Tuesday, September 30, 2014

AMA ATA AIDOO: ONE OF THE AFRICA`S OLDEST BEST AUTHOR, FEMINIST, ACADEMICIAN, AN INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED LITERARY GIANT AND INTELLECTUAL GHANAIAN FIGURE

  "As Always.... a Painful Declaration 
                  of Independence
 I have been happy
 being me:

 an African
 a woman
 and a writer.

 Just take your racism
                   your sexism
                          your pragmatism
                                            off me;

 overt
         covert or
                 internalized

 And
 damned you!"

                      "An Angry Letter in January" Ama Ata Aidoo.
Ama Ata Aidoo, Ghanaian author, poet, playwright and academic, who is also a former Minister of Education in the Ghana government. She is the editor of the anthology African Love Stories

Professor Ama Ata Aidoo, née Christina Ama Aidoo is an internationally recognized literary
and intellectual Ghanaian figure of ethnic Fante extraction. She is as an accomplished author, poet, playwright, academic, feminist, and beacon to writers the world over. Aidoo is also a former Minister of Education in the Ghana government. Her novel 'Changes: a Love Story" won the coveted Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book (Africa) in 1992. She is also an accomplished poet - her collection Someone Talking to Sometime won the Nelson Mandela Prize for Poetry in 1987 - and has written several children's books.Aidoo is the editor of the anthology African Love Stories.

On Wednesday, September 17th 2014 at the British Council in Accra, Ghana, the much awaited documentary on Prof Aidoo entitled "The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo" put together by Yaba Badoe and Amina Mama, was finally premiered. The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo explores the artistic contribution of one of the Africa’s foremost woman writers, a trailblazer for an entire generation of exciting new talent. The film charts Ama Ata Aidoo’s creative journey in a life that spans 7 decades from colonial Ghana through the tumultuous era of independence to a more sober present day Africa where nurturing women’s creative talent remains as hard as ever.

Aidoo is an outspoken woman who, in the tradition of some of her predecessors such as Flora Nwapa (Nigeria) and Efua T Sutherland (Ghana) both resists and subverts traditional literary boundaries. Femi-Ojo (1982) pejoratively labelled her as belonging to the “old guard” of African women writers who are less ideologically aggressive, but Aidoo is nevertheless respected by well-established writers such as Buchi Emecheta -who thinks of herself as Aidoo’s new sister-or by the still-relatively unknown Ghanaian writer Ama Darko-who pays respects to Aidoo as her literary mother.

María Frías in her 1998 interview with Prof Aidoo entitled "An Interview with Ama Ata Aidoo: “I Learnt my First Feminist Lessons in Africa,” described her as "a medium-sized, strongly built, round-faced woman who wears Ghanaian dresses, and rich, colorful, and beautiful headwraps tied to her dignified head." Frias further averred that Prof Aidoo`s celebration of the African story-telling tradition, her critical view of the Western world, her rebellion against “the colonization of the African minds”, and her preoccupation with the future of her country and her Ghanaian people-women in particular-makes a conversation with Ama Ata Aidoo a learning experience. Her voice always sounds fresh, critical, outrageous and full of life.
She has consistently and fascinatingly explored her society through many plays, novels, short stories and poems. Aidoo is the author of plays The Dilemma of a Ghost (1965), and Anowa (1970); short stories No Sweetness Here (1979), and The Girl Who Can and Other Stories (1999); novels Our Sister Killjoy or Reflections from a Black-Eyed Squint (1977), and Changes (1991); collections of poems Someone Talking to Sometime (1985), and An Angry Letter in January and Other Poems; children’s books The Eagle and Chickens and Other Stories (1986), and Birds and Other Poems (1987).

Prof Ama Ata Aidoo

Her fictional works are explicitly critical of the colonial history of Ghana, and of what she refers to as the “dance of masquerades called independence”. Anowa (1970), No Sweetness Here (1970), Our Sister Killjoy (1977) describe and criticize oppression and inequality, target colonialism and implicitly deny the term “postcolonial”. Aidoo is also known as an important feminist writer. Her
works feature strong female protagonists who are faced with institutionalized and personal sexist attitudes on a daily basis. In her non-fictional writings, Aidoo also explicitly fights against the axis of oppressive social constructions of gender and their consequences for women. She blames colonialism for importing “a fully developed sexist system, which has been adapted, maintained and exacerbated as it has been integrated into different aspects of African culture” (Marangoly, Scott
1993: 299). As with other African women writers, to use Busia’s words (1989-90: 90), Aidoo challenges, deconstructs, and subverts the traditional “voicelessness of the black women trope”.
One how she became a successful writer, Amat Ata Aidoo wrote in “To Be a Woman” (1985: 259), with a quote from her uneducated aunt: “My child, get as far as you can into this education. Go until you yourself are tired. As for marriage, it is something a woman picks up along the way”.
Through her short story writing prowess as exhibited in  “No Sweetness Here”, Ama Ata Aidoo caught the attention of the celebrated literary giants Langston Hughes, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka and others and was invited to the African Writers Workshop at the University of Ibadan in 1962 when she was only 22 years old. At these Workshop Ama Ata Aidoo did not only interacted with African literary giants and received exposure but she also met a very young ‘Molara Ogundipe Leslie who also a student and a participant at the workshop.

Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe and Ghanian writer Ama Ata Aidoo

Ama Ata Aidoo perceives herself as a teacher, first and foremost, and like to teach her students about other African women writers. "I have been teaching Mariama Bâ (So Long a Letter), Bessie Head (A Question of Power), Buchi Emecheta (Joys of Motherhood) -which is a must-and, although she is not by nationality an African, I’ve always taught Marise Condé (Segú). In drama, I wouldn’t even move one inch without teaching Efua Sutherland, especially 'The Marriage of Anansewa." I always teach Nawal El Saadawi and there are a whole lot of other women (Frias 1998: 18-19).

