Ada people



Ada people are fishery and agricultural Dangme-speaking people that forms a subset of the larger Ga-Dangme ethnolinguistic group living in the southern Ghana. Ada people are mostly found in the Dangme East district of Greater Accra Region.

The Ada people were made up of the four original Dangme clans:

These clans, the Okorli, integrated one Akan clan, the Kabiawe and incorporated three Ewe clans, the Kudragbe, Korgbor and Ohuewem.

The Ada later on adopted 9 additional Ewe villages, Agave, Sukpe, Tefle, Vume, Blakpa, Mlefi, Mepe, Battor, and Duffor to form the Ada Nation. Ada-Foah is the district capital of Ada people. Some of the other notable towns are Kasseh, Akplabanya, Sege Junction, Anyamam, Pute,  Lolonya, Tamatoku, Bonikope, Songor, Adzomanukope, Bedeku, Wokume Gbe, Songutsokpa, Big-Ada, Got, Koluedor ,Totimekope, Ocanse Kope, Totope, Kasseh, Matsekope.

The patriarchal Ada people were once a famous warrior tribe in Ghana and they are today known for their adroit mining of large scale salt at their Songhor lagoon and a famous Asafotfiami festival.


Location (Topography, Climate, Vegetation and Geology)

Ada people are found in the Dangme East District which is located in the Eastern part of the Greater Accra Region within Latitudes 5°45 South and 6°00 North and from Longitude 0°20 West to 0°35 East. It shares common boundaries with North Tongu District to the North, South Tongu District and Dangme West Districts to the East and West respectively.  To the south is the Gulf of Guinea, which stretches over 45 kilometers (27.9 miles) from Kewunor to Wokumagbe.

The District covers a total land area of 909 sq km (350 sq miles) and represents almost 28% of the total land size of the Greater Accra Region. Being a coastal district, most people along the coast have taken to fishing and fish processing as their main source of livelihood.  Also, the sea has a cooling effect on the people especially during hot seasons but the corrosive nature of the breeze is very destructive.

Ada Foah, the District Capital is located at the south-eastern part, about 20km off the Accra-Aflao road, along the coast and about 2km from the Volta River Estuary.  Other major settlements are Big Ada, Kasseh, Goi, Anyamam, Sege, Lolonya, Akplabanya, Pute, Wokumagbe and Koluedor.

The District forms part of the Central portion of the Accra plains, depicting a topography that is generally gently undulating.  A few prominent boulders are scattered irregularly over the area, with the highest part being about 240 meters (800ft) above sea level around Tojeh area. The rest of the area is averagely about 60 meters (200ft) above sea level.  Most of the stretch along the Songhor lagoon is below sea level. As a result the strong tidal waves of the Sea have eroded the sandy coast line leading to occasional flooding of some communities namely Anyamam, Pute, Akplabanya, and Totope. The sea defense wall has therefore become a major concern for the residents; even though its construction is beyond the capacity of the District Assembly due to the extensive nature of the resources required.

Climatically, the District forms part of the South-eastern coastal plains of Ghana which is one of the hottest parts of the country. Temperatures are high throughout the year and ranges between 23°C and 28°C.  A maximum of 33oc is attainable during the very hot seasons.  Rainfall is generally heavy during the major seasons between March and September.  The average rainfall is about 750ml. The area is however very dry during the harmattan season when there is no rainfall at all.  Humidity is about 60 per cent high, due to the proximity of the sea, the Volta River and other water bodies. Daily evaporation rates range from 5.4 ml to 6.8 ml. The relatively high temperatures help in the quick crystallization of salt for the salt industry. The high temperature provides an opportunity for the installation of solar panels in generating solar energy for communities where there is no electricity, and more specifically for educational institutions and clinics. This energy option is yet to be explored though.

The vegetation is basically coastal Savannah, characterized by short Savannah grass and interspersed with shrubs and short trees. Along the coast, stretches of coconut trees and patches of coconut groves can be seen.  A few strands of the mangrove trees can also be found around the Songhor lagoon and the tributaries of the Volta River where the soil is waterlogged and salty. This type of vegetation is also common along the fringes of some of the islands in the Volta River.

