The customs and traditions of Simpa established by Osimpam followed those of their Guan ancestry. They practiced patrilineal succession to Stools and other traditional offices. The people of ancient Simpa practiced this until around the late 1850s when Princess Ayensuah’s son, Kwesi Eguase (also a grandson of King Bortse Komfo Amu), was accepted by the Otuano House and enstooled as King Acquah I in 1858.
This was nearly 500 years after the establishment of Simpa. Unfortunately, this development had the blessing of Kwamena Akyeampong, son of Gyarteh III, then heir apparent. He was said to have approved Kwesi Eguase to act in his stead while he (Kwamena Akyeampong) attended to his thriving business across Anomabo and Takoradi. At this time in the history of the Effutu people, Akan culture of matrilineal succession was creeping into the coastal patriachial communities; from Eguafo to Senya. It was later that the adoption of the ebusua (clan) custom among a section of the people gave a different interpretation to the enstoolment of Kwesi Eguase as King Acquah I to mean matrilineal inheritance for Simpa. Contrary to the false claims by some modern-day revisionists, a dual system of succession was never the case for Simpa but entirely alien to it.
Kwesi Eguase was the nephew of King Ayirebi whose sister was Princess Ayensua. These royals; King Ayirebi and Princess Ayensua were the offspring of King Bortse Komfo Amu and Adom Congo, with Adom Congo being a slave in the King’s household. As a slave girl she was not one of the Effutu people and had no relations aamong them because she was brought in by the King who owned her. When Acquah I died, Kwamena Akyeampong, son of Gyarteh Kuma (Ghartey III), took up his rightful place as King Ghartey IV and also reigned successfully till his death in 1897.
Then it so happened that after the death of King Ghartey IV, notwithstanding his request put before the colonial administrators to permit succession traditionally along the male line, confusion ensued as to who was rightful to inherit the stool. His son, Robert Johnson Ghartey Jnr. lost the opportunity to inherit his father. With a taste of what was inherent in the ebusua custom, the family of Acquah I believed that Simpa should also inherit matrilineally just as the Fantes around them with the ebusua playing the key role as kingmakers. The embattled Gomoa Assin chief, Nana Kojo Nkum with strong influence within the colonial administration managed and had the nephew of Acuah I, Kojo Abeka Robertson to be enstooled instead. Kojo Abeka Robertson as the next king became King Acquah II. This was achieved through the connivance of Frederick Hodgson, then Acting Governor of the Gold Coast. (Nana Kojo Nkum,’s role in all this scheming was to compensate the Acquahs for the support they gave him in getting Winneba on the side of Gomoa Assin in a case against Gomoa Ajumako.) By that coup, the proponents of matrilineal succession succeeded, once again, to outwit the Otuano House which was preparing to enstool Robert Johnson Ghartey Jnr, the eldest son of King Ghartey IV.
The proponents of matrilineal succession in Simpa held sway for some time and ensured the reign of Acquah II. He was deposed in 1905 for financial impropriety but was reinstated in 1909, following the intervention of Commissioner Elliot of the Central Province. King Acquah II eventually died in 1914. It is crucial at this juncture to dilate on the relationship between the two kings supposedly nominated through matrilineal succession. Kojo Abeka’s mother was Madam Adjoa Obema; a step-daughter to the father of Acqauh I, and therefore, his (Eguase’s) step-sister. She was hence not the biological daughter of Princess Ayensua. Also of importance to rebuff the argument of matrilineal succession in Simpa was the fact that Kojo Abeka did not have a sister and so did not have a nephew who would have succeeded him in the female line of succession through his mother, Adjoa Obema. It is this fact that heightened the struggle to enstool Kow Embir Sackey (a.k.a. Albert Mould Sackey) as King Ayirebi Acquah III following the demise of Acquah II. Again, with support of King Kojo Nkum of Gomoa Assin, his collaborators used the ebusua factor to great effect. This time, Sackey’s scheming involved some Asafo (local militia) heads as well as some divisional chiefs, notably the Chief of Nsuekyir which was matrilineal because they were Fantes who had migrated into Simpa from Anokyi. Sackey’s manoeuvring included the claim that there was a second stool house by name “Ayirebi” house established by King Ayirebi which linked his matrilineal lineage to the Paramount Stool of Simpa. The colonial government put together a team of arbitrators to look at the problem but their finding was unambiguous; “that there was only one stool which was the one at Otuano”.
Notwithstanding these developments, the usual scheming spearheaded by Nana Kojo Nkum, succeeded in getting the colonial authorities to consent to the out-dooring of Sackey as King Ayirebi Acquah III. Of course, Sackey and his family had to accept conditions set by the colonial authorities before ascending the stool on 22nd May 1919. Strangely enough, the Otuano/Ghartey family was left out of that deal. Nevertheless, these developments do not in any way fit the tradition of matrilineal succession as practiced by Akan communities. In practice, an eligible candidate for matrilineal succession traces his ancestry through the mother to the matriarch who founded that settlement or state. Simpa was not founded by any woman known in history. The proponents of matrilineal succession to the Simpa stool have failed woefully over the years to establish who that woman was that founded Simpa. It was not Princess Ayensua; by the time King Bortse komfo Amu impregnated the slave girl, Adom Congo to give birth to Princess Ayensua, Simpa had long been founded and several kings enthroned onto that stool.
