Home Region:  West Africa (Africa)

Akan - Pre-Ashanti

EQ 2020  gh_akan / GhAshnE

The gold-producing region between the Comoé and Volta rivers has been inhabited by Akan-speaking people since the 13th century CE. This region has seen the emergence of various autonomous states, including Bono, Djomo, Akwamu, Fante, and Asante. Later in its history, the founders of the Ga and Ewe states arrived from what is now Nigeria. [1] In 1471, Portuguese sailors reached this stretch of coast and quickly established trade with the coastal Akan states, exchanging European goods for gold. [1] Trade routes soon connected the coast to the Niger bend region, along which descendants of the former Bonda and Kumbu kingdoms founded the Akyerekyere and Akumu-Akoto kingdoms respectively. The Portuguese referred to this latter kingdom as the ’Acanes’, which is the source of the name Akan. [2]
In 1701, the Asante rebelled against the dominant Denkyira state and formed a confederacy of Akan states who accepted Asante rule. This confederacy began to conquer the surrounding polities, and by 1764 the Greater Asante controlled an area nearly the size of present-day Ghana. [2]
Europeans continued to be drawn to the Ghanaian coast in search of gold and, by the 19th century, the British were the strongest European power in the region. In 1827, British-led troops defeated an Asante army at Katammanso. [2] In 1831, the British and Asante signed a peace treaty that allowed trade in all ports, and by 1844 the British gained control over criminal matters in the areas around trade forts. By 1872, the British had complete control of the coast, and when they did not recognize Asante sovereignty, the Asante attacked. The British were victorious, and after another war in 1895, the Asante king and chiefs were exiled. The entire region was declared a British territory in 1901. [2]
Population and political organization
During the pre-Asante period, each Akan state consisted of a single kingdom ruled by an omanhene, which literally translates to ’state-chief’. [2] This king came from a royal clan, and was elected by various officials, most notably the ohemmaa (’queen-mother’), who was a senior woman of the clan. The king was a sacred person who could not be observed eating or drinking; nor could he be heard to speak or be spoken to. [2]
After 1701, political organization within the region became far more bureaucratic and specialized. Kumasi became the capital of the union of Asante states and the seat of the empire. Appointed officials began to replace those wielding hereditary authority, and a treasury partly operated by literate Muslims was created. [3] However, while bureaucrats ran many of the day-to-day operations of the empire, the authority of the king was still absolute. [4]
Population estimates are not available for the pre-Asante period. The population of the entire Asante union in 1874 is estimated at three million people. [5]

[1]: (Fage et al. 2017) Fage, John D., Ernest Amano Boateng, Donna J. Maier, and Oliver Davies. 2017. "Ghana." Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/place/Ghana. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/XFKDKSW3.

[2]: (Gilbert, Lagacé and Skoggard 2000) Gilbert, Michelle, Robert O. Lagacé, and Ian Skoggard. 2000. "Culture Summary: Akan." eHRAF World Cultures. http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/document?id=fe12-000. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/ZJ844XUN.

[3]: (McLeod 1981) McLeod, M. D. 1981. The Asante. London: British Museum Publications. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/RS692TAZ.

[4]: (Arhin 1986, 165-66) Arhin, Kwame. 1986. "The Asante Praise Poems: The Ideology of Patrimonialism." Paideuma, no. 32: 163-97. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/87N692IT.

[5]: (Obeng 1996, 20) Obeng, J. Pashington. 1996. Asante Catholicism: Religious and Cultural Reproduction among the Akan of Ghana. Leiden: E. J. Brill. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/P8MFGRGQ.

