I have been posting articles by E.A. Ammah, one of the foremost 20th century authorities on Ga culture and traditions over the past year. This article, written almost 50 years ago, puts the present wrangling on who must be the Ga King in better perspective for most of us and explains in part some of the difficulties facing the traditional leaders in modern day urbanised Ga.
I do not know what the contestants and the many chieftaincy ‘eaters’ agents would have made of this article if they had read it when it was first written, at the start of the late Boni Nii Amugi II reign in 1965. But i have learnt a lot reading it now and will welcome whatever comments that people would want to make on this blog.
Sixty Years of Ga Politics
By E. A. Ammah
The internal and external political struggles of the Ga people from the time that they left Nubia until they settled at their resting place of Ayawaso or Kplagon are unknown. Ga history in Ghana probably dates from the latter part of the thirteenth century (1275). Critical and comparative study of the history of Ghana suggests that if Ga people were not the first to arrive here, then they were among the first peoples who settled here in the 13th century. The names of the Ga sovereigns from 1275 until the time of Ayi Kushi are not known. Ayi Kushi is reputed to be the first Ga monarch at Kplagon.
Before discussing the past 60 years of Ga politics, we shall review briefly Ga political history from the time of King Ayi Kushi to the death of King Taki Tawia II. The dynastic name of the Ga kingdom is Tunma We. This House has provided the Ga kingdom with sovereigns down the centuries. It is a great credit to the elder statesmen of Tunma We that the Royal House has never changed.
Apart from aggressions from neighbouring tribes in which Ga was always victorious, the internal history of Ga is one of incessant political upheavals, well-calculated intrigues, and treachery of the highest order, which were contrived sometimes by different branches of the royal family and sometimes by people outside Tunma We.
The first known stool-dispute in Ga history was the attempt of the Asere to take the Ga throne by force which compelled King Ayi Kushi to retire to the place from whence he came (1452). We do not hear of any political turmoil until the reign of Manpong Okai. From the time of Mangpong Okai to that of his grandson King Ofori, the political upheavals were so intense and callous that three monarchs were tragically killed; they were King Mangpong Okai, his wife Queen Dode Akaibi, and his son King Okai Koi. After the sack of Great Accra at Ayawaso, King Ofori, the son of King Okai Koi, fled to the coast and established the capital on the coast at small Accra. King Ofori eventually went to Little Popo and established Tugba Dynasty there. It is important to state here that after the death of Mangpong Okai, one Dua Kwei championed the cause of the Royalists, he crowned Dode Akaibi; he acted after the queen’s death and enthroned King Okai Koi. But for this strong man and the intrepid Awutu elements in the royal courts, the infuriated terrorists might have put an end to Ga monarchy. The political history of Ga closed at Ayawaso with the migration of the remainder of the people to small Accra.
Among the significant political events which occurred after the Ga capital was moved to the coast and before the beginning of the twentieth century were the following: After the death of King Ayi a great constitutional change was made when a female line was introduced with the enthronement of Ayi Kuma Tieku Bah son of Mangpong Okai’s daughter Okaile (1700-1733). After the death of King Ofori, there were two claimants to the Ga stool, Okaidza and Tetteh Ahene Akwa; the latter was enstooled and reigned from 1740 to 1784. This action of the vigilant elders of Tunma We had a devastating effect in Ga; the Gbese area was founded, Tetteh Ahene Akwa took the original Ga ivory stool to Little Popo, and Princess Momo married a Nai priest which created Amugi We. In 1782, there were again two claimants to the Ga stool: Teiko Din and Teiko Tsuru; Teiko Tsuru was enthroned. A civil war (Agbungtse) broke out between James Town and Ussher Town in 1884. Taki Tawia closed the line of old Ga sovereigns (1482-1902).