Though venerated in Europe and the USA as the foremost African feminist-a fact that she somewhat resents and long immersed in gender issues-both at a personal, political, and literary level- Aidoo still questions artificial critical constructions. Her women, though, following the principles of the Akan society she comes from, are strong, hard-working, independent, articulate, and smart, thus, deconstructing the stereotypical image of the submissive, passive, and battered African woman. Aidoo herself takes pains to explain the reasons for portraying these provocative female protagonists: People say to me: “Your women characters seem to be stronger than we are used to when thinking about African women”. As far as I am concerned these are the African women among whom I was brought up. In terms of women standing on their own feet, within or outside marriage, mostly from inside marriage, living life on their own terms. (Wilson-Tagoe, 200: 248).

Ama Ata Aidoo made her glorious debut into this theatre of life in 23 March 1940 at Saltpond in the Central Region of Ghana. She grew up in a Nkusukum (sub-ethnic Fante group) royal household as the beloved daughter of Nana Yaw Fama, chief of Abeadzi Kyiakor, and Maame Abasema. Her Fante (Akan) ethnic group are matriarchal people and openly favors women to the extent that the mother of four sons still considers herself “infertile” because she could not have any daughters, and where women are supposed to have the authority but not the power to rule-Aidoo’s (for some) progressive portrayal of African women is simply a reflection of what she saw: “I got this incredible
birds-eye view of what happens in that society and I definitely knew that being a woman is enormously important in Akan society” (Wilson-Tagoe, 2002: 48).
In tandem with Fantes favoritism for women, women education is not joked with with at all as Dr James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey, the famous African educator and an unadulterated Fante ssummed it up: "If you educate a man, you educate one person but if you educate a woman, you educate a whole nation.” even with this quote the original states “. . ., if you educate a woman, you educate a family”).
Ama Ata Aidoo with Prof Wole Soyinka.

In line with the Fante tradition, young Nkusukum princess Ama Ata Aidoo had her basic education at Saltpond and afterwards, was sent by her father to Wesley Girls' High School in Cape Coast from 1961 to 1964. The headmistress of Wesley Girls' bought her her first typewriter. After leaving high school, she enrolled at the University of Ghana in Legon and received her Bachelor of Arts in English as well as writing her first play, The Dilemma of a Ghost, in 1964. The play was published by Longman the following year, making Aidoo the first published African woman dramatist.
She worked in the United States of America where she held a fellowship in creative writing at Stanford University. She also served as a research fellow at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, and as a Lecturer in English at the University of Cape Coast, eventually rising there to the position of Professor.
Aside from her literary career, Aidoo was appointed Minister of Education under the Provisional National Defence Council in 1982. She resigned after 18 months. She has also spent a great deal of time teaching and living abroad for months at a time. She has lived in America, Britain, Germany, and Zimbabwe. Aidoo taught various English courses at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY in the early to mid-1990s. She is currently a Visiting Professor in the Africana Studies Department at Brown University.

Ama Ata Aidoo sitting down with her colleague Kenyan writer Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, the famous author of Weep Not Child novel. Courtesy Nana Kofi Acquah.

Aidoo's works of fiction particularly deal with the tension between Western and African world views. Her first novel," Our Sister Killjoy", was published in 1977 and remains one of her most popular works. In "Our Sister Killjoy", Aidoo is concerned mostly with the estrangement of the African educated class. Sissy, the main character, is offered a grant to receive a European
education. Her journey into the west chronicles different aspects of her resistance to the overriding ideological hostilities that bring down Africa and African people.The novel is divided into four parts. “Into a Bad Dream” relates Sissie’s travel experience to Germany. She is secure in her racial background, and only progressively over the itineraries of her ‘westbound mobility’ does she
become conscious of her colour complexion. In “The Plums,” Sissie discovers Marija, a new German friend. Marija is entangled in boredom and immediately gets caught within the exotic Other ‘the black-eyed squint’ student stands for. In the course of their friendship, Sissie finds out Marija’s perverted behaviors, rejects her lesbianism and leaves her in frustration and total disillusionment. In “From Our Sister Killjoy,” Sissie moves to London, the colonial capital which brings back into her
mind the whole tale about the British colonial experience in Ghana. She appears to be extremely disappointed at the tragic social reality and marginalization of black African immigrants. In the epistolary section on a “Love Letter”, Sissie is engaged in a mock-conversation with a lover, using an extremely sarcastic style to assert her identity through the experiences she went through.
Raised in, respectful towards, and proud of her African oral tradition and the ancient story-telling, Aidoo’s forte is in her dialogues. Aidoo invests her female characters with the powerful tool of speech. Her African women make use of words as weapons to the extent that they can easily and intelligently fustigate men’s egos and beat them dialectically /metaphorically, at the same time gaining the respect of the other sisters in the community.

A farewell hug
Students and faculty colleagues bid farewell to Ghanaian playwright Ama Ata Aidoo. Credit: Mike Cohea/Brown University

Furthermore, in Allan’s words (1994: 188-89), Aidoo’s instinctive and innovative use of similes and proverbs is an effective rhetorical tool which shows women’s verbal dexterity at the same time as it highlights collective wisdom: Africanisms, new words coined from the alchemic blending of English and the African cultural scene, enrich Aidoo’s linguistic repertoire. Such terms as “flabberwhelmed”, “negatively eventful”, and “away matches” violate standard English in order to express a socio-linguistic identity that is uniquely African.
Aidoo has travelled widely, is not blind to the trauma and pain of the African diaspora, and has personally experienced the always confl ictive encounter between African and Western cultures. Maybe this is the reason why some of her female protagonists also undergo a physical and emotional journey that is painful and traumatic, though always instructive and regenerative. Aidoo deals with the impact of colonialism, postcolonialism, and neo-colonialism on the bodies and psyches of her African women characters but, contrary to the “nervous condition” of Dangarembga’s female protagonist, Aidoo’s women are much more in control of their bodies and minds and they can always come back home-though psychologically injured, physically exhausted, emotionally disillusioned, and culturally alienated-start a new life, or choose a liberating but tragic ending. Though confronted with and struggling against social norms and cultural disintegration as well as with the traumatic dichotomy of African tradition versus Western modernity, Aidoo’s women-albeit shaken-retain their sanity and are able to articulate their anger. Madness-a recurrent
theme in post-colonial African fiction Femi-Ojo (1979), Adepitan (1993/94)-does not hit /affect Aidoo’s heroines. Only in the case of Anowa did Aidoo contemplate the possibility of her protagonist ending up insane, but she thought it too cruel, and handed Anowa the privilege of choosing her own death. Aidoo’s women are peripatetic beings who cross boundaries-geographical, social, cultural, and emotional-who dare to step over patriarchal borderlines, who violate traditional discourses on the cult of marriage and motherhood, at the same time as they dramatize their vulnerability and their subjugation to African tradition. As Allan (1994: 178) argues, by portraying African women’s tensions, frustrations, and contradictions, Aidoo’s works refl ect on the dual theme of “social stasis”-tradition-versus “change”-modernity.
Ama-Ata-Aidoo-on-loaction-with-her-grandson
source:http://publicaciones.ua.es/filespubli/pdf/02144808RD16064646.pdf

