Ash-Town : The Paradox of A Great African Suburb

Ash-Town : The Paradox of A Great African Suburb

Ashanti New Town is a socially notorious suburb of Kumasi. Paradoxically, in this notoriety rests the greatness of an African suburb. Ashtown for short, is a contemporary Ashanti settlement dating from Ghana’s pre independence era. Clearly, Ashtown’s most famous address is the Manhyia Palace, seat of the Golden Stool. This wild, yet greatly cultured suburb has produced a good number of deviants as it has also, many greats.

Rooted in the heart of Manhyia South Constituency, Ashtown is a social and political grid nerve. Ashtown is bordered by CPC, Mbrom, Allah Bar, Dichemso and Krofuom. It is an excellently laid out plan of a settlement. Its physical planning is unsurpassed by those of nouveau riche settlements like East Legon. Every corner of Ashtown has good streets, both in linkages and motorability. It has good social amenities, including social centers, post office and parks, both football and recreational. Adehyeman Gardens, a great recreational facility has sadly and brutally been encroached.

A relatively small recreational park for kids on the African Bungalow street, sponsored by Rotary Club is also not in the best of shapes. This national canker of encroachment has not spared the famous Dogo’s security yard for vehicular parking. The taxi station, connecting taxi transport to the central business district, particularly Central Market, has also been squeezed out by the same menace of encroachment. The famous Abbey’s Park still host major funerals, but no more a football field. A physical structure of social character, hard to define is almost completed on the Abbey’s Park.

Every school at Ashtown has a park. Famous among them, Konadu Yiadom and St. Joseph’s, where most kids of the community started formal education. Sadly, St. Joseph’s Park has a huge church building erected on it. Konadu Yiadom Park thankfully still stands, though still an ungrassed field. St Louis Training College, on the periphery with the zoo and race course is still a disciplined institution. The Ashtown court house, opposite the taxi station and the Manhyia Hospital are very much functional. Chop bars and food vendors are still dotted across the area. The great bush meat market, Atwebinim, where our grandmother used to trade, is still alive. “Bosoa and mogya- mogya, sheep blood and intestine delicacy, very much sells presently at the original location opposite the palace.

The Su-sain River, starting from the vegetation enclave close to Opoku Ware Roundabout, (Suame R’about) through the border and valley of CPC and Manhyia Palace is sadly, virtually dead. A great memory of fishing in this river is still vividly fresh in our minds. The trending craze of shopping malls has swallowed this water bodied land of great memories. Construction is advancing steadily. All its giants of trees and thick vegetation are gone! The architecture of Ashtown is striking. It is generally and interestingly a vintage Victorian style with great craftsmanship of window shatters and glasses. The psyche of communalism is very much pronounced, manifesting through the wall less imposing structures. Every house has a gate though. Thus, the social inter connectivity, culminating in a lifetime bond among inhabitants and descendants of this great suburb is strong. Even the Manhyia Palace was walled in the very recent past, under the current occupant of the Golden Stool.

Anyone could run into any house for urgent help, ranging from food to bullying and molestation. Every elder could scold any child for misdemeanor, from improper dressing to insolence. The general mindset of landlords in building these huge edifices was the accommodation of both extended family and answering the general accommodation needs of the larger society. Hardly can one sight hotels in the whole suburb! The obligation of communalism and patriotism of those years are critically missing in the current socio-economic fiber. We must rethink our current general development paradigm.

This wild and cultured suburb of Kumasi has produced a good mix of world caliber personalities and regrettably, some social deviants. Some classmates and contemporaries have transcended into the world of lunacy, through substance abuse. Gladly on the scale however, products of Ashtown are generally of enviable stock. In the world of diplomacy, Busumuru Kofi Annan, first Black head of the United Nations is our proud son. In chieftaincy and culture, the current Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu and his mother, the current Asantehemaa, Afua Kobi Serwah Ampim are proudly Ashtown elements. Baffour Ossei Hyeaman Brantuo, current Manwerehene is a son as well.

Professionally, some of the common names from Ashtown are Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, a renowned pathologist, Hon.Dr. Kwame Addo Kufour, Kofi Boakye, current Ashanti Regional Police Commander, immediate past Regional Manager of Bank of Ghana, Chris Apau-Oppong, Dr. Tony Aidoo, Ambassador to The Netherlands and countless others. In merchandise, the late Poku Transport, DKC, were all rooted in this suburb. Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings is a great woman from
Ashtown.

