Just so you know: Greater Kumasi, A Historical Perspective

In his well-spoken Address to the Nation on Friday, March 27, 2020, president Akuffo Addo mentioned “Greater Kumase,” as an administrative unitin the fight against COVID-19.

The term “Greater Kumase,” has been part of the lexicon of a development strategy comprising a larger area with the City of Kumase as the core. Under such a development scenario, Kumase becomes, as it has always been, the centerpiece of a strategy that radiates to at least thirty miles radius of Kumase; and which economically integrates and incorporates an area termed “Greater Kumase.

There’s a perfect historical underpinning that helps to explain, understand, and rationalize this development strategy.

The “Greater Kumase,” is the area that the Historian Kwame Arhin, described in 1967, as being “METROPOLITAN ASHANTI.” This is the core or foundational template of what became ASANTEMAN or the Asante Kingdom. Everything that our gallant ancestors designed or thought about, will be manifested in time. We just need people with the good sense to understand that; appreciate that; and translate that into reality. In fact, there’s no doubt this would have been accomplished long ago, if Asanteman were an independent Nation, controlling it’s own finances. We have the people, the means, and the capacity to do that, and go beyond that. I’m merely providing, and unleashing a historical template to reality; to reinforce an economic reality. And it all can be traced to the founding of Asante in 1701.

In 1967, Professor Arhin wrote a seminal article on Asante in the Journal of African History titled: “The Structure of Greater Ashanti, (1700-1824)” Volume 8, Issue 1. March 1967, pp 65-85.

It is a paper that Historians of Asante History such as Adu Boahen; Isaac Tufuo; Ivor Wilks, etc., have stated that it opened the floodgates to the study of Asante as academic discipline.

Kwame Arhin who was later enstooled as a sub-Chief of Barekɛse under the Stool name Arhin Brempɔn, was the first to use the term “Metropolitan Ashanti” to describe the geographic and territorial boundaries of the original core States which formed the ASANTE NATION……. ASANTEMAN. This is the land area that now constitutes: AMANSEƐ; SƐKYERƐ; KWABERE (including ATWEMA), and ADANSI. All this area is about twenty five to thirty five miles radius of Kumase, aka OSƐIKROM. This is also what some are now calling “Greater Kumase,” with a few exclusion. But in reality, the entire area can be easily subsumed into the Greater Kumase idea.

It must be pointed out that Adansi was not part of the State-coalition that fought and defeated mighty Dankyira in 1700. Ɔdeɛɛfuo Ntim Gyakari of Dankyira, had totally emasculated Adansi in the 1690s, leading to numerous Adansi people fleeing to neighbouring AKAN states for protection. Those that remained in Adansi territory, were cowered enough that Adansi therefore decided to be neutral in the 1700 War.

After the War, Osei Tutu I enstooled Bonsra….. who returned from exile in Akyem Abuakwa as Fɔmenahene….., effectively ADANSIHENE. As a consequence of this good fortune and rewarding circumstances, Bonsra then became known as BONSRA AFRIYIE. Adansi became part of Asanteman. Afriyie in Twi language means one who has arrived at an opportune moment of time, he who literally steps in, when good fortune abounds. Bonsra Afriyie had the good fortune of Asante defeat of Dankyira.

Kwame Arhin would also use the term “GREATER ASHANTI,” [including Metropolitan Asante] to describe the lands, territories; and people, who were subjugated by Asante between 1701 and 1820; and who also became became part of “Ashanti”. Arhin correctly argued that had, “the Ashanti political experiment” NOT been truncated by the British (again per the 1831 Anglo-Asante Treaty, as I’ve been writing), the story would have been much different.

Here’s a quote from Nana Arhin Brempɔn (Professor Kwame Arhin):

“When, then, the pre-1700 Ashanti tradition and the introduction of Ashanti judicial, political and politico-religious institutions into some of the conquered territories are carefully considered, it becomes clear, in the writer’s view, that the so-called Ashanti ‘empire’ should be divided into three categories of states: provinces, ‘protectorates’ and tributaries, on the basis of their political distance from Ashanti. The provinces—like the Ashantis mainly Akan-speaking peoples—were considered and treated as part of a Greater Ashanti ‘political structure’. The ‘protectorates’ were treated as allies or protected peoples according as economic or political circumstance dictated. The tributaries formed the economic and manpower base of the Ashanti expansion. But it must be noted that these relationships were fluid, and fluctuated with Ashanti military and political fortunes. Finally, the Ashanti political experiment was halted by the British and was therefore inconclusive.”

PS….. Please note that referring to an area as “Greater” means simply ‘the general area surrounding a given place.’ Greater Kumase, this identification therefore, does NOT imply that “Kumase” is ‘great’ or ‘greater’ in the historical sense of the meaning of the word ‘great or greater [than].

By: Sankofa Asante,
Asante Historian


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