Queen Pokou born (Princess Pokou ) was Queen and founder of the Baoule tribe in West Africa, now Ivory Coast. She ruled over a branch of the powerful Ashanti Empire as it expanded westward. A subgroup of the Akan people, the Baoule people are today one of the largest ethnic groups in modern Ivory Coast.
Princess Ewurabena Pokou was born on a Tuesday between 1700 and 1720 in Kumasi, Ghana. Her father was a warrior who was not documented because he had no royal lineage. Princess Pokou gained her royalty through the matrilineal culture of the Ashantis. Her mother, Nyakou Kosiamoa was the niece of Osei Kofi Tutu I, co-founder of the Ashanti Empire.
Following a series of violent disagreements with the Ashanti confederacy of the time, the young woman led a breakaway group on an arduous journey westwards to the Komoe River, where they became stuck with no way to cross.
At the river’s edge, she asked her priest for advice on how to cross the river safely and he told her that she would have to sacrifice her son. She dressed her infant son in regal golden clothing and placed him in the water and called out, “Ba ouli”, which means “the child is dead”. and the people were able to cross over leaving Ashanti territory and Ghana as a whole.
The people and their princess Pokou journeyed on until they reached fertile land and settled in what is now modern-day Cote d’Ivoire. They named themselves Baoule, which meant the ‘child is dead’ to serve as a reminder of the sacrifice of their leader.
Her descendants are the Baoulé tribe, the largest in today’s Côte d’Ivoire, having assimilated smaller tribes over time.
Princess Pokou became Queen and ruled until she died shortly after creating the Baoule kingdom. Her niece Akwa Boni succeeded to the throne. She pursued wars of conquest to widen the limits of the young kingdom.
The Baoule people today inhabit the territory between the Komoé and Bandama Rivers. They make up 15 percent of the country’s population, having assimilated some smaller tribes over the centuries.
Through the loss of language, the name of the Princess which was originally Princess Ewurabena Pokou has been altered into many variations such as Awura Pokou, Aura Pokou and Abla Pokou which is the most popular of the two.
The Ivorian animated film Pokou, princesse Ashanti by N’ganza Herman and Kan Souffle, which was released in Ivory Coast in 2013, was inspired by the legendary life of Abla Pokou.