Akyem Kotoku has been in existence since 1500 A.D. From their settlement in Adanse, believed to be the first seat of the Akan nation, they moved to settle at Twifo in an area called Ntoasem within the Senyase Division of the Denkyira Kingdom under the leadership of Nana Yaw Awere, believed to be the first ruler of Kotoku since there appears to be very little or no reliable information about Yaw Awere’s predecessors. The ruling dynasty was, and still is, the Agona clan comprising Denkyira, Kotoku and Bodweseango, believed to be blood relations.
During the exodus from Adanse, the group under Yaw Awere’s leadership is said to have tied their personal belongings in sacks, the males carried their sacks on pieces of sticks placed on their shoulders while the females carried theirs on their heads.
It was this manner of transporting their personal belongings en masse that gave birth to the name Kotoku meaning the sack people.
Nana Yaw Awere died and was succeeded by Nana Boadi Anim who was also succeeded by Nana Akrofi Brempong. Nananom Owusu Bore and Gyamera Adu, two brothers of Nana Akrofi Brempong, were at that time, the rulers of Denkyira and Bodweseango respectively.
Nana Akrofi Brempong died and during the funeral celebration, a misunderstanding arose between Nana Asiedu Apenteng who was heir to Nana Akrofi Brempong and Nana Owusu Bore over the property of the deceased. This unfortunately developed into an armed confrontation between the Kotokus and Denkyiras.
After the death of Nana Asiedu Apenteng, Nana Ofosuhene Apenteng became the next ruler of Kotoku. He led them to settle at Mbrayem near the Offin river and later to Ahuren near Lake Bosumtwe and then to Ejuso and Dampong.
At the time when Ofosuhene Apenteng was the ruler of Kotoku, the Abuakwas whose ruling clan was, and still is, Asona under Nana Ofori Panin were also determined to gain their independence from Asante. The Bosomes whose ruling clan was, and still is, Agona, continued to serve the Asantes faithfully, and even participated in the Asante-Gyaman war of 1818. It was these distinct ethnic units that have constituted Akyem up to this present time.
It appeared the two independent Akyem states of Kotoku and Abuakwa were, for a long time, bound by a form of the political and military pact and also co-operated in matters of foreign relations. They usually worked together for their mutual benefit. Thus, Ofori Panin and Ofosuhene Apenteng had the mutual advantage of controlling the gold reserves in the upper reaches of the Pra and Birim rivers; and constantly raided the neighbouring state of Kwahu for slave
The Asantes found the solidarity of these two Akyem states a big threat to their sovereignty. This prompted Osei Tutu, ruler of the Asante Kingdom, to march against the Akyems in 1700. The Akyems were defeated and Nana Ofosuhene Apenteng of Kotoku was taken captive by Asantes.
Tradition has it that the Kotokus further migrated to establish a very large settlement along the river Oda after which the present-day capital of Kotoku was named. Other settlements occurred at Bomfa, Agogo-Hwediem and Dampon, under Nananom Ofori Krobo, Akrane and Frempong Manso I.
In 1717, the Kotokus and Abuakwas defied the persistent demands by Asante for the payment of levy in gold dust. Osei Tutu consequently launched another military attack against the combined forces of the Akyems. However the advancing Asante army was ambushed by the Kotokus as they crossed the Pra river. Their King, Osei Tutu was fatally hit and his followers routed. The main Asante army therefore retreated.
In the meantime, the Kotokus became free to pursue their plans of migration. Not long after the 1717 war against the Asantes, the Akwamus saw that the Kotokus were beginning to establish firm trade links on the coast that would eventually bring about strong bonds of friendship between the European settlers along the coast and Kotoku. The Kotokus traded with the Danes in gold dust and slaves; and received in return, silk and other textile fabrics, tobacco, drinks and arms and ammunitions.
The Akwamus were living on the Nyanoa hill and being so envious of the steady progress the Kotokus were making economically, politically and in the military build-up, they resorted to constant highway armed robbery against Kotoku traders on their home-bound journey from the coast. The ruler of Akwamu was Ansa Sasraku, whose subjects also extended the harassment to the subjects of other states.
