Who is AGNI (AOWIN) ?

Who is AGNI (AOWIN) ?

AWOWINS Much is not documented about the Awowin of southwestern Ghana and southeastern Cote D’Ivoire. 

This is largely due to the lack of documentation during the thriving years of this medieval West African state. It must be noted however that before the rise of the Denkyira and Asante in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries respectively, Awowin had already emerged as a super power in the territories west of the River Bia. This power they wielded was mainly based on their economic prowess in the face of the trans-Saharan trade which thrived in the Sub Saharan areas until the influx of the Europeans. The Awowin are known to be less militant than other Akan states of their era. 

They speak a language very similar to the form of twi spoken in the modern areas of Sefwi. Just like most Akan states have not always been settlers of their present location. Oral history points out that, Awowin were among the first Akan groups to break away from the larger settlement in historical Bonoman. 

From there, they moved southwestwards to the areas west of the River Bia. In these territories, they reached their peak as a kingdom until Denkyira upheavals gradually moved the settlers to the Sefwi areas. There, they were much affected by the Asante-Denkyira and so had to move further southwards but more westwards to their present location. Presently, they are located in the Awowin district of Ghana right across the western border into southeastern Cote D’Ivoire. 

Awowin Economically, the Awowin are noted to have built their state based on their economic strength in the Bia and Sefwi areas until the Denkyira evasion in the last two decades of the 1700s. 

Being an Akan state, they had their economy revolving primarily around the trade of gold and slaves. Slaves were sold to the Mande and Hausa traders within Africa and later with the Europeans along the coast. The trade in gold also followed the same trend. This group was also into gold-mining.  

With the arrival of the Europeans, firearms assisted the Awowin in becoming a marginally powerful state in the coastal and inland trades as compared to others states in the same region during the same period.  

They were involved in local agriculture also, yam and taro were the indigenous crops cultivated, hence served as staples for their individual homes.  

They had major markets at the modern areas of Enchi, Kwewu, Boinso, Akontombra, Nkwanta and Jema. 

These slave markets became converging points for the exchange that occurred with the northern traders and also generated revenue to the Awowin ruler. 

Women were at the center of this extensive trade making them maintain a considerable economic power men engaged basically in fishing and hunting, fishing was done along the coast and in the waterbodies surrounding them; Boin and Susan Rivers. Hunting was carried out in the rainforest. Although some economic activities were gender based, both sexes participated in agriculture activities.  

This was a matrilineal state, politically also, just like other Akan states. They had an organized political society with a centralized government featuring the Omanhene who was at the realm of affairs wielding the most political authority followed by the Abusuapanyin of the eight Akan clans; Oyoko, Asakyiri, Aduana, Biretuo, Asene, Ekoana, Agona, Asona. 

Each had their representing chiefs at the Omanhene’s palace. The Efiehene, thus elder of the house, was also considered an authority in the Awowin political society-holding the least of powers. Both written and unwritten evidence s indicate that until the rise of the Asante ante and Denkyira states, Awowin was the most powerful state in the southwestern regions of medieval Ghana. 

It controlled the lands west of the River Bia. It was not until the last two decades of the 17th century that the Denkyira succeeded in bringing Awowin under its rule. Even so, the Denkyira victory did not much affect the power of this Akan group since it is noted that by the beginning of the 18th century (early 1700s), they did not just regain their authority in the Sefwi regions but had also embarked on a political and economic expansion. 

A raid, led by Ebiri Moro on the capital of the Asante Empire, in this quest, in the early 1700s provoked the Awowin-Asante war of 1715. At its peak, Awowin controlled the modern area the three Sefwi-Anhwiaso, Sefwi-Wiawso, and Sefwi-Bekwai. Looking closely at Awowin social and cultural practices, just like many other Akan states of their time were having cultural practices such as the Birago; for initiating young ladies into womanhood. 

This also served as the basic check on the purity of upcoming ladies. They were worshippers of deities such as the Asaase Yaa who is considered to be the goddess of the earth, fertility and fecundity. Their religiosity cannot be overlooked since they are believed to have had other gods apart from a general Akan belief in the Tweduapon Kwame as the creator of the universe.   

They also celebrated the Alleoulie (literally, yam eating) festival to commemorate the beginning of the harvest season. It is believed that, after the influx of the Denkyira in the late 1600s during their years in the Sefwi areas, they adopted the celebration of the Akwasidae and Odwira festivals.  

In the world of arts, Awowin can be held responsible for the introduction of wooden dolls (Akuaba) by its wood carvers. Kente weaving was also developed in this area.  

The Awowin ethnic group although a small sect as compared to other Akan states has also contributed immensely towards the development of Ghana. First and foremost, it is known historically that Awowin territory had served as a sort of refugee camp for the victims of the Asante-Denkyira wars.  

Also, the Awowin district being one the producers of gold have helped the country in generating income for the country through the exports of the commodity. The annual celebration of the Alleoulie festival also attracts foreigners from other parts of the world to experience their rich culture heritage through the display of their artefacts, foods, dance, among others. 

This helps promotes tourism in the country and as well generates foreign income. More so, the Awowin are known to have spearheaded the move that brought a great decline in cultural practices that retarded the growth of the nation. This they did, by playing leadership roles in the Savannah Women Empowerment Group (Ghana)-SWEGG. 
This movement led to the virtual ending of the devastating cultural practice of Female Genital Multilation which had prevailed in Awowin and northern regional settlement throughout the years. 

Even after the 1992 constitution. A notable personality in historical Awowin was Ebiri Moro. He was the Awowin ruler who is believed to have led the raid on Kumasi in the years when Prempeh I was on battlefield in the Sefwi areas against the Denkyira.    

In conclusion, the Awowin, though scattered across the borders of Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire, they had a great influence on the trade, politics and cultural heritage of the modern day areas they span across.    

References A History of Sefwi---D. Y Daaku www.africa.uima.uiowa.
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