 "THE ART OF AMA ATA AIDOO" : A DOCUMENTARY by Yaba Badoe and Amina Mama
The art of Ama Ata Aidoo is a very thrilling exploration of the vast universe that is Ama Ata Aidoo’s mind and it’s phenomenal expression in her literary works which have so shaken up the very foundations of literature in Ghana and Africa.
Traversing her life from the inception of her art to its explosion, the documentary gives quite a vivid insight into the cultural, societal, and familial influences that, in many ways, were the inception of the great literary mind that was Ama Ata Aidoo’s.

Yaba Badoe (right) and Ama Ata Aidoo in conversation at the AWDF African Women in Film Forum

In the documentary, Ama Ata Aidoo remembers stories her mother used to tell her in the early mornings in the village (not the usual nighttime storytelling style), of a preacher-man/ evangelist who came by the village when she was young, of her royal birth and subsequent disregard for the institution of royalty.
In the nostalgia of black-and-white, sepia-tinted pictures, she also shares the fairly pivotal influence of a teacher in Wesley Girls High school who gave a young Ama Ata Aidoo her first typewriter after she expressed the ‘crazy’ desire to be a writer.
Her time in Takoradi was another pivotal moment in Ama’s life where she participated in a Christmas story competition running in the Daily Graphic at the time.
Her story was published, which turned out to be a milestone for her, being the very first of her work that got published. And she got paid!
With interviews of Prof. Carole Boyce Davies and Prof. Anne V. Adams from Cornell University, Prof Irwin Appel of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Prof. Nana Wilson-Tagoe (University of Missouri), the documentary encouraged intense contemplation, as well as self-introspection, into the very controversial issues Ama Ata Aidoo was fearless to raise in her works.
She says quite bluntly of controversy, “How can you call yourself a writer, if you’re running away from controversial issues?” And so controversial issues there were:
The contemporary Ghanaian woman battling the stereotype. Talking about the character Esi in her novel Changes in the documentary, Ama Ata Aidoo shared the numerous accusations readers made of her, “She’s cold”, “She’s selfish”, “She’s not a good mother”, etc. and in her blunt and matter-of-fact way, Ama Ata Aidoo reminds all outraged sensibilities that this earth is not only for the warm, the unselfish, and good mothers.

Ama Ata Aidoo receiving award at the 5th anniversary of African Women Development Fund

The dark business of slavery and the guilt-driven Ghanaian treatment of a past they would rather not deal with. Yaba and Amina’s documentary explored Theatre in telling the story of Ama Ata Aidoo’s words and their universal truth. In deliberate juxtaposition, Yaba Badoe and Amina Mama show scenes from the performance of ‘Anowa at the University of California , Santa Babara, in conjunction with Ama Ata Aidoo reading the words of the play. I find what this did for me as a viewer was a play on the very different ways in which her Ama’s words could be interpreted in the different voices that were employed.  Reading (and acting) a section of Anowa which recounted what her grandmother said to her about places she’d been to, Ama Ata Aidoo’s voice was motherly, and softly censorial, as is usual of a Ghanaian grandmother to her eager and curious grandchild. The African American actress, Erin Pettigrew, said those very same words with all the weight of a painful history of which she was a consequence of. Where ‘places’ was a thing of sad and painful wonder in an older Ama Ata Aidoo’s voice, ‘places’ in young Erin’s voice had a ring of desperation and an exuberant, tearful anger and indignation. Where Anowa would have been interpreted as a sad love story, excerpts from this play hinted a more heavy-handed focus on the issues of slavery which Ama Ata Aidoo raised in that timeless play. “Ghanaians have always been nervous of the presence of the Diaspora here,” Ama Ata Aidoo says.In interviews about the play included in the documentary, the many factors which might have influenced the mindscape of Ama Ata Aidoo as she wrote Anowa  are examined: She being a Ghanaian writer in the United States of America in the ‘sixties, a time of the Black Civil Rights movements, a time of burgeoning feminism, the hippie revolution and so much more. All of this played a huge part in the themes and allegory probed into in Anowa.

African Writers lunch with Ama Ata Aidoo, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Nii Ayi Parkes, Martin Egblewogbe, Nana Fredua Agyeman, Nana Nyarko Boateng, Nana Ayibea Clarke and Kinna Likimani.

Language. Speaking about the medium she writes in: English, Ama Ata Aidoo shared that since it was English she had chosen to write in, she would make sure all her characters were as authentically Ghanaian as possible which informs her very unique style of speech, using simple words in symbolic ways, very much like the proverbial speech of Ghanaian local languages.4. Her phenomenal work Our sister Killjoy and her hints on the topic of lesbianism in the piece. Ama Ata Aidoo shared how she was attacked from both sides; by Ghanaians who accused her of introducing something foreign to Ghana and lesbians who accused her of not thoroughly dealing with it because she  disapproved.5. Her work as the Minister of Education, the unapologetic chauvinism of parliament and how it interfered with her writing. She spoke very candidly, as is her style, of how in Cabinet, when the men spoke, everyone treated it as important, but when she began to speak, “suddenly, those who were smokers would light a cigarette, others would suddenly want to pass notes” and such in the typical, chauvinistic manner with which most Ghanaian men treat women, leaders or not. Even worse, was how her work as a writer was interfered with due to her ministerial duties, to which the very wise Ama reflected, “Writers, just write. Everything else is secondary.”