The mangrove trees grow to heights of 15m averagely, are densely vegetated and green in appearance throughout the year. This beautiful mangrove vegetation is however being destroyed due to human activities such as charcoal burning and fish processing (smoking). 

The Northern parts of the district have a forest type of vegetation with the major trees being Nim trees. The Savannah also provides extensive land for grazing livestock. This explains the pockets of cattle herds found in the district which in all numbers to about twenty thousand. 

This has created an opportunity for large quantities of cattle dung often used for the preparation of compost manure to improve agricultural output.  This has however not been explored on commercial bases. Vigorous tree planting is under way to plant more trees that are not originally found in the environment as a way of protecting the environment.

The greater portion of the District is underlain by tertiary and recent deposits.  A small section of the northern and eastern parts (between Afiadenyigba and Sege) fall under the Dahomeyan complex rocks of Precambrian age. The recent unconsolidated sand, clay and gravel occur in the deltaic areas of the Volta river as well as in the areas surrounding the Songhor lagoon.  The rock of the basement is unknown, but it is expected to be Dahomeyan, similar to that cropping out to the north of the basin. The Dahomeyan rocks consist predominantly of gneisses, schist and migmatities.  These rocks weather into dark grey calcareous clay and silt which are only slightly


The background of the Name Ada

Various accounts exist to explain how the Ada people acquired their name. The historian Reindorf reports a tradition that "after repeated removals of this tribe from place to place in consequence of incessant invasions .. they said one to another ‘Wadahe’, that is, we have been scattered miserably about", but favours the idea that the name was given by one king Firempong after the name of his capital Da or Oda. 

E.A.Kabutey attributes an explanation to C.M.K.Mamattah, also given by GhanaDistricts, which states that it was at Notsie, where the proto-Ga-Dangme had joined the Ewe, that "King Agorkoli appellated the Adas as 'Adawolawo' meaning, a wild, furious, brave and warlike people who are easily provoked". Kabutey also describes a tradition which assigns the name to a later period, after the people had crossed the Volta and were attempting to settle further south.

According to this account, the Okorli, which was the name by which they were called at the time, were repeatedly attacked by the Akwamu, but eventaully defeated them at Akplaba. A truce was then negotiated, in which the Okorli unwisely "cut off one arm of their leader Chayi" which they "submitted to the Akwamus to show their commitment to ending the numerous wars".

Understandably, Chayi is reported to have been unappreciative of this gesture, saying, "curse be unto you, wicked and ungrateful people! With this very arm have I won several victories for you! You shall be cursed forever". It was this last phrase, which comes from the Dangme "nye ma da" which was then shortened to 'Ada'.



The Coastal Ada people speak a Dangme language. Dangme or Adangme is classified as a Kwa language group which belong to the larger Niger-Congo phylum.



The Adas at their present abode came as a result of a migration of an ethnic group of people believed to be part of the great African Negro race from the Western Sudan. They comprised the Ada, and others known today as the Krobos, Osudokus, Shais, Kpones, Prampram and Ningos, all formed the great ethnic group of "Dangme". From "Seme" they came to Oyo and then to Abeokuta, then to Dahomey, now Benin. In Dahomey, the Adas were forced by hostilities in that land from establishing an exclusive settle, so they merged with the Ewes from Ketu. Then with the Ewes they traveled to a place called Tado and accompanied them again up to Ngotsie in Togo. It was at Ngotsie that King Agorkoli appellated the Adas as "ADAWOLAWO" meaning, a wild, furious, brave and warlike people who are easily provoked. Aname which has remained as characteristics of the Adas as a tribe.

