Oseikrom: What’s Story Behind the Name?

Oseikrom means “Osei’s city or town”. When one wanted to go to Kumase which was the capital of the Asante empire where Ɔtumfoɔ Osei Tutu I, ruled, they literally said, “I’m going to Osei’s town or city” which translates into Asante Twi language as “mekɔ Osei Krom”.

This phrase has become a popular saying in Asante, Akan and Ghanaian local parlance to date.

Oseikrom is another name for Kumasi, the second-largest city in Ghana. Kumasi has had a couple of other popular names, ‘Garden city’ and ‘Oseikrom’. Let’s dive in and look at the story behind this name.

What is Oseikrom: The Story Behind How it became Another name for Kumase

Kumase became popular after the fall of Denkyirahene Ntim Gyakari at Feyiase by the new Asante confederacy with the help Ɔkomfoɔ Kwame Kɔkɔbere Frimpɔn Anokye. This news spread like a wildfire crossing boundaries as far as the Queen’s Kingdom.

Fast forward, Kofi Osei Tutu had solidified his reign as Asantehene with the help of his chief priest, Okomfo Anokye, Kumasi which was then ‘Kwaaman’ became his capital city.

Apparently, Okomfo Anokye had helped him with this all-important decision of changing the capital from Asantemanso to Kumase. And it worked.

Also Read: Where is Kumasi Ghana: Explore The Historic Landscape Of the Garden City

The Name Kumasi (Kumase): Okomfo Anokye’s Influence

When Oti Akenten brought in Komfo Anokye from Akwamu, it was for a reason. Anokye Komfoɔ knew his stuff. He was so good that many believe he was persuaded and lured out of Akwamu.

Oti Akenten was the chief of Asantemanso (a small village today ruled by an Akan group the Oyoko tribe, which was once a major urban center).

One crucial piece of advice from Komfo Anokye to Oti Akenten was to move his capital city away from Asantemanso. Remember, almost all the Akan states were under the rulership of the Denkyira’s spearheaded by Ntim Gyakari.

The advice somehow did the trick for two reasons.

First, it moved the existence of the Oyoko clan(who were banished from the Ekoɔna clan) and their new home (Asantemanso) further away from their Denkyira overlords.

Second, there are many historians who believe Asantemanso which was gaining lots of traction as a business hub and expanding was gradually becoming overcrowded. So this was an effort to reduce clamp down on overcrowding.

Well, I won’t take that for a reason – there was more to it.

Here is how Anokye Komfoɔ the great fetish priest masterminded the relocation of the Oyoko people’s capital from Asantemanso to Kwaaman (Kumase).

According to legend, Anokye did one of his famous ‘litmus tests’.

He sought to test the soil fertility of several cities to find the best place for the new capital. He planted a sapling of a ‘Kum’ tree (wild fig) in two prospective cities (Kumase and Kumawu) and waited to see which soil would produce the largest, healthiest specimen. While the tree in the other village didn’t survive, the tree in the small village of Kwaaman survived and produced the best tree. And therefore Oti Akenten moved his capital to Kwaaman. Kwaaman which later became Kumasi, Twi translation for “Under the Kum Tree.”

Why Kumasi History is Important to Oseikrom

The story behind the definition of Kumasi is even more important in this circumstance for various reasons.

In that, Oseikrom only came into the picture when Kofi Osei Tutu who later succeeded his uncle from exile from Akwamuland as the new head of the Oyoko people and later formed the great Asante empire through wars under the spiritual tutelage of Okomfo Anokye.

Let’s look more into the story behind the name ‘Oseikrom’

Also Read: Kumasi Definition: What’s the Meaning of Kumase?

Osei Tutu-Krom: The Story Behind How Osei Tutu Became King

Oti Akenten who was chief of Asantemanso died and the reigns fell on his maternal nephew, Obri Yeboah as customs demanded.

