Legend has it that the reason no Ashanti King crosses River Pra can be traced back to a significant event in the history of the Ashanti kingdom. During the reign of Nana Osei Tutu I, the Ashanti kingdom was expanding its influence and power, asserting dominance over various Akan states. However, tensions escalated when the Ashanti kingdom attempted to subjugate the Akyems.
In 1717, Nana Osei Tutu I, realizing that the Ashanti soldiers outnumbered those of the Akyems, saw an opportunity to conquer them. In preparation for war, he made a fateful decision. He left behind his magical amulets and his specially crafted body armor, which had been made for him by Nana Okomfo Anokye.
Tragically, while crossing the River Pra in a canoe with his soldiers, the King met his untimely demise. Snipers and sharpshooters, concealed within the dense forest surrounding the river, unleashed a hail of bullets upon them. Nana Osei Tutu I was fatally struck by these hidden assailants. In his last moments, his dying words were “anka me nim a,” which translates to “if only I knew.” It was a poignant expression of regret, signifying his realization that he had underestimated the Akyems.
As a result of this historic event, before any Ashanti King attempts to cross the River Pra, extensive rituals must be performed, and strict security measures must be put in place. These precautions are taken to ensure the safety of the reigning Asantehene, honoring the memory of Nana Osei Tutu I and serving as a reminder of the consequences of underestimating their adversaries.
Thus, the tradition continues to this day, and no Asantehene dares to cross the River Pra without due preparation and reverence for the historical significance and lessons learned from the demise of Nana Osei Tutu I.