In 1894, the German colonialist succeeded in tricking the powerful Dente Bosomfo (priest) of Dente Oracle at Kete Krachi and the ‘federate head of the Confederation composed of Atebubu, Gwan, and Basa and the Brong tribes’, Kwasi Gyantrubi, and executed him publicly ala firing squad to serve as a deterrent to Africans who would want to resist the German`s incursion into Gold Coast to annex land which was their bonafide property offered to them on a silver platter at the infamous Berlin Conference, where the partition of Africa occurred.
History doesnt mention, Kwasi Gyantrubi, but historical records show that in the scheme of famous colonial Africans who single-handedly resisted both European imperialist/colonialists and powerful indigenous kingdoms, no one was more successful in his quest than Dente Bosomfo of Kete Krachi, Kwasi Gyantrubi.
As a result, both the Germans and the British connived to have Gyantrubi killed for what historian, D J E Maier writes: “for his equally vigorous and aggressive local economic policies which precluded complete German control over the area. Indeed, the Dente Bosomfo had to be removed for much the same reason that ultimately Asantehene Agyeman Prempe (who was exiled in I896) was removed by the
British: for pursuing too successfully both traditional and innovative solutions to the changing conditions of the late nineteenth century.
So why was this great spiritualist leader and nation-builder, Kwasi Gyantrubi publicly executed by the Germans with the connivance of British? This Dente Bosomfo started to unify the entire Bron (Brong) people in Gold Coast. This brought him into direct opposition with two powerful colonizers/imperialists (Germany and Britain) and the powerful indigenous African empire builders/expansionists, the Asante (Ashanti) Kingdom.
The British wanted to annex both the Brong and Asante territories to be part of their Gold Coast colony, so George Ekem Ferguson on his way to sign treaties with the Northern territories to come under the British protection, also took some time to renew the signing treaties with Bron groups, but Kwasi Gyantrubi refused and was more interested in unifying all the Bron groups to form a powerful Bron Confederation.
He succeeded somehow, and this made him an enemy to the British, but they could not kill him because that would have jeopardize their treaties with other Bron. Thus, German`s became their friends in dealing with Gyantrubi. It was more silent enemy of my enemy pact.
The German`s on the other hand were also seriously involved in expansionist drive to gain more territory for the experimental Trans-Volta Togoland project. Kete Krachi offers important trade routes to the then largest market in West Africa, Salaga market, and Gyantrubi has wielded great power, with powerful army and spiritual force. By I894, however, he had become a wealthy and powerful political leader of both the Krachi people and the many other groups who chose to settle at the thriving trade entrepot that his capital, Kete-Krachi, had become.
He maintained firm control of this town and its hinterland and could back up his political dictates with armed force when he chose. He had also extended his authority further afield over neighbours and allies, and even dabbled in supporting dissident Asante factions. The broader political configuration which thus developed was known as the Bron Confederation, courtesy Gyantrubi dexterity.So with Krachi and most of the peoples east of the Volta having been placed under a German sphere of influence several years previously (partition of Africa 1884-5), the British now wrote the German Governor of Togoland to act on his credentials and curtail the authority of the Priest, and thus effectively liquidating the Confederation.
So the Germans, who could not tolerate competition from local African priest and kingdom builder and unifier, and also not lose prestige from the British who might consider their inaction as weaklings, ordered Kwasi Gyantrubi shot before a firing squad in November 1894 at Kete Krachi.
Maier (1981) also contends that even before the German`s publicly executed Kwasi Gyantrubi in 1894, it seems that in 1893, the Asantes had wanted to eliminate the Dente Bosomfo for pursuing too vigorous and aggressive policies as the head of the Bron Confederation. Gyantrubi allowed many Asante refugees to settle on his land, but counsel Bron chiefs to refuse to take the oath of allegiance to Agyeman Prempe and to surrender Asante refugees in his territory.
The Mamponhene Nana Owusu Sekyere and Nsutahene Kwaku Dente, who were both militarily defeated in late 1888 Asante civil war took refuge near Atebubu within the Bron Confederation, under the protection of Dente Bosomfo, Kwasi Gyantrubi.
In fact, 1893, Dente Bosomfo headed a major council to coordinate strategy with fugitive Nkoransahene together with the chiefs of Yeji, Pran, Abease, Dwan, and Basa at Wiase, east of Atebubu, to fight Asantes. Kwasi Gyantrubi had collected between 1200 and 1500 Krachis armed with flintlocks as well as another 500 Brons to come to the aid of Atebubu and Nkoransa.
Other chiefs also contributed men, and the Nkoransahene still had some of his own army intact. The opposing Asante forces were reported to number at least 8,000 but were probably better armed.
Maier, D. J. E. (1981). The Dente Oracle, the Bron Confederation, and Asante: Religion and the politics of secession. The Journal of African History, 22(02), 229-243.
Ferguson, G. E. (1974). Mission to Atebubu’. The Papers of George Ekem Ferguson (Cambridge, 1974), 6.
Weaver, D. M. (1975). Kete-Krachi in the Nineteenth Century: Religious and Commercial Center of the Eastern Asante Borderlands;(volumes 1 and 2) (Doctoral dissertation).
Kweku Darko Ankrah