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The Ga Mantse greets the Prince of Wales (and later King Edward VIII ) and welcomes him to Accra . 1925

Mantse is a political title and also the name of the corresponding figurative symbol in today's Accra , the capital of Ghana . Mantse originally referred to the office (or symbol) of the chief priest of the Mantse ritual of the Ga people in the southeast of what is now Ghana. On the eve and especially during the Akwamu invasion of 1677–81, however, the Mantse chair became the general war symbol of the Ga in the fight against Akwamu. After that, the chair of the Mantse lost its original religious meaning and became the symbol and designation of the office of the head of the Otublohum quarter in Accra and later that of the Atifi quarter, i.e. an Akanic enclave within an area otherwise dominated by Ga and Guang. Mantse literally means "father of the city" in the Ga language .

On the importance of the Mantse chair in Ga society

Repeated attacks by Akwamus had triggered a migration towards the coast among the Ga in the hinterland of the eastern Gold Coast in the 17th century (perhaps even earlier). Mainly the large coastal cities of Accra, Osu and Labadi experienced a strong population influx at that time. Here, as a group, there were significantly better opportunities for self-defense than in rural areas, where the homes were widely scattered and the landscape also offered few defense options. In addition, Europeans were also present here, which apparently should also have given a certain feeling of security. Whether the Mantse chair from Accra is a creation from this time or whether it existed before is in the dark. But the chair, which was actually associated with religious content, became a symbol of resistance against Akwamu during this period, especially when the Akwamu invasion actually took place in 1677. However, the victorious Akwamu chiefs were clever enough not to destroy a symbol that embodied the unity of the Ga nation in the struggle against them, but rather to incorporate it into their own administrative system. The governor was also the same to that of the Akwamuhene for the province Accra Mantse set high chair Ga. After the arrival of the Akwamus, the title increasingly lost its religious background and later became the general name of the political head of the Otublohum district in Accra, which has since been the core of an Akwamu enclave within Accra.

Since the Mantse chair made a not insignificant contribution to the organization of the resistance during the Akwamu invasion, the Wolumo of the Mantse chair in (small) Accra and its surrounding area also gained a certain amount of support in the Ga population outside Accra . In a more distant sense, it could be called the “King of the Ga” after 1681 and the Mantse chair as a ritually supported symbol for the entirety of the Ga as a nation. However, neither then nor later can there be any talk of a political centralization process of the broken Ga nation under the leadership of the Mantse-Wolumo . (Little) Accra did not even have its own military unit during the invasion. The political power of Accra was largely limited to the individual city districts and was only represented by a “council of chair holders” as the highest authority. A Mantse Wolumo with powers over the entire city never existed, although it had some support among the Guang and Ewe groups in the hinterland, to which the Dutch patronage, which was linked to the Mantse chair after 1681, probably contributed should have. One of the main reasons why a regrouping process of the Ga nation did not take place later is to be seen above all in the occupation of the Mantse chair and the related succession regulation. The family connection to the blood line of the Akwamu kings was established through this by means of a special wedding arrangement.

Succession on the Mantse chair


Otublohum (Twi: Otuboron) is the name of a district in Accra and literally means "Otu's Quartier". The name goes back to Otu, who lived in Accra in the second half of the 17th and first half of the 18th century. Otu came from a chief family of the Akwamus . At a young age, Otu was left to the Dutch at Fort Crèvecoeur as a pledge slave, which made him the "company slave" of the Dutch West India Society (WIC). At the end of the 1660s or the beginning of the 1670s he rose to head the local “trading boys”. This was a position that was filled by election among the company slaves. As a result, Otu gained power and prestige, and the Dutch also endowed him with the external symbols of a chief authority according to his position, e.g. B. finer clothing, valuable pearls, golden amulets etc. He also had his own horns, drums and parasols, which were shown on ceremonial occasions and made a corresponding impression on the rest of the population. In addition, Otu had his own armed force, which accompanied him on missions outside Accra and which also regularly patrolled the trade routes leading to Accra in order to keep them open, at least in the closer hinterland, and to give arriving traders a safe escort to the Dutch fort to grant. Otu's power rose quickly and the initial trading boy soon became the local “chief broker for the Dutch branches on the Gold Coast”, a not insignificant position that was given by the Dutch. Together with relatives who were dependent on him and a few slaves, he settled in his own property near forts Crèvecoeur, which formed the core of what would later become the Otublohum quarter. In this context it must be mentioned that in the Dutch reports of that time Otu is mostly called "Pieter Pasop", a name that his first Dutch master once gave him. In the oral Accra tradition, however, it is referred to as Otu Ahiakwa , the epithet being made up of Ahia , a pity name, e.g. B. is given to a child born after the death of his father, and Akwa , which means company slave.