General Variables
Identity and Location
Utm Zone:
30 N  
Original Name:
Akan - Pre-Ashanti  
Capital:
none  
Alternative Name:
Akan  
Temporal Bounds
Peak Years:
[1,650 CE ➜ 1,701 CE]  
Duration:
[1,501 CE ➜ 1,701 CE]  
Political and Cultural Relations
Suprapolity Relations:
none  
Supracultural Entity:
West Africa  
Succeeding Entity:
Ashanti Empire  
Scale of Supracultural Interaction:
5,112,903 km2  
Relationship to Preceding Entity:
continuity  
elite migration  
Preceding Entity:
Akan States  
Degree of Centralization:
quasi-polity  
Language
Linguistic Family:
Niger-Congo  
Kwa  
Language:
Akan  
Twi  
Religion
Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Hierarchical Complexity
Settlement Hierarchy:
3  
Religious Level:
[2 to 3]  
Military Level:
5  
Administrative Level:
4  
Professions
Professional Soldier:
absent  
Professional Priesthood:
inferred present  
Professional Military Officer:
absent  
Bureaucracy Characteristics
Specialized Government Building:
absent  
Merit Promotion:
absent  
Full Time Bureaucrat:
absent  
Examination System:
absent  
Law
Professional Lawyer:
absent  
Judge:
absent  
Formal Legal Code:
absent  
Court:
absent  
Specialized Buildings: polity owned
Market:
unknown  
Irrigation System:
absent  
Food Storage Site:
present  
Drinking Water Supply System:
absent  
Transport Infrastructure
Road:
inferred absent  
Port:
absent  
Canal:
absent  
Bridge:
absent  
Special-purpose Sites
Mines or Quarry:
present  
Information / Writing System
Written Record:
absent  
Script:
absent  
Phonetic Alphabetic Writing:
absent  
Nonwritten Record:
present  
Mnemonic Device:
inferred present  
Information / Kinds of Written Documents
Scientific Literature:
absent  
Sacred Text:
absent  
Religious Literature:
absent  
Practical Literature:
absent  
Philosophy:
absent  
Lists Tables and Classification:
inferred absent  
History:
absent  
Fiction:
absent  
Calendar:
absent  
Information / Money
Token:
inferred present  
Precious Metal:
present  
Paper Currency:
absent  
Indigenous Coin:
absent  
Foreign Coin:
inferred absent  
Article:
present  
Information / Postal System
Postal Station:
absent  
General Postal Service:
absent  
Courier:
inferred present  
Information / Measurement System
Warfare Variables (Military Technologies)
Fortifications
  Wooden Palisade:
inferred absent  
  Stone Walls Non Mortared:
unknown  
  Stone Walls Mortared:
unknown  
  Settlements in a Defensive Position:
unknown  
  Modern Fortification:
absent  
  Moat:
unknown  
  Fortified Camp:
unknown  
  Earth Rampart:
unknown  
  Ditch:
unknown  
  Complex Fortification:
absent  
  Long Wall:
absent  
Military use of Metals
  Steel:
absent  
  Iron:
present  
  Copper:
inferred absent  
  Bronze:
inferred absent  
Projectiles
  Tension Siege Engine:
absent  
  Sling Siege Engine:
absent  
  Sling:
inferred absent  
  Self Bow:
inferred present  
  Javelin:
present  
  Handheld Firearm:
absent 1600 CE
present 1700 CE
  Gunpowder Siege Artillery:
absent  
  Crossbow:
unknown  
  Composite Bow:
inferred absent  
  Atlatl:
inferred absent  
Handheld weapons
  War Club:
absent  
  Sword:
inferred present  
  Spear:
present  
  Polearm:
inferred absent  
  Dagger:
present  
  Battle Axe:
inferred absent  
Animals used in warfare
Armor
  Wood Bark Etc:
absent  
  Shield:
present  
  Scaled Armor:
absent  
  Plate Armor:
absent  
  Limb Protection:
unknown  
  Leather Cloth:
present  
  Laminar Armor:
absent  
  Helmet:
present  
  Chainmail:
absent  
  Breastplate:
unknown  
Naval technology
  Specialized Military Vessel:
absent  
  Small Vessels Canoes Etc:
absent  
  Merchant Ships Pressed Into Service:
absent  
Religion Tolerance Nothing coded yet.
Human Sacrifice Nothing coded yet.
Crisis Consequences Nothing coded yet.
Power Transitions Nothing coded yet.

