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Abusua

The Akan believe that man is made up of soul (okra), spirit (sunsum), blood (mogya) and family (abusua). The blood which comes from the mother determines the abusua or family group. Since most Akans are matrilineal, a child is what his/her mother is. Therefore a person can be Asante only by virtue of the fact that his/her mother is Asante.The eight Akan abusua are Aduana, Agona, Asakyiri, Asenie, Asona, Bretuo, Ekuona and Oyoko. It is said that generally, more people belong to the Asona abusua than to any other family group. The smallest of the abusua is Asakyiri.

Abusua is not the same as clan. Whereas abusua means (or is) a group or groups of people descended from one great-grand-mother on the maternal side, clan is a federation of four or five different groups of abusua or families with one recognised head. So those members of the same clan cannot, like members of an abusua, trace their ancestry (or descent) through the same common ancestress. Marriage between members of a clan is, therefore, permissible, Where members of a clan do not intermarry, the group would be more of a family than a clan. A child born of any marriage in Asante is a member of the same abusua or family as its mother, and naturally comes under the chief whom its mother serves.

Every member of the Asante tribe is a member of one of the above abusua or family groups and can trace their descent only through the female line to the same female ancestress who would invariably be the founder of the abusua.

The first effect of this relationship is clearly that members of one abusua are considered to have the same blood, and marriage between them is therefore forbidden.

The Akan lineage organization comprises matrilineal clans (mmusua, pl.; abusua, sing.) that have major and minor segments. In various places different names may be used for one and the same abusua. Sometimes, even in the same place, more than one name may be used to refer to same abusua or its minor segment.

Each abusua is identified both by its proper name and its common emblem, totem or symbol.

Among the Asante the eight abusua and their totems are:

1. Aduana (Atwea, Ntwea, Aowin, Aborade or Adwinade) abusua is represented by the dog (kraman, bodom) or frog (atwere or aponkyerene).

2. Agona abusua is represented by the parrot (akoo).

3. Asakyiri abusua is represented by the hawk.

4. Asenie abusua is represented by the whale (bonsu) or the bat (apane).

5. Asona (Odum, Odum-na, Dwum or Dwumina) abusua is represented by the crow or white crested raven (adene or akonkron).

6. Bretuo (Twidan) abusua is reresented by the leopard (etwie or osebo).

7. Ekuona (Asokore, Kona or Adonten) abusua is represented by the water buffalo (ekoo).

8. Oyoko (Daku, Yogo, Yoko, Oweko or Anona) abusua is represented by the hawk (akroma or asansaa).

Among the Kwaku the eight abusua and their totems are:

1. Aduana (Dog)

2. Agona (Parrot)

3. Asakyiri (Vulture)

4. Asenie (Bat)

5. Asona (Crow)

6. Bretuo (Leopard)

7. Ekuona (Bull)

8. Oyoko (Hawk)

Aduana


Aduana believe that at the time of creation, their ancestors descended from the skies on a golden chain. Others believe that they originally came from Asumanya and they were led by a duiker with a flame in his mouth and gold in his cheeks. They proceeded to Dormaa where they believe the flame is still kept alight. Still others believe that from Asumanya a section of the Aduana headed for Akwamu. Some of the principal towns of the Aduana are Dormaa and Akwamu. In Asante a principal towns for the Aduana are Kumawu, Asumanya, Kwaman, Boaman, Agogo, Apromaase, Tikurom, Kaase, Apagya, Bompata, Kwaso, Akyease, Takyiman, Nsuatre, Drobo, Manso-Mmem, Manso-Abodom, and Nyinahen. The symbol of the Aduana is the dog.

Agona


People of the Agona are predominant in Denkyira and therefore in Asante, Nkawie. The symbol of the Agona is the parrot. When greeted by a person from the Agona, the reply should be “Yaa ago nana”. Some towns of the Agona are Tafo, Bodwesango, Fomesua, Asienimpon, Trede Ahwaa, Ampabame.

Asakyiri


Asakyiri claim that they were the first to be created by God. They are to be found in the Adanse area and their main towns are Akorokyere (Akrokere), Ayaase and Asokore. When greeted by a person from the Asakyiri, the reply should be “Yaa Ofori nana”. Other towns of the Asakyiri are Abofuo, Abrenkese, Asakyiri, and Apeadu.

Asenie


The symbol of the Asenie is the bat and its main towns are Kumasi Amakom and Dompoase. When greeted by a person from the Asenie, the reply should be “Yaa adu nana”. Other towns of the Asenie are Antoa, Agona, Nkoranza, Wenchi, Atwoma, Kofiase, and Denyase.

Asona


The symbol of the Asona is the crow or wild boar. It is said that more people generally, belong to the Asona than to any other abusua. The principal towns are Edweso and Offinso. When greeted by a member of the Asona, the reply should be “Yaa Ofori nana”. Other towns of the Asona are Ejura, Feyiase, Manso-Nkwanta, Bonwire, Atwima-Agogo, Abrakaso, Taabuom, Beposo, Toase, and Odumase.

Bretuo


Bretuo are found mainly in Mampon, Amoafo, and Afigyaase/Effiduase. Its symbol is the leopard. It is worth noting that the commander of the Asante army against Denkyira was the Mamponhene and in the past, generally, matters relating to war in Asante was the domain of the Mamponhene. When greeted by a person from the Bretuo, the reply should be “Yaa etwie nana”. Towns of the Bretuo are Jamase, Apaa, Domeabra, Agogo-Hwidiem, Adankranya, and Abuotem.

Ekuona


Ekuona are not found in great numbers in Asante. They are mainly found among the Fante but in Asante, their main town is Adanse Fomena. The symbol of the Ekuona is the buffalo. When greeted, the reply should be “Yaa Doku nana”. Other towns of the family are Banko, Kona, Asokore-Mampon, Brekum, Kokofu-Abuoso, Adumasa, Heman, Abenkyem, and Duayaw-Nkwanta.

Oyoko


The falcon is the symbol of the Oyoko. It is also the family from which the Asantehene comes. Its main towns are Kumasi, Dwaben and Nsuta. When greeted, the reply should be “Yaa Obiri nana”. Other towns are Kokofu, Bekwae, Mamponten, Bogyae, Dadieso, Obogu, Asaaman Adubiase, Pampaso, Kontanase, Kenyase, and Ntonso.

The list of the towns of the various abusua is by no means exhaustive.

These days because of “modernisation” and “progress” it is nearly impossible to tell what abusua a person belongs to unless you know what town a person comes from. Even coming from a particular town does not necessarily mean that the person is from the dominant abusua in the town. In Asante, the occurrence of this is fairly remote. This problem is likely to occur among the Fante. For example, although Saltpond is considered to be a Fante town, their ancestors are likely to be Akyem. So to find the abusua of somebody from Saltpond, one might have to head in the direction of Oda.

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Matrilineal Inheritance