guess it’s the Ahanta pride. It is fast fading away. Our forefathers and ancestors carried the pride of Ahanta personality but it appears the present generation seem to have lost track of the pride in the Ahanta personality and wish to be associated with other tribes more than their God placed tribe. People of Ahanta decent now feel shy to mention their identity. There is increasing number of young Ahantas who are suffering from inferiority complex disease which is affecting greatly the self dignity and worth. Currently in places like Sekondi-Takoradi and it environs, the Ahanta language is almost of extinction. The same cannot be said of Gas despite challenges of urbanization and infiltration of other languages in Ga states. It is time for us to be proud of our identity as Ahantas. We should be proud of our land, food, water, cloth and everything that has the spirit of Ahanta in it.
This is the time we must all rise as movement of right thinking Ghanaians to take up our place in politics, education, music and movie industry, fashion and designing industry, sports, tourism, conquer the business world, travel the world and explore many opportunities to build upon the left offs of our fathers. We must rise to the occasion and be recognised as a dominance force in our contributions to the development of Ghana. We must request for our share of national cake and be apportioned appropriately. We should take up challenges as youths to wean our land from poverty and diseases. We should project the new Ahanta personality in the right perspective.
It’s time to place the Ahanta personality into the right perspective. The good thing that has ever happened to me is the joy that I am an Ahanta from Apemenyim.
By Ahanta Apemenyimheneba Kwofie III