The Konkoma (Krokoban) are agriculturalist Guan Chumuru-speaking people found in the Pru East District of the Bono East Region of Ghana. The town of Konkoma is separated from Yeji town, and the surroundings of the village have ancient background compared to Yeji which has been transformed because of its huge market center, fishing, and ferrying business. The Konkoma (Krokoban) who has Akan Denkyira roots, used to be the rulers of the Yeji enclaves before the Guan-Larteh immigrant Kakyinpoh/Kachempo (Yeji) group supplanted them and became the rulers of the entire Yeji (Kumah 1966; Fordjor 1966). In the past, Fordjor (1966:17) posited that the whole of the Zongo community in Yeji today used to be part of Konkoma.
The Konkoma call themselves and their land Konkoma, although, in the past, they call themselves Krokoban (Fordjor 1966). The Konkoma calls their language Nchumbulu (Chumuru). They speak the same Chumuru language spoken by the Yeji. Linguistically, Nchumbulu (Chumuru), the language of the Konkoma and Yeji is a variant or dialect of the original Kyoŋboroŋ-nɔ (Chumburung) language of the Nchumuru. Nchumbulu (Chumuru) belongs to the North-Guan branch of the larger Guan languages that forms part of the Niger-Congo language phylum (Simons and Fennig 2018; Hansford 1989, 1990; Hansford 1990:29; Snider 1990, 1989a; Dolphyne and Dakubu 1988:79). In the North-Guan group, Nchumbulu (Chumuru) is associated with its parent language Kyoŋboroŋ-nɔ (Chumburung) as well as Dompo (Dompofie), Kɛnyɛn (Dwang), Kaakye (Krachi), Gikyode (Gichode/Atwode), Ngbanya/Ngbanyito (Gonja), Kplang (Kprang), Nawuri, Nkonya, Foodo and Ginyanga. Per the Snider’s (1989) subdivision of the North-Guan group into Oti-Mountain and Oti-River languages, Nchumbulu (Chumuru) is classified together with its parent language Kyoŋboroŋ-nɔ (Chumburung) and Kaakye (Krachi) as members of the Oti-River sub-branch of the North Guan languages. Dolphyne and Dakubu (1988:77) note that Nchumburu (Chumuru) shares a considerable amount of mutual intelligibility with its parent language Kyoŋboroŋ-nɔ (Chumburung) as well as Kplang (Kprang), Kɛnyɛn (Dwang), and Kaakye (Krachi), but considerably less intelligibility between these forms and Ngbanya/Ngbanyito (Gonja) or Gikyode (Gichode/Atwode).
As an assimilated Guan, Konkoma is a patrilineal-patrilocal type of society, a man lives in a kabuno “compound” with his wives, his unmarried sons and daughters, widowed sisters, aged relatives, and sometimes unmarried sisters and brothers, maybe up to 20 people. If a man dies, his properties and even his wife, are passed on to the eldest of his uterine brothers. In the past, the deceased man’s sons or children inherits a farm, house, and gun (Fordjor 1966:23). If a Konkoma man marries a Kakyinpoh/Kachempo (Yeji), the issue is regarded as belonging to the father. In terms of political authority, the Konkoma State has a paramount chief at the top of its chieftaincy structure. He rules with sub-divisional chiefs who are selected by their own community’s royal lineages. Unlike Yeji which is true and true Guan and has a chieftaincy system based on flexible patrilineal and matrilineal successions, the Konkoma who has Akan Denkyira roots, when it comes to stool (chieftaincy) succession, is based on the Akan system of matrilineal inheritance (Fordjor 1966:23).
The Konkoma (Krokoban) are very religious, thus the three religions of Christianity, Islam, and African Traditional Spiritualties are found in their territory. In the past, most of them were Traditional African Spiritualties practitioners. The Konkoma, just like the original Nchumuru that they got assimilated with belief in the existence of a Supreme Being called Wuruboare “God the creator” who is connected with the concepts of “goodness and all that is good, and with the cooling fertilising blessing of boare “rain” (Lumsden 1977). Wuruboare is holy, sacred and has no shrine, though he plays an important role in the life of every individual. He holds the “destiny” of individuals before they are born. Below the Wuruboare are the deities with their shrine and ancestral spirits. The major deities in Konkoma are Krachi Dente, Buele, Dumohu, Ngoragya, and Bruku (Fordjor 1966:20-21). Konkomawura is the high priest of all the deities in the traditional area, except Krachi Dente and Bruku, whose chief priests reside at Kete Krachi and Shiare.
As assimilated Guan, the Konkoma (Krokoban) who were originally Akan worships the renowned Krachi Dente deity, who is known for protecting the Guan groups in their warfare. However, their traditional supreme or chief deity is Buele. During their annual Afringya festival which comes off in December when the moon is the wane and starts on Kupoke holy day, the people make sacrifices to their major and ancestral deities. The people clear paths on major roads and the ones leading to shrines. The festival is marked with the beating of dawuro (gong-gong), then followed by drumming and dancing after the ban on drumming has been revoked (Fordjor 1966:20). People prepare fufu and neri seed soup cuisine with plenty of fish and meats on the second day of the festival. Chiefs and people slaughter animals (fowls and sheep) to make sacrifices to their community and ancestral deities on the third day of Afringya. They make prayers by appealing to Wuruboare in Heaven, Mother Earth, and the deities for their guidance and protection, as well as the general fertility of their land and women (Fordjor 1966:20).