Turbulent times. Chaos everywhere. Different small towns and villages all struggling to survive an unforeseen attack with one eye looking at not finding fault with their common overlord, Denkyira.

there were rumours of independence but these villages were too unequipped, small and fragile to ever think of liberation from Ntim Gyakari’s Denkyira rule.

There were rumours of a possible invasion by the Dormaa people from the West who were formidable then. Obiri Yeboah knew that these petty squabbles were the reason why independence from Denkyira wasn’t a reality.

In preparation for this battle with the invading Dormaa people from the West, who had their armies reaching the outskirts of Kumasi. Obiri Yeboah quickly organized an alliance between Kumasi and the other major independent states around who had similar fears of invasion if Kumase was gone.

There came a better alliance for a common purpose. The group of people and villages who later became Asante was gradually coming together. Is either you join us to fight a common enemy or you seize to exist.

This new alliance met the Dormaa people in battle and emerged victorious but Nana Obiri Yeboah couldn’t survive it. They were real leaders by then – they fought and didn’t hide.

according to historians, he either died on the battlefield or later succumbed to battle wounds shortly after the battle.

Now, the throne was vacant which wasn’t a pleasant sight to behold. In fact, any formidable army could pounce on them if the news broke that the city was leaderless.

Inasmuch as everyone knew his own nephew, Kofi Osei Tutu would take over from his uncle one day, nobody thought of it until this trying time.

Kofi was meant to take the throne no matter what. However, the circumstances surrounding Osei Tutu at the time of his uncle’s death made the succession of the throne of Kumase even more difficult.

Osei Tutu as the New Leader

Power belonged to Denkyira and you either succumb to their whims and caprices or be destroyed.

Since he was a royal from the Oyoko clan and heir to the Asantemanso throne, service to Denkyira was a must.

Like all of the other distinguished heirs of several Denkyira subjects, Osei Tutu, nephew of Obiri Yeboah who was of high nobility, was held in captivity by Denkyira in the capital Abankeseso for years since he was an adolescent.

This was not unusual.

Denkyira had a long-standing practice of holding the heirs to their subordinate chiefs as a hostage to ensure compliance. However, it was more of a service than slavery for a royal. Therefore, while Osei Tutu was a captive, he was no prisoner in the traditional sense.

According to many historians, political prisoners like this prince from the Oyoko tribe and heir to Nana Obiri Yeboah (who brought a lot of goodies to Denkyira every year as agreed) were treated with decorum and respect.

This was a strategy to get them on Denkyira’s side when they become eventual leaders and continue to serve.

So, rather than being locked in a dungeon, prospective heirs were treated well in order to feel at home and have a positive view of the Denkyira when they are eventually released.

Osei Tutu, a brave and handsome young man was treated like a guest in the Denkyirahene’s palace, with no fears of him causing any harm and therefore wouldn’t have thought of freedom.

Unfortunately, the Denkyira authorities got complacent and underrated the young Osei Tutu. That’s way too much leeway to give an Asante man.

Apparently, Osei Tutu who was more of a royal in the palace spent most of his idly days socializing with Denkyira elites, playing Oware, and courting palace women.

Osei Tutu Nyamkɛse nono…

IMAGE of Oware

Oware, a strategy game similar to mancala, has been a mainstay Akan leisure hobby for centuries.

Osei Tutu in Trouble!

Familiarity breeds contempt.

Osei became too familiar with the palace and Denkyira royalty.

It wasn’t long when Osei Tutu’s activities would eventually land him into some big trouble. It is believed from both the Asante and Denkyira top hierarchy that, Osei Tutu got a little bit too close with the Denkyirahene’s daughter and got her pregnant. Congratulation to the King.

“Osei Tutu Nyamkɛse nono…”

Now he had no choice but to mastermind a daring escape from Abankɛseso. To where? Definitely not to Kumase. That will be a no-no.

Kumase and for that matter his uncle Obiri Yeboah was still under Denkyira’s rule and therefore all his people were Denkyira subjects.