Both Krobo Edusei and DC Akosa of CPP fame sprang from Ashtown. President J.A Kufour and Baffour Akoto, patriachs of NPP/UP lineage are very much men from Ashtown. The late Theodore Opong Peprah, co- founder of Bible Study and prayer Group of Ramseyer Presby Church, Adum and founder of Yachal House Chapel at Best Western Premier Hotel ,Prophet Gilbert Ossei Hyeaman pop out on the religious front. Coach Afranie of the national team is one of us. Okumkom Nana Kwasi Agyemang, the famous mayor of Kumasi, is himself a parallel paradox and enigma of this great suburb. He has been inaccurately branded illiterate, wee smoker and a drunk. A personal encounter with him was a great positive shock. He is a product of Prempeh College. Indeed, he was a classmate of our late uncle, Felix Opong Peprah, former Ashanti Regional Manager of Ghana Commercial Bank. Nana Kwasi has a beautiful handwriting, reads well, doesn’t smoke nor drinks alcohol!

His wife is Akora Elizabeth Agyemang. Four of his kids are personal friends, two being schoolmates, through University Primary, Achimota and KNUST. His inaccurate branding, just like Ash town, actually stems from detractors of his dedicated loyalty to his chosen endeavors and actions. Will forever be grateful for his invaluable advice. He said, ‘Yaw, never yield to the empty cacophonies of the masses against a conscientious mission of conviction. It is time that defends truth’. This was when he personally intervened for a courtesy call on Otumfuo in 2003, when a colleague, Yaw Appenteng and myself hosted Aki and Porpor, the famous Nigerian actors, against the difficult stance of courtiers at the Manhyia Palace.

Our family patriarch, late Theodore Opong Peprah formerly of Devag Ghana Limited connects us to this great suburb of Ashtown. Originally from Agogo in the Ashanti area, he settled at Ashtown around the independence era. My grandmother late Mercy Oppong is from Ntonso in the Kwabre East District. It is from the house of my grandfather, 0.1.293 that many of our family members sprang and call home till date. Virtually all our uncles and aunties, siblings and a good number of cousins were born and bred here.

Born some three thousand meters away from this family house at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, virtually all our childhood was pleasantly and proudly spent at Ashtown. Komfo Anokye Hospital is named after the famous immovable sword of the great spiritual and co-founder of Ashanti Kingdom. This sword has defied all the attempts of removal by the European Colonist. Till date, it is firmly rooted at this very original ground Komfo Anokye planted it, around which the Teaching Hospital is built. In between Ashtown and Komfo Anokye sits the valley of Kumasi zoo.

Starting formal education some fifty meters away from home at St. Joseph’s Primary school came with the opportunity of great friends, both from school and within the larger suburb. My brother, Michael, a great friend and support was about five school years ahead of me. My lovely sisters, Maame Adwoa and Nana Esi, fifteen and ten years respectively older than me, had long transited to secondary schools then. Though barely three years was spent at St. Joe’s, as popularly known, great life time friends were made. Paul Adusei, who also lived next house is now a banker. Ladybird, Samson Donkor, Paa Willie and many others are still in touch. A couple have died and two are sadly lunatics. Discipline, hygiene, both personal and environmental, and academics were of excellent standards under the strict headmistress, Mrs. Cole. Sports, particularly football and netball were great. Sadly standards today are a far cry from the great days of yore.

Continuing formal primary education at University Primary at KNUST campus,also came a good number of pupils from Ashtown. Notables are Dr. Kweretwie Agyemang, Nana Agyemang, Ata Poku, all children of the legendary Nana Kwasi Agyemang. My cousins, Vicentia, Felix and late Theodore Oppong Peprah were all from Ashtown. My lovely cousin, Doreen, however, was fully campus bred. The contrast of shuttling residence between Ashtown and Tech campus where we stayed with an aunty nurse, Beatrice Oppong, gave us a good paradigm early in life.

Though the two environments were different physically, the common thread of communalism was pronounced. Tech was also wall less and communal. Tech was an academic environment against Ashtown’s socio cultural one, and therefore came with luxuries like swimming pool and heavy green vegetation, which was a lovely feeling of sight, the core of the people were of the same communal spirit. One thing that gave notice early, the wildness of Ashtown was the nickname given me at Tech campus. They called me Gyataba, meaning a cub for my strong attitude. Secondly at University Primary, which had a good number of pupils from elite suburbs, a lot of subtle derogatory reference was passed at Ashtown. I however, was better than most of these colleagues academically, in sports and other extra curricula activities. That was the leveler which shut many such colleagues up. Life is about personal delivery, not family background.