Agriculture comprising farming and fishing is the main economic activity in Konkomaland. The farmers cultivate yams, cassava, beans, groundnut, corn (maize), and guinea-corn (Fordjor 1966; Lumsden 1971:29). The Konkoma, like the Yeji sells the yam tubers to non-Konkoma and Yeji buyers at the Yeji Market days, and they also sell this staple in the major markets of Accra and Kumasi. Women cultivate pepper, garden eggs, okra, and groundnuts among their husbands’ yam mounds, and carry produce home for domestic consumption, whilst the surplus is sold. The Konkoma also keeps ungulates (goats, sheep, and cattle), pigs, and chickens for domestic and commercial purposes. Fishing is another major occupation in the area following the arrival of the Ada Dangme and Tongu-Ewe Battor fisherfolks in the area (Fordjor 1966).
Origin and Migration
The Konkoma (Krokoban) oral tradition contends that they were the first people to arrive at the area now known as Yeji during the reign of King Osei Tutu (1697-1731). As a result of being the first settlers, the stool of the Asasewura “landowner” in the Yeji area belongs to the Kplang/Kpla House within the Konkoma (Krokoban) group and they always have the right to choose the Asasewura “the landowner” (Fordjor 1966:22). The Konkoma (Krokoban) was originally settled at Jukwa in the Denkyira Kingdom, but had to migrate with their large group as a result of the war between the Denkyira and Asante. They belonged to the Aduana Clan under the Gyase stool of Denkyira.
From Denkyira, they took eastwards direction, made several stops underway, and crossed the Volta to Krachi enclaves to finally stop at Adanfofoase “Under the white houses” (Kumah 1966:3; Fordjor 1966:15). Adanfofoase, according to Kumah (1966:3) and Fordjor (1966:15) lies beyond the southern bank of Pro (Pru) River, under a thick forest or between the Obosom and Seni Rivers on the western bank of the Volta. They named the place Adanfofoase because the mud-houses they put up at this place were painted with white nsono “ashes” and clay. Currently, the tradition of painting mud-houses white ashes and clay indicates the structure as a shrine and colour symbolism indicates that the place is holy and menstruating women are forbidden to enter such places.
After staying at Adanfofoase for some time, the Konkoma (Krokoban) proceeded to Kobonase in the Kwame Danso enclaves, then known as Donkore, where they picked some Guan Nchumuru dialects amongst the aboriginal settlers there (Kumah 1966:3; Fordjor 1966:15). From Kwame Danso (Donkore), they move on to settle at a place called Kakrobo Bampoe where they met the Dwan group at Abutinso. It was here that the Guan Kakyinpoh/Kachempo (now Yeji) group came to meet them, and the Konkoma gave them land at Bakyinpoh. From Kakrobo Bampoe, the Konkoma finally settle at a place in the present-day Yeji enclaves and founded their Krokoban settlement as the first settlers on the land. At Krokoban, they came into contact with the Ngbanya (Gonja) group known as Kuli on the other bank of the Volta River from whom they borrowed some of their language and speech patterns. This explains why the Konkoma (Krokoban) and Yeji (Kachempo/Kakyinpo) speak a variant of Nchumuru language called Chumuru, which is different from the original Kyoŋboroŋ-nɔ (Chumburung) language of the Nchumuru ethnic group.
As the first arrivals, the Yeji enclave provided the Akan-Denkyira but now assimilated Guan Konkoma (Krokoban) peaceful environment. They established a friendly relationship with the Kuli (now Makango) on the northern banks of the river and agreed to control each half of the River Volta (Fordjor 1966:15). This ensured that they both enjoy mutual benefits that accrued from the business of ferrying people across the river, particularly the Asante Kola nut traders who carry their goods to Yeji and cross over to Salaga.
From their settlement at Krokoban, the Konkoma (Krokoban) established seven large families in their community. Yamba (1957), however, argued that the Konkoma moved from Kebonese and settled at Kresempo beyond the River Pru, but because of the water problem they faced their hunter ancestor called Kisikwa brought the then Krokoban to Konkoma, adjacent to Yeji, and they chose to stay. Yamba further averred that through migration, water shortage, and intermarriage, the Yeji and Konkoma became related as one people. Yamba’s assertion is flatly rejected by the Konkoma, for if it was Yeji that brought them to Konkoma, how come the Konkoma holds the position of the asasewura “landowner.” Whilst Konkoma (Krokoban) lives peacefully in their settlement, the Asante conquered the Volta Basin and some parts of the Northern Kingdoms such as Gonja and Dagomba, and the Yeji enclaves came under Asante suzerainty. The Krokoban (Konkoma) chief was obligated to pay annual homage of 200 human beings to the Asantehene (Fordjor 1966:17). The area was also experienced surprised rampant warfare, as a result, the people moved out to settle in small isolated villages such as Kadjae, Korankye, and Kasanga, which still lie in the bushes around. By and by, the Krokoban (Konkoma) which used to be made up of seven large groups of communities dwindled into only one or two.
