Who Are The Krahns?

Krahn Cultural Dancers - Courtesy of Africani Sankofa

Are they linked to the Igbos, Ashanti, Akans And Yorubas in West Africa?

In West African history, we learn that three (3) languages evolved by 1 AD in the Niger Delta. These historians named: Mande, Voltaic (Mel) and KWA. The prominent Mande languages in West Africa are the Mandingo, Soninke, Woninke, (Lorma, Kpelle, Mano etc. in Liberia) . The Voltaic (Mel) language group is predominantly Mossi and resides in Burkina Faso, but spread into other neighboring countries- as is the case with other language groups.

Ancient African-kingdoms Courtesy of Global Security

Most Western historians continue to inform us that the Krahns in Liberia, migrated from the Ivory Coast. How can a group of people migrate from their own land and back to the very land all at the same time? The land of the Krahns extends from the Ivory Coast all the way to the Atlantic Ocean in southeastern Liberia. In fact, the Krus/Klaos, Grebos, the Bassa, all these dialectical groupings belong to the same family. Do you know that the Sea side Grebos located in Maryland County called themselves Krai-Gborho? Interestingly, there is a Krahn section in Grand Gedeh County called Gborho.

The Western historians misinformed us when they wrote that around the 16th Century, the present day Krahns migrated from the Ivory Coast. This indeed is not true. When the French Colonial power created an artificial boundary, the Cavala River was used as an official boundary between their colonialized African subjects. The Krahns belong to the KWA groups in Africa.

Krahn Mask – Courtesy Wikipedia

In Liberia, the KWA speaking people can be found in 11 counties out of 15 and yet they are unaware of their connectedness as one ethnic group.
1. Gbarpolu County, Belle (Kuwaa);
2. Grand Gedeh County, Krahn
3. River Gee County, Grebo (Glebo or Klipo)
4. Sinoe Counties, Grebo, Kru and Sarpo
5. Grand Kru County, Grebo and Kru or Klao
6. Maryland County, Grebo
7. Nimba Counties, Gbee and Krahn
8. Grand Bassa County, Bassa, Gbee
9. Montserrado County, Bassa, Dei;
10. Margibi County, Bassa
11. River Cess County, Bassa, Gbee

Krahn People of Liberia and Ivory Coast

Who are the KWA PEOPLE? Better yet–linguistically, like the Mande and Voltaic people, who are the ANTECEDENTS of the KWA PEOPLES in West African history?

According to West African history, the Mande language group founded the first two major Empires, namely: Ghana (its prominent King was a Soso man called- Sumanguru. He was killed in battle against Sundiata.
This ushered in the Mali (Mandingo) Empire. The Voltaic (Mel) did not found an Empire- civilization of importance. Why?

The third largest and most powerful West African Empire was Songhai. The hundred million-dollar question is: Who are the descendants of the Songhai people in West Africa today? History is mute on the answer to this question.

The Kwa languages are divided into two groups. The larger Nyo group comprises 35 languages situated in southern Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. It includes the Akan Language cluster (more than eight million speakers); the Anyi and Baule languages (almost three million speakers), mostly in Côte d’Ivoire; and the Guang language cluster (about half a million speakers), mostly in Ghana.

The remaining 10 Kwa languages are termed “left bank” because they are spoken to the east of the Volta River of these languages, the Gbe cluster (of which Ewe is the best-known member) is by far the largest, with some eight million speakers. (https://www.britannica.com/topic/Kwa-languages).

The KWA language group of West Africa is inextricably linked to the People of Songhai Empire. The name of their prominent King was– Assibai. The name as-si-bai, is a Gao word which means: “the unexpected. ” King Assibai’s Kingdom was captured by Mansa Musa, King of Mali Empire. King Mansa Musa personally toured prosperous Songhai Kingdom and met the defeated Assibai. King Assibai paid homage to King Mansa Musa, thus sparing his life. But King Mansa Musa took two(2) sons: Ali and Sulieman as royal hostages. The boys were in captivity for decades until the death of Mansa Musa. They broke free and founded the Songhai Empire. Ali the older brother became king.

Map of Songhai Empire

The Songhai people honored Ali with the Gao word: “SOONI” (pronounced as- Zoo-ni which means in Gao “to remove somebody from water. To rescue from drowning) . The prefix — “soo” means to remove. And the suffix — “ni” pronounced as “nee” means – water, rain or river. Other examples of Gao language as repository exist in history books. Niger- “good/ delicious water, became a Country. “Bani” is another Gao word I came across while reading West African history. It is a used by the Gao people to describe the area where the Niger River split up to form a huge tributary-moat city in the middle of the river. Once again, the prefix “Ba” pronounced as bah means “father” , the suffix- ni as stated above means, water, rain or river. Hence. “Bani” means father of rivers. This is a brief overview of KWA PEOPLES contributions to West African history that many are not aware of.


