The First Generation of Yoruba immigrants into Ghana during the period up to the end of colonial rule. These immigrants, mostly Yoruba traders, served as a link between European commercial interests at the coast and the hinterland of Ghana as they broke-up bulk goods and sold these to inhabitants of the hinterland, making huge profits in the process.
Population of Yoruba in Ghana
Percentage of Yoruba in Ghana
The Yoruba in Ghana are setting good examples with their traditional ruler leading the pace in sustaining their culture and living in harmony. From outside, the one-storey building looks like several other buildings sprawling over the commercial hub of the city, the Makola International Market at Central Accra, Ghana. Originally known as Okaissey, the entire area has been taken over by itinerant traders. However, the bold inscription on the entrance of this particular building indicates a very important place. “This is the Palace of Chief Brimah”, it reads. The very prestigious ruling dynasty of the Yoruba race in Ghana. It has a rich pedigree and influence that dates back to over two centuries. The throne has spanned over 200 years. The throne is nearly as old as the Yoruba people in the country. The founder was said to be an immigrant from Ilorin in present day Kwara State in Nigeria and was one of the early Nigerian settlers in Ghana. A very influential and wealthy business man in his days, he was said to be enstooled by the British Consul as Head of the Mohammedans. The legacy has continued to live on and less than two years ago, the reigning monarch, Oba Alhaji Hamza Peregrino Brimah the 8th was installed chief. A small stairway at the back of the house takes you to the top floor. A red carpet from the stairway leads you directly into the palace. It might not be sprawling, but has the trappings of an ancient monarchy. It is draped in accoutrements befitting royalty. The room is covered by several stately settees. But one stands out. It is adorned in red and gold. This is the throne of the monarch.
The emblem of authority in the form of sword is conspicuously hanging on top of the throne. A high-ranking member of the Council of Elders later explained to Daily Trust on Sunday that the original staff of office, a gold sword handed over to Chief Brimah 1st by the Governor-General of the then Gold Coast has been deposited in the Bank of Ghana. Noticeable on the wall were several portraits of previous rulers. There were other landmark monuments displayed on the wall. Prominent among them was a portrait of a very old storey building constructed with wood. Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that it belonged to Chief Brimah 1st. The land currently hosts the General Post Office at Central Accra. Indeed, the subjects forged a strong and unbreakable tie with their leader. The dynasty is synonymous with the Yoruba race. For instance, when in 2014, the people marked 200 years of their settlement in Ghana, the Chief Brimah’s legacy was celebrated alongside. Chief Brimah is both the political and spiritual leader of the Yoruba people. This is exemplified in both his titles as Paramount Ruler of the Yoruba in Ghana and Seriki Mosulemi. The monarch oversees the affairs and welfare of the entire Yoruba people not only in the Greater Accra Region, but also spreading to all the other regions of the country. This responsibility also extends to areas of mediation and conciliation. Thus, whenever there was a conflict between Yoruba communities, it behoves on the royal father to intervene.
The monarch undertakes the political administration of his domain with the assistance of a Council of Elders, notably, Asiwaju, Alhaji Baba Musa, Otumba, Alhaji Billy Brimah, Alhaji Rasha Peregrino Brimah, Alhaji Rasak Brimah, Alhaji Sura Lawal and Alhaji Tunde Salami. These elders are also leaders of the various Yoruba communities in the Greater Accra Region and its environs. Besides the Council of Elders at the centre, the monarch has sub-chiefs, who administer the provinces. They include the Chief of Kosoa, Ashaiman, Koforidua, Secondi, Tamale, Wa, Konogu and Kumasi, among others. The heads of the Yoruba communities in the 10 regions of the country bear allegiance to their supreme leader. These sub-chiefs regularly pay homage, according to commonly accepted culture of the Yoruba race in Nigeria. The Asiwaju, Alhaji Musa, said through the counsel and exemplary lifestyle of the leadership of the monarch, the Yoruba people in Ghana have lived above board. “You never heard Yoruba people mentioned among 419 kingpins, kidnappers, thieves and other criminals, who give Nigeria a bad name in this country. We are extremely grateful to them for the excellent training they have impacted in us,” he remarked. Another member of the Council of Elders, Alhaji Rasaq Brimah, noted with pride that the Yoruba nation had become completely integrated into the system and was considered one of the tribes in the country. “In 1958, when the first Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana, Mr. Quist, resigned on health grounds, the next Speaker of Parliament, a magistrate from one of the courts, was Mr. Akinwumi. Now, there is an Akinwumi family in this country. They are fully integrated in the society,” he posited. Chief Brimah is also the spiritual leader of the Yoruba race in Ghana. Being Seriki Mosulemi, he is the head of Yoruba Muslims. Other people, who profess other faith are not alienated by him.
