We are Guan

A number of historical narratives explain the migration of the Guan southwards. The growing power of the Songhai empire pushed the Mossi-Dagomgba ancestors south of the Niger bend so that by early AD 1000 they become a threat to the very survival of the Guan settlements. These resulted in waves of Guan movement southwards in search of a more peaceful and economically viable area to settle. It is observed that in twenty-six or more Guan ethnic groups appeared in modern Ghana very early in the 12th Century. Because they were predominantly here on the land now Ghana, some scholars say they migrated from nowhere and therefore this is their ancestral homeland. The Guan movement is said to have originated from the Mossi region of modern Burkina around A.D. 1100. 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. They occupied a crescent of land stretching from Bole, through Salaga, Karachi, Anum, Boso and Awutu.

The wide distribution of the Guan suggests that they were the Neolithic population of the region. The aboriginal status of the Guan in this area is grounded in the fact that neither the Akan nor the Ga-Adangbe found the coastal district of Ghana unoccupied. Indeed by 1482, when the Portuguese led by Don Diogo d’Azambuja negotiated with the local chief of Edena for the construction of a fort, there were not any Fante, Ga, and Ewe on the coast. The Edena people originated from one of the ancient Guan kingdoms namely Aguafo, the rest were Asebu, Fetu near Cape Coast, Agona in the Central Region. The Akans and Go-Adangbe arrived here to meet the Guan in their respective well-established chiefdoms evidenced by oral tradition and linguistics.

The linguistic evidence is found in a seemingly common dialect. A more recent publication by Lucht (2011) reported that “indeed the importance of fish and meat is stressed discursively; this, in the Guan language the same word, inu, is used for fish and meat, and if one desires a special kind of meat apart from fish, one has to specify, adding the kind of animal one is requesting – for instance, kyidinu, ‘fowl meat’; owutɔnu, ‘bushmeat’; or nentwinu, ‘beef’. This is what the Guan say and indeed the people of Winneba. The Guan say nchu/ntwu/nsu for water and enyo/nyo/anyo for two and so on.

According to Kwame Ampene (1996) the people of Senya Beraku broke away from Gomoa Assin eventually. In those days it was assumed that the Senya Beraku were essentially similar to the Fante because they were under the political influence of Gomoa Assin. In the issue of the “Gold Coast Spectator” of 24th July 1937 (p.1155) is an article entitled “three Efutu States resolve to be a confederation of which the Odefey of Senya Beraku, a vassal to the paramount stool of Gomoa Assin, seems to be the prime mover”. In that year Senya was the only Awutu community in the Paramount Stool of Gomoa Assin, from which the other Afutu communities of Winneba and Obutu (Awutu) had broken away. In giving support to their demand, the Secretary for Native Affairs noted:

…both Winneba and Senya-Beraku are from Afutu stock, and being so the latter should be allowed to amalgamate with some of their tribe