 The Woman’s story that is never told. “Women’s biographies and stories are not told, women do not take the attribution that they ought to take and this is why we ought to be proud of this documentary, in this most provocative medium,” Prof.  Esi Sutherland said in her speech at the premiere of the documentary. And that was what we did last night, celebrate a phenomenal woman whose fearlessness and incredible gift has left a legacy that spans continents and cultures to become something universal.
My only qualm was that there was very little shown of the great impact of Ama Ata Aidoo on Ghanaian pupils and students.
I felt a holistic story of such a universal, and national, figure was not complete without this.
Though the scenes of Anowa, Dilemma of a Ghost, being treated in an American university was a powerful way of showing that the relevance of Ama Ata Aidoo’s work had gone beyond the Ghanaian shores, Ghanaian school children who read her work as prescribed literature, teachers of all levels who teach her work, were also scenes I felt needed to be included.
This would have added great perspective in telling about the national legend Ama Ata Aidoo is for us as Ghanaians.
On the whole however, the documentary  is outstanding in portraying how Ama Ata Aidoo has become not just a Ghanaian song of celebration, but a timeless tune that is sung across continents and cultures, across races and differences, to become a cosmic figure, not just in Ghanaian, African or African American literature, but Literature as a whole.
 
By: Nana Akosua Hanson/citifmonline.com/Ghana












Ama Ata Aidoo being hugged by fellow writer Wole Soyinka at an event in Accra, 9th July celebrating his 80th year
Picture Credit: Kobina Graham















NKUSUKUM PEOPLE: HIGHLY INTELLECTUAL AND FEARLESS ETHNIC FANTE SUB-GROUP WHO WERE THE ORIGINAL CUSTODIANS OF BORBOR MFANTSE NANANOM MPOW (ANCESTRAL GROVE OF THE FANTES)

Nkusukum are one of the matriarchal, highly educated, fearless and agriculturalist Fantse-speaking people that forms the subset of the larger Borbor Mfantse (Fante) ethnolingusitic group residing in the Mfantseman Municipality of the Central Region of Ghana. Nkusukum people were custodians of the Nananom Mpow (ancestral grove of the Fantes) and became the first among equals among the Fante groups.

                    Nkusukum young royal in her traditional cloth, Yamoransa, Ghana.

These Fante sub-group reside predominantly in Akyemfo (Saltpond), Yamoransa, Biriwa, Akatakyiwa, Asafora, Abeadze Dominase, Abeadze Kyeakor, Abonko, Nankesedu, Wuraba, Duadze, Abenum, Kuntu, Anokyi, Mpesedadze, Peyim, and some parts of Mankessim. Their capital city is Yamoransa.
File:Obaatan.jpg
Nkusukum Chief (Obaatan) in a palanquin during Odambea festival of Nkusukum-Fante people at Saltpond, Mfantseman Municipality in the Central Region of Ghana. Source Regina Bouuillon.

Nkusukum people were among the original Fante people that migrated out of Bono Kingdom, after the reign or the death of a Fante king of Bono, Kunkumfi Ameyaw and its subsequent disagreement with their Bono relatives. In 1229, the Borbor Fantse started their migration from Bono Kingdom under the leadership of three legendary leaders: Oburumankoma (whale), Odapagyan (eagle), and Oson (elephant)—patriarchs and priests who, in addition to their magical regalia, also possessed mfoa (short swords) signifying their judicial authority. They also represented the three-tiered system of the natural order and the mastery that each animal is said to have had over its sphere (Bartels 1965, 55).

 Traditional Fante drummers from Nkusukum Traditional Area, Saltpond

It is said that three sub-Fante ethnic groups- Abora, Nkusukum and Ekumfi, moved together with the Nkusukum forming the “ridge” in the middle whiles the Abora moved on the right and the Ekumfi on the left.  Through these trekking formula the Fantes came to settle on Kwamankese and later moved to Adowegyir, then settlement of Guan Etsi people now know as Mankessim. Here the dead body of three great leaders Oburumankoma (whale), Odapagyan (eagle), and Oson (elephant) was interred in the thicket of trees some ten miles from the city of Mankessim. The place became in time the “habitat of ghosts [asamanpow] or of spiritual powers inhering in nature [abosompow]” (McCaskie 1990, 135).

Posuban of Nkusukum Fante people of Biriwa. The Posubans are beautifully decorated, elaborate, concrete shrines originally used to store the armaments and uniforms of the Asafo companies (military units) that traditionally defend the town.

Borbor Mfantse were organized in five distinct mboron (groups, quarters, or wards; sing.,boron). The kurentsi amanfu boron was the northwest; the nkusukum boron was the southwest, present day Mankessim; and the edumadzi boron was the southeast, presentday Ekumfi. The others were bentsir boron (the north), present-day Enyan, and the anaafu boron (the east), present-day Abura.
In time the people of the Nkusukum boron (the southwest ward), custodians of the Nananom Mpow, became the first among equals among the Fante groups. This development was partly because of deference to age, experience, and leadership qualities, but principally, according to McCaskie, because of the “nimbus of magical power” associated with their oversight of the ancestral grove.

             Nkusukum people of Kuntu Village dancing traditional Fante dance

Nkusukum were the only Borbor Fantse people with their Saltpond people very close to sea but refused to "go to sea" or engage in fishing occupation but rather mine salt. As a result the Akyemfo (Saltpond) Nkusukum people have an appellation:
"Akyemfo Brefi Akyemfo                               Saltpond mighty Saltpond
Woda mpoano so wonnko po                          A town beside a sea but refused to go sea
wontsetsew kube nko kromantse                     but rather have rather chosen to harvesting of                                                                             coconut to Kromantse
nkegye nkafona mmbedzi e!"                          to batter it for fish to come and eat!"
Saltpond - "posuban"
                   Nkusukum Asafo posuban at Saltpond

The Saltpond town originally consisted of the three villages of Nankesidu, Bakadu, and Okukudu. These three towns became Saltpond because of the big salt pond that is left behind when the tide goes out. The community is able to fish in the pond as well as in the Ocean." So when the first Europeans came they settled near the pond and gave it that name. This later became Salt pond."
The local allonym, Akyemfo is purported to have its origins from the Akyems who are thought to have migrated from the Eastern Region of Ghana to domicile at the coast during Akyem-Fante alliance but later integrated well into the Fantes; hence Akyemfo, meaning 'people from Akyem'."
Nkusukum people pride themselves as very brave and fearless. They have no fear for police nor soldiers. They proudly say "mefir Akyemfo, me nsuro polisinyi," meaning "I am from Saltpond, I do not fear police." If you threaten a Saltpond man with a police, you are just wasting your own time.
                Nkusukum people singing and clapping

