Do you believe in the evolution story? Well, such stories may seem alien to African cultures in general but certainly not the people of Amedzofe in the Volta Region of Ghana.
Amedzofe is an Eʋe word which literally means “The origin of Man”. Long, long ago, the people of Amedzofe were believed to have initially migrated from the Benin City of Nigeria and travelled all the way to the present location Amedzofe which was then part of Togo. It certainly isn’t one short uneventful journey across the lands of different tribes along the coast lands of the Gulf of Guinea.
The people of Amedzofe are part of the now Avatime Traditional Area of people who after having travelled from the Benin City of Nigeria settled in Prince’s Town in the Ahanta District of today’s Western Region of Ghana. Prince’s town is a coastal town located between two known towns of the region namely, Axim and Cape Three Points.
They were said to have settled there for many years. Tales of tribal wars are common recounts of Ghanaian history and certainly the forefathers of the people of Amedzofe had their own tales to tell. As the tales would have it, the then Ashanti Empire waged war against the settlers of Prince’s town and some of the captives were enslaved.
But as providence will have it, some of them managed to escape and they travelled all the way along the coastal towns to their present location in the then Togo. Their journey along the coastal lines of Ghana lead them to the river Volta. At this point, there was the need for them to cross over to the other side of the river. They decided to join their Kentes together in order for the swimmers among them to cross the river to the other side and use the joined up kente as an instrument to facilitate the easy crossing by the whole clans.
So was that the end of their pursuit by the Ashantis? Well, we will get back to that soon. But was the new found land one that they could take up without a fight?
Certainly not! Their new found land is the area currently known as the Avatime Traditional Area. As they settled, some Clans decided to move to a higher ground and it was there that they met the resistance of the “Baya” people. The tales have it that the Bayas were a clan of tall and strong people who bore tails, the resamblance of animals.
The Bayas started killing the Avatimes because they saw them as invaders. They proceeded to destroy their plantations and killing their herds among others.
Not being able to face them squarely, the Avatime people devised a plan to wipe out the Baya people. They organized a feast and invited the bayas (one supposedly to signify their surrender to the Baya people). During the “surrender party”, the people of Baya were served with poisoned palm wine and most of them died from food poisoning. The surviving ones were killed by the people of Avatime. Tales have it that some of the young woman of Baya descents were spared and integrated into the Avatimes by virtue of marriage.
So in Avatime land, the remains of the Bayas are known as the Baya family or Baya Clan.
As to how the people of Baya developed their tails, some of the Avatimes explained that the forefathers of the Bayas might have had sexual intercourse with animals hence their tails. Some others also believed the tails were as a result of a curse by God on them or a magical spell that was cast on them.
However the theory that had withstood time is the one that stated that the people of Avatime believed that the Baya people were the indication of the origin of man. Hence this story seems to lend credence to the theory of evolution in one way or another. So as stated earlier, Amedzofe literally means “The origin of man”, a name that seeks to allude to the tales surrounding the Baya people as the origin of man (Amedzofe in Eʋe language). So there you have it!
So what happened to the Ashantis that pursued them? As the tales would have it, the Ashantis were unrelentless in their pursuit. They also crossed the River Volta by the using the same means as them; the joined up kente.
Having killed the Baya people and moved up the mountain, they now waged war against the pursuing Ashantis. Being on higher grounds, they rolled over some huge stones on them and managed to kill many of the Ashanti warriors. Some of the warriors sensing danger they beat a retreat, never to return.
The Eʋes in the land took note of their war prowess and out of wonder referred to them as “Avatime” or “Avatime aawoo”, literally meaning “People in the War Zone”. As there were prolonged and on-going wars between the Eʋes and the Ashantis by then, the Avatimes were noted to be the first group of people who were able to defeat the Ashantis entirely by themselves.
The people of Avatime however referred to themselves as the “Kedame” meaning “the descents”. It must be noted that the people of Avatime traditional area have their own first language that they speak, because they are Guans. Eʋe is mostly a second mother tongue that they learnt along the way although it has become the first mother tongue for today’s generations in the area.