According to Asiwaju Alhaji Musa, “Being a democratic king, he does not discriminate against other forms of religions. He is the spiritual father of Muslims. He is also the leader of those, who worship other gods. So, whether they worship ‘Sango’, ‘Orunmila’, ‘Ogun’ and others, he accepts everyone and does not discriminate.” It is a spectacle as the monarch and eminent council members are usually dressed in splendour and majesty, especially in Yoruba regalia and a matching cap made from asoke material and draped in beads. The scenario is every inch like the royal fathers from South West Nigeria. Asiwaju Alhaji Musa, who is also the Governor-General of all the Yoruba communities in Ghana, explained that being away from home hasn’t robbed them of the essence of their cultural identity. He attributed it to the influence of their traditional ruler. Also, Alhaji Rasak Brimah reflected on numerous cultural activities spearheaded by the palace. He described such extravaganzas as deep reflection of the unifying power of their traditional ruler.
“…The Yoruba still have links with their home land. They travel home for marriages and other social activities. There have been proposals for the establishment of a school. There is a plan to construct Odua House,” he noted. He also said when there is any festivity, there is always a large crowd as people troop out just to see Yoruba colours and attire. The Brimah dynasty has been recognized and accorded respect by successive administrations since the colonial days. Till date. He belongs to the Council of Chiefs in Ghana. He has been fully integrated into the fold of eminent Ghanaian traditional rulers. He also belongs to the Council of Muslim Chiefs in Accra by virtue of his title as the Seriki Mosulemi. Being a member of these eminent bodies, the Yoruba monarch is always mentioned and recognized at every independence day celebration in the country. His relationship with his Ghanaian counterparts has been very cordial to the extent that during major festivals, there was regular exchange of gifts. “Every year, the various chiefs slaughter cows and goats and send to all members. It is a sign that their relationship is good. It is also an expression of good intentions among them. There has never been a quarrel between us,” Asiwaju Alhaji Musa maintained.
Yoruba Council of Chiefs in Ghana
The Yoruba Council of Chiefs in Ghana and six institutions, yesterday donated a total of GH¢375,000 to the Covid-19 National Trust Fund established by the government to cater for the poor and vulnerable persons affected by the coronavirus disease(COVID-19) pandemic. The Yoruba Council of Chiefs in Ghana led by their Asiwaju (leader), Alhaji Musah Baba, donated GH¢20,000 and 500 5KG bags of rice. The Government Board Chairpersons of State Entities under (SIGA), led by the Chairperson of the Minerals Commission, S. K. Boafo, presented GH¢200,000 and Eckankar Ghana Satsang Society through their President, Aspect Caiquo, and in the company of Madam Charlotte Asante, the Immediate Past President, presented a cheque for GH¢10,000 to the fund.
The Staff of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, led by the Director, Administration, Harold Agyeman, and accompanied by the Director, Europe, Miss Dorris Brese, and Director II, Administration, Mrs Akosua Okyere Badoo, presented GH¢20,000 to the fund. The Social Needs Foundation of GUOOF, through Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Dennis Vormawor, presented a cheque for GH¢25,000 to the fund. A seven-member delegation of the Grand Lodge of Ghana, led by its Grand Master, Naval Captain Kwadjo Adunkwa Butah, donated GH¢100,000 As part of the donations, a Ghanaian businessman based in Nigeria, Dr Armed Vanderpujie, donated $20,000.00 to the fund. Mr Enoch Osei Mensah, the Director of Protocol, at the Office of the Vice President, and Chief of Ejura in the Ashanti Region, presented the cheque to the fund on behalf of the businessman. Archbishop Justice Offei Akrofi, a member of the board of trustees for the Covid-19 National Trust Fund, received the donations on behalf of the fund. He expressed appreciation to the donors and gave the assurance that the monies will be used for the benefit of the needy and vulnerable in communities.
How Afro-Brazilian slaves of Yoruba descent settled in Ghana following the 1835 Great Revolt in Bahia
When they first started arriving in Accra and south of Ghana, they could only speak Portuguese. They greeted one another with the Portuguese greeting “Como Está?” which is replied with “Tá bom”. Hence, the Akan, Ewe and Ga people along the coast started calling them the Tabom people.
