None in the history of Ghana has inspired great admiration, wonder, mystery, and awe than the man, Okomfo Anokye. The tales of the wonders of Okomfo Anokye have traveled far and wide and every day, loads of people get to hear about his great achievements. Being instrumental in creating the Ashanti Empire was one of his greatest achievements among other great works some of which have physical verifiable remnants today.
Follow us to explore the circumstances, life, and work of the famed Ghanaian Fetish Priest to whom many great works are ascribed.
You could call him the most famous Ghanaian of antiquity and you would not be far from the truth. His works and efforts in building the Ashanti Empire from ‘rag to riches’ are usually told generation after generation. Yes, the Okomfo Anokye was legendary. Why was he considered legendary? Let us dive into his life’s story.
The Great Ghanaian Priest was born somewhere in 1655 about 200 years after the first arrival of the Europeans on the Gold Coast in Awukugua – a town in the mountains of the Eastern Region of Ghana. His birth is was a mysterious one that amazed all who were present at that time because he was born with a tuft of cow fur in his hand. This puzzled the midwives who attended to his mother because never had they seen or heard anything like that. They went on to call his Dad whose name was Ano to come and see what his wife had delivered. They exclaimed: “Ano Kye” which means ‘Ano look’ in the Kyerepon language which is widely spoken in that area and that became the kid’s name. They eventually concluded that this was a special child who might achieve great things in his lifetime.
Although he was a normal kid like all kids in those days he was different in ways that made people marvel. A lone son by his parents, who were extended family relatives, it was a week to his 3rd month birthday when after leaving him asleep in their hut, his mother had gone on an errand. She came back to meet an empty room but she was very sure she had secured the door shut. So out she went asking her neighbours and family members if anyone had seen her baby when a neighbor told her to look and see whether the baby was not on the bed. She was surprised and occurrences like this led the family to believe that Anokye will become an important figure in the future.
At the age of 15, he had started to perform miracles to the amazement of everyone in his community. At one time he and his friends played longer than usual and they got hungry. As they became vocal with what they were feeling, Anokye asked them to go home and bring the containers they use to eat frequently. The boys obeyed his request and brought their containers. He then instructed them to fill their containers with sand and cover them for some time, close their eyes and imagine any food they had an appetite for and when they had obeyed his instruction, their containers had been filled with the very foods they had imagined after they opened their eyes. Stories of this event spread far and wide and his fame grew.
When he became an adult, Anokye took to wandering around and performing miracles and he became famous as a result of that and earned the title of “Okomfo” (Fetish Priest). Through his wanderings, he made numerous friends and acquaintances. He later developed a close relationship with the then Crown Prince of one of the Ashanti territories who was known as Nana Osei Tutu (I). One day Nana Tutu came to Awukugua to search for his friend and met the elders of the town. Disdain and some level of jealousy and hatred had developed in the hearts of these elders because of the fame and good reports of the Okomfo so they lied to the Chief that Anokye was not available. The Okomfo came shortly after and when he inquired why they prevented the chief from seeing him, they insulted him and said unkind and hurtful words and asked that he leave their town. Anokye was hurt, being rejected by your kinsmen is not a good feeling. Before this incident, he had planted a palm nut seed which had become a seedling. It is reported that he uprooted the seedling and replanted it upside down and instructed them not to let a goat near it. He then left with Nana Osei Tutu (I) to his home in the Ashanti Region. The seedling which had been replanted upside-down miraculously germinated and became a full tree and Anokye was heard saying that so far as the tree was alive, Awukugua will never develop. Later when some elders decided to cut the tree, they died mysteriously; eventually, the tree died and got uprooted by itself. Evidence of this tree exists in Awukugua down to this day.
The Ashantis were organized into various towns, each with its Chief and under the bondage of the Denkyira people who proved stronger by military strength and bullied the Ashantis. When Anokye heard about this plight he proceeded to gather all the Ashanti Chiefs and told them that the gods desired them to come together. He then made them form a pact that he was summoning a Golden Stool and whoever it chooses he and his generation will lead the alliance. The stool was summoned and it fell on the laps of the Nana Osei Tutu who subsequently became paramount Chief. The union became the Ashanti Kingdom and finally, they conquered the Denkyiras and freed themselves.
Okomfo Anokye planted a sword in the Earth and said that whenever the sword is removed, the Ashanti Kingdom will fall apart. To this day, many people have attempted to remove the legendary sword but have been unsuccessful in that quest. Today, the sword is seen planted in the earth at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, the 2nd largest hospital in Ghana. Anokye did many things for the Ashanti Kingdom which includes its unification and the making of Kumasi its Capital city.
In his days the locals were illiterates and therefore there is no written record of the history and so most of the stories have been passed down through oral tradition which has rendered some facts lost and some facts slightly distorted. Even now, the Nzema and the Ewe tribes also claim the Okomfo to be their natives with different versions of his life history.
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