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Clans of the Akan People


                             THE CLANS OF EACH AKAN SUB- ETHNIC GROUP

ABUSUA AND NTON/NTORO

All the Akan tribes believe that they are made up of two elements, blood and spirit both of which they obtain from their parents. The blood which comes from the mother determines the clan (Abusua in Akan Language), and the spirit which comes from the father determines the Nton. Since most Akans, are matrilineal, a child is what his/her mother is. Akan societies are matrilineal, with a person belonging to the clan of his mother. Inheritance, succession and status are lineally determined. Therefore a person can be one of the Akan clan only by virtue of the fact that his/her mother is from the clan. It is possible for an Akan not to have nton but impossible not to belong to a clan (an Abusua). At the time of conception or even before, the clan is already determined and once born, the child is stuck with it. There is an Akan/Akuapim saying that the clan is not like a tune that you can change simply because you don’t like it. It falls on the people within the clan to improve it. These clans have towns founded by their ancestors so each of the clans exercises authority over towns .Chiefs for the towns are selected from the male members of the clans. One important thing to note is that , the children of the female members of the clans are the royals of the town  but the children of the male members  are not members of the clan so they are not royals of the town .

The following are the various towns belonging to the clans and the clans .

The  clans are : OYOKO & ADAKO CLAN, BRETUO CLAN, AGONA CLAN, ASONA CLAN, ASENIE CLAN, ADUANA CLAN, EKUONA CLAN, and ASAKYIRI CLAN.

There are various beliefs as to the towns origin of these clans:

ADUANA CLAN : believe that at the time of creation, their ancestors descended from the skies on a golden chain. Others believe that they originally came from Asumanya and they were led by a duiker with a flame in his mouth and gold in his cheeks. They proceeded to Dormaa where they believe the flame is still kept alight. Still others believe that from Asumanya a section of the Aduana clan headed for Akwamu. Some of the principal towns of the Aduana are Dormaa and Akwamu. In Asante a principal towns for the Aduana are Kumawu, Asumanya, Kwaman, Boaman, Agogo, Apromaase, Tikurom, Kaase, Apagya, Bompata, Kwaso, Akyease, Takyiman, Nsuatre, Drobo, Manso-Mmem, Manso-Abodom, Ampabame , Danyaase , Akwaboa , Adokwae, Dumase, Agyamasu, Worakese , Kwaman , Banso, Offinso-Dantin , Kwatwema , Awua-Domase, Amoaten- Gyaakye  and Nyinahen. Members of this clan are hardworking, clever and brave. The symbol of the Aduana is the dog.

 AGONA CLAN: are predominant in Denkyira and therefore in Asante, Nkawie. It is recommended never to pick a fight with a person from this clan because s/he is likely to have a clan member within the vicinity who will quickly come to his/her aid. The symbol of this clan is the parrot and members of this clan are eloquent. When greeted by a person from this clan, the reply should be, ‘Yaa ago nana’. Some towns of the Agona clan are Tafo, Bodwesango, Fomesua, Asienimpon, Trede Ahwaa, Ampabame,Nkawie , Konkoma, Gyenyase, Amoaman , Adwumam, Sepe, Akyenakrom and Asuonwin.

ASAKYIRI CLAN: claim that they were the first to be created by God. Their characteristics are beauty and patience. They are to be found in the Adanse area and their main towns are Akorokyere (Akrokere), Ayaase and Asokore. When greeted by a person from this clan, the reply should be ‘Yaa Ofori nana’. Other towns of the clan are Abofuo, Abrenkese, Asakyiri(Amansie)Abofuo, Kusa, Odumase(Adanse), Benin, Afeduase-Adukro Boaberease(Adanse),  and Apeadu.

ASENIE CLAN: The symbol of the clan  is the bat and its main towns are Kumase Amakom and Dompoase. The characteristics of this clan are bravery and diplomacy. When greeted by a person from this clan, the reply should be, ‘Yaa adu nana’. Other towns of this clan are Antoa, Agona, Nkoranza, Wenchi, Atwoma, Kofiase,Adonten, Kwamo ,Akyaakrom ,Asuboa , Dompoase (Adanse), Poano ,Mpataase, Atwima-Takyiman, Kobireso, Abenase and Denyase.

