Lawyer Anokye Frimpong, a historian and private legal practitioner has disclosed how wearing of facial hair amongst Akan men became normalised even though it used to be an abomination in ancient times.
Speaking in an interview on Max TV, the historian said facial hair which was a means of identifying Muslims was regarded as a taboo among Akans who harboured enmity towards Muslims.
He revealed that everything changed under the reign of Otumfuo Osei Kwadwo who formed an alliance with the Dagomba people who were predominantly practitioners of the Islamic religion.
“That was what occurred under the reign of Osei Kwadwo, he expanded the kingdom to the north and one thing that also occurred under his reign was that until he came …it was due to the Islamic religion that we run away from the Mali Kingdom to present day Ghana.
“Incidentally when he came, he formed alliance with the Dagombas. It is the same Dagomba people who brought Islamic religion to the north with the Gonjas.
“As a result of that alliance, instead of Islam being a hated religion amongst Ashantis, Muslims became friendly to the Ashantis and for the first time the Ashantis started giving them places to stay in Ashanti land.
“That was how the various zongo communities started springing up in the Ashanti areas. It led to many Ashantis converting to Islam and them being called Asantekremo.
“Initially they were our enemies but that changed during Osei Kwadwo’s reign. That’s how come now you see someone wearing long beard among Akans. It used to be a serious abomination in the Akan kingdom,” he added.
About Otumfuo Osei Kwadwo ‘Okoawia’
From the days of Nana Otumfuo Osei Tutu I, the Kingdom of Ashanti which he founded in 1701 has been led by men who in their own way wrote their history to be remembered for centuries.
His third successor, Otumfuo Nana Osei Kwadwo through valour did not just continue the extension of the Ashanti Kingdom through hard-fought wars but did so with such bravery that earned him the appellation “Okoawia.”
Nana Baffour Kotei Kutin Sraman, the current chief of Bremang tells the history of his town and its founder, Otumfuo Osei Kwadwo’s other name which preceded his deeds.
“Bremang was founded by Otumfuo Osei Kwadwo whose appellation was Okoawia. His name carried a lot of weight, in that, he never went to war in the dark or in a sneaky way. Leading his army of subchiefs and subjects, he would come after adversaries in broad daylight and will stop at nothing until you lose your head. So Okoawia who is the fourth Asantehene founded Bremang. He was the nephew of Nana Kusi Boadum whom he succeeded following his demise,” Baffour Kotei told Oman Channel in an interview.
The archives of history further tell of the bravery of the fourth king of Asanteman, Osei Okoawia meaning “Osei who fights in the afternoon.”
His reign spanned between 1764 and 1777. He is credited with defeating the people of Wassa and Banda and annexing their states into the Ashanti Kingdom.
Dagomba land became a part of Asante territory under his reign after he had fought with a faction in Dagomba to win a war.
This formed the basis of the longstanding relationship between Asantes and Dagombas.
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