“During the expansion of the Ashanti, many subgroups were forced to recognise themselves and submit to the Ashanti Empire fully. Princess Pokou found it unnecessary that the Empire wanted more power and control. The dispute led to war, and Princess Pokou decided to migrate with her priest, her son and a group of willing Ashantis to new territory.
Vowing never to return home, she moved with her people Westward from the Ashanti Kingdom towards the Komoé river. The small group successfully reached the Komoé river but were unable to cross knowing that it had crocodiles in it. This is where the legend starts:
The Queen looked at her priest and asked what sacrifice could be made to the genie of the river in order to open a way. The priest replied that only an offering of what was most dear to them would convince the genie to create a route. Having heard that, the women of the court, including the queen, started to take off all their jewelry for offering while the men, gave the livestock. There, the priest stopped them and insisted that what was most dear to them was their sons.
At that moment, the queen untied her son from her back and said; “Kouakou, my only child, forgive me, but I have understood that I need to offer you to the river for the survival of our people. More than a woman or mother, a queen is first a queen!” and then, without shedding a tear, offered him as a sacrifice to the River.
Once the offering was made, a path appeared, allowing the queen and her people to cross. Some historians claim that a big tree bent over to let the Queen and her people cross, while other versions state that a group of hippopotamuses lined up a path across the river.
Once the river was crossed, the queen said, “BA OULI!” meaning “the child is dead.” This will become the name of the people “Baoulé”.