NGA Settlements:

Year Range Akan - Pre-Ashanti (gh_akan) was in:
 (1501 CE 1701 CE)   Ghanaian Coast
Home NGA: Ghanaian Coast

General Variables
Identity and Location


Multiple, sometimes short-lived, Akan states governed the coastal area in the colonial period: ’The Portuguese first arrived in 1471 and later built a trading post at Elmina in 1486. Drawn by the trading activity on the coast, descendants of the defunct Bonda and Kumbu kingdoms settled along the north-south trade routes connecting the coast to the Niger bend region. The Queen mother of the Bonda founded the Akyerekyere kingdom along one trade route, which became a clearinghouse for goods from the coast. A prince of the former Kumbu royal house founded the Akumu-Akoto kingdom on another trade route. The Portuguese referred to this latter kingdom as the ’Acanes,’ hence the name Akan. Emigrants from Akumu-Akoto founded a second city-state to the east, called Akwamu. Emigrants from Akwamu in turn founded the Asantemanso kingdom in the Kumasi region. Mande-speaking immigrants conquered the Akyerekyere kingdom and later the Asantemanso kingdom to become the dominant power in the region, the Denkyira. In 1701, the Asantemanso under the leadership of Osei Tutu (d. 1717) rebelled and defeated the Denkyira.’ [1] The individual Akan polities shared some structural commonalities, despite of considerable differences in popular participation: ’According to some ancient writers, there are two forms of government at the Gold Coast, namely, Monarchical and Republican. The districts of Axim, Ahanta, Fanti, and others were, previous to the year 1700, considered to be commonwealths; whereas Commenda, at that time a very populous district, Effutu or Fetu, Asebu, and Accra, were of the first kind. Henry Meredith, whose work was published in 1811, describes the governments along the coast as partaking of various forms. At Appolonia it was monarchical and absolute; in Ahanta it was a kind of aristocracy; but in the Fanti country, and extending to Accra, it was composed of a strange number of forms; for in some places the government was vested in particular persons, whilst in others it was in the hands of the community. What struck him as strange in the Fanti districts was that they frequently changed their form of government on certain occasions by uniting together under particular persons for their general safety, giving implicit [Page 26] obedience to their leaders; but as soon as the object of their union was attained, they reverted to their independent units. What is undoubtedly true is, that for very many years the Fanti town and village communities have enjoyed independence in a greater degree than any other tribes on the Gold Coast. In Appolonia one finds that so much authority was vested in the Omanhene that writers frequently thought his power was absolute. But on examining the constitutions of these places, they will be found to be sprung from the same root; the monarchical form of government so mentioned is what is common in Wassaw and other inland districts, and the republican is simply the constitution of some of the sea-coast towns close to European settlements and forts. These coast towns are communities whose government is based on the system already described; the president is Ohene, and his office is elective. Each town is divided into several parts, for fighting purposes, called companies (Asafu). One of these companies acts as the Gyasi to the Ohene. The Tufuhene is responsible for the good order of all the fighting men; the orders of the Ohene and his council are communicated to them by the Tufuhene.’ [2] There was no single shared capital.

[1]: HRAF Cultural Summary for ’Akan’ Michelle Gilbert, Robert O. Lagacé, and Ian Skoggard

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 25p



Temporal Bounds
Peak Years:
[1,650 CE ➜ 1,701 CE]