Nkusukum town of Saltpond has historically served as the venue for important political meetings and activities. Ghana`s two great political parties or traditions, United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) and Convention Peoples Party (CPP) that fought for Independence were formed in Saltpond. The UGCC was formed at Saltpond in August 1947 under the chairmanship and financial sponsorship of George Grant, better known as Paa Grant- a wealthy businessman, with an idealist slogan of “Self-Government within the shortest possible time,” whilst the CPP was founded by Ghana's First President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah at Saltpond on June 6th, 1949.
Nkusukum is also the first land people in Ghana to have their sea territory producing oil for Ghana. The Saltpond Field located about 12 kilometres offshore Saltpond. The field was discovered in 1970 by Signal-Amoco Consortium. The field is currently managed by the Saltpond Offshore Producing Company (SOPCL), Ghana's oldest producer of crude oil.
Professor  Francis Kofi Ampenyin Allotey, Nkusukum "Okunyin na Obenfo mu obenfo" (learned among the learneds) and internationally respected mathematical physicist known for the "Allotey Formalism" which arose from his work on soft X-ray spectroscopy.

Nkusukum has produced some of Ghana`s finest Scientists, eminent jurists, renowned writers/novelists, quality journalists, medical practitioners, clergymen and host of intellectuals. The most notable Nkusukum people include Professor  Francis Kofi Ampenyin Allotey, internationally respected mathematical physicist known for the "Allotey Formalism" which arose from his work on soft X-ray spectroscopy,  "Prof Mariama Ewurama Addy (c. 1941 – 14 January 2014), Ghanaian biochemistry professor who was the popular host of the Ghana National Science and Maths Quiz,
"Prof Mariama Ewurama Addy (c. 1941 – 14 January 2014) an astute Nkusukum ewuraba (lady) and Ghanaian biochemistry professor who was the popular host of the Ghana National Science and Maths Quiz

 Dr. Lanalee Araba Sam, grand-daughter of the first black African general manager of AGC and the daughter of a celebrated medical doctor, Dr Francis Sam and a Diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Sir Kobina Arku Korsah (3 April 1894 – 25 January 1967), the first black Chief Justice of Ghana (then the Gold Coast) in 1956,
Sir Kobina Arku Korsah (3 April 1894 – 25 January 1967) Nkusukum krakye (Gentleman) and the first black Chief Justice of Ghana (then the Gold Coast) in 1956

 Justice Sir Samuel Okai Quarshie Idun (1902 - 1965), puisne judge of the Supreme Court of the Cold Coast, Chief Justice of Western Nigeria and also a member of the Supreme Court of Nigeria; and the first black African President of the East Africa Court of Appeal, Justice John Nicholas Kobina Taylor (1925 - 2008) former judge of the Supreme Court of Ghana and Acting Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Ghana 1969,
Justice John Nicholas Kobina Taylor (1925 - 2008) an Nkusukum man from Korankyekrom in Saltpond and former judge of the Supreme Court of Ghana and Acting Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Ghana 1969, 

Justice G E K Aikins, retired Justice of the Ghana Supreme Court; and formerly the Hon Attorney-General and Secretary of Justice 1982-1990, Professor Ama Ata Aidoo,  renowned author, poet, playwright and academic, who is also a former Minister of Education in the Ghana government,

Professor Ama Ata Aidoo, Nkusukum ewuraba (lady) and a renowned author, poet, playwright and academic, who is also a former Minister of Education in the Ghana government.

Professor  William Otoo Ellis, Vice Chancellor, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana,  "Professor George P. Hagan, prominent academic and politician who was one-time director of Institute of African Studies of the University of Ghana and the presidential candidate for the Dr Nkrumah`s CPP in the 2000 elections, Professor Paul Archibald Vianney Kwesi Enu Ansah (PAVA), Former director of School of Communication Studies, Legon, fearless and hard-hitting socio-political critic and columnist,
 Justice Sir Samuel Okai Quarshie Idun (1902 - 1965), Nkusukum man and puisne judge of the Supreme Court of the Cold Coast, Chief Justice of Western Nigeria and also a member of the Supreme Court of Nigeria; and the first black African President of the East Africa Court of Appeal

Frances Ademola (nee Frances Quarshie-Idun) ace and pioneer broadcast journalist and the owner of the Loom Art Gallery Adabraka, Accra, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, entrepreneur, ace journalist and former Joy FM Super Morning Show host, Emeritus Professor Kwesi A. Dickson, priest, theologian, author and academic. He was seventh President President of the Methodist Church of Ghana and the Immediate- Past President of the All African Council of Churches,

Professor Paul Archibald Vianney Kwesi Enu Ansah (PAVA), Former director of School of Communication Studies, Legon, fearless and hard-hitting socio-political critic and columnist

  Dr. Esi E. Ansah, Professor of Organizational Behaviour and Human Resource Development at the Ashesi University, Kofi Baako, sportsman, teacher and politician, father of veteran ace investigative journalist Kweku Baako Jnr and a former Minister for Defence in the Nkrumah government during the First Republic of Ghana until it was overthrown in 1966, Dr. Gilbert Abeiku Aggrey a.k.a. Abeiku Santana. Versatile Radio Presenter, Actor and all round entertainer,
Bee Arthur, Nkusukum ewuraba (lady), renowned fashion designer and the winner of the highly coveted KORA FASHION AWARD in Sun City in 2001

Bee Arthur, adventurous and flamboyant fashion guru whose label B’EXOTIQ has resonated across the African continent and beyond for over a decade and her Bee’s originality won her the highly coveted KORA FASHION AWARD in Sun City in 2001 and thus established her reputation within the elite African fashion designers’ community etc.
Dr. Lanalee Araba Sam, Nkusukum ewuraba (lady) and the grand-daughter of the first black African general manager of AGC and the daughter of a celebrated medical doctor, Dr Francis Sam and a Diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Nkusukum people celebrates Odambea Festival, which derives its name from the role of the “ridge” they (Nkusukum) played in the Borbor Mfantse migration where the Nkusukum formed the “ridge” in the middle whiles the Abora moved on the right and the Ekumfi on the left; and it is likened to the long beam that joins one end of a roof to the other end to make roofing possible “Odan-Mbeae”.