In 1677 the Akwamu army invaded Accra and in 1681, after a series of battles, the kingdom of Accra was finally defeated, the king was executed and the land was occupied by Akwamu troops. Accra had from then on the status of a province of Akwamus. The victorious invaders found one of their own in Otu, who was also in a responsible position with the Dutch and thus had a powerful ally at his side. He was therefore offered the post of governor of the newly won province.

Otu, was killed in 1712 in an attack by Jan Conny's troops on the British Fort Dixcove along with Affery, another, also very wealthy, native Dutch broker on the Gold Coast .

The wedding arrangement regarding the succession on the Mantse chair

During his time as governor of Akwamuhene, Otu was a uterine sister of the two Akwamu kings Ado (r. 1689–1702) and Akonno (r. 1702–1725). Before his death in 1712, Otu married his sister's daughter to Amu, the son of Akonno's sister, who was then king of Akwamu. From this connection grew a son, Dako (Dacon). In turn, the royal family gave back the daughter of the sister of the aforementioned Amu as a wife.

In other words, in the first generation, the royal family gave the otu a uterine sister of the king to wife. In the next generation, the Otublohum family reciprocated and gave one of the daughters of Otu's sister to Amu, the king's son, ie Amu married his patrilineal cross-cousin. In the third generation, the royal family married the daughter of Amu's sister, the son of Otu's sister's daughter. In this case too, Dako from Otublohum married his patrilineal cross cousin. This succession of several cross-cousin marriages resulted in a special constellation in terms of traditional inheritance law.

In the years up to 1733 there was a succession to the Mantse chair, however, not without the consent of the Dutch and the occupant of the Mantse chair was also the chief broker for the Dutch properties on the Gold Coast. This changed in 1733 when Dako succeeded his late father Amu. With regard to the succession as chief broker, one wanted to wait and see how events unfold. At that time a war between the Dutch and Danes or their allies threatened on the eastern Gold Coast, which could be prevented at the last minute by the intervention of the Akimers with the help of the Giemanwong oracle as well as urgent personnel changes on the part of the European home governments. It was not until 1737 that Dako was appointed chief broker of the WIC on the Gold Coast, which, however, was also connected with political unrest. Dako was killed in Akwamu in 1742 during the Akimi-Ashanti War. Ofei was elected to succeed Dako in Accra, of whom it is said that he was the brother of Dako, although it remains unclear which Dako is meant, because Dako senior had a son who was also called Dako.

The importance of cross-cousin marriage in mother law

The traditional line of succession in strictly matrilineal organized societies such as the Akan peoples is based on the Abusua , i.e. H. inheritance is only inherited within a community of people whose descent can be traced back to a common female ancestor in a female bloodline . The normal case is that within the Abusua women inherit from women and men from men. The representatives of the generation of the deceased have priority, and among these the uterine siblings come first. Then comes generation −1, i.e. H. the next younger generation of the same female bloodline. Here the eldest son of the eldest sister has priority, then the eldest son of the next older sister comes, etc. Only then is the turn of generation +1; H. Aunts or uncles of the same Abusua etc. At all levels, if there are several people of the same degree of relationship, the oldest person among them always has priority. Twins or other multiples inherit together to avoid arguments. In the past, children and widow (r) usually got nothing. (In most forms of marriage on the Gold Coast, children belong to the mother's family (Abusua) .) This system of sole inheritance of property via the matrilinear bloodline was essentially retained during the time of British colonial jurisdiction, as the Marriage Ordinance of the British colonial government spoke of 1884 however, at least 2/9 of the deceased's estate is given to the widowed spouse as a minimum security, which is roughly the law that still applies today.

In cross-cousin marriage , the mother of one spouse and the father of the other spouse are siblings to each other. For the groom, this means that he marries his cross cousin, i.e. the daughter of his father's sister or the daughter of his mother's brother. For the bride it means marrying the son of her mother's brother or the son of her father's sister. This used to be common among the Akan, because this system ensures that property as well as hereditary succession to offices always shuttles between two matrilineal groups, but at the same time always a son follows his father into office. It is therefore a legal special form in which an apparently paternal line of succession was secured without violating the applicable maternal law inheritance law. In addition, such a wedding arrangement was also an effective method, for example to prevent the emergence of political rivalries between two influential families in the long term.

With regard to the Mantse chair in Accra, this system was maintained even after the serious events of 1728–1733, 1737–1739 and 1742. One can therefore rightly consider the Otublohum district of Accra to be the enclave of an Akwamu minority in the middle of a region dominated by Ga and Guang. Despite this kinship bond to an Akan royal family still Ga Accra have over the years largely the occupation of their Mantse- chair accepted by the head of the Otublohum-cantonment, even if it was sometimes efforts, for example, in the 1730s, the Mantse- To wrest the otublohum akwamus from the chair.