King Ayirebi never had children of his own but one of his wives, Fosuwa, had a child named Akosua Kwaaba prior to the marriage. It was one of Akosua Kwaaba’s three children, Madam Essuon, who gave birth to Kow Embir Sackey. Akosua Kwaaba was, thus, a step-daughter, not of Otuano descent nor were her daughters. It is obvious that there was no consanguineous relationship between the three women, i.e. Ayensua, Adjoa Obema and Madam Essuon who gave birth to the three Acquahs. And none of the three women originated from Simpa! Not unexpectedly, soon after his entsoolment, King Ayirebi Acquah III started dismantling the patrilineal structures which had existed centuries before him; that was a deliberate attempt to create his own dynasty with matrilineal succession as its basis. Among others, he set out to appoint a new line of kingmakers for the Effutu State. Fortunately, this time around, the hierarchy of Otuano Royal House saw through his machinations and took a decisive step which ensured that his plans never saw the light of day. Sackey’s new set of king makers was never gazetted! In their petition published below, the Otuano Elders successfully argued their case:
MAY I4, 1932 THE GOLD COAST INDEPENDENT PAGES 552 - 553
ECHOES OF THE WINNEBA STOOL SUCCESSION DISPUTE: FALSE AND FICTITIOUS ELECTORS LIST BY NANA AYIREBI ACQUAH III PROTEST.
14th March, 1932.
RE-ELECTORS LIST FOR THE WINNEBA (EFFUTU) STATE.
We, the undersigned for and on behalf of ourselves and other members of Otu-Ano stool family, do hereby most respectfully but strongly protest against the electors list: namely list of persons and positions the holders of which are entitled according to Winneba (Effutu) State as submitted by Oma-Odefe-Ayirebi Acquah III, and his State Council and published in the Gold Coast Government Gazette No.22 or 1931 dated March 28th 1931, for the following reasons:
"in the ancient and dilapidated hovel known as Otu-anu in a chamber having an entrance not more than four feet high the fetishes penin-Jan and Penche-Otu are kept under cloths on shelf in the front of each is the stool of the fetiche - the Stool which the spirit is believed to occupy. Under the shelf are piled the skulls of the deer killed in the Aboa-kyre custom and the implements used in the WI custom. In the box at the side of these and wrapped in cloth is all that remains of a very ancient stool. The seat, or portion of one leg and storn are all that time has preserved. This stool the Ghartey Family maintain is the ancient stool occupied by Botsi Komfu Amu and his predecessors. Robertson admits that at his enstoolment as Acquah II he was placed on this thrice by the priest."
And again, on page 3, he records: -
"I am of the opinion therefore that prior to some date about 120 years ago, the office of priest and chief were combined and that the ancient stool upon which at Otu-anu is the ancient stool of the dual office upon which the chiefs are still enstooled. That after the death of Botsi Komfu Amu, as in Accra and Awuna, it was decided to separate the office of chief and priest and that therefore the first chief who was not a priest was Gyanpenin II whose stool, except the priestly stool, is the earliest now preserved."
Findings of the officially appointed Arbitrators composed of six chiefs namely Eduafu II of Legu, Kofi Tawiah of Nyakrom, Kweku Issiw III of Senya Berracoe, Wyetey Agyiman II of Awutu Berreku, Ansah Fua of Gomoa-Edwumanku, Ankobia of Buduatta and Rev. J.O. Hammond, says: ‘The Arbitrators are of opinion that the ancient stool is the one at Otu-anu (Unanimously).’
The foregoing quotations confirm clause ‘C’ of the conditions in the Findings of Honourable J.T. Furley S.N.A which came to us from His Excellency the present Governor A.R. Slater’s (then Acting) final conditions of 1919. Reading: ‘I do not consider that it is sufficiently strong at present to justify recognition by Government of the permanent adoption of succession in the female line and taking the position as it is now is. I think Sackeys’s nomination can only be recognised on the following conditions: -
“If these conditions are accepted by Sackey and supported I am prepared to recommend that his installation may be allowed to proceed, due precautions being taken of the preservation of the peace. If not accepted the stool will have to remain vacant until agreement for the permanent settlement of the line of succession can be arrived at’.
(Bondsi Abe mentioned in clause ‘C’ hereof was the first priest-king and founder of Winneba as per list of Winneba dynasty following: - See Crowther’s Findings).
The acceptance of these conditions by A. M. Sackey (now Ayirebi Acquah III) was by a declaration dated 22nd May, 1919. Written:
"In compliance with decision delivered by His Honour the Commissioner Central Province yesterday relative to the Enquiry held by His Honour J. T. Furley, the secretary for Native Affairs on the Winneba Stool dispute and his recommendations with supplementary conditions read to us, we the undersigned Sackey and all his supporters, most respectfully submit to the conditions above-mentioned and wish to carry on the usual made of election in accordance with Native Customs today."
We have the honour to be,
Your obedient Servants,
“A. M SACKEY
Witness to marks
Witness to marks and Writer
"The ceremony of the enstoolment takes place in the stool House (Ayirebi House)"
Which we say is false. Now without wishing to reopen controversy over the question of succession, we wish however to point out that Ayirebi succeeded his father (Effutu constitution) and was the eight in succession to Bondsi Abe stool. (vide Dynasty in Crowther’s findings and clause ‘C’ of Governor’s conditions. Thus, the Winneba Protest against being placed under the jurisdiction of Gomoa-Assin State (Fantees, with Fantee constitution) of 9th April, 1907, paragraph 5, declared,
We have the honour to be,
Your Obedient Servants.
Writer and witness to marks
For Ourselves and Other Members of Otu-anu Stool Family.
SECRETARY FOR NATIVE AFFAIRS,