   Nkusukum girl carrying sand during communal work, Kuntu village near Saltpond

Geography
Nkusukum is located and scattered in the Mfantseman Municipality of central Region of Ghana. The Mfantseman Municipal with its Administrative Capital Saltpond is one of the Twenty (20) Metropolitan, Municipalities, and Districts in the Central Region of Ghana.

                    Kuntu village beach, Nkusukum traditional area near Saltpond, Ghana

The Municipal is located along the Atlantic coastline cf the Central Region of Ghana and extends from latitudes 5* T to 5* 20’ North of the Equator and longitudes 0* 44’ to 1* 11’ West of the Greenwich Meridian, stretching for about 21 kilometers along the coastline and for about 13 kilometers inland and constituting an area of 612 square kilometers. The Municipal shares boundaries with Gomoa West District to the East, to the West with Ekumfi District , to the North with Ajumaku-Enyan-Essiam District and to the South with the Gulf of Guinea.

Biriwa beach in Nkusukum traditional area


Language
Nkusukum speaks a dialect of Mfantse kasa (language), an Akan language of Kwa language group which also belongs to the larger Niger-Congo language phylum. It is largely spoken in the Mfantseman Municipality of Central Region of Ghana.

Nkusukum Cultural dancers, Kuntu village, near Saltpond

History
Nkusukum are among the original five Borbor Mfantse people that migrated out of Bono Kingdom in 1229 (my personal interview with J B Crayner, the great Fantse historian and folkloric writer). According to Crayner the Fantes left the Bono State after chieftaincy feud and land litigation with their Bono (Brong) relatives after the death of the last Fantse King that ruled the Bono Kingdom, Nana Kunkumfi (Ekumfi) Ameyaw.

                         Nkusukum chiefs at Odambea festival, Saltpond

On their trekking downwards to their present locations the separatist Fantse group were lead three Fantse royals (patriarchs) of the Bono state who eventually became warlords namely, Oburumankoma (whale), Odapagyan (eagle), and Oson (elephant). Their first place of abode was on a hill from where they could spy their enemy. This place was recommended by Okomfo Edu. She had two priest assistants – Kurentsi and Korado. The land belonged to the Etsi Guan aborigines at Okornafo and Korado who were subdued and named the place Akan-man, meaning Akan State, now known as Kwaman.
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   Nkusukum stool women, Nkusukum Amanase-Mankessim. Source Regina Bouuillon.

They settled at Kwaman for some years; however, due to population pressure, a large section of them migrated southwards towards the coast. Those who stayed behind were organized into a state under Chief Idan I, and the place became corrupted into Kwamankese (Great Kwaman).
While trekking southwards, they fought the Etsi-Guan autochonous inhabitants whose chief was Akraman and drove them to the present –day Gomoa country.  Their capital town Adoweggyir, was occupied by the Fante and renamed Mankessim. Here the three legendary Borbor Mfantse patriarchs cum warlords who had died on their "b]dob]do" (long exhaustive host of innumerable people on a journey), now corrupted into "Borbor," were interred in a nearby grove which became the famous Nananom Pow- the national shrine or oracle of Borbor Fantse. Their meritorious deeds are worthy of emulation.

Nana Brebo of Nkusukum Kuntu village, near Saltpond with her queenmother in street procession during Odambea festival of Nkusukum people at Saltpond.

The five original distinct mboron (groups, quarters, or wards; sing.,boron) which was the Kurentsi Amanfu boron to the northwest; the Nkusukum boron to the southwest, present day Mankessim; and the Edumadzi boron to the southeast, present-day Ekumfi. The others were Bentsir boron (the north), present-day Enyan, and the Anaafu boron (the east), present-day Abura (Abora). Each ward had its own Brafo and enjoyed absolute independence of the others; however, they recognized  one of them as the supreme Head whose position was one of pre-eminence among equals (see: Adu Boahen , Fante origins: The Mankessims period’ in ‘A Thousand years of West African History, 1968pp. 180-1820).

Kofi Baako Nkusukum man and celebrated Ghanaian sportsman, teacher and politician. He served as Minister for Defence in the Nkrumah government during the First Republic of Ghana until it was overthrown in 1966. He was also as Minister for various other Ministries throughout the reign of the Convention People's Party. He is the father of ace investigative journalist Kweku Baako jnr.

Tradition recounts that during the Borbor Fantse journey the Nkusukum walked in the middle serving as a ridge with Abora at the Right flank, and Ekumfi at the extreme left, braced up on their journey. This is the origin of the appellation ‘Odamea’ – a ridge connecting the two side posts (see Sutherland, op.cit. P 63).  According Fantse historian and Theologian, Dr Casely B. Essamuah, in his seminal work "Ghanaian Appropriation of Wesleyan Theology in Mission 1961-2000" published in 2004 for Methodist Missionary Society History Project, he averred that Nkusukum became very powerful and spiuritual oversears of Nananom Mpow, the grove where the three Fantse patriarchs were buried. "In time the people of the nkusukum boron (the southwest ward), custodians of the Nananom Mpow, became the first among equals among the Fante groups. This development was partly because of deference to age, experience, and leadership qualities, but principally, according to McCaskie, because of the “nimbus of magical power” associated with their oversight of the ancestral grove (Essamuah 2004: 22)

Professor William Otoo Ellis, Nkusukum native and Professor of Food Science and the Vice Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

According to the legendary Ghanaian professor of Geography, Kwamina B. Dickson in his renowned book "A Historical Geography of Ghana," published in 1969, "The Nkusukum group founded most of the settlements between Saltpond (which originally consisted of the three villages of Nankesidu, Bakadu, and Okukudu) and some parts of Cape Coast.They later founded more settlements west of Cape Coast including Akatakyi or British Komenda, and extended their territory right up to the eastern bank of River Pra (Dickson 1969: 22). It must be noted that Nkusukum Amanase-Mankessim (also part of the town of Mankessim, market area), is seat of the Nkusukum Obaatan (chief in a high position). The seat of the Nkusukum Omanhene had been transferred to Yamoransa.
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Nkusukum Obaatan of Mankessim

