Two loyal supporters of our cause have advised me that for political reasons I should stay out of the Ga Mantse mess. I told them that for political reasons I will stay put in the Ga Mantse mess.
If I can’t say the truth I know about this small Ga mess, how can I talk about the big mess called Ghana? Charity begins at home.
If anyone decides that I have said something they disagree with or do not like concerning this Ga Mantse saga, and therefore they refuse to vote for me, then they are not worthy.
As for me, I will speak the truth no matter what.
Luke 1:1-4 says “Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which [a]have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having [b]had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.”
Here, Luke is saying although he did not meet the physical Jesus, he had perfect understanding from those who witnessed Jesus, and therefore he felt motivated to write an orderly account of what Jesus did.
I’m going to give an orderly account of the Ga state based on what others have done or told me – metadata on Ga.
There is no question about the fact that this is a very complex matter filled with controversies from even the very best. I have read notes of Odotei, Reindorf, Amartey, Ammah etc.
My great grandmother and grandmothers also told me their bit. I’ve carefully gone through all the complex information to come out with this account. Granted, others may have other accounts but I hope I do justice to the matter.
ORIGIN – we do not know exactly where Gamei came from, but it is established that they came to present day Ghana as part of a larger group called Ga-Dangme.
There are so many competing hypotheses about the origin of Ga that I will leave that for another day.
ARRIVAL – we do not know the exact time or even period. Ozzane, based on excavations suggested the Ga-Dangmes were here as early as 1200AD.
Their 1st habitation was east and north east of the Accra plains – where the Dangmes are located at the present time, where they lived as independent units.
DISPERSION – the Ga segment of the larger Ga-Dangme group moved west into the Accra plains and to the coastal areas.
Influence of Guan and Akan on Ga resulted in structural and linguistic differences between the Gas and their Dangme siblings.
There are 6 major Ga towns – Ga Mashi, Osu, La, Teshi, Nungua and Tema. These groups dispersed or broke away and migrated away from the larger Ga-Dangme group at different times.
SETTLEMENT – there were other people in the Accra plains and the coast before the arrival of the Gas. These were Guan groups – Kpeshi, Kyerepon, Le and Obutu. Ga settled among these groups and successfully assimilated all except Obutu.
AYAWASO – political and military centralization didn’t start among Gas until towards end of the 15th century. Amartey suggests Ayawaso was in existence by 1482.
Ayawaso, started by Ayi Kushi of Tungma division of Ga Mashi eventually gained control over other Ga territories. The other division of Ga Mashi was Asere. At its peak, Ayawaso was made up of Ga Mashi, La, Nungua, Tema and Obutu.
Ayawaso was the inland capital of the Ga kingdom overseeing settlements all over the Accra plains and along the coast. Members of Ga Mashi, Nungua and Tema were the first to inhabit the coast.
It is not clear which of them moved to the coast first, but we can deduce. Will revert to this later.
Ga Mashi met 2 indigenous groups – Nai worshippers and Oyeni worshippers. The Nai worshippers were assimilated into Tungma. Down the line, a Nai wulomo married a Tungma Princess Ode. Their descendants formed the Amugi We. The Oyeni worshippers are the Sempe people.
This is where Nai derives his authority from – the spiritual boss on the coast before all Gas arrived. The indigenous Nai people were theocratic, Gas were not theocratic prior to that but they did adopt Nai, the sea god as their primary deity and its Wulomo as their Chief Priest.
NOBODY CAN CLAIM SPIRITUAL HEADSHIP FROM AWUTU (Winneba) to SHWILAO (Ada). That title belongs to Nai.
Nungua is a contraction of Ningo Wayo or Little Ningo. The name tells the whole story.
A group of people led by one Konor Bɔkete Lawɛ left Ningo to settle on the coast. For your information, Konor is the Dangme title for a chief. Lawe is Dangme equivalent of Oko or Akwete. Bɔkete Lawɛ was a twin from Ningo.
Nungua shared border with Ga Mashi on its west, being separated by the Kpeshi lagoon and Tema on its east and separated by the Sakumo lagoon.
Ningo itself was founded by Djangma and Oklu Doso before other groups like Kabiawe and Bɔbɔ joined them. The Bɔbɔ group was the one that migrated en bloc with Bɔkete Lawɛ to form Amanfa division of Nungua. The other division is Sanshi.
Did Bɔkete Lawɛ meet other people on the coast? I believe he met some Kpeshis and subdued them. That’s why the lagoon separating them, and Ga Mashi is called Kpeshi. Who are the descendants of the Kpeshis? That will be for another day.
Questions to think about:
1. When did Bɔkete Lawɛ migrate to Nungua?
2. Did he move to Nungua before Ga Mashi and Tema moved to the coast?
3. How and when did Teshi, La and Osu come between Nungua and Ga Mashi?
While these questions remain outstanding, my take home message for you is this:
Bɔkete Lawɛ didn’t lead Ga-Dangme from anywhere to the coast. He was a twin born in Ningo in the 16th century, over 300 years after Ga-Dangmes arrived in present-day Ghana from wherever.
Konor Gbɔbu Wulomo, a descendant of Bɔkete Lawɛ is not and cannot be the spiritual head of Ga, let alone Ga-Dangme. Let me add that we have never had a consolidated Ga-Dangme kingdom before.
In fact, neither has there ever been a unitary Dangme kingdom before. Rather, as we see even till today, the Dangmes groups have lived as independent towns with no central authority.
The only Ga Kingdom was Ayawaso and was led by Tungma division of Ga Mashi.
Stay tuned for Part 2.
Tswa omanye aba.