We are Akan is a beautifully told work of historical fiction about the Akan people of Ghana’s powerful Asante Kingdom. Set in 1807, the plot revolves around the lives and activities of three young boys aged 10-13. Kwame and Kwaku are members of the Akan elite while Baako is ‘odonko’- enslaved by Kwame’s father who is chief. The boys are childhood friends whose lives are filled with adventure in the Tanoso rainforest. A journey to Elmina Castle on the coast turns out to be a dangerous assignment as Kwame almost drowns in the Pra river. Later Kwame and Baako are kidnapped by rebels and are set to be sold as prisoners. The book’s central themes are family, community, power, and oppression of a minority.
The Table of Contents provides a detailed guide to the novel. Part One, ‘Our Town’ launches the plot and includes chapters on daily life, the different Akan clans and traditions, including the Adae ceremony which brings the people together to honor their ancestors and celebrate as a community. The chapter entitled ‘Wisdom’ imparts life lessons through proverbs and stories, including one about Kwaku Ananse. Part One also includes the legend of Asantehene Osei Tutu and the golden stool. Part Two, ‘The Asante Kingdom.’ highlights the city of Kumasi, the Asantehene’s palace, Islam and Arabic. Part Three, ‘The Coast’ includes a visit to Elmina and Cape Coast castles.