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Chronology for Ewe in Ghana

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Chronology for Ewe in Ghana, 2004, available at: [accessed 23 May 2023]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Date(s) Item
1550 - 1650 Asanti (Ashanti) exported gold north.
1697 Osei Tutu, the Asantehene (king), created Asanti Union.
1701 - 1800 The kingdom of Asante (Ashanti), in the modern state of Ghana, became powerful. In order to expand the power of his kingdom, Osei Tutu, together with his chief priest, changed the constitution and the ceremonial regalia (cloths, ornaments, and decorations). Particularly, Osei Tutu substituted for the royal throne (a stool) a special Golden Stool, which (he said) had descended from heaven into his lap, symbolizing the Asante nation. Every year, the Asante people assembled after the yam harvest for a national festival, the Odwira, for their unity with their kingdom.
1896 As British colonial power expanded in West Africa, there were clashes with the Asante and the area became a British protectorate. The king Prempeh was removed.
1901 The area was annexed with the southern area of what is now Ghana as the colony of the Gold Coast. The British often used the Golden Stool in ways that distressed the Asante people.
1935 The Golden Stool was returned to the people of Asante. The Asante were re-united, at least in a symbolic way, as a new Asantehene (king), Prempeh II, revived the ceremonies. During the late 1930s, Prempeh II did much to restore the glories of the old ceremonies of the Asante.
1947 Kwame Nkrumah returned to the Gold Coast.
1957 - 1947 Ghana became the first black African state given independence by Britain. Leaders Kwame Nkrumah was referred to as J.J (Junior Jesus) as Ghanaians believed that just like the Messiah, Nkrumah saved the country from colonial rule. Under Nkrumah's regime, the Ashanti people suffered humiliation.
1957 - 1963 The Greater Togo Movement of Ewe separatists sought to separate Trans-Volta (now Volta Region) from Ghana and annex it to Togo. During this period, especially 1961, not one Ewe held a position in Nkrumah's cabinet.
1966 Nkrumah was overthrown by General Emmanuel Kotoka (an Ewe) and went into exile. It was widely held that Kotoka had a lot of support from his own people. Power transferred from the coastal Akan peoples to the Ewe and Ashanti. The Ewe and Ga were over-represented in the cabinet. Northerners represented only 12 of the 1966 cabinet. (They account for about 25 percent of the country's population)
Apr 1967 General Kotoka was killed during an abortive coup attempt. Anti-Ewe sentiment rose throughout the country. The coup attempt was widely believed to be conducted by Ashantis and Fantis who try to reverse the growing domination of the state by Ewes.
1969 Government intervention in the selection of Ya Na (paramount chief) of the Dagomba, a northern people, resulted in rioting against the government.
Sep 1969 Ewe supported their compatriot K.A. Gbedemah and his party, the National Alliance of Liberals (NAL), in the general elections. But the Progress Party (PP) came to power.
1971 Only one Ewe was serving in a senior army position by the end of 1971.
Jan 1972 Ignatius Acheampong (an Ashanti) seized power in a coup. His National Redemption Council (NRC) was relatively diversified in ethnic composition. Yet under Acheampong's rule (1972- 1978), the Ashanti appeared to play a key role in politics. Between 1973 and 1977, Ewe revived the sentiments of secession.
Jul 1978 Acheampong was replaced at the head of the SMC by General Fred Akuffo. But Akuffo's regime (SMCII) proved to be no more than a footnote to Acheampong's period in power.
Jun 4, 1979 Flt.-Lt. Jerry Rawlings (half Ewe) seized power in a coup. Ewes took many key positions in his regime.
Sep 1979 Hilla Limann (a northerner) became president through a general election. Ewes supported Limann's Peoples National Party (PNP) in the election. Limann's PNP had its support base in the north and west. Many Akan peoples living in Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo areas voted for the PNP in the 1979 elections, but they did not get adequate recognition from the Limann government. By the end of 1981, the Limann regime had lost its influence over the groups making up the society and the economy declined sharply.
Dec 31, 1981 Rawlings led his second coup and assumed the chairmanship of the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) after overthrowing the Limann's civilian government and banning all political parties. As Rawlings came to power, Ewes' ethnic consciousness has further consolidated to the extent that they attempted to maximize their political influence. Rawlings cut back on the prominence of Ewes in his cabinet and yet Ashanti demands increased.
1982 Contention was greatly intensified among different ethnic groups. The armed forces were increasingly divided along ethnic lines, with the Ewe supporting Rawlings while the large number of northerners backed Sgt. Aloga Akata-pore.
Jun 19, 1983 A coup was attempted but crushed by the government troops. The PNDC government accused Ivory Coast of allowing its territory to be used as a base by the Ghanaian dissidents. Throughout the 1980s since the PNDC assumed power, there were a number of attempts and plots to overthrow the government.
Jul 5, 1990 The PNDC, under pressure from western donor nations and opposition groups to restore a multi-party civilian government, announced the commencement of a national discussion on the country's political future aimed at the development of democracy.