The Akwamu hostilities provoked the Akyems and other victims and thus resulted in fierce battle between the combined states and Akwamu, with Kotoku spearheading the campaign. In view of the military might of Akwamu, Kotoku was compelled to solicit the aid of Nana Oduro Tsibu of Assin Atandasu, who sent a contingent of seven thousand (7,000) armed soldiers under commander Asiedu to support the allied forces. Commander Asiedu died during the war.
The Akwamus were conquered by the allies and driven across the river Volta. Other states that assisted in the war were the Akwapims and Ga’s
The next Kotoku ruler was Nana Ampim who was also a very courageous leader. He established a settlement on the west bank of river Pra and named it Oda. After his successful reign, he was succeeded by Nana Karikari Apau during whose reign he moved the Kotoku settlement again from Oda to Dampong. Nana Kwadwo Kuma succeeded Karikari Apau. During this time, there were several skirmishes between the leadership of the three Kotoku rulers and Asante, resulting in Kwadwo Kuma fleeing to the Fante territory.
Afrifa Akwadaa, also known as Yaw Akwadaa was made ruler of Kotoku after Kwadwo Kuma. There was paternal clan relation between Obaa Panin Dokuwaa, Queen of Abuakwa and Afrifa Akwadaa. The latter then decided to quit Dampong to seek settlement elsewhere. He then went to Kyebi and Queen Dokuwaa gave her paternal brother and his large entourage a grand reception.
At the request of Dokuwaa, Afrifa Akwadaa was asked to choose a capital from among a number of settlements. Afrifa chose Gyadam. While coming back to Kyebi with a few of his elders, after negotiating with the owners of Gyadam land at Apapam an ofram tree fell on Afrifa Akwadaa and one of his wives. They both died as a result and on the direction of Dokuwaa, the body of Afrifa Akwadaa was buried at Kyebi near the palace having ruled for only one year (1824-25).
Afrifa Akwadaa was succeeded by Nana Kofi Agyeman. Not quite long after Agyeman had settled down, a report from Nana Anyan, chief of Pankese reached Agyeman that the Kwahus had gone to demand tribute from him (Pankesehene) who had then sought protection of Kotoku. Nana Agyeman considered the action on the part of the Kwahus as improper and therefore marched his troops against the Kwahus on the scarp to fight them. He conquered them and razed all their houses to the ground and came down from the scarp victorious. This battle earned Nana Kofi Agyeman the appellation Agyeman an oko foro obuo meaning Agyeman who fights to conquer mountaineers.
While at Gyadam, Nana Agyeman and his subjects fought as allies of Ohemaa Dokuwaa in the battle of Akatamanso in 1826 which the coalition of forces defeated the Asantes.
The land of Gyadam along the river Birim was, and is still, found to be very rich in mineral resources such as gold and diamond. The Kotokus were found to be highly industrious in the exploration of surface mining. News reached the Abuakwas that the Kotokus had acquired a good deal of gold nuggets from the Birim river. Queen Dokuwaa had then abdicated in favour of one of her twin sons, Atta Panin.
However, she still exercised tremendous traditional influence over her people and therefore sent for the Kotokus to surrender the gold nuggets. The Kotokus were unwilling to yield to Dokuwaa’s demand.
This infuriated the Abuakwas who launched a fierce attack against Kotoku. Nana Kwaku Boateng of Juaben intervened, and in the wake of sporadic fighting between the two camps, the Government of the Gold Coast, on 2nd May 1860, issued a proclamation calling on the two sides to lay down their arms
A renowned historian on Akan history, Addo-Fening, outlined a few other causes as being the question of confused jurisdiction arising out of inter-mixture of Abuakwa and Kotoku towns and the status of King Agyeman viz-a-viz the King of Abuakwa.
In 1862, the Government also sent two officers led by Lt. Williams of the Gold Coast artillery to keep peace in the area. In order to avoid any further hostilities, the Kotokus led by Nana Agyeman left Gyadam to find a new settlement.