According to a study conducted in Ghana in the 19th century, it is estimated that between 3,000 and 8,000 former slaves returned to Africa. Those who took part in the Malé Revolt of 1835, described as the most significant slave rebellion in Brazil, resided in Ghana, Benin, Nigeria and Togo.
The Tabom directly from Brazil arrived in Ghana via a ship dubbed SS Salisbury, which was sponsored by the British.
Close to 70 individuals with seven different families docked in James Town in 1836; among them being Nii Azumah Nelson. The new arrivals decided to settle in Accra due to the welcoming reception they received from the Mantse Nii Ankrah of the Otublohum area.
Some of them settled in the Brazil House, located on Brazil Lane in James Town.
Adept in agriculture, irrigation, carpentry, architecture and tailoring, amongst other professions, the Tabom people planted cassava, mango, beans and additional vegetables.
They also founded the first tailoring shop in the West-African country in 1854 named the First Scissors House. Their first major assignment was supplying the Ghanaian Army with uniforms.
The Tabom people’s contributions to the society are deeply enrooted in the Ghanaian way of life and felt till this day.
Accepted by the Akan, Ewe and Ga’s, the Tabom people married them which enabled them to fully integrate into the culture and speak the different languages eloquently.
This also facilitated the Tabom people to acquire land in prestigious neighborhoods such as Asylum Down, James Town and North Ridge. Some of their properties were vast plantations.
The Tabom people can be found in Osu, Kokomele, Sekondi-Takoradi and Cape Coast in addition to the aforementioned places above.
Some notable Tabom people are the renowned boxer, Azumah Nelson, Dan Morton, a famous tailor living and working in Ghana and Nii Azumah V.
FARIDA DAWKINS | Contributor
In a pomp filled occasion, Nigerians, Ghanaians and other guests celebrated the 100-year peaceful legacy of migrant African Chief Brimah I in Accra recently. Chief Brimah I who migrated to the Gold coast from Nigeria, passed in 1902.
Celebrating the legacy of Chief Brimah
The occasion was attended by Ghana’s high chiefs, the Ga Mantse, a representative of the Nigerian High Commission among others. Addresses were given by the Mayor of Accra – Alfred Oko Vanderpuije; the national Chief Imam – Sheikh Dr. Osman Nuhu Sharubutu; Chief Brimah VII, other distinguished members of the Brimah family and invited guests.
As with all occasions of the Ghana Yoruba chiefdom, it was a day to celebrate beautiful African culture, integration and harmonious coexistence of inter-related cultures and the peaceful and progressive growth and development.
In the early 19th century, pockets of Yorubas from the old Oyo Empire and environs, migrated to the Gold coast out of adventure and in search for new habitation. Others went with trade in mind. The first group of Yorubas arrived in the Gold Coast around 1813 and initially settled in such places as Accra, Kumasi and Sekondi before moving to the northern part of the Gold Coast, especially Tamale, Wa, Lawra and Nandom.
There are several prominent families that left different parts of South-west Nigeria and settled in the Gold Coast. The Alawiyes is one such large family. One of the noted migrations was that of Chief Ibrahim, whose name was later Anglicized to “Brimah.” He set out from Ilorin with a retinue which included Alhaji Girigisu, Alhaji Shaibu, Alawiyes, and his two first children. They also travelled with a lot of livestock. Along the way, they joined up with Nigerians from Kano. These Northerners preferred the north of Ghana and settled there while Chief Brimah I and company continued as a spiritualist had advised them till they got to the sea at Accra.
In the early 19th century, hundreds of Yorubas migrated to Ghana and many more are first, second and third generation citizens. The Yorubas are an integral positive part of Ghanaian society. Some have lived here so long and have gone through so many generations that the younger ones barely speak Yoruba. Most, however are able to speak 3-5 languages: Yoruba, Hausa, Twi, English and Ga. During conversations you find them switching from one language to another
Chief Brimah I
Chief Brimah I formed the first settlement in British Accra, known as “Zongo,” where strangers who visit Accra settle. Hausas, Fulanis and Wangrans all settled in Zongo under this Yoruba king. Chief Brimah I came with his cattle from Ilorin and where he settled was renamed Cow Lane; this was the first settlement in Accra. He built houses and allocated some to friends and foreigners. Engaged in Kola nut trade between Nigeria and Ghana, supported by a wonderful businesswoman wife, he rose to a very wealthy status and was known for his philanthropy and generosity. Appreciating his qualities and for “clearing the forest,” His Royal Highness, the Ga Mantse, Nii (King) Tackie Tawiah I made him a Chief and gave him the “Sword of Office,” in 1888.