ASONA CLAN :The symbol of the clan is the crow or wild boar and its characteristic is wisdom. It is said that more people generally, belong to this clan than to any other clan. The principal towns are Edweso and Offinso. When greeted by a member of the clan, the reply should be ‘Yaa Ofori nana’. Other towns of the clan are Ejura, Feyiase, Manso-Nkwanta, Bonwire, Atwima-Agogo, Abrakaso, Taabuom, Beposo, Toase, Abirem , Adanse- Akrofrom ,Asotwe , Onwe , Manso Nkwanta, Tano-Odumase , Anyinasu, Manso-Atwedie, Nnuaso , Apenkra , Adunku , Odumase- Domeabra , Domenase , Onwi-Odaho , Denyase-Odaho, Akwamu- Kumase, Kronko- Kumase , Konongo, Apemanin , Kotei , Antoa- Krobo , Senkyi , Adadientam, Dedesua , Manso-Asaman ,Akwamu- Bekwai, Sabene-Akrofroum   and Konongo- Odumase.

BRETUO CLAN: are found mainly in Mampon, Amoafo, and Afigyaase/Effiduase. Its symbol is the leopard and its characteristic is aggressiveness and exceptional bravery. It is worth noting that the commander of the Asante army against Denkyira was the Mamponhene and in the past, generally, matters relating to war in Asante was the domain of the Mamponhene. When greeted by a person from this clan, the reply should be ‘Yaa etwie nana’. Towns of this clan are Gyamaase , Adanse- Ayaase , Adanse Ahensan, Ofoase , Aboontam , Baworo , Kyekyebiase , Asenemaso , Mprem , Adudwam, Donyina , Yonso , Nintin , Tewobaabi, Adubinsokese , Atasemanso , Gyamase- Kyekyewere, Bedomase, Apaa, Domeabra, Agogo-Hwidiem, Adankranya,

EKUONA CLAN: are not found in great numbers in Asante. They are mainly found among the Fantis but in Asante, their main town is Adanse Fomena. The symbol of this clan is the buffalo and its characteristic is uprightness. When greeted, the reply should be, ‘Yaa Doku nana’. Other towns of the clan are Banko, Kona, Asokore-Mampon, Brekum, Kokofu-Abuoso, Adumasa, Heman, Abenkyem, and Duayaw-Nkwanta.

 (A) OYOKO CLAN:The symbol of the clan is falcon and its characteristic is patience. It is also the clan from which the Asantehene comes. Its main towns are Kumase and Dwaben . When greeted, the reply should be, ‘Yaa Obiri nana’. Other towns are Kokofu, Bekwae, Mamponten, Bogyaa, Dadieso, Obogu,  Atobiase, Pampaso, Kontanase ,Kwabre- Kenyase , Sawua , Ahenkro ,Adumase , Ohwim , Asankare , Dwansa , Nyaabo , Atwedee and Adwumakasekese.

(B) ADAKO: Nsuta , Akokofe , Ntonso , Asaman , Adako- Gyakye and Kontanase.
The list of the towns of the various clans is by no means exhaustive.

These days because of ‘modernisation’ and ‘progress’ it is nearly impossible to tell what clan a person belongs to unless you know what town a person comes from. Even coming from a particular town does not necessarily mean that the person is from the dominant clan in the town. In Asante, the occurrence of this is fairly remote. This problem is likely to occur among Fantis. For example, although Saltpond is considered to be a Fanti town, their ancestors are likely to be Akyem. So to find the clan of somebody from Saltpond, one might have to head in the direction of Oda. However, the Fantis have found a back to front but remarkable solution to the problem. Among Fantis, you don’t need to know beforehand what clan a person is from. S/he tells you how to respond to his/her greetings. In doing so they have ditched the clan somewhat and gone for the nton. There are fewer of them, nton, and the replies are therefore not that many. It is a rather straightforward way of dealing with the tradition because it is less tasking on the person being greeted. In addition to the nton, the person greeting might opt for the duties associated with that nton. A Fanti might therefore say by way of greetings, ‘Amanfo mema hom atsenase, wogye me anyaado’. Anyaado indicates that the people of that nton are drummers. The reply would then be ‘Yaa anyaado, okyerema ba.’

Both the nton and abusua performed a useful function of holding the society together and what might perhaps be seen these days as conservation of animals and plants. Each of these clans and nton had rare animals and plants that they were forbidden to kill or destroy. It made it possible to live in harmony with nature.

In the past when a man travelled and needed overnight lodgings in a village, he would seek out a member of his clan in the town or village. When found, he would take the traveller home and treat him like a brother. If it happens that the traveller should die, it would be up to the people of the clan in the town to trace the traveller’s people, inform and liaise with them as to what should happen to the body. If it should become impossible to trace the traveller’s relatives, then they would take it upon themselves to take charge of burial and funeral. Marriage among the same clans was forbidden. It was acceptable to marry one’s mother’s brother’s child; it was unacceptable to marry one’s mother’s sister’s child although they are both cousins. It was totally unacceptable to marry any cousin whatsoever on one’s father’s side.

