Video Transcript

In the Ashanti pantheon, Tano, is the second son of Nyame, and abreewa. And his elder brother was Bia, the god of the wild.Tano was originally a nature god. But later became known as the god of war and strife.

Once upon a time, Tano challenged the spirit of death to a singing contest. They both performed their best, but neithercould defeat the other. So, They made a pact, and swore that when Tano visited the world of humans, Death would also go with him.

In a slightly different version of the myth, the agreement was that, whoever reached an ill or injured person first, could claim the person. If Tano arrived first, the person would live; if Death arrived first, the person would die. And that, they say, was how Tano became associated with war and strife.

Tano is also the god of the Tano river. And the Ashanti tribe told a story of how he gained possession of the Tano river. That he cheated his brother, Bia, out of his inheritance.

It happened that Tano’s elder brother, Bia, was their father’s favorite. When the two sons had come of age, Nyame decided to divide up  the land between these two.

He planned to give Bia, his favorite son, the most fertile land, which was the Ashanti land of Ghana. While He planned to give to Tano, the more barren coastal lands ( which is now Côte d’Ivoire).

Nyame, on a fateful day, sent his servant, a goat, to tell Tano and Bia to come for their inheritance the next day.

The goat preferred Tano to Bia, so it  went to Tano first, and told him to visit Nyame earlier than his brother, Bia, and to disguise himself as his brother.

Tano did exactly as he was told, and went to see Nyame, disguised as Bia. Nyame was deceived, and without knowing who he was, awarded all the land through which the Tano River flows to Tano, instead of Bia.

When Bia arrived, Nyame saw through the trick, and unfortunately, it was too late to correct the mistake. Nyame could not reverse his promise.

So Bia was left with the dry, barren coastal lands.  This story of Tano and Bia, bears a resemblance to the biblical Story of Esau and Jacob.

In the later Akan religion, Tano was a god of protection more than he was the god of war. Tano was seen as a protection deity, especially against the god or spirit of death, with whom he is in continuous duel.

Following the agreement, should Tano approach a dying person first, then the human belongs him, and the spirit of death has no right over the human.

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