Economy
Agriculture: Farming and fishing constitute the main economic activities of the Nkusukum people and Mfantseman municipality in general, employing about three-quarters of the total workforce (source: "Ghana: We Mean Business. A Guide to Ghana’s 110 Districts" page 274). Farming is done in almost all parts of the Nkusukum traditional areas, especially in the inland areas and crops cultivated include cocoa, oil palm, pineapples, oranges, plantain, beans and cocoyam.
The most well-known Nkusukum town that engage in active fishing occupation is Biriwa and they are very hardworking fishermen among the larger Borbor Mfantse people. They travel to the Gambia, Guinea, Benin, Nigeria, Gabon, Liberia and as far as Angola to engage in their fishing trade and form smaller communities there.
Minerals Exploitation: Minerals exploited include Kaolin (for building and ceramics) that supports the Saltpond ceramics factory, talc, granite and silica. Crude Oil is also mined off the coast of Saltpond. Although these mineral resources exist, sometimes in feasible quantities, only a feeble attempt is made at making them a strong base of the Assemblies economy because the Assembly itself has exercised little control or influence on their exploitation.


Religious Belief
Traditionally, Nkusukum like all Borbor Mfantse believe in Supreme being and Creator God, Nyame (Onyame), or Nyankop]n. He an Indivisible One with and, at the same time, superior to all other deities, spirits and numerous gods, the Abosom. Prayers and libation offerings are made through the abosom (deities) and nananom nsamanfo (deified ancestors) to Twereampon Nyankop]n (Almighty God). 
Apart from that the Nkusukum people believe in the deities (Abosom).  Like all Borbor Fantse people, every Nkusukum have 77 deities, that represent the secret 'appellative' and functional attributes of Nyame (God). There are gods of the days of the week, those of the rivers and the sea, those of the trees, mountains, the rain and so on. One famous Nkusukum deity in Biriwa is Nana Abaka, its a deity that gives fortune to those whose seek its assistance. Most fishermen consult these bosom (deity) when going for fishing.
Ancestor worship: The ancestors, the souls of the unborn and the souls of the living people belong to the category of the spiritual universe. Birth and death is seen as moving from and to the place of the dead and the spirits; that is the underworld. Apart from the Supreme Being the people paid, and still pay , much attention to household deities, state gods and Asafo gods. This household god could be represented as a triple-forked branch, set up in the ground with on the top a black pot for offerings. The Summan (household god) was kept in a basket which was full of pieces of clay, raffia, chicken bones, egg shells and dried blood.
Emeritus Professor Kwesi A. Dickson, Nkusukum osofo (priest0, theologian, author and academic. He was seventh President President of the Methodist Church of Ghana and the Immediate- Past President of the All African Council of Churches, a professor at the University of Ghana, Legon where he served the first Dean of Students and the Director of the Institute of African Studies.

Religious Communities Methodist, Catholic, Anglican, Pentecost, Apostolic, 12 Apostles, African Faith, United Faith, Assemblies of God etc. and the Muslims are the main religious bodies in the area.
History of the mission at the: “Gold Coast” 1471-1880 The Portuguese Period 1471-1637 The Capuchin Monks 1637-1684 French Dominicans monks 1687-1704 Protestant Missionary works 1737-1880 The Catholic Missionary works 1870-1880
Nkusukum people with a priest of indigenous African Faith Tabernacle Church International known as Nkansan, at Kuntu village


Odambea Festival
Odambea is a festival in Nkusukum Traditional Area in Central Region, Ghana, which is celebrated every year in the end of August. Odambea reminds of the Fante migration from the Tekyiman area to Mankessim and further. Tradition recounts that during the Borbor Fantse journey the Nkusukum walked in the middle serving as a ridge with Abora at the Right flank, and Ekumfi at the extreme left, braced up on their journey. This is the origin of the appellation ‘Odamea’ – a ridge connecting the two side posts (see Sutherland, op.cit. P 63). The parades strengthen the role of Akan Chieftaincy (Ghana).

The festival was first celebrated 200 years ago but had become meaningless in the 20th century. Nana Essandoh VII who was installed as Omanhene in the 1970`s, revived Odambea.
Ceremonies: During the festival week, Omanhene with nananom (chiefs) and citizens visits different historical places. In each of these places, the guests are welcomed and a sacrifice takes place. There is drumming and dancing, ceremonial gun fire and Asafo (traditional civil defense unit) singing.

From Monday until Friday, everyone is dressed in black and red because they are mourning over the ancestors who had suffered so much hardship during the migration. On Saturday, the arrival of the ancestors is celebrated in Saltpond, and people are wearing splendid dresses. On Sunday, during the ecumenical church, people wear the usual Sunday dress.
Two Nkusukum chiefs dancing during Odambea festival
Photosource http://www.ghanavillage.org/2007.htm


NKUSUKUM HALL OF FAME
Justice John Nicholas Kobina Taylor (1925 - 2008) an Nkusukum man from Korankyekrom in Saltpond and former judge of the Supreme Court of Ghana and Acting Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Ghana 1969

Professor Francis Kofi Ampenyin Allotey, the sweet-scented name that has for two decades and more, filled the scientific and academic world with its fragrance is a Professor of Mathematics, Scholar, Nuclear Physicist and a Consultant in Informatics for Development.. Founder and First Director of the KNUST Computer Centre, he was the first to introduce computer education into Ghana, world`s authority and an instant fame with his work on Soft X-Ray Spectroscopy which established the principle widely known as the "Allotey Formalism" for which he received the Prince Philip Gold Medal Award in 1973. Chairman, Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, Chairman, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Chairman of the Management Board, Soil Research Institute, Chairman, Ghana Technical Committee on Nuclear Energy, Vice-President, Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, President, Ghana Institute of Physics, National Vice-President Ghana Science Association, President, Mathematical Association of Ghana, Vice-Chairman of the Science and Technology Sector, National Development Commission,Consultant, National Committee of Curriculum Development, Founder and National Co-ordinator, Ghana Energy Research Group, President, Ghana Institute of Physics and Member National Energy Commission, just to mention a few.