ASANTE NTON/ NTORO

In Asante , inheritance to stools is mostly based on matrilineal clan (Abusua )system. However , some stools are inherited paternally (nton/ ntoro). The occupants of such stools had special gifts which the Asantes believe pass on from the father to the son who would inherit him. Such traits include bravery and the skill for performing special assignments. It is believed that these qualities are passed on from the father to the children. The common adage in Asante is “ Obi nkyere okomfo ba atano “ ( Nobody teaches a blacksmith ,s son blacksmithing )

It is therefore the belief that the Ntoro which a person inherit helps him to perform creditably special assignments. A brave man gives birth to a brave son , therefore the Bantama stool which was created by  Nana Osei Tutu to lead wars  (Kontire ) has paternal inheritance . Talking about skills which pass on from father to son also , the chief of Asantehene,s drummers , ( Ntumpankafuohene ) stool passes on from father to son . To the Akans , Ntoro is the genetic characteristics which shows the paternal group one belongs to . Like Abusua or clan which is passed on through the female and cannot be transferred by the male , Ntoro also is passed on through the male and cannot be transferred by the female.

The Asantes believe that the very life of a person is passed on from the father to the children . The woman on her own cannot conceive and bear a child unless she meets a man . It is the male semen which forms the life which develops the human body . They therefore believe that the soul  ( Okra ) of a person descends from father to child ,therefore the taboo of the father is taboo of the son . The Asantes believe that it is the Ntoro which determines the build up of a person , his personal magnetism , character , personality , power and the soul (Okra ) . It is believe that the soul ( Okra ) of a person is a special deity in the human being which can cause the death of the human body should the Okra be offended . ( Note: it is believe that the Okra ( soul) does not die but is the breath which goes back to the Creator when someone dies.). The okra of a father can also cause the death of a child if the father,s Okra or soul is offended and is not appeased . The okra or soul again can cause the death of his own children if the mother commits adultery. This explains hoe a child is connected to the father. If the soulor okra is offended.  the pacification rites perform is called “ Akradweree “ (soul washing  or soul purification )

Ntoro has divisions .  The major Ntoro divisions are the following :

A )           The Bosommuru division.

B )           The Bosomtwe  division.

C )           The Bosompra  division.

D )           The Nkatia  division .

E              The other minor divisions include  Gyennyina , Abankuradie , Bosommaram and Akankadie.

To know the Ntoro of somebody , you have to know the following :

1).            His response when he greets somebody.

2).            His  taboo.

3).            The day he purifies his Okra  ( soul ).

Below is a table showing some Ntoro divisions , their response , their taboos and their special days.

NTORO                         RESPONSE                        TABOOS                                                       DAYS

1).Bosommuru             (a) Yaa  Oburu                         Python, Cow, Kwakuo                                      Tuesday

(b) Yaa  Okudonto                   (Monkey), Wild Dog,

Drinking Palm Wine on tuesday

2). Bosomtwe                    (a) Yaa  Opeafo                   Kwakuo(monkey), Pobire                               Sunday

(b) Yaa  Obere                    (edible snail), Akyekyedie(

tortoise), Nwansane(bush buck)

3). Bosompra                        Yaa  Anyaado                    Akokoneni(white fowl), Afasie(                    Wednesday

Water yam), Kwakuo(monkey)

Pobire(snail), Akyekyedie(tortoise),

Aboka (any animal found dead)

4). Nkatia-Adomakode        Yaa Amu                            Okraman(dog) , Sakraman(wild dog)

One thing to note here is that there are no towns earmarked for the individual Ntoro. The only exception was Bantamawhere the Ntoro of the first chief continued to rule until the grand children of the daughters of some of the occupants also ascended stool. This changed the trend. Stools which practise paternal  inheritance do not have queen –mothers.

To summarise: what readers need to know is that , the Asantes have two major groups, i.e. Abusua and Ntoro.  Inheritance  to stools are mostly from the Abusua which is matrilineal. There are however some stools which are inherited paternally. There is also this stool created for both the Abusua and the children of the occupant. This is the Nkosuo stool created by Otumfuo Opoku  Ware II.  The first occupant of the stool, Nana Nkwatabisa was known to have helped in the development of Asante Kingdom. To honour him , the king created the stool. It was however added that any of his children or anybody from his Abusua could ascend the stool.

Otumfuo commanded that the individual states should also create Nkosuo stools for their people who help in developing the states. The individual  Asante states, however widened the scope of the stool by making it open to anybody who helps to develop their states, whether they come from the states or not . There  are towns which conferred the title on foreigners for the roles they played in the development of the towns in the states.