The part of the Adas that were among this great migration were the four (4) Okor Clan led by a priest King known as Adi. These Clans are Adibiawe, Lomobiawe, Tekperbiawe and Dangmebiawe. They together with Krobos, Osudokus and the Shais travelled by the over land route and crossed the Volta River at several points at such as Aprade, Fodjoku near Akuse, Dorfor, Asutsuare and Vume. The four (4) Okor tribes have a common taboo. The priests established a theocratic political institution which forbade them from seeing human blood. However, to sanctify the priesthood they must be circumcised. The crossing of the river at Asutsure was said to have come about as a result of a mystic, Tsa Avegbe, who said to have jumped into the Volta River and emerged as a crocodile, with as wide as an Odum board and spread across the Volta River for the crossing. Adi and followers were the first to cross. Lomo and Lomobiawe who crossed second followed by Terkperbiawe. Dangmebiawe who crossed last as the gate sealers or rearguard, was led by Okumo. They were followed by the other Dangme groups.

After crossing, all the Dangme tribes settled at Togologo now called Lolorvor who crossed last as the gate sealers or rearguard, was led by Okumo. They were followed by the other Dangme groups. After crossing, all the Dangme tribes settled at Togologo now called Lolorvor which is now known as Accra plains, for many years. Later events at Lolorvor served as their confederacy. It was said that, there arose a misunderstanding between them and the Manya leaders. The other members of the group tried to persuade Adi to bury the difference but the Adas told the Krobos in the Ewe language that "Lolorvor", which means the cord binding us together, is broken or severed; there is no more love to unite us. This saw the Krobos heading to the Shai hills, leaving the Adas (Okor Clan) behind on the Accra Plains at Lolorvor near the present day Afienya hills.

The Akan war raids, especially by the Ashantis forced the search for place of safety. A survey team of famed hunters drawn from the four (4) clans set from "Lolorvor" to explore new lands for settlements. It was said that Adibiawe group also gave one hunter named Buete Kpakpaku Lomobiawe also gave hunter Lomo. The Tekperbiawe group also gave one named Korley Dangmebiawe-Okumo. Their exploration took them as far as to the Sege forest and the stream. At this place, Korley climbed a tree and surveyed all the land beyond and beheld a white sheet of land in the distance and all the four (4) famed hunters moved out to see what it was. Adi took the lead followed by Lomo, followed by Korley with Okomo at the rear.

This brought about the discovery of Songor Salt Lagoon. It was that, Adi and Lomo went by the North of the lagoon and came as far as Togbloku. Korley and Okumo also took to the south and came across the Okor forest by the sea where they walked up to the Volta estuary, near the present day Lolonyakope.  It was alleged that one day, Korley went out on a hunting expedition and reached as far as Wokumagbe near Ningo. There he shot at and wounded a beast but it ran away. Korley decided to follow the foot print of the beast until he reached a thick forest. In pursuit of the beast into the forest, he discovered a secret hamlet and met an old lady in it. The old lady was seated on a stool, adored with gold. Around her, Korley saw crowd human beings which to him, were apparitions and turned to retrace his steps to give up the pursuit of the wounded beast.

The crowd instantly beckoned him to return, begging him not to run away.  Korley was said to have mastered courage and moved towards them.  He was asked what he wanted.  He told the crowd that he was a hunter who was in pursuit of the wounded beast and fell upon them in error.  Korley was then told by the old lady that she was the beast he shot and wounded and that she charmed him to follow her to her secret hide out.  She then asked Korley where he came from and he pointed out the direction of Afienya hills at Lolorvor.   At this juncture, the old lady disclosed her ownership of the Songor salt lagoon to him.  She told Korley that if he could faithfully observe the taboos and the preclusion on the usage of the lagoon, and be faithful to his oath of fidelity to her, she will turn over the ownership of the Songor Lagoon to him.

In effect, the old lady listed the hidden wealth in the Songor Lagoon as SALT & GOLD underneath the rock bed.  The old lady ask Korley to assure her that when she gives the ownership of the Songor Lagoon, neither he nor his, children after him, shall ever use GOLD as an Ornament.



Agricultural production         

Agriculture forms the leading sector in the economy of the District. It provides employment for about 51 percent of the adult population .It also provides livelihood of the people through direct farming, distribution and marketing of farm produce and other services to the agricultural sector.