One great quality of Ashtowners is the attitude of forthrightness. We speak our mind, irrespective of the consequence. Though knowledge and wisdom must be applied at all times, never must a man suppress the truth simply to let sleeping dogs lie. We learnt this early from our great mother, who till date is our major backbone, and to an extent, from the larger family and tough environment of Ashtown. Truth indeed is the real freedom of man.

I am the last born of both parents, Madam Agnes Opong and the late Mr. Charles Augustus Biney. The fourth child from my mother and about the twentieth of my father. My mother’s sisterly relations with her main rival, late Aunty Mabel who lived about a thousand meters away taught me great respect for the African practice of polygamy. Having grown to learn it is biblical and koranic also, polygamy is by far, better than the current promiscuity pervading alongside the superficial monogamy. Till date, the seamless chord among my full and half siblings is very difficult to discern.

This great polygamous family taught us a great deal of African philosophy of Ubuntu, you are because I am, and I am because you are. Indeed there is no Asante or Akan word for ‘cousin’ and half sibling. Polygamy is healthier, economical and a better stability for the family unit than monogamy with promiscuity. Africans need to revisit a number of our cultural and traditional practices. The philosophy of our fore fathers are mostly positive. Ashtown is largely a polygamous community.

Having lived at Danyame (Ridge) for almost a decade, Tech Campus, both in Kumasi, Tesano, Kaneshie, Osu, Devtraco (Dorwanya) all in Accra, various suburbs come with varied experience. All through, Achimota School and KNUST, professional sculpture and evolving political life, If ever I can boast of ‘efie nyansa’ (Home sense), the credit goes to my Ashtown foundation. Ashtown is very much in tune with the Green flag, socialism, self reliance and Pan African themes of CPP. Ashtowner Forever! Nkunim woho mayen! God bless Africa !!!

Author: Yaw Nkunim
Sculptor, Writer, Concept Developer & CPP MemberAsh-Town : The Paradox of A Great African Suburb

Ashanti New Town is a socially notorious suburb of Kumasi. Paradoxically, in this notoriety rests the greatness of an African suburb. Ashtown for short, is a contemporary Ashanti settlement dating from Ghana’s pre independence era. Clearly, Ashtown’s most famous address is the Manhyia Palace, seat of the Golden Stool. This wild, yet greatly cultured suburb has produced a good number of deviants as it has also, many greats.

Rooted in the heart of Manhyia South Constituency, Ashtown is a social and political grid nerve. Ashtown is bordered by CPC, Mbrom, Allah Bar, Dichemso and Krofuom. It is an excellently laid out plan of a settlement. Its physical planning is unsurpassed by those of nouveau riche settlements like East Legon. Every corner of Ashtown has good streets, both in linkages and motorability. It has good social amenities, including social centers, post office and parks, both football and recreational. Adehyeman Gardens, a great recreational facility has sadly and brutally been encroached.

A relatively small recreational park for kids on the African Bungalow street, sponsored by Rotary Club is also not in the best of shapes. This national canker of encroachment has not spared the famous Dogo’s security yard for vehicular parking. The taxi station, connecting taxi transport to the central business district, particularly Central Market, has also been squeezed out by the same menace of encroachment. The famous Abbey’s Park still host major funerals, but no more a football field. A physical structure of social character, hard to define is almost completed on the Abbey’s Park.

Every school at Ashtown has a park. Famous among them, Konadu Yiadom and St. Joseph’s, where most kids of the community started formal education. Sadly, St. Joseph’s Park has a huge church building erected on it. Konadu Yiadom Park thankfully still stands, though still an ungrassed field. St Louis Training College, on the periphery with the zoo and race course is still a disciplined institution. The Ashtown court house, opposite the taxi station and the Manhyia Hospital are very much functional. Chop bars and food vendors are still dotted across the area. The great bush meat market, Atwebinim, where our grandmother used to trade, is still alive. “Bosoa and mogya- mogya, sheep blood and intestine delicacy, very much sells presently at the original location opposite the palace.