Split and reorganization

Even during the Akimic rule in the following years after 1730, as well as after the invasion of the Ashanti in 1742, the constellation in Accra was essentially retained in its existing form. The Otublohum Akwamus, however, were no longer considered subjects of the Akwamuhene at the beginning of the 1740s. The remnants of the Akwamu army and a large part of the population had evacuated the western part of Akwamu land (whose western neighbor was Akim-Abuakwa) in connection with the collapse of 1730. Akwamu's capital Nyanaoase was surrounded by the troops of Ofosuhene Frempong Manso in September 1730 , conquered, the Akwamuhene executed and the city completely burned down. A large stream of refugees left the country in an easterly direction. A new Akwamu was finally founded on the Volta, with Akwamufie as the new capital and Dako Boman as the first king. With the renewed strength of the Akwamu state in the 1730s and 1740s, but especially after the Ashanti invasion of Accra in 1742, efforts were made in both Otublohum and Akwamu to revive and expand the old connections. To underpin this, the son of Otublohum-Dako, who was also called Dako (and was therefore called Dako Chuma, literally: "little Dako") was enthroned as king of Akwamu in 1747 (ruled until 1781).

When Otublohum-Mantse Ofei died in 1771, however, his legitimate successor was already sitting in the royal seat of Akwamu. Instead of him, Oto, a half-brother of Dako Chuma, whom his mother had fathered with another father, was elected to succeed him in the Mantse chair. But Oto did not come from the Otublohum community, which caused some resentment and resistance in Accra. But Oto had just been chosen and when he arrived in Accra-Otublohum initially felt compelled to build his own house. The entire Otublohum quarter across from him was split into two camps: one accepted him as Mantse and the other rejected him. In order to avoid an escalation of the situation and thus a resurgence of the civil war of the 1730s, Oto made the proposal to divide the Otublohum quarter into two sections, Atifi and Dadebana, each with its own chair, i.e. with its own head. The owner of the Atifi chair should also be the rightful mantse at the same time. This proposal was generally accepted. Later disputes about land or succession issues showed that the Otublohum-Akwamus considered Oto to be the actual founder of the Atifi district, but that the Dadebana district is proud to look back on a tradition in Accra that is 120 years older.

The Atifi section, although located in the center of Accra, was in the past more culturally linked to Akwamu than to the rest of Otublohum, while in the Dadebana section the process of increasing "Accraization" took place over time Has. The latter was shown mainly in the adoption of certain customs, as they were common in Accra, but not in Akwamu. One of them was z. B. That of the circumcision of male children, which was never introduced in Atifi, but found its way into the Dadebana district. The chair of the Atifi head (next to the Mantse chair) was always seen as the Wofase chair of the king's chair by Akwamu ( wofase = son of the sister), the successor of which was strictly determined according to the definitive rules of maternal law, while the occupation regulation was determined of the Dadebana chair rather sees the compromise solution between patrilineal Ga and matrilineal Akan principles.

List of Accra Mantse

The Otublohum chiefs, who were also Accra Mantse at the same time, if known:

  • 1681-1712: Otu
  • 1712-1733: Amu
  • 1733–1742: Dako (Dacon)
  • 1772-1771: Ofei
  • 1771–1790: Oto (= that Oto Braffo of the Anglo campaign of 1784)
  • 1790-1798: Okanta
  • 1950s: Nii Amu Nakwa


  1. Accra, today's capital of Ghana, was called "Little Accra" by Europeans in the 17th century (the Carà of the Portuguese). The actual capital of the Accra empire of the Ga, Ayawaso, which was called "Greater Accra" by the Europeans, was located about 25 km inland to the north-west of Little Accra.
  2. The Mantse high chair in this context is not to be confused with the Golden chair of Ga, which also symbolizes the Ga nation as a whole. But the golden chair , which was occupied by the king, apparently stood for the kingship itself. How much the king was hated by the people at the time is shown for example. For example, when the Akwamu army marched into Accra in 1677, Okai Koi was handed over to the enemy by his own generals. The increase in importance that the Mantse chair experienced during this time was probably also linked to a certain opposition to the ruling dynasty, which additionally strengthened a sense of national unity in the common struggle against an external enemy.
  3. King of Akwamu
  4. This essentially means the territories of the former kingdoms of Accra and Ladoku after their final fall in 1680/1681.
  5. Wolumo is the general name of a priest or more precisely a "priest of the family deity" among the Ga.
  6. ↑ coming from the same mother; Uterus = womb
  7. Title of the ruler of Akim-Kotoko


  • Ivor Wilks: Akwamu and Otublohum: An eighteenth-century Akan marriage arrangement . In: Africa. (London), 29 (4), 1959, pp. 391-404.
  • Ivor Wilks: Akwamu 1640-1750. A Study of the Rise and Fall of a West African Empire . Trondheim 2001, ISBN 82-7765-036-1 , see in particular Appendix 1.
  • Richard Gray (Ed.): The Cambridge History of Africa. Vol. 4: from 1600 to 1790 . Cambridge 1975.
  • on Akan's inheritance law, see z. E.g .: David B. Kronenfeld: Fanti Kinship - Language, Inheritance, and Kin Groups. In: Anthropos. 86, 1991, pp. 19-31.