Osei tutu’s only option was to flee to another state that could protect him. Somewhere that was either at par with Dekyira and can call the bluff of Ntim Gyakari

Where else than Akwamu.

Akwamuland was a neighboring kingdom to the East and had no quarrels with the small villages of Asante which were subject to Denkyira.

Osei Tutu remained under the protection of the Akwamu when he was sought after by Denkyira authorities. The then Akwamuhene refused to turn Osei Tutu in for two reasons. First, he had a long-standing enmity with the Denkyirahene. Second was his longtime admiration and friendship with the Oyoko fetish priest Anokye who may need Osei one day in his new home in Kumase.

Osei Tutu stayed in the Akwamu capital for a number of years. However, when the news of his uncle’s demise from war with Dormaa reached him, he knew the task at hand. “I must go back to lead and help my people”, he might have said.

Osei Tutu was forced to return to his home city of Kumase to take up the mantle of the leader of the Oyoko tribe/clan as later as the Asantehene.

The loyal Akwamu king gave him his blessing plus a group of Akwamu bodyguards to accompany the King to-be, back home to Kumase.

And that is how Osei Tutu made his way back to Kwaaman(Kumase) to lead the new Asante groups to concur villages around who posed a threat, later defeating Denkyira and forming the great Asante Kingdom.

Oseikrom: How did Ɔseikrom come to be known as such?

Good question.

So from Kwaman becoming the new Kumase and Osei Tutu coming back from Denkyira through Akwamu, things started to change for the small Asante towns. The new Asante Confederacy became the biggest and largest empire in the sub-region.

Osei Tutu I, ruled as Asantehene from Kumase and subchiefs and subordinates had to come to Kumase for trade, festivals and most importantly to pay homage to the great King.

After the fall of Denkyira, Asante was formed in 1701 and visitors, Kingdoms, Empires paid homage to the new overload and King, Asantehene Ɔsei Tutu I.

It was when people wanted to come and pay homage to the Asantehene or trade-in the administrative capital of the King, that they tend to say, “Mere Kɔ Ɔsei ne Krom”. Ɔsei in this case referring to Ɔtumfoɔ Ɔsei Tutu I. This phrase became very popular, and it metamorphosed to “Ɔseikrom’, literally meaning the home of the King, Asantehene Ɔsei Tutu I.

Also Read: What is the Population of Kumasi? All You Need to Know! 

Benefits of Ɔseikrom

Osei Tutu gained a lot of respect and power because he knew how to bring people together, make friends and build relationships.

Even at war, he usually brought war slaves in as his people which widened his Kingdom. Therefore there are many people from other tribes and clans who made their way to Kumase for trade, socialization and many more.

Many years on, this tradition led to the creation of miniature towns of different tribes and ethnic groups in and around Kumasi.

Oseikrom: What it is not!

It must be emphasized that it’s only in Ɔseikrom that you can find towns dedicated to other tribes in Ghana: Anloga for Anlo’s and Ewes, Fante New Town for Fantes, Moshie Zongo for Mossi people.

Osei Tutu instituted an open-door policy with the advice of his chief priest Ɔkomfo Anokye. This open-door policy makes anyone who lives in Ɔseikrom automatically becomes part of the people and as would be said in local parlance – Ɔseikromnii (One from Oseikrom or Kumase).

Concluding Thoughts…

In fact, you don’t need to be an Asante to a member of this beautiful society. It’s probably the most welcoming place in Ghana.

Unfortunately, social media and very toxic people who don’t know anything about history tend to dwell on circumstances under the period when there were wars and power struggle to define Kumase and Ɔseikrom in a hateful manner.

The people and elders of the Oseikrom have some interesting stories to share.

Despite its diversity, Oseikrom is a thriving community with a rich history and culture.

Also Read:

References:

Nana

Nana

Nana Santuoh, manages digital web products and leads the editorial team at Kumasiano - a mouthpiece for African and black people while reminiscing their good old days back home.

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