March 27, 2023
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She was a courageous, outspoken member of the royal family in Asanteman in the 1700s until her outspoken nature got her ousted from her people in the territory which later became known as Gold Coast and subsequently Ghana.

While little is known about her heroism in Ghana, the people of what is now known as Cote d’Ivoire celebrate and honour the memory of Abla Pokou, also because she was a daring woman.

Narrating the story of how Abla Pokou came to settle in Cote d’Ivoire and became the mother of the Baoule kingdom, Francis Tagro explained that she had a dispute over a succession during her time in the territory that is today known as Ghana but this escalated into a bitter rivalry, forcing her to flee the land to the neighbouring country.

Speaking in a BBC documentary, the curator stated that this conflict happened under the reign of the Asantehene, Osei Tutu I.

“All the Akan people living in Cote d’Ivoire are originally Asante. There was a conflict over the succession at the time of King Osei Tutu I, in what is today Ghana. During that migration, it was the last wave that was the most important, the one that led to the Baoule kingdom, and had at its head the Queen Abla Pokou,” he narrated.

Continuing the narration, Francis Tagro said that Abla Pokou and her people got to a very trying point in their journey that required an unusual sacrifice to a river god.

He explained that after several attempts, the royal had to succumb and give up her son as the perfect sacrifice – a move that saved them from damnation.

“She left with her family and during the migration, they came to a river, the Komoe River but the Akans were not strong enough swimmers. So, they asked the river god to advise them on how best to cross the river. A priest in her entourage told her that the spirit of the river was demanding a sacrifice. It had to be something valuable.

“So, they all removed their bracelets, finery, rings, every possession they had with them and offered them to the river, but the spirit refused these and insisted on them giving something that was even more valuable to them.

“The priest told them that the river demanded that Abla Pokou sacrifice the baby son she was carrying. Once they reached the other side, the people who had been in pursuit of them stopped chasing them when they saw the river and were unable to cross it. The queen them said to her people, ‘The child is dead,’ informing them that she had sacrificed her child to gain their safe passage,” he said.

Francis Tagro further explained that while this is a sad story, it has since informed the line of succession for the Baoule kingdom of Cote d’Ivoire, which was eventually set up by Abla Pokou.

“It is really sad, that is why in the Asante Kingdom in Cote d’Ivoire, the method of choosing a successor in the royal family is matrilineal because it was the mother, Abla Pokou, who gave her son so that her people could be saved. Queen Abla Pokou is a charismatic character for the Akan people. She is highly revered. She epitomizes energy and determination,” he added.

In further details shared by, Abla Pokou was the niece of King Osei Tutu and was born at the beginning of the 18th century.

She is said to have fled the country after the death of her uncle with some loyal people to Dakon, her second brother.

According to a curator at the Museum of Civilisation in Cote d’Ivoire, Tagro Gnoleba Francis, the story of this brave Asante queen, Abla Pokou, is one that is etched in the history of the people so much so that even after many centuries, her singular sacrifice of her son is still upheld.

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