Aug 1990 The Movement for Freedom and Justice (MFJ), an umbrella organization, was launched to promote the return of multi-party politics to Ghana.
Sep 15, 1990 The MFJ was denied permission by the police to hold its inaugural rally in Kumasi, Ghana's second largest city.
Jul 2, 1991 Political opponents of the ruling PNDC, who were in voluntary exile, were granted amnesty to return and assist in the national reconstruction.
Dec 1991 According to a report of the International Human Rights Group Amnesty International, the PNDC misused power by using imprisonment as a means to suppress political opposition. The report stated that over 50 people were being detained without proper trial. Secretary of the Interior Nana Akouko Sarpong denied the existence of political prisoners and dismissed the human rights report as being part of a "propaganda war" against developing nations.
Dec 28, 1991 The Consultative Assembly on the drafting of a new constitution asked that its deliberations be prolonged until March 1992.
Mar 1992 On the 35th anniversary of independence, Rawlings announced a timetable for returning the country to civilian rule.
May 17, 1992 In the wake of the adoption of a new constitution in April, the ban imposed on political parties in 1981 was lifted. The registration process was boycotted by many groups, who took legal action against the legislation.
Nov 2, 1992 Rawlings won 58 percent of the vote in the presidential election. Ewes in the Volta region on Ghana's eastern border overwhelmingly voted for Rawlings, their favorite son candidate, while the Akan vote was more evenly spread. All of the four opposition parties -- New Patriotic Party (NPP), consisting mostly of Ashanti, People's National Convention (PNC), National Independence Party (NIP), and the People's Heritage Party (PHP) -- immediately disputed the results, alleging fraud and intimidation of voters. Yet, the head of a 15-member international observer group, called the Commonwealth Observer Team, said that although the process had not been without incident, the elections were free and fair.
Nov 11, 1992 The Ashanti regional administration lifted a curfew that was imposed last week on the Kumasi metropolitan area due to rioting over the results of the recent elections.
Dec 29, 1992 The four main opposition parties boycotted the national parliamentary elections. They wanted to postpone the elections for two years and to establish an interim parliament with equal representation for all the parties. Among the four parties, the NPP had been quite certain of ousting President Rawlings. Still, the elections were held and Rawlings' National Democratic Congress won 189 seats out of 200.
Jan 1993 A shadow organization calling itself Farigan, led by Lagos, Nigeria-based Alhaji Damba, claimed responsibility for bombings in Accra (the capital) and Tema (an industrial city).
Jan 7, 1993 The Fourth Republic of Ghana was proclaimed. Also the four main opposition parties issued a joint statement of the acceptance of the "present institutional arrangement." The parties, assembled as the Inter-party Coordinating Committee (ICC), urged its members to "give the government a chance to prove that it is interested in the institution and restoration of democracy."
Jun 1993 Refugees who have been fleeing Liberia's civil war since August 1990 now total 20,000 in Ghana. Also, tensions in Togo resulted in as many as 150,000 Ewe-speaking refugees fleeing to Ghana. (Reports conflict on the numbers of Togolese who fled to Ghana-they range from 10,000-150,000)
Dec 20, 1993 More than 1,500 delegates of the NPP (a major opposition party) met at the University of Ghana, Legon, for their second annual conference. A resolution called for a revision of electoral laws and procedures. In addition, the resolution demanded a commission of inquiry into the recent allegation of corruption and embezzlement of public funds.
Feb 16, 1995 Bushfires swept across Ghana causing extensive damage to forests and crops. At least 12 were killed.
Feb 19, 1995 A dispute between the traditional rulers of two central Ghanaian regions led to weekend riots in which at least six people were killed, scores were injured, and houses and other property were destroyed by fire. The riots occurred in the district of Techiman. They were sparked by an apparent move by the king of the Ashanti people to reassert his influence over the area, which had once been part of the Ashanti empire but later became autonomous. The issue of tribute collections, which had been dormant, resurfaced on Feb. 12 when Asantehene Opoku Ware II announced the promotion of 17 subchiefs to the rank of paramount chief. The newly promoted chiefs included those from Tanoso, Tuobodom, Tano Boase and Buoyam in the Techiman area. The promotion should have been done by the paramount chief of the Techiman Traditional Area, Nana Takyi Ameyaw, who saw Ware's move as meant to reassert his former authority. Following the promotion announcement, therefore, the four towns each had two chiefs, one installed by the traditional kingmakers of Techiman and the other by the asantehene. However, after the weekend riots involving supporters of the rival chiefs, those installed by the Ashanti leader fled the area.(Source: Inter Press Service, 2/19/96)
May 3, 1995 Armed forces of Ghana and a detachment of US special forces began a joint military exercise in the northern region.