The Portuguese established commercial relations with coastal Akan states in the late 15th century. The Ashanti empire was formed in 1701: ’A revolution in Ghanaian history was initiated by the establishment of direct sea trade with Europe following the arrival on the coast of Portuguese mariners in 1471. Initially Europe’s main interest in the country was as a source of gold, a commodity that was readily available on the coast in exchange for such European exports as cloth, hardware, beads, metals, spirits, arms, and ammunition. This gave rise to the name Gold Coast, by which the country was known until 1957. In an attempt to preserve a monopoly of the trade, the Portuguese initiated the practice of erecting stone fortresses (Elmina Castle, dating from 1482, was the first) on the coast on sites leased from the native states. In the 17th century the Portuguese monopoly, already considerably eroded, gave way completely when traders from the Netherlands, England, Denmark, Sweden, and Prussia-Protestant sea powers antagonistic to Iberian imperial pretensions-discovered that the commercial relations developed with the Gold Coast states could be adapted to the export of slaves, then in rapidly increasing demand for the American plantations, as well as to gold trading. By the mid-18th century the coastal scene was dominated by the presence of about 40 forts controlled by Dutch, British, or Danish merchants. The presence of these permanent European bases on the coast had far-reaching consequences. The new centres of trade thus established were much more accessible than were the Sudanese emporia, and this, coupled with the greater capacity and efficiency of the sea-borne trade compared with the ancient overland routes, gradually brought about the reversal of the direction of the trade flow. The new wealth, tools and arms, and techniques and ideas introduced through close contact with Europeans initiated political and social as well as economic changes. The states north of the forest, hitherto the wealthiest and most powerful, declined in the face of new combinations farther south. At the end of the 17th century, the Akan state of Akwamu created an empire that, stretching from the central Gold Coast eastward to Dahomey, sought to control the trade roads to the coast of the whole eastern Gold Coast. The Akwamu empire was short-lived, but its example soon stimulated a union of the Asante (Ashanti) states of the central forest (see Asante empire), under the leadership of the founding Asantehene (king) Osei Tutu. The Asante union, after establishing its dominance over other neighbouring Akan states, expanded north of the forest to conquer Bono, Banda, Gonja, and Dagomba.’ [1] ’The Portuguese first arrived in 1471 and later built a trading post at Elmina in 1486. Drawn by the trading activity on the coast, descendants of the defunct Bonda and Kumbu kingdoms settled along the north-south trade routes connecting the coast to the Niger bend region. The Queen mother of the Bonda founded the Akyerekyere kingdom along one trade route, which became a clearinghouse for goods from the coast. A prince of the former Kumbu royal house founded the Akumu-Akoto kingdom on another trade route. The Portuguese referred to this latter kingdom as the ’Acanes,’ hence the name Akan. Emigrants from Akumu-Akoto founded a second city-state to the east, called Akwamu. Emigrants from Akwamu in turn founded the Asantemanso kingdom in the Kumasi region. Mande-speaking immigrants conquered the Akyerekyere kingdom and later the Asantemanso kingdom to become the dominant power in the region, the Denkyira. In 1701, the Asantemanso under the leadership of Osei Tutu (d. 1717) rebelled and defeated the Denkyira.’ [2] Due to the short-lived and geographically circumscribed character of many Akan states of the time, a peak period is hard to identify. We follow Wilks’ work on the consolidation and expansion of the Akwamu empire [3] .

[1]: http://www.britannica.com/place/Ghana/Daily-life-and-social-customs#toc76828

[2]: HRAF Cultural Summary for ’Akan’ Michelle Gilbert, Robert O. Lagacé, and Ian Skoggard

[3]: Wilks, Ivor 1957. "THE RISE OF THE AKWAMU EMPIRE, 1650-1710", 25-62


Duration:
[1,501 CE ➜ 1,701 CE]