It forms the basis of successful operation of the thriving markets in the district The main agricultural activities considered there include farming (crop production) fishing, livestock production and Agro-forestry.

 Crop Production

The District is noted for the cultivation of cassava, maize, legumes and a range of vegetables. With the exception of maize, the District accounts for more than 50 per cent of the regional output of these crops.

Livestock production

The livestock production identified in the district includes cattle rearing, sheep and goat keeping, pig rearing, poultry keeping including fowls, turkey, ducks and guinea fowls. Fishing: Dangme East District is noted for both Marine and inland fishing activities.

The sandy beach within the songor lagoon area is quite ideal for the nesting of marine turtles. Within the Songor lagoon area there are important concentration sites such as Totope, Lolonya and Akplabanya areas.

 Every year during the nesting season that is between August and February, three species of marine turtles come to the beach to lay their eggs. Only female turtles come to the beaches.

They lay their eggs in holes dug with their flippers and drop between 80-150 eggs in it at a time. It takes between 6-8 weeks for the egg to hatch and the hatchings proceed to the sea almost immediately. In fact the marine turtle and its breeding habits are quite unique and most people are interested to travel and watch them when they come to the beach to lay eggs. 

Traditional village life and economic activities Traditional life styles and related village and economic activities of the indigenous people around the Songor lagoon can be of much interest to tourists. Daily village activities methods of mining the salt, pot making, mat and basket weaving are all attractive for promoting tourism in the District. Fetish shrines, beliefs and practices Another potential place, which is of great interest to some tourists, is the traditional religion beliefs and practices prevailing in the District. 

The Songor lagoon has a fetish priest called Libi Womor who is responsible for maintaining traditional beliefs and practicing the required rituals for the main sacred shrine called ’’yomo’’. Libations and other rituals are performed every year and these already attract domestic and some international tourists including those who want to learn more about traditional beliefs surrounding the songor lagoon. Shrines such as Dasuma and Dada piem are also found in Big Ada.

Sport fishing/cruising

Sport game fishing in the Volta River is another potential attraction for tourist Domestic and commercial dugout canoes and modern boats are well developed and the competence of the indigenous fishermen is well known in the District. 

Apart from the fishing the boat cruising on the River Volta for pleasure is also attractive to tourists. The District is also endowed with some historical building/monuments. Most notable ones are Fort Konestem in Ada Foah, which was built in the 17th Century by the Dutch traders. There is also a missionary cemetery at Ada Foah.

Triplet Baobab Tree

There is a triplet Baobab tree at K-unyenya which is believed to posses supernatural powers. There are also sacred Groves, the Okorhue and Okorngmleku forests in Goi and southern part of Luhuor respectively. It is believed that there are dwarfs and other supernatural forces existing in the forests.

Salt Mining

Aside the fishing and agricultural activities in the district, mining constitutes another major economic activity for the residents of the district. This is because the district is blessed with the Songhor lagoon which is noted for its high salt production capacity. 

The Salt Development Project Ltd. is a major salt mining initiative in the district in charge of managing the Songhor salt. The operation area stretches over a total land area of about 12,500 acres. This size enables it to produce an average of about 200,000 metric tones of salt annually for the local market and for export to Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria.
It is important to note that, when fully exploited the salt production could increase to a million metric tones annually whilst creation job opportunities for over a thousand persons. It is in the light of this that several efforts have been initiated by the government to increase the production capacity. A major draw back is however, the fact that the salt is not iodized.  The Company’s product forms the basis of the proposed petrochemical Industry, including the production of caustic soda, chlorine, PVC pipes amongst others.

Sand And Gravel Winning

Large scale sand and gravel winning occurs in Tojeh, Sege, the Volta Estuary and along the coast for road construction and building industries.  Consequently, the cost of construction residential facilities is relatively low as compared to other districts in the region. The organizations pay licenses, levies and royalties to the District Assembly and landowners.