history of Winneba

The Succession Issue

Succession to Effutu Stool

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:



14th March, 1932.



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:

  • That the whole list as published is nothing short of subversion as well as perversion of the Winneba (Effutu) customs and constitution having regard to the innovations sought to be introduced thereby which are liable to provoke unrest and recurrent dispute in Winneba inimical to its political peace and totally detrimental to the Otu- Ano or Ghartey Family.
  • That according to Winneba (Effutu) custom, nomination of the stool candidate is done by the Otu-Ano Royal Kingmakers and presented to the two companies in Winneba Town namely, Tuafo and Dentsifo (No. 1 and No.2 companies) and the Tufuhene and other chiefs of the State who constitute the accredited Winneba or Simpa State Council and not by the fictitious Council composed of Gyasehene, Obomaa, Mbabanyin and Apamhene or Omanpanyin as alleged by the Electors list. According to remarks of Captain Crownwell J.P., Commandant of Winneba dated June 1858 on Native Law and Custom in accordance with instructions received in a circular that year concerning kings he said: -‘Kings are elected by the Otu-Ano kingmakers and are generally chosen from the family of the deceased king. The king’s eldest son generally is placed on the stool provided the people have no dislike to him, if so, some other man is chosen by popular vote from the king’s family... the stool belongs to the people’.
  • That the titles Nkyidomhene, Adontihene, Nifahene, Benkumhene, Twafohene,are all foreign and absolutely unknown to the customs and constitution of Winneba (Effutu) State and indisputably they neither appear in official reports and findings of Two secretaries for Native Affairs Honourable J.Y. Furley as here under quoted respectively and your reference to which we humbly crave.
  • That it is abundantly clear from the findings of Honourable F. Crowther and Honourable J.T. Furley secretaries for Native Affairs officially appointed by His Excellency the Governor with commission to investigate and enquire into Winneba Stool dispute, that the enstoolment ceremony according to the established practice has never taken place at Ayeribi House as alleged to be the ‘stool House’ as published, but it has always been taking place at Otu- Ano where the ancient stool of Winneba (Effutu) state is kept and on which stool all the previous Paramount chiefs were installed and on which the present Oma-Odefo Honourable Ayirebi Acquah III, himself also was installed by Osowu (priest) Kwesi Feyin, and not by the invented Nkyidomhene,or Gyasihene. In this connection, Honourable F.Crowther S.N.A. wrote in his findings of Februaary 20th 1913, page 2.-

"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: -

  • That his election will be without prejudice to a consideration of the claims of the Ghartey family in future when occasion requires and when another vacancy occurs.
  • That the abandonment of the system of alternation on this occasion is not therefore to be taken as a permanent one or necessarily as a precedent.’
  • That similarly as his predecessors in the same line were, Sackey’s nomination ceremonies must include that of formal installation of the ancient stool at Otu-anu, that of Bondsi Abe be the priests
  • “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).

    • son of Gyatey Sisi & Founder of WinnebaBondsi Abe I
    • Bondsi Abe IBondsi Enyinam
    • Bondsi EnyinamBondsi Abe II
    • Bondsi Abe IIBondsi Esedu
    • Bondsi EseduBondsi Abe Gyatey I
    • Bondsi Abe Gyatey IBotsi Komfu Amu
    • Bondsi Abe Gyatey IGyatey Gyanpenin
    • Botsi Komfo AmuAyirebi
    • Gyatey Gyanpanin IIGyatey Kuma III
    • Gyansah – brother of Gyanpanin IIBondsi Quaye
    • Acquah I-nephewAcquah I-nephew
    • Gyatey Kuma IIIGhartey IV
    • Acquah I-(sister’s son)Acquah II-nephew
    • Acquah II-(sister’s son)Ayirebi Acquah III-nephew

    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
    A.S. WATT
    AG. D.C

    Witness to marks and Writer

    • A.S. WATT
    • D. A. SAM
    • That we can hardly conceive the reason, purport, or object of the said false fictitious Electors List submitted by the Oma-Odefo-Ayirebi Acquah III and his State Council; except that it aims to subvert, mutilate, and prostitute the recognised ancient constitution of Winneba (Effutu) State, ingeniously to establish paramountcy and permanency of the stool in his family hence he declared in the Electors List as follows:-

    "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,

    "Winneba has its own constitution and festivals"

    • The stool of Winneba is not a family stool; all public officers such as that of Odefo, Tufuhin, Osofu, Safuhin, Abrafu, Linquist, Gongbeaters, and Ferrymen are hereditary; succession being traced from father to son or brother and not to a nephew (sister’s son)’.
    • That by the direction of your letter dated 9th April,1931, No. 138/S.N.A. 16/1929, we approached the District Commissioner Mr. G.P.H. Brewes, Winneba, through our authorised representative Mr, Ewur Ghartey with a view to discuss and redress the wrong at a meeting to be arranged with Oma-Odefo-Ayirebi Acquah III but without result. Mr. Brewes being unaccountably disinclined to grant the interview sought. (Correspondence in connection therewith attached herewith).
    • That we view with deep regret and surprise Government attitude in the matter when we consider the amount of money, time and labour expended by both Government and parties (Ghartey and Acquah families) to bring the foregoing facts into light on official record; and notwithstanding the fact that the Electors List being an open contempt and belittles the Governor’s conditions as mean and scrap of paper, the Government would still accept and have same published, we presume, as if it is by reason of the position of Ayirebi Acquah III as a member of the Legislative Council, and Electors List which the Government is fully aware is not only wrong but pronouncedly foreign and detrimental to the welfare of the people of Winneba, and knowing also that they run in conflict and at variance with the official record, and the adoption of which is certain to bring about recurrence of stool disputes, unrest, and inevitable further troubles.
    • That in lodging this protest we vehemently challenge the accuracy of the said Electors List; and on the face of the Findings of the former Secretaries for Native Affairs and the Governor’s conditions, we protest its adoption.

    We have the honour to be,

    Your Obedient Servants.

    • R.J. GHARTEY
    • J.Q.B. GHARTEY

    Writer and witness to marks
    For Ourselves and Other Members of Otu-anu Stool Family.


    • Letter dated 2/6/31
    • Letter dated 4/6/31
    • Letter dated 18/6/31
    • Letter dated 23/6/31
    • Letter dated 16/6/31
    • Letter dated 17/7/31