The Portuguese established commercial relations with coastal Akan states in the late 15th century. The Ashanti empire was formed in 1701: ’A revolution in Ghanaian history was initiated by the establishment of direct sea trade with Europe following the arrival on the coast of Portuguese mariners in 1471. Initially Europe’s main interest in the country was as a source of gold, a commodity that was readily available on the coast in exchange for such European exports as cloth, hardware, beads, metals, spirits, arms, and ammunition. This gave rise to the name Gold Coast, by which the country was known until 1957. In an attempt to preserve a monopoly of the trade, the Portuguese initiated the practice of erecting stone fortresses (Elmina Castle, dating from 1482, was the first) on the coast on sites leased from the native states. In the 17th century the Portuguese monopoly, already considerably eroded, gave way completely when traders from the Netherlands, England, Denmark, Sweden, and Prussia-Protestant sea powers antagonistic to Iberian imperial pretensions-discovered that the commercial relations developed with the Gold Coast states could be adapted to the export of slaves, then in rapidly increasing demand for the American plantations, as well as to gold trading. By the mid-18th century the coastal scene was dominated by the presence of about 40 forts controlled by Dutch, British, or Danish merchants. The presence of these permanent European bases on the coast had far-reaching consequences. The new centres of trade thus established were much more accessible than were the Sudanese emporia, and this, coupled with the greater capacity and efficiency of the sea-borne trade compared with the ancient overland routes, gradually brought about the reversal of the direction of the trade flow. The new wealth, tools and arms, and techniques and ideas introduced through close contact with Europeans initiated political and social as well as economic changes. The states north of the forest, hitherto the wealthiest and most powerful, declined in the face of new combinations farther south. At the end of the 17th century, the Akan state of Akwamu created an empire that, stretching from the central Gold Coast eastward to Dahomey, sought to control the trade roads to the coast of the whole eastern Gold Coast. The Akwamu empire was short-lived, but its example soon stimulated a union of the Asante (Ashanti) states of the central forest (see Asante empire), under the leadership of the founding Asantehene (king) Osei Tutu. The Asante union, after establishing its dominance over other neighbouring Akan states, expanded north of the forest to conquer Bono, Banda, Gonja, and Dagomba.’ [1] ’The Portuguese first arrived in 1471 and later built a trading post at Elmina in 1486. Drawn by the trading activity on the coast, descendants of the defunct Bonda and Kumbu kingdoms settled along the north-south trade routes connecting the coast to the Niger bend region. The Queen mother of the Bonda founded the Akyerekyere kingdom along one trade route, which became a clearinghouse for goods from the coast. A prince of the former Kumbu royal house founded the Akumu-Akoto kingdom on another trade route. The Portuguese referred to this latter kingdom as the ’Acanes,’ hence the name Akan. Emigrants from Akumu-Akoto founded a second city-state to the east, called Akwamu. Emigrants from Akwamu in turn founded the Asantemanso kingdom in the Kumasi region. Mande-speaking immigrants conquered the Akyerekyere kingdom and later the Asantemanso kingdom to become the dominant power in the region, the Denkyira. In 1701, the Asantemanso under the leadership of Osei Tutu (d. 1717) rebelled and defeated the Denkyira.’ [2]

[1]: http://www.britannica.com/place/Ghana/Daily-life-and-social-customs#toc76828

[2]: HRAF Cultural Summary for ’Akan’ Michelle Gilbert, Robert O. Lagacé, and Ian Skoggard


Political and Cultural Relations
Suprapolity Relations:
none

During the colonial period, multiple Akan states established commercial relations with Portuguese, Dutch, and later British traders: ’A revolution in Ghanaian history was initiated by the establishment of direct sea trade with Europe following the arrival on the coast of Portuguese mariners in 1471. Initially Europe’s main interest in the country was as a source of gold, a commodity that was readily available on the coast in exchange for such European exports as cloth, hardware, beads, metals, spirits, arms, and ammunition. This gave rise to the name Gold Coast, by which the country was known until 1957. In an attempt to preserve a monopoly of the trade, the Portuguese initiated the practice of erecting stone fortresses (Elmina Castle, dating from 1482, was the first) on the coast on sites leased from the native states. In the 17th century the Portuguese monopoly, already considerably eroded, gave way completely when traders from the Netherlands, England, Denmark, Sweden, and Prussia-Protestant sea powers antagonistic to Iberian imperial pretensions-discovered that the commercial relations developed with the Gold Coast states could be adapted to the export of slaves, then in rapidly increasing demand for the American plantations, as well as to gold trading. By the mid-18th century the coastal scene was dominated by the presence of about 40 forts controlled by Dutch, British, or Danish merchants. The presence of these permanent European bases on the coast had far-reaching consequences. The new centres of trade thus established were much more accessible than were the Sudanese emporia, and this, coupled with the greater capacity and efficiency of the sea-borne trade compared with the ancient overland routes, gradually brought about the reversal of the direction of the trade flow. The new wealth, tools and arms, and techniques and ideas introduced through close contact with Europeans initiated political and social as well as economic changes. The states north of the forest, hitherto the wealthiest and most powerful, declined in the face of new combinations farther south. At the end of the 17th century, the Akan state of Akwamu created an empire that, stretching from the central Gold Coast eastward to Dahomey, sought to control the trade roads to the coast of the whole eastern Gold Coast. The Akwamu empire was short-lived, but its example soon stimulated a union of the Asante (Ashanti) states of the central forest (see Asante empire), under the leadership of the founding Asantehene (king) Osei Tutu. The Asante union, after establishing its dominance over other neighbouring Akan states, expanded north of the forest to conquer Bono, Banda, Gonja, and Dagomba.’ [1] ’The Portuguese first arrived in 1471 and later built a trading post at Elmina in 1486. Drawn by the trading activity on the coast, descendants of the defunct Bonda and Kumbu kingdoms settled along the north-south trade routes connecting the coast to the Niger bend region. The Queen mother of the Bonda founded the Akyerekyere kingdom along one trade route, which became a clearinghouse for goods from the coast. A prince of the former Kumbu royal house founded the Akumu-Akoto kingdom on another trade route. The Portuguese referred to this latter kingdom as the ’Acanes,’ hence the name Akan. Emigrants from Akumu-Akoto founded a second city-state to the east, called Akwamu. Emigrants from Akwamu in turn founded the Asantemanso kingdom in the Kumasi region. Mande-speaking immigrants conquered the Akyerekyere kingdom and later the Asantemanso kingdom to become the dominant power in the region, the Denkyira. In 1701, the Asantemanso under the leadership of Osei Tutu (d. 1717) rebelled and defeated the Denkyira.’ [2] The European presence was economic in orientation: ’The sole reason for the presence of Europeans in West Africa was, and is even now, principally trade, and for the purposes of trade only were forts built and settlements founded, and the power and jurisdiction of the local rulers subsequently undermined. The trade consisted mostly in barter and or exchange, nor was the sale of slaves inconsiderable.’ [3] European traders established agreements with local rulers, but these should not be characterized as political-military alliances: ’Pursuing the same object, they claimed tribute on the takings of the fishermen at Axim, Elmina, and Mowre, who were forbidden under severe penalties from holding any communication whatever and from trading with any other Europeans. Moreover, they attempted to exercise in these coast towns jurisdiction over all civil and criminal matters, and assumed the power of life and death. In spite, however, of these oppressive measures, they were compelled to, and did pay, every year to the local rulers and their people, the rents for their forts and other establishments; nor could they wholly deter the people from trading or otherwise dealing with other European traders, against whom the Dutch now took extreme measures as enemies and interlopers.’ [4]