As aboriginals, when the Kadue (who now forms part of Yeji State) came to the area, they reported first to the Konkomawura (Krokobanwura) before moving to occupy where they live today. In acknowledgement of this historic meeting, during the festival of the Konkoma (Krokoban), the Konkomawura “Chief of Konkoma” sends a message to the Kaduewura who also in appreciation sends young men with cutlasses and hoes to help clear the paths and the grounds for the celebration. When the Hausa-Muslims also came to the Yeji area, it was the Krobonwura (Konkomawura) who as the recognised asasewura “landowner” that gave the land to them to settle on to establish their Zongo. Thus, during annual festivals and ceremonial occasions, the Serikin Zongo “Zongo Chief” provides the Konkomawura (Krokobanwura) with some cattle, yam, and money.
Concerning the Kakyinpo/Kachempo (now the people of Yeji), the Konkoma (Krokoban) oral tradition asserts that in the course of their movement from the South they met them at Adanfofoase, but they left them behind when they moved to Kwame Danso (Donkore) to live amongst the Kɛnyɛn (Dwan). At Kwame Danso, the Kakyinpo/Kachempo came to meet them there, and upon suggestion from the Dwanwura “Chief of Dwan”, the Konkoma (Krokoban) settled them under Bakyinpoh tree, now Yeji Central. The name Bakyinpoh was corrupted to Kakyinpoh and later anglicised to Kachempo/Kachinpo, which became their ethnonym (Fordjor 1966:18). The Kachempo later moved to live close to the Kuli, but some of their people were kidnapped and sold into slavery by the Kuli, thus they went back to the Konkoma with a complaint, bafe na bagyi “they sell us and make use of the money”. Fordjor (1966:18) explained that bagyi or baji means “make use of the money”, “eat”, or “they eat”, and it is baji that was vulgarised to Yeji. Upon returning, the Kachempo was given the role of ferrying people across the Volta by the Konkomawura; he also appointed asasewura called Nante who had a semi-autonomous role as the supervisor over the Kachempo (Yeji) and made him independent of the Konkomawura (Kumah 1966:2).
The Konkoma’s (Krokoban’s) role as the primus inter pares in the area was lost as a result of George Ekem Ferguson’s Treaty of Friendship he signed on behalf of Britain with the Yeji on behalf of the area at Salaga. The signing event was supposed to be attended and signed by Nana Kwame Boakye, the Konkomawura (Krokobanwura) “Chief of Konkoma/Krokoban”, but because he was too old and weak he delegated the Yejiwura “Chief of Yeji”, his own Konkoma chief linguist, and two deputies to attend the function. Because the chief linguist understands neither Twi nor English, the Yejiwura instead of signing a Treaty on behalf of the Konkomawura rather signed on his own behalf. This move, according to Fordjor (1966:19) led to the supplanting of Yejiwura over Konkomawura, because from the time the Treaty was signed at Salaga in 1901, the Chief of Yeji has been regarded as the head of the entire Yeji enclaves, when traditionally and historically he is not. This contradicts, Yeji claim that Yejiwura Kwasi Gyimah acquired the Konkoma stool following the one-year failure of the Konkomawura Ata Kwatia to send his tribute to Kumasi, and rather fled to offer himself and the Konkoma stool to Krachi Dente oracle (Yamba 1957). The Yeji maintained that Yejiwura Kwasi Gyima ran after Konkomawura Ata Kwatia to bring him home but he found that he had already hanged himself at Akaniemu (Yamba 1957). Gyima, however, was said to have succeeded in getting the Konkoma stool, but this assertion by the Yeji was rejected by the Konkoma.
Notwithstanding the Yeji claims and the colonial imposition of Yejiwura as the head of all Yeji enclaves, in the 1930s and 1940, the Konkoma (Krokoban) litigated against the Yeji in colonial courts over the issue. In line with Konkoma clam as the original head of the Yejiland, Kumah (1966:2) posited that until 1945, the Kokomawura used to settle matters in the Yeji State because he was recognised as head of state. Despite the conflicting dates and accounts of events given by Kumah (1966) and Fordjor (1966) on the Konkoma’s loss of their traditional headship role over Yejiland to the Kakyinpoh/Kachempo (Yeji), the injustice against them went on unabated. In 1957, the newly independent government of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah gave recognition to the Yejiwura as the Paramount Chief of all Yeji. This angered the people of Konkoma. Fordjor (1966:19) rationalised that Yeji was able to supplant the Konkoma (Krokoban) because the latter’s town is in a remote area and not close to the main road, lacks population that added to comparative apathy, leadership naiveté, and the idea then that subordinate chief was independent of the paramount chief and both positions were non-stipendiary. After many years of struggle, the Konkoma have their own traditional area independent of Yeji.
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