History of Asafo Companies in Cape Coast, Oguaa
A critical factor in the history of Cape Coast was the development of the seven Asafo Companies, traditionally known as “Etsikuw Esuon”.
The ancient town of Efutu had one Asafo - the Nkum Asafo Company, which migrated to Cape Coast with the paramount stool.
With time, growth, population, and expansion of the town dictated the necessity for other new distinctive groups, some of them taking the name of and being known by the distinguishing nature of the position of the quarters occupied and others being identified by how they came into existence for example – Anaafo – Low Town and Amanful – New Town.
The local names of the Asafo Companies persisted and the Companies were called by these names for years until early 1909 when for convenience especially as far as the foreign government was concerned the companies were given numbers; about the same time their colors were registered for obvious reasons. Another device that helps to identify the Asafo Companies is their emblems.
When Oguaa became the focus for the original Fetu traditional celebrations, the Asafo Companies continued to be the organizations that were centered on the yearly festival, later referred to in official records as the “annual turn-out” of the companies a cardinal purpose being the out-dooring and procession of the Omanhen and his chiefs.
The fact cannot be over-emphasized that the Asafo Companies undoubtedly contribute to energizing celebrations of Ougaa Fetu Ahaye from its inception some 300 years ago to the present day.
The most credible achievement which demonstrated the Company's dynamic involvement in Afahye celebrations was the initiative taken with other prominent citizens of Oguaa under the able leadership of the Omanhen Nana Kowdo Mbra V to revive the festival in 1962 the celebration blossomed and has been successful without any disturbances since 1964.
Omanhen of Oguaa Nana Kowdo Mbra V
The 7 Asafo Companies of Cape Coast:
No. 1 Bentsir Company dressed in red attire trimmed with black takes the lead; the Company is further distinguished by its major emblem which is the grapnel.
No.2 Anaafo Company follows wearing white costumes with blue trimmings – the company is led by three or four persons swinging long iron hooks; this is one of the main emblems.
No.3 Nstin Company dressed in green edges with black trims, there is intermitted ringing of a bell; this is one of their major emblems.
No.4 Nkum Company wears following in bright yellow costume having the sounding of bugle call as the main emblem.
No. 5 Nkum Brofomba Company who wear light green costumes, one of their major emblems is two cannons
No. 6 Akrampafo Company follow who wear the national flag as their standard and a side drum instead of the Asafo drum, their principal company leaders dress in the white uniform of colonial governors
No. 7 Amanful Company is the last to follow dressed in deep red (claret) or wine color, they bring out the body of a whale as the major emblem.
Cape Coast Asafo Company - ca. 1909.