[1]: http://www.britannica.com/place/Ghana/Daily-life-and-social-customs#toc76828

[2]: HRAF Cultural Summary for ’Akan’ Michelle Gilbert, Robert O. Lagacé, and Ian Skoggard

[3]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. "Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Stody Of The Rise of British Gold Coast Juristiction, Etc., Etc., 74

[4]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 72


Supracultural Entity:
West Africa

The different polities controlling the coastal area shared many cultural traits: ’Akan states, historical complex of gold-producing forest states in western Africa lying between the Comoé and Volta rivers (in an area roughly corresponding to the coastal lands of the modern republics of Togo, Ghana, and, in part, Côte d’Ivoire). Their economic, political, and social systems were transformed from the 16th to the 18th century by trade with Europeans on the coast. Of the northern Akan (or Brong) states the earliest (established c. 1450) was Bono; of the southern the most important were Denkyera, Akwamu, Fante (Fanti), and Asante.’ [1] ’The Asante, however, are only the most successful of a number of people in southern Ghana, with offshoots in the Ivory Coast, who are closely related and probably have a single origin. To the south are groups like the Fante, Akwamu and Akyem, speaking virtually identical tonal languages (sometimes called Twi, or Akan) of the Kwa family and with whom the Asante share many elements of culture. Among these groups, for example, there are traces of the great matrilineal clans [...] formerly recognised in Asante, the practice of naming children according to the day of birth (for example, Kofi, a Friday-born male; Abena, a Tuesday-born girl), and many closely similar religious ideas and rituals. Some of these groups also retain traditions of a move to the south from the open areas north of the forest.’ [2] ’The common origin of the inhabitants of the Fanti districts, Asanti, and wherever the Akan language is spoken, has been already shown. The Customary Laws of the inhabitants of these places are in the main identical, and the national constitutions resemble each other in many points, although Asanti military organization had been developed in a greater degree.’ [3] Hayford comments on cultural and linguistic similiarities between the Ashanti and Fante peoples: ’They speak the same language with only a difference of accent, such difference being a refinement upon whichever form of speech was the original type. It is probable the Ashanti type is the original, since it is reasonable to suppose that the coast tribes were detached from the Ashantis, and not vice versa. There is no tradition showing that the Fantis were ever a distinct and separate people from the Ashantis. On the other hand, there is historical evidence that, at the dawn of European intercourse with the Gold Coast, the Ashanti Union fully recognised the existence and independence of the Fanti Union; and the current of immigration southwards from the north of tribes now dwelling between Ashanti proper and Fanti proper, all of whom have in common the same language with the Ashantis and Fantis, lends weight to this striking fact.’ [4] During the colonial period, contact with Europeans intensified: ’The sole reason for the presence of Europeans in West Africa was, and is even now, principally trade, and for the purposes of trade only were forts constructed and settlements founded, and the power and jurisditction of the local rulers subsequently undermined. The trade consisted mostly in barter or exchange, nor was the sale of slaves inconsiderable.’ [5] Given trading relations and other cross-cultural interactions among different West African societies, we have chosen to follow the eHRAF categorization of Akan societies as ’West Africans’ [6] . Wikipedia gives the size of West Africa as 5,112,903 km2 [7] .