May 12, 1995 Anti-government demonstrations took place in Accra. They were sponsored by the Alliance for Change and they resulted in clashes between pro- and anti-Rawlings demonstrators. Five people were killed in the clashes. (The Alliance for Change may be a mostly Ashanti organization-they were planning a similar demonstration in the Ashanti region.)
Jun 23, 1995 Thousands demonstrate in the sea port of Takoradi in protest over the high cost of living. Ghana has implemented World Bank sponsored austerity measures since the early 1980s and is generally thought to be in healthy financial shape compared to other African states. Yet, per capita income is low (about $450/year) and unemployment is high.
Aug 14, 1995 Ashanti king Otumfuo Nana Opuko Ware II celebrated his silver jubilee (75th birthday). Celebrations were attended by President Rawlings who is married to a member of the Ashanti royal family. Much of the opposition to Rawlings' regime, however, comes from the Ashanti community.(Source: Reuters World Service, 8/24/95)
Dec 4, 1996 Political activity in Kumasi was banned by the Regional Security Council following pre-election violence. The ban on the political activities includes rallies, blockade of roads and streets with songs, and other acts that are likely to lead to violence in the metropolis. The decision was the result of an incident which occurred at Old Tafo near Kumasi on December 3, which resulted in the lynching to death of one Emmanuel Yao Gruponi, popularly known as Ima Yao of the NDC [National Democratic Congress] youth wing. The NDC's party office was burnt down, and a house was attacked.(Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 12/4/96)
Dec 10, 1996 Although the official total from December 7 presidential elections has not yet been announced, President Jerry Rawlings looks assured of a historic win in Ghana's elections after dominating the West African nation's political scene for almost two decades. No incumbent has been re-elected since Ghana won independence from Britain in 1957. The final count for parliamentary elections also held on December 7 has been announced. The count gives the president's National Democratic Congress party 117 seats in the 200-seat assembly. The combined opposition has 62 seats.(Source: Reuters World Service, 12/10/96)
Dec 23, 1996 Kofi Annan, a Ghanaian, became the first sub-Saharan African to head the United Nations as Secretary General. (Source: Inter Press Service, 12/23/96)
Jan 25, 1997 The Ashanti Regional Police Command has sent reinforcements to Nsuta to help contain the tense situation which has developed between the people of Nsuta and Bepawso. Citizens of Nsuta yesterday blocked the road between the town and Bepawso and prevented people traveling to and from Bepawso. The blockade was in protest against a letter allegedly written by the Bepawsohene [traditional ruler] to the Nsutahene claiming that the people of Nsuta are occupying Bepawso land. Fourteen people, including school children, were injured, and four people were killed.(Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 1/25/97)
Sep 9, 1998 The Ashanti regional security council has urged members of the Sunna and the Tijaniya Muslim sects to respect customs, traditions and norms of the Islamic religion. They should also tolerate each other's views to avoid frequent outbreaks of violence between them. The council directed that the use of public address systems by the two sects should cease. Police have been monitoring the Zongo and the Aboabo communities to ensure that there is no breach of the peace. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 9/9/98)
Oct 15, 1998 The man reputed to be the Kabila of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Goozie Tanoh, is reported to have gone underground after what NDC reformers called persistent pressure on him to renounce his Movement. In recent weeks, signals have been sent to the NDC to reform or risk the imminent breakup of the party. (Source: Africa News, 10/15/98)
Oct 25, 1998 John Agyekum Kufuor, a lawyer and economist, was on Saturday re-elected presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to contest the 2000 elections. (Source: Africa News, 10/25/98)
Dec 17, 1998 The National Democratic Congress (NDC) starts its delegates' congress today in Sekondi in the Western Region. With the issue of who succeeds President J.J. Rawlings now put to rest by the President's repeated endorsement of his Vice President, Professor John Evans Atta-Mills, the struggle has now shifted to certain key positions in the party. Alhaji Issifu Ali, the party Chairman has been removed from his position. Already there are many party functionaries in a queue to fill the void created by Issifu Ali's exit. Dr. Obed Asamoah, the overwhelming choice of the party's National Executive Council, flatly rejected the chairmanship offer. Although, Ali gave other reasons, credible sources within the NDC claim that Obed rejected the offer because with the President as the virtual omnipotent of the party, it would seem the party is dominated by Ewes. The lot has now fallen on Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu, the Defence Minister, who, sources say, is more than willing to accept the position. That would mean sacrificing Alhaji Huudu Yahaya, the General Secretary. Huudu and Mahama Iddrisu are both Northerners and by the current NDC permutations, the two cannot occupy such high positions in the party.(Source: Africa News, 12/17/98)
Mar 19, 1999 Otumfuor Opolu Ware II, the 79 year old king of the Asante died after reigning for 29 years. (Source: Africa News, 3/19/99)
Jun 1, 1999 A vote of No-Confidence was passed on the Kumasi Metropolitan Chief Executive Nana Akwasi Agyemang for highhandedness, nepotism, dictatorship and gross abuse of office. (Source: Africa News, 6/1/99)

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