"Prof Mariama Ewurama Addy (c. 1941 – 14 January 2014) an astute Nkusukum ewuraba (lady) and Ghanaian biochemistry professor who was the popular host of the Ghana National Science and Maths Quiz

 "Professor George P. Hagan, Nkusukum man and a prominent academic and politician who was one-time director of Institute of African Studies of the University of Ghana and the presidential candidate for the Dr Nkrumah`s CPP in the 2000 elections

Justice Sir Samuel Okai Quashie-Idun on the left (sitting); Frances Quarshie-Idun (now Mrs Frances Ademola) standing and Charles Amoah ( maternal uncle of Frances Ademola) sitting at the right side.
Sitters
Charles Amoah, Brother-in-law of Sir Samuel Quashie-Idun. 
Sir Samuel Okai Quashie-Idun (1902-1966), Judge in Nigeria and Ghana.
STANDING: 
Frances Quashie-Idun (now Mrs Frances Ademola,the former board member of GIJ and owner of the private art Gallery,The LOOM at Adabraka near the Circle Ghana commercial Bank office and opposite former PTC Building now First African house), Eldest daughter of Sir Samuel Quashie-Idun. Sir Samuel Okai Quashie Idun was born in Ghana, the Gold Coast in 1902. He studied law at Cambridge and qualified as barrister. In 1948, having served as a District Magistrate, he was appointed a puisne judge of the Supreme Court of the Cold Coast. He served that court and was later appointed a judge in Nigeria becoming Chief Justice of Western Nigeria and also a member of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. He was appointed the first black African President of the East Africa Court of Appeal in 1964, a position he held until 1965. He fell ill and died in London in 1966.

Dasebre Nana Kwebu Ewusi, VII Omanhen (King) of Nkusukum Abeadze State, President, Central Region House of chiefs, Member, National House of Chiefs, Member Prison Council Service, Chairman, Board of Governance - Ankaful Nursing Training School, Chairman Central region Platform (disaster management) and a Member, Council of State of Ghana


 Ama Ata Aidoo, in full Christina Ama Ata Aidoo   (born March 23, 1942, Abeadzi Kyiakor, near Saltpond, Gold Coast [now Ghana]), Nkusukum citizen and Ghanaian writer whose work, written in English, emphasized the paradoxical position of the modern African woman.
Aidoo began to write seriously while an honours student at the University of Ghana (B.A., 1964). She won early recognition with a problem play, The Dilemma of a Ghost (1965), in which a Ghanaian student returning home brings his African-American wife into the traditional culture and the extended family that he now finds restrictive. Their dilemma reflects Aidoo’s characteristic concern with the “been-to” (African educated abroad), voiced again in her semiautobiographical experimental first novel, Our Sister Killjoy; or, Reflections from a Black-Eyed Squint (1966). Aidoo herself won a fellowship to Stanford University in California, returned to teach at Cape Coast, Ghana, and subsequently accepted various visiting professorships in the United States and Kenya.

Dr. Gilbert Abeiku Aggrey a.k.a. Abeiku Santana. Nkusukum native Versatile Radio Presenter, Actor and all round entertainer.

 Dr Araba Sam, Nkusukum ewuraba (lady) and the grand-daughter of the first black African general manager of AGC and the daughter of a celebrated medical doctor, Dr Francis Sam and a Diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology


 Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Nkusukum native and entrepreneur, ace journalist and former Joy FM Super Morning Show host with his wife Akua Osae-Addae


Dr. Esi E. Ansah, Nkusukum ewuraba (lady), daughter of legendary Prof P.V.A. Ansah and a Professor of Organizational Behaviour and Human Resource Development at the Ashesi University.


Frances Ademola (nee Frances Quarshie-Idun) Nkusukum ewuraba (lady) and ace and pioneer broadcast journalist and the owner of the Loom Art Gallery Adabraka, Accra.


Nkusukum man, Dr. Peter A Sam is an international expert on urban and rural environmental interlinkages. As an Adjunct Professor of Environmental Sciences Dr. Peter A. Sam is also the Founder and President of an International Environmental Consortium Group (AERCG) -An IRS 501(c) (3) Organization with its global headquarters in the USA and regional offices in Africa.

Bee Arthur, Nkusukum ewuraba (lady), renowned fashion designer and the winner of the highly coveted KORA FASHION AWARD in Sun City in 2001



Nkusukum women performing traditional Borbor Mfantse migration rituals.



The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of L'aine Services Limited and Vlisco Ambassador, Mrs Ellen Hagan, has been honoured by the chiefs and people of Nkusukum Tradition Area in the Central Region during this year's Odambea festival.






Gilbert Abeiku Aggrey aka Abeiku Santana, of Okay FM, who has carved a niche for himself in the showbiz industry being honoured by the chief and people of Nkusukum Tradition Area in the Central Region during this year’s Odambea Festival.


Daasebre Kwebu Ewusi vii ( Paramount Chief of Abeadze traditional area and President of the Central House of Chiefs) and Ama Ata Aidoo 

Nkusukumfo, Sir Samuel Okai Quashie-Idun; Charlotte Eunice Amoah Quashie-Idun; Dinah Quashie-Idun,Circa 1960

Sitters
Charlotte Eunice Amoah Quashie-Idun (also a native of Saltpond and the wife of Justice Sir Quarshie Idun). 
Standing: 
Dinah Quashie-Idun, Second daughter of Sir Samuel Quashie-Idun. 
Sir Samuel Okai Quashie-Idun (1902-1966)

Kofi Baako, Nkusukum native 

Frances Ademola

Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah

Fiifi Banson and family with elders of Saltpond

Nkusukum man, Professor Paul Ansah

Professor William Otoo Ellis, Nkusukum native and Professor of Food Science and the Vice Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.



Fante group therapy: Nkusukum man, Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah on the left being hugged by another Fante lady journalist Doreen Andoh whilst Ato Kwamena Dadzie, also a journalist of Fante ethnicity holds them both.

Nkusukum man, Abeiku Santana with his wife

Dr Esi Ansah, Nkusukum lady and daughter of Professor Paul Ansah

Professor George P Hagan and his wife

Fiifi Banson 







Nkusukum people, Yamoransa