MasterwebNews 11/8/15 - Ghana Celebrates Sterling Legacy Of Yoruba Migrant Chief Brimah I

[ Masterweb Reports: Peregrino Brimah reports ] -In a pomp filled occasion, Nigerians, Ghanians and other guests celebrated the 100 year peaceful legacy of migrant African Chief Brimah the 1st in Accra this weekend. Chief Brimah I who migrated to the Gold coast from Nigeria, passed in 1902.

 

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 interrelated cultures and the peaceful and progressive growth and development.

 

History

 

In the early 19th century, pockets of Yoruba’s 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 Alawiye’s 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, Alawiye’s, and his two first children. They also traveled 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 Yoruba’s migrated to Ghana and many more are first, second and third generation citizens. The Yoruba’s 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. Hausa’s Fulani’s 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 businesswomen 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.

 

The first post office in Ghana was in Accra where Chief Brimah I built his palace on land allocated to him by King Tackie Tawiah I. The street was called Horse road, because Chief Brimah I kept horses and built a stable there. Chief Brimah I built the first Mosque in Accra at Rawlings Park with contributions from other Nigerians. The Mosque was built with Oak wood from a ship wreck. He also set up Arabic literary schools in Accra with the cooperation of the government. He built the first slaughter house in Accra. Now called Salaga market.

 

When the British came to the Gold Coast and they set-up the first running-water, pipe-borne water with tap. The locals thought this was juju (voodoo) and were afraid to open the tap. Chief Brimah I who was known for his faith and worldly experience was called, and after making prayers he “courageously” opened the tap. In the Ga council which governs Accra, he is one of the few with a seat on the council, which is occupied today by the current Chief in the lineage.

 

Quoted is a record of him from the Ghana Archives that describes the view of this Yoruba migrant in 1878-1899:

 

Alhaji Braimah’s position was unique. Not only was he a man of considerable wealth, but he had the advantage of having visited Mecca, an unusual experience for a native of these parts, and it was these conditions coupled no doubt with a certain degree of worldly wisdom that enabled a despised Yoruba to exercise control and influence over the Hausas.

 

I have the honor to be Sir, Your obedient servant.

 

Signed ACTING COMMISSIONER EASTERN PROVINCE

 

Tabom Relationship

 

 
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