Kwahu is a region in south-central Ghana, on the west shore of Lake Volta. There are two common spellings, Kwawu and Kwahu. The “w” spelling is the official spelling from the African Studies Centre, University of Ghana, and more resembles the pronunciation. The “h” was put in by Swiss missionaries from Basel, who added the “h” to ensure that Kwa, the first syllable, was not pronounced as “eh.” The “h” is not separately pronounced in the name.
The term Kwahu also refers to the variant of Akan language spoken in this region and to the Kwahu-people that come from the region, there are ca. 65.000 Kwahu’s. Kwahu are originally Akan people.
The name derives from its myths of origin, “The slave (awa) died (wu),” which was based on an ancient prophesy that a slave would die so the wandering tribe of Akan would know where to settle. The myth was part of the historical stories of the Agona matriclan, the first paramount lineage of Kwawu, and was later adopted by the Bretuao-Tena matriclan (Twidan) who later replaced them.
The paramount chief and the royal matrilineage of the Kwawu reside at Abene, north of Abetifi on the banks of the highlands. Abetifi (Tena matriclan) is the head of the Adonten (vanguard). Obo (Aduana, Ada, Amoakade) is the head of the Nifa (Right Division) Aduamoa (Dwumena, Asona) is the head of the Benkum (Left Division).
As part of the Asante Empire, Kwawu had an Asante emissary, governor or ambassador at Atibe, next to Mpraeso, of the Ekuona matriclan). To indicate its independence from Asante in 1888 the Kwawu assassinated the Asante emissary in Atibe, about the time of the arrival of the Basel missionaries from Switzerland. The Kwawu royals invited the missionaries to build their mission in Abetifi. Obo led the pro-Asante opposition to the Swiss.