[1]: http://www.britannica.com/place/Akan-states

[2]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 14

[3]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa”, 2

[4]: Hayford, J. E. Casely (Joseph Ephraim Casely) 1970. “Gold Coast Native Institutions With Thoughts Upon A Healthy Imperial Policy For The Gold Coast And Ashanti”, 24

[5]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. "Fanti National Constitution [...]", 74

[6]: http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/ehrafe/browseCultures.do?context=main#region=0

[7]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Africa


Succeeding Entity:
Ashanti Empire

The Union founded after Osei Tutu’s military victory against the Denkyira incorporated a set of allied sub-polities under the overall authority of the Asantehene based at Kumasi: ’In the aftermath of the Denkyira war the military coalition of states was transformed into a political union.’ [1] For Hayford, this union was essentially a confederation of several ’imperia in imperio’ under the paramount authority of the Asantehene: ’The Native State, in its highest development, is to be found where a number of considerably important communities combine and own allegiance to one central paramount Authority. Such Authority is the King, properly so called. Thus in Ashanti, before the breaking up of the Court at Kumasi, there were the Manpons, the Juabins, the Kokofus, the Beckwas, the Adansis, and several other large and important communities, owning allegiance to the stool of Kumasi as the paramount stool of all Ashanti. Each of these important communities, when regarded with respect to the entire State, was a sort of imperium in imperio-in fact, several distinct native states federated together under the same laws, the same customs, the same faith and worship, the people speaking the same language, and all owning allegiance to a paramount king or president, who represented the sovereignty of the entire Union.’ [2] For Arhin, the ’official’, confederated character of the Ashanti Union was increasingly eroded before the onset of British colonial rule, with the Asantehene seeking to concentrate power in Kumasi: ’Formally the Asante lived within a system of decentralized ‘patrimonialism’: that is to say, under the authority of hereditary rulers selected by the heads of the constituent units of the oman, the localized matrilineages, the villages and the districts who were, in the main, a gerontocratic body. The members of the various units also enjoyed rights of use in land. But the political history of Asante, from the beginning of the eighteenth century to the eve of colonial rule, was the history of the erosion of these political and economic rights. It was a history of the increasing personalization of power at the expense of the holders of hereditary authority and also of commoners.’ [3]

[1]: Wilks, Ivor 1993. “Forests Of Gold: Essays On The Akan And The Kingdom Of Asante”, 112

[2]: Hayford, J. E. Casely (Joseph Ephraim Casely) 1970. “Gold Coast Native Institutions With Thoughts Upon A Healthy Imperial Policy For The Gold Coast And Ashanti”, 19

[3]: Arhin, Kwame 1986. “Asante Praise Poems: The Ideology Of Patrimonialism”, 169