There is a need for African nations, especially Western African nations, to invest in Research within their respective University History Departments, to conduct an in-depth studies and understanding of precolonial African History. Western scholars did well, considering, that most of them didn’t understand nor speak the languages in Africa and yet they were able to develop volumes upon volumes of text books on African History. We have an obligation as African scholars, to write the ‘true’ History about Africa.


According to some Western historians and such medium as britannica.com, Kwa languages are classified as a branch of the family consisting of 45 languages spoken by approximately 20 million people in the southern areas of Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Ghana, Togo, and Benin in the extreme southwestern corner of Nigeria .

Yes indeed, the KWA groupings in Liberia, are genetically and linguistically linked to the Igo, Ashanti, Akan, Yoruba, etc.  Dr. Barry Fell & Edo Nyland were correct in their research when they reflected in the following: “Igbo is in the family of Niger-Congo languages called Kwa by European linguists, which includes many Nigerian and West African languages like Ashanti, Akan, Yoruba and Benin (Edo).  Igbo, I find to be closest to the original mother of that language family. In fact my finding is that in order to not let the Igbo know that it was their language that birthed the others, the linguists invented the word Kwa, which was originated from Akwa Nshi (Igbo for ‘First People’, also the local name of the Nigerian monoliths that represent First People on the planet (http://www.faculty.ucr.edu/~legneref/igbo/discussion2.htm).

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots ( Marcus Garvey).

Davidson, Basil, 1966, Africa in History
DeGraft-Johnson, J. C., 1954, African Glory – The Story of Vanished Negro Civilizations
De Villiers, Marq & Hirtle, Sheila, 2007, Timbuktu
Harris, Joseph E., 1972, Africans and their History
Mckissack, Patricia & Fredrick, 1994, The Royal kingdom of Ghana, Mali and Songhay – Life in Medieval Africa
Robinson, Calvin R, Edward W; Battle, Redman 1987, The Journey of the Songhai People 

About the Author:

Edmund Z. Bargblor

Edmund Zar-Zar Bargblor is an educator. He is a graduate of Cuttington University in Liberia, Howard University in the United States, and the Israel Institute of Technology. He is a former deputy managing director of the National Port Authority of Liberia. He can be reached at Ezbargblor@aol.com.


  1. What we need is a comprehensive “DNA roots tracing project” across africa to determine possible roots and origins of various ethnic groups across the continent. Question is who wants to pay for this?

  2. Interesting and very informative…! The best way for evolving and progressing is to know who we are as people of this great continent. If we don’t know our origin it is very hard to define and tell our story, the truth about our history. And if we cannot tell or write our history, others will tell it on our behalf but the accuracy is not guaranteed!

    I agreed with the writer, our history must be told but accurately. Yes, westerners may have done some of the legwork for us, but it’s now incumbent upon us Africans to verify the accuracy and control the narratives of this great history. The best place to start, indeed, is at our higher learning institutions, African universities. We have African billionaires and perhaps this is a worthy cause for them to fund such a research. It seems though our stagnation as a continent and a people is inextricably linked to not knowing our history – who are we, our origin, and our contribution to the world. This must be told from the African experience and prospective, but yet accurate.

    We owed it to the next generations to pass onto them our experience (good and bad) and history, but it must be accurate. Anything short of this will lend us into perpetual stagnation as we found ourselves today! We cannot accurately pass our history unto the next if the accuracy of it is established through research as the writer has alluded to.

  3. As historians have it, the word Krahn originates from the Kru language family which has its own origin from the the English word CREW. Krahn is an ethnic group of Liberia and Ivory Coast. This group belongs to the Kru language family and its people are sometimes referred to as the Wee, Guéré, Sapo, Wobe or Krumen,depending on which part of Liberia or Ivory Coast one hails from. When slavery started in the late 1600s, European slave traders used to recruit people from the various ethnic groups within the Niger and Congo basin. This area which is commonly known as sub Sahara Africa or precisely black Africa consisted of millions of black Africans that spoke similar tones. The slaves were recruited in batches or crews or sections, or groups of men and women. However, Europeans like the Danish, the spainash, the germans, the Polish, the French etc many of whom could not speak the English language adequately, when referring to those captured in batches, or groups, or sections felt more comfortable with the English word CREW . But because our people could not pronounce CREW, they adopted Kru or Krahn or as the Grebos are known in the Ivory Coast, Krumen. Hence, the world Krahn like Kru, like Krumen does not exist in the Krahn ethlhnic group or it means nothing in the Krahn ethnic group. These were are just labels inadvertently placed on us by the European slave traders and wrongly adopted by our ancestors. So to my brother Barhbor, instead of putting so much emphasis on the label Krahn which has zero relevant to our ethnic group, we should perhaps be celebrating our Doedeesm, a word that tells the world that we are all from one mother.