The Su-sain River, starting from the vegetation enclave close to Opoku Ware Roundabout, (Suame R’about) through the border and valley of CPC and Manhyia Palace is sadly, virtually dead. A great memory of fishing in this river is still vividly fresh in our minds. The trending craze of shopping malls has swallowed this water bodied land of great memories. Construction is advancing steadily. All its giants of trees and thick vegetation are gone! The architecture of Ashtown is striking. It is generally and interestingly a vintage Victorian style with great craftsmanship of window shatters and glasses. The psyche of communalism is very much pronounced, manifesting through the wall less imposing structures. Every house has a gate though. Thus, the social inter connectivity, culminating in a lifetime bond among inhabitants and descendants of this great suburb is strong. Even the Manhyia Palace was walled in the very recent past, under the current occupant of the Golden Stool.

Anyone could run into any house for urgent help, ranging from food to bullying and molestation. Every elder could scold any child for misdemeanor, from improper dressing to insolence. The general mindset of landlords in building these huge edifices was the accommodation of both extended family and answering the general accommodation needs of the larger society. Hardly can one sight hotels in the whole suburb! The obligation of communalism and patriotism of those years are critically missing in the current socio-economic fiber. We must rethink our current general development paradigm.

This wild and cultured suburb of Kumasi has produced a good mix of world caliber personalities and regrettably, some social deviants. Some classmates and contemporaries have transcended into the world of lunacy, through substance abuse. Gladly on the scale however, products of Ashtown are generally of enviable stock. In the world of diplomacy, Busumuru Kofi Annan, first Black head of the United Nations is our proud son. In chieftaincy and culture, the current Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu and his mother, the current Asantehemaa, Afua Kobi Serwah Ampim are proudly Ashtown elements. Baffour Ossei Hyeaman Brantuo, current Manwerehene is a son as well.

Professionally, some of the common names from Ashtown are Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, a renowned pathologist, Hon.Dr. Kwame Addo Kufour, Kofi Boakye, current Ashanti Regional Police Commander, immediate past Regional Manager of Bank of Ghana, Chris Apau-Oppong, Dr. Tony Aidoo, Ambassador to The Netherlands and countless others. In merchandise, the late Poku Transport, DKC, were all rooted in this suburb. Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings is a great woman from
Ashtown.

Both Krobo Edusei and DC Akosa of CPP fame sprang from Ashtown. President J.A Kufour and Baffour Akoto, patriachs of NPP/UP lineage are very much men from Ashtown. The late Theodore Opong Peprah, co- founder of Bible Study and prayer Group of Ramseyer Presby Church, Adum and founder of Yachal House Chapel at Best Western Premier Hotel ,Prophet Gilbert Ossei Hyeaman pop out on the religious front. Coach Afranie of the national team is one of us. Okumkom Nana Kwasi Agyemang, the famous mayor of Kumasi, is himself a parallel paradox and enigma of this great suburb. He has been inaccurately branded illiterate, wee smoker and a drunk. A personal encounter with him was a great positive shock. He is a product of Prempeh College. Indeed, he was a classmate of our late uncle, Felix Opong Peprah, former Ashanti Regional Manager of Ghana Commercial Bank. Nana Kwasi has a beautiful handwriting, reads well, doesn’t smoke nor drinks alcohol!

His wife is Akora Elizabeth Agyemang. Four of his kids are personal friends, two being schoolmates, through University Primary, Achimota and KNUST. His inaccurate branding, just like Ash town, actually stems from detractors of his dedicated loyalty to his chosen endeavors and actions. Will forever be grateful for his invaluable advice. He said, ‘Yaw, never yield to the empty cacophonies of the masses against a conscientious mission of conviction. It is time that defends truth’. This was when he personally intervened for a courtesy call on Otumfuo in 2003, when a colleague, Yaw Appenteng and myself hosted Aki and Porpor, the famous Nigerian actors, against the difficult stance of courtiers at the Manhyia Palace.

Our family patriarch, late Theodore Opong Peprah formerly of Devag Ghana Limited connects us to this great suburb of Ashtown. Originally from Agogo in the Ashanti area, he settled at Ashtown around the independence era. My grandmother late Mercy Oppong is from Ntonso in the Kwabre East District. It is from the house of my grandfather, 0.1.293 that many of our family members sprang and call home till date. Virtually all our uncles and aunties, siblings and a good number of cousins were born and bred here.