Tradition relates that during the Asante —Denkyira War, 1701, Nana Ofosuhene Apenten assisted his clan brother, the Denkyirahene, who was totally defeated by the Asante army. In order to avert reprisals, the Kotoku’s vacated and settled at Mmerayem temporarily, before reaching Bomfa. Yet still the Asantehene wanted the Kotoku’s to serve him, and when they turned down the request war broke out resulting in the premature death of Nana Ofosuhene Apenten.
His successor, Frempon Manso (Frempon-a-ne-man-so) in reference to his vast domain maintained his stand and fought several pitched battle against the Asante army which he won victoriously on each occasion. Tradition recounts that in one of the Asante invasions he lost his royal Abohyen Stool to Asante which was suspended with chains. Legend has it that the spirit of the Abohyen stool was captured and restored in a new stool during their stay in Danpon.
After a series of campaigns at Bomfa, Nana Frempon Manso and his subjects moved on Kotokus Adukow which ruins lie in the locality of Hwediem near Agogo.
Tradition recounts that Kotoku were joined by the Bretuo and Tena clan people from Tokwaboho near Effiduase under the leadership of Ampon Agyei. They settled in the vicinity at Kronko.
The story is that Nana Frempon Manso had an issue with the sister of Nana Ampon Agyei by name Akosua Afranewa and brought forth Antwi Apasewa who later became chief of Hwediem which was bequeathed him by his father, the Kotokuhene.
Again he married Asantewa Kese, daughter of Otema Senewa of the Bretuo clan and brought forth Oware Okwamoa who later became chief of Kwahu Twenedurase.
Nana Ampon Agyei refused to serve Kotokuhene so he left with his followers, and sited new settlements on the Kwahu mountains.
Nana Frempong Manso then founded a new settlement at Dampon, leaving behind his son Antwi Apesewa and those Kotoku subjects who built the town Heeded near Agogo.
Dampon, the capital was firmly and strategically established and was gradually assuming an eminent position in the region. The Aboriginal settler in the vicinity was Kwakye Depaa who lived at Nobowam near Asankare.
At Dampon, gold mines were in abundance and the inhabitants knew how to extract gold from the soil on commercial basis. Nana Frempong Manso owned gold mines and those who worked for him delivered a pint of pure gold dust a day.
At one time there was severe drought at Dampon which made it impossible to extract gold from the gold reserve and engage in farming activities. As a result of they moved southwards and settled at Oda near Afoso or Prasokuma on the bank of the Pra river.
Still, the Kotokus were adamant to be subservient to Asante’s hegemony. Consequently, the Asante attacked them. Several pitched battles were fought in which the Asante were victorious.
However, on a Saturday the King, when crossing the Pra River to punish the Akyem was shot by Adenuahene Kore Akrasi who had taken cover on a tree. The body fell into the river and was never recovered. In this campaign, the Akyem Abuakwa formed the Adonten (Vanguard) for the whole army which was commanded by the Kotoku warlord.
GAZARTED AND NON GAZARTED CHIEFS
Rulers of the Akan state of Akyem Kotoku.
1. 1700 – Foundation of Akyem Kotoku state Kotokuhene (Rulers)
2.Tenure Incumbent - 1717 Nana Ofosu Aprenten, Kotokuhene
3.ante/c.1733 to post/c.1733 - Nana Frempong Manso I, Kotokuhene
4. 1814 to 1821 - Nana Kwakye Adeyefe, Kotokuhene
5. 1824 to 1825 - Nana Afrifa Akwada, Kotokuh
6.1825 to 1867 - Nana Agyeman, Kotokuhene
7. 1867 to September 1927 - Nana Attafua, Kotokuhene
8. 1948 to post/c.1960 - Nana Frempong Manso III, Kotokuhe
9. 1967 to June 1998 - Okofrobour Agyeman Attafua, Kotokuhene
10. June 1999 to present - Oseadeeyo Frempong Manso IV, Kotokuhene
Glory be to God
Your friend and brother
Evans Nana Arkoh-Frempong Oware