Queen Ewurabena: The Ashanti Queen Who Sacrificed Her Infant Son

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Ewurabena Pokou was the Queen who established the Baoule tribe in the modern-day Ivory Coast. As the Ashanti Empire expanded towards the west, Queen Pokou was made to lead the west branch. Being part of the Akan people, the Baoule tribe are said to be one of the greatest tribes in modern-day Ivory Coast.

An artistic impression of Queen Pokou and her to be sacrificed child

Queen Ewurabena Pokou was a Tuesday born, she was born circa 1700 in Kumasi, a town in Ghana. Her father being a warrior wasn’t renowned because he didn’t have any royal lineage. With the Ashantis having a matrilineal culture, Pokou gained her royalty through her mum. Her mother was the niece of Osei Kofi Tutu I, one of the leading founders of the Ashanti Empire.

A violent disagreement ensued within the confederacy, and Ewurabena Pokou led a breakaway group towards the west to the Kamoe river. They couldn’t find a way to cross the river. She asked the priest of how they could cross the river and the priest said unless she sacrifices her son, else, they would never be able to cross the river. Upon hearing this, she placed her infant son who she dressed in regal clothing in the river and shouted “Ba Ouli”, meaning, “the child is dead”.

The people were then able to cross the river, leaving the territories of the Ashanti Empire to Ivory Coast. The journey continued until they reached a fertile land and settled in Ivory Coast. To serve as a reminder, the people named themselves ’Baoule’.

The tribe is now the largest tribe in Côte d’Ivoire, having other sub-ethnic groups too. Queen Ewurabena Pokou lived on, ruled and died a short time after establishing the Baoule kingdom. She was succeeded by her niece, Akwa Boni. Akwa Boni continued the works of Pokou and won wars of conquest to expand the territories of the kingdom. The Baoule tribe are now located between the regions of the Komoé and the Bandama river. They make up 15% of the country’s population.

Due to diversity in language, the name of the Princess has been changed over the years. The name which was originally Princess Ewurabena Pokou now has many variations. Some people call her Awura Poku, others Aura Pokou and the most famous among them all is Abla Pokou.

In the year 2013, a movie was released in Ivory Coast and the life of the Princess inspired that movie. The movie is an animated movie titled Pokou, princesse Ashanti by N’ganza Herman and Kan Souffle.

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