  4. I love the curiosity of the writer and all the commenters as well. I’m going to cut to the chase. The greatest history book on the earth and probably the most ignored on the topic is the Bible. Each time we speak of history, people run to all sort of outside resources but will never touch the Bible. One reason for this is simply because the bible is hard to understand for many. Another reason being that the world has made the Bible into a religious book to distract us from going into it for answers – for historical answers. The book has absolutely nothing to do with religion. The Bible is a constitution and history book of a people who even in the Christian church no body wants to have a discussion about. What’s the mysticism about this people that nobody want’s to talk about? Each time the discussion comes up, someone will tell you it doesn’t matter. I urge all of you to continue researching but at the end of the line you will come to realize one major truth. That your identity (yes, you so called African) is the biggest kept secret in the world. And it has been right in your face all the time but you just cannot realize it or image it as it is written in Isaiah 1:3 (The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider).
    What you will come to find out is that billions of dollars are spent yearly to make sure you do not know the truth about who you really are as a people. The elites have collected any historical record they can find and lock them away or even destroy them so you can not access them at anytime to know who you are. Also many African historians focus their attention on the African continent when researching African history but I urge you to look outside. Especially the people on the west coast of Africa, we migrated to that region so where did we come from; Mali, Songhai, Ghana empire?. We migrated and build those empires, again where did we come from? The bible is the only book they have not being able to destroy or contain after numerous attempt. the question is, how do you hide something so important as the identity of a people, put it in plain sight. Here are references in the Bible for you to check out yourself at your own leisure time. Deuteronomy 28 (read the whole chapter with understanding), Joel 3:1-5, Acts 13:1, Psalms 83:1-8. After checking out the above references, then you decide who are the people that fit the description of those prophecies. Is it your current Israel or Jewish people that enter the land in 1948, yours to decide. BUT WHAT YOU WILL COME TO FIND OUT IS THAT YOU ARE (WE ARE) THE BIBLICAL ISRAELITE OF THE BIBLE. Don’t take my word for it, examine the proves and do your extensive research. You were and still a prestigious people of God. Until we search out the truth of who we are as a people and start walk accordingly, things will never change.

  5. The story of the African Negroes is very similar to that of The Biblical Story; “The Tower Of Babylon”. We[Africans] are DISPLACED PEOPLES. It happened in 700BC; when North Africa was invaded by Arabic Barbarians from The Arabian Peninsula. Inspite of the fact that we were the most advanced of the “Human Race”, our DEFENSES against “The Arabic Barbarian-Invaders were very weak or perhaps NONE existing. No doubt! You’ve heard it many times. Certainly! Africa is “The Cradle Of Civilization”. When The Arabic Barbarians Displaced us-Africans, from the entire Northern Portion Of Africa, whatever KNOWLEDGE we[AFRICANS] left behind, became the bedrock/foundation of today’s CIVILIZATION. That’s a “FACT”; well documented. We Africans were the first to build dwellings-homes, first to farm and raised farm animals. Africans were the first to separate the sick from the rest; thus the beginning of today’s modern hospital. The Africans were first to open up the Human Body and identify the functions of the various parts. We(Africans) built The Pyramids. That says a lot about us… We are more capable, than we seem to believe.

  6. We are the true Hebrews of the Bible, it was black people that wrote the Bible. our home land is Israel. we are not black of negros, we are the black Hebrews of the bible. do not be fool by the the white man, they know who we are.

  7. We are the true Hebrews of the Bible, it was black people that wrote the Bible. our home land is Israel. we are not black of negros, we are the black Hebrews of the bible. do not be fool by the the white man, they know who we are. Hosea 4:6

  8. Having read through your research work, I want to commend you for the curiosity you developed in this great piece. Our history is evolving as we continue to migrate and intermarried. The strength of culture is our ability to unite and foster community instead of envy and unnecessary conflicts. Once again, thanks for rekindling our minds.

  9. Mr. Bargblor, I want to take this moment to extend to you my respect and appreciation with regards to your response to the HISTORICAL QUESTION; “Who are the Krahns”? Based on what I read from those analyses that you have provided; I began to reflect on what I have learned during high school days in Liberia, mainly Zwedru Grand Gedeh Country. We actually learned about the formation of these old Empires and the ruling over their subordinates, but was not indeptly. We were not opportune to have learned about the make up of tribal groups or linguistic diversity of people within these old Empires. However, today, I’m so proud and blessed to be one of your history learning audiences. You have afforded me the opportunity to know what I thought I knew about West African History, but didn’t actually never knew. Notwithstanding, from this historical narrative, I can now believe, that the KWA or Krahn groups much migrated from Nigeria, mainly from the Nile Delta to Ghana. Moreover, being that the KWAS were within or under the Songhai Empire, it implies that the Krahns are descendants of the Songhai Empire. And again, it seems to be that, within the KWA, the Krahn speaking groups were not many unlike the others during the Songhai Empire leadership of King Assibai.

  10. hello ,i do not intend to be disrepectful ,but it seems your sources are outdated



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