Born some three thousand meters away from this family house at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, virtually all our childhood was pleasantly and proudly spent at Ashtown. Komfo Anokye Hospital is named after the famous immovable sword of the great spiritual and co-founder of Ashanti Kingdom. This sword has defied all the attempts of removal by the European Colonist. Till date, it is firmly rooted at this very original ground Komfo Anokye planted it, around which the Teaching Hospital is built. In between Ashtown and Komfo Anokye sits the valley of Kumasi zoo.

Starting formal education some fifty meters away from home at St. Joseph’s Primary school came with the opportunity of great friends, both from school and within the larger suburb. My brother, Michael, a great friend and support was about five school years ahead of me. My lovely sisters, Maame Adwoa and Nana Esi, fifteen and ten years respectively older than me, had long transited to secondary schools then. Though barely three years was spent at St. Joe’s, as popularly known, great life time friends were made. Paul Adusei, who also lived next house is now a banker. Ladybird, Samson Donkor, Paa Willie and many others are still in touch. A couple have died and two are sadly lunatics. Discipline, hygiene, both personal and environmental, and academics were of excellent standards under the strict headmistress, Mrs. Cole. Sports, particularly football and netball were great. Sadly standards today are a far cry from the great days of yore.

Continuing formal primary education at University Primary at KNUST campus,also came a good number of pupils from Ashtown. Notables are Dr. Kweretwie Agyemang, Nana Agyemang, Ata Poku, all children of the legendary Nana Kwasi Agyemang. My cousins, Vicentia, Felix and late Theodore Oppong Peprah were all from Ashtown. My lovely cousin, Doreen, however, was fully campus bred. The contrast of shuttling residence between Ashtown and Tech campus where we stayed with an aunty nurse, Beatrice Oppong, gave us a good paradigm early in life.

Though the two environments were different physically, the common thread of communalism was pronounced. Tech was also wall less and communal. Tech was an academic environment against Ashtown’s socio cultural one, and therefore came with luxuries like swimming pool and heavy green vegetation, which was a lovely feeling of sight, the core of the people were of the same communal spirit. One thing that gave notice early, the wildness of Ashtown was the nickname given me at Tech campus. They called me Gyataba, meaning a cub for my strong attitude. Secondly at University Primary, which had a good number of pupils from elite suburbs, a lot of subtle derogatory reference was passed at Ashtown. I however, was better than most of these colleagues academically, in sports and other extra curricula activities. That was the leveler which shut many such colleagues up. Life is about personal delivery, not family background.

One great quality of Ashtowners is the attitude of forthrightness. We speak our mind, irrespective of the consequence. Though knowledge and wisdom must be applied at all times, never must a man suppress the truth simply to let sleeping dogs lie. We learnt this early from our great mother, who till date is our major backbone, and to an extent, from the larger family and tough environment of Ashtown. Truth indeed is the real freedom of man.

I am the last born of both parents, Madam Agnes Opong and the late Mr. Charles Augustus Biney. The fourth child from my mother and about the twentieth of my father. My mother’s sisterly relations with her main rival, late Aunty Mabel who lived about a thousand meters away taught me great respect for the African practice of polygamy. Having grown to learn it is biblical and koranic also, polygamy is by far, better than the current promiscuity pervading alongside the superficial monogamy. Till date, the seamless chord among my full and half siblings is very difficult to discern.

This great polygamous family taught us a great deal of African philosophy of Ubuntu, you are because I am, and I am because you are. Indeed there is no Asante or Akan word for ‘cousin’ and half sibling. Polygamy is healthier, economical and a better stability for the family unit than monogamy with promiscuity. Africans need to revisit a number of our cultural and traditional practices. The philosophy of our fore fathers are mostly positive. Ashtown is largely a polygamous community.

Having lived at Danyame (Ridge) for almost a decade, Tech Campus, both in Kumasi, Tesano, Kaneshie, Osu, Devtraco (Dorwanya) all in Accra, various suburbs come with varied experience. All through, Achimota School and KNUST, professional sculpture and evolving political life, If ever I can boast of ‘efie nyansa’ (Home sense), the credit goes to my Ashtown foundation. Ashtown is very much in tune with the Green flag, socialism, self reliance and Pan African themes of CPP. Ashtowner Forever! Nkunim woho mayen! God bless Africa !!!

Author: Yaw Nkunim
Sculptor, Writer, Concept Developer & CPP Member