Diversity can create adversity
The Making of Ada by C. O. C.Amate Woeli Publishing Services, Accra,
1999, ISBN 9964-978-64-2
Most Ada people I have come across are polyglots – they speak more than
one Ghanaian language. Several Ada people I know have names that are
Ewe sounding or typically Akan. I have always known that they were the
most ethnically mixed of all the Ghanaian tribes but did not know how
this came about. This book tells the story of how the Ada people came
to Okor and then moved to settle at Big Ada. It explains why every Ada
person has a house at Big Ada that they can call their family of
When we say that ‘we are going to ask the old lady’, I had always
thought that it was an idiom related to our grandmothers. I had never
realised that the roots of the saying are indeed the roots of the Adali,
the Ada people or that it was remotely related to the how the Ada people
Reading this book was like reading a mythical story in the mould of the
old Makers Of Civilisation books that we read in middle school. The
purpose of the book was clearly laid out – to provide information on the
Ada people and the book did that and more.
We learn that the Ada people were made up of the four original Dangme
clans, the Adibiawe, Lomobiawe, Dangmebiawe, and Tekperbiawe. These
clans, the Okorli, integrated one Akan clan, the Kabiawe and
incorporated three Ewe clans, the Kudragbe, Korgbor and Ohuewem. The
Ada later on adopted 9 additional Ewe villages, Agave, Sukpe, Tefle,
Vume, Blakpa, Mlefi, Mepe, Battor, and Duffor to form the Ada Nation.
The reasons why each of these came together to form a nation and live
together for mutual benefit is spelt out.
The author then takes great pains to explain to us why wars were fought
against the Anlos and Akans and how at different times the people had
different allies. The was however little explanation about the affinity
and closeness that the Ada had with other Dangme speaking sub-nations
such as the Krobo and the Shai and still very little about the links
with the Ga.
The tales of wars, of valour and victories and defeats were vivid, but
the lack of graphics or maps to show where these wars were fought and
the distances the opponents had to travel to the wars left too much to
the imagination. Anyone, like myself, without a good grasp of the
geography of Ghana may be left trying to imagine where these opponents
The book touches on a lot of sore matters, why there is constant warring
between different factions for the stool and how the Kabiawe clan are
chosen as chiefs though they came to Ada later. Indeed for someone like
me who does not believe in chieftancy, this book provided excellent
reasons why chieftaincy must be abolished especially amongst the Ga-
Dangme, who had adopted this anachronistic way of choosing a leader over
a much preferred system of divine leadership. The chapters on the
disputes about chieftaincy were very interesting for me especially when
it was explained that the chief even did not have land that he could
call his own. These showed why the initial theocracy belief was far
superior to adoption of chieftancy that cannot be a unifying force in
The author also traces the sad break up of the original nation in modern
times with the eight Ewe clans leaving to form their own Tongu Nation.
This sad event we are told can also be laid at the feet of the disputes.
These Ewe-speaking people freely came and joined the Ada, were happy to
adopt the language and put themselves under the protection of Ada.
Because of cheiftancy disputes the Ada had no time to properly integrate
them, so they left, after independence to look for protection from the
State of Ghana.
The author tried too hard though to justify the constant court cases
about the chief’s role, he however declared his interest since his own
father had been heavily involved in some of the disputes.
The decline of the Ada nation was also discussed and the causes of the
continuing fights, violence, court suits, and confusion over the
ownership and rights over the main economic resource of the Songor salt
facility explained. The author did not however offer any solutions as
to why educated and enterprising Ada people, of which there are many,
have not been interested in developing this and other enterprises on
their native land. The book does not also explain why Ada people who
have done well do not go back to Ada to settle and help in the
development of the area.
This book is an excellent read, it will help the reader in the
understanding of the causes of under-development in Africa at first hand
level. It discusses the history, the culture, community development,
economic development, adoption of unworkable political systems, and the
demise of a once great African tribal nation.
The book has several things going for it. There are no footnotes to
disturb the flow of the read. The author takes great pains to
paraphrase most of the cited sources and helps the reader along with
anecdotes and folklore.
I recommend the book to anyone interested in the history and culture of
a minority tribe in Africa.
21st January 2001