The Fante people claim to have separated from the Bono people, around 1250 AD. This act became the origin of their name, “Fa-atsew” meaning “the half that left”.
The Fante left their Bono brethren at Krako, present day Techiman in the Brong-Ahafo Region of Ghana, and became their own distinct Akan group. The Fante people were led by three great warriors known as Obrumankoma, Odapagya and Oson (the whale, the eagle and the elephant respectively). According to tradition, Obrumankoma and Odapagya died on this exodus and were embalmed and carried the rest of the way.
Oson led the people to what would become Mankessim in 1252. Legend has it that the Fante’s chief fetish priest, Komfo Amona, planted a spear in the ground when they reached the location of the settlement. The spear is called the Akyin-Enyim, meaning “in front of god”. The place became the meeting place for the Fante elders and the head fetish priest when discussing important matters. The first Omanhene (king) of Mankessim was installed here, and later kingmakers would visit the site for consultation. According to the Fante, the spear cannot be removed by mortal hands.
The land the Fante reached was initially called Adoakyir by its existing inhabitants, which the Fante called “Etsi-fue-yifo” meaning people with bushy hair. The Fante conquered these people and renamed the settlement Oman-kesemu, meaning large town. The name has evolved into the current name, Mankessim.
The Fante settled the land as their first independent kingdom, and buried Obrumakankoma and Odapagya in a sacred grove called Nana-nom-pow. Komfo Amona also planted the limb of a tree he had brought from the Akan homeland in Krako to see if a place was good for settlement.
The day after the priest planted the limb, the people found a tree starting to grow. The tree was named Ebisa-dua, or the consulting tree, and its location is today one of the most important shrines in Mankessim.
Credit: Lexy De-Ben Rockson