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The original inhabitants of the Akuapem Hills were predominantly Guan. The towns of Akuapem are in the Eastern Region of Ghana and situated between longitude 0°15 W - 0°00 and latitude 5°45 - 6°00 N. These towns are located on the Akuapem Ridge, which runs northeastwards across the Volta Region and extends further into Togo. The Akuapem community has different ethnic groups living in seventeen towns, namely, Aseseeso, Berekuso, Aburi, Ahwerease, Obosomase, Tutu, Mampong, Amanokrom, Mamfe, Late-Ahenease, Late-Kubease, Akropong, Abiriw, Dawu, Awukugua, Adukrom and Apirede.
The Akuapem people are heterogeneous as the illustration below indicates. They comprise both Akan and Guan communities. The Guan Okere (Abiriw, Dawu, Awukugua, Adukrom and Apirede) who occupy the northern parts of Akuapem speak Kyerepong, whereas Late-Ahenease and Late-Kubease speak Late, all belonging to the larger Volta-Comoe group of languages (Dolphyne and Kropp Dakubu 1988: 77-79). To illustrate this diversity further, the people of Abiriw comprise different ethnic origins among which are former Akan including Akwamu, Denkyira and Asante (Gilbert 1997: 511-512). The Akan in Akuapem who speak Twi are the descendants of the Akyem people who live at Akropong and their relations at Amanokrom. The people of Aburi are also remnants of Akwamu (Akan) and speak Twi but have intermarried with other ethnic groups. The other southern Guan towns of Tutu, Obosomase, Mamfe, Mampong, Aseseeso, Abonse and Abotakyi are predominantly Guan with some Akwamu, who have assimilated different ethnic groups including Ewe and Krobo, who all now speak Twi. There has also been a great deal of inter-marriage with Ga, Shai and former Ewe captives and several others (Gilbert 1997: 504) in the Akuapem towns. This mixed group of people lived in small independent towns ruled by priests until the Akyem arrived and were given the mandate to rule in 1733.
The Guan are believed to have begun to migrate from the Mossi region of modern Burkina around A.D. 1000. Moving gradually through the Volta valley in a southerly direction, they created settlements along the Black Volta, throughout the Afram Plains, in the Volta Gorge, and in the Akwapim Hills before moving farther south onto the coastal plains. Some scholars postulate that the wide distribution of the Guan suggests that they were the Neolithic population of the region. Later migrations by other groups such as the Akan, Ewe, and Ga-Adangbe into Guan-settled areas would then have led to the development of Guan-speaking enclaves along the Volta and within the coastal plains. The Guan have been heavily influenced by their neighbors. The Efutu, a subgroup of the Guan, for example, continue to speak Guan dialects, but have adopted (with modifications) the Fante version of some Akan institutions and the use of some Fante words in their rituals. As far as the other Guan subgroups are concered, the Anum-Boso speak a local Ewe dialect, whereas the Larteh and Kyerepong have customs similar to Akwapim groups.
Constituting about a quarter of the Guan, the Gonja to the north have also been influenced by other groups. The Gonja are ruled by members of a dynasty, probably Mande in origin. The area is peopled by a variety of groups, some of which do not speak Guan. The ruling dynasty, however, does speak Guan, as do substantial numbers of commoners. Although neither the rulers nor most of the commoners are Muslims, a group of Muslims accompanied the Mande invaders and have since occupied a special position as scribes and traders.
Led by their leader Gyedu Nkansa, a quarter of the Guan settled in present day Akuapem mountains. Prior to the founding of Akuapem State, the institution of chieftancy as we know of today was non-existent. The leadership of highland community made up mainly of GUANS and the KYEREPONGS consisted of Priest and Priestesses. Nana Ofei Kwasi Agyeman of the Aduana fame,a trader from Gyakiti, and a chief in his own right,had already left Akwamu with his people to live at a village called Adenya. Surrounded by his band of Mpoti Asafo with their proverbial seven guns. He later settled at Boampong( Kaabi) the Northern part of present day Akropong. When the Akwamus brutalities on the Guans and the Kyerepongs had gone beyond control and intolerable the leadership had these settlers summond a meeting to chart and discuss a way out of their predicaments. Gyadu Nkansa, then the King of the Guans and in that capacity the leader of Akuapem in whose old age and at his hour of death just at the beginning of his successor Ohene Berentiri gave authority to Ofei Agyemang, chief of Gyakiti and Sediesa (Asare Diedsa), chief of the Kyerepongs to extend an invitation to the Akims for assistance to fight the Akwamus. The delegation to Akim was led by Opanyin Ayeh Kissi, an elder of Nana Offei Kwasi Agyeman. The Okyenhene and elders readily agreed to help. He therefore dispatched his warrious led by his nephew Safori to join the bandwagon of the Guans and the Kyerepongs. A thousand forces (Akuw apem) thus swooped down the hill unto the hopeless Akwamus regiment at Nsakye as they advance. Unable to withstand the shock of this highland change, the Akwamu forces broke, scattered and fled across the Volta river to the present day Akwamufie.
This was the famous battle of Nsakye (1730) after which the Akwamu’s unspeakable acts of cruelty and depredation on the highland community came to an end. The remnants of Akwamu, the people of present Aburi and its envious readily submit themselves to the new power,and thus pave the way for the establishment of Akuapem State as enshrined in the famous Abotakyi Accord in 1733.