Scale of Supracultural Interaction:
5,112,903 km2

km squared. The different polities controlling the coastal area shared many cultural traits: ’Akan states, historical complex of gold-producing forest states in western Africa lying between the Comoé and Volta rivers (in an area roughly corresponding to the coastal lands of the modern republics of Togo, Ghana, and, in part, Côte d’Ivoire). Their economic, political, and social systems were transformed from the 16th to the 18th century by trade with Europeans on the coast. Of the northern Akan (or Brong) states the earliest (established c. 1450) was Bono; of the southern the most important were Denkyera, Akwamu, Fante (Fanti), and Asante.’ [1] ’The Asante, however, are only the most successful of a number of people in southern Ghana, with offshoots in the Ivory Coast, who are closely related and probably have a single origin. To the south are groups like the Fante, Akwamu and Akyem, speaking virtually identical tonal languages (sometimes called Twi, or Akan) of the Kwa family and with whom the Asante share many elements of culture. Among these groups, for example, there are traces of the great matrilineal clans [...] formerly recognised in Asante, the practice of naming children according to the day of birth (for example, Kofi, a Friday-born male; Abena, a Tuesday-born girl), and many closely similar religious ideas and rituals. Some of these groups also retain traditions of a move to the south from the open areas north of the forest.’ [2] ’The common origin of the inhabitants of the Fanti districts, Asanti, and wherever the Akan language is spoken, has been already shown. The Customary Laws of the inhabitants of these places are in the main identical, and the national constitutions resemble each other in many points, although Asanti military organization had been developed in a greater degree.’ [3] Hayford comments on cultural and linguistic similiarities between the Ashanti and Fante peoples: ’They speak the same language with only a difference of accent, such difference being a refinement upon whichever form of speech was the original type. It is probable the Ashanti type is the original, since it is reasonable to suppose that the coast tribes were detached from the Ashantis, and not vice versa. There is no tradition showing that the Fantis were ever a distinct and separate people from the Ashantis. On the other hand, there is historical evidence that, at the dawn of European intercourse with the Gold Coast, the Ashanti Union fully recognised the existence and independence of the Fanti Union; and the current of immigration southwards from the north of tribes now dwelling between Ashanti proper and Fanti proper, all of whom have in common the same language with the Ashantis and Fantis, lends weight to this striking fact.’ [4] The scale of supracultural interaction was amplified with the intensification of colonial penetration. The Columbian Exchange and contact with European traders, missionaries, and colonizers had lasting effects on culture change in Southern Ghana. ’The sole reason for the presence of Europeans in West Africa was, and is even now, principally trade, and for the purposes of trade only were forts constructed and settlements founded, and the power and jurisdiction of the local rulers subsequently undermined. The trade consisted mostly in barter or exchange, nor was the sale of slaves inconsiderable.’ [5] Given trading relations and other cross-cultural interactions among different West African societies, we have chosen to follow the eHRAF categorization of Akan societies as ’West Africans’ [6] . Given trading relations and other cross-cultural interactions among different West African societies, we have chosen to follow the eHRAF categorization of Akan societies as ’West Africans’ [6] . Wikipedia gives the size of West Africa as 5,112,903 km2 [7] .

[1]: http://www.britannica.com/place/Akan-states

[2]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 14

[3]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa”, 2

[4]: Hayford, J. E. Casely (Joseph Ephraim Casely) 1970. “Gold Coast Native Institutions With Thoughts Upon A Healthy Imperial Policy For The Gold Coast And Ashanti”, 24

[5]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. "Fanti National Constitution [...], 74

[6]: http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/ehrafe/browseCultures.do?context=main#region=0

[7]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Africa


Relationship to Preceding Entity:
continuity

’Akan states, historical complex of gold-producing forest states in western Africa lying between the Comoé and Volta rivers (in an area roughly corresponding to the coastal lands of the modern republics of Togo, Ghana, and, in part, Côte d’Ivoire). Their economic, political, and social systems were transformed from the 16th to the 18th century by trade with Europeans on the coast. Of the northern Akan (or Brong) states the earliest (established c. 1450) was Bono; of the southern the most important were Denkyera, Akwamu, Fante (Fanti), and Asante.’ [1] The first Akan states date back to the 13th century, although migration remained relevant: ’It would seem that the first states of the Akan-speaking peoples who now inhabit most of the forest and coastlands were founded about the 13th century by the settlement, just north of the forest, of migrants coming from the direction of Mande; that the dominant states of northern Ghana, Dagomba, Mamprusi, and their satellites were established by the 15th century by invaders from the Hausa region; that a little later the founders of the Ga and Ewe states of the southeast began to arrive from what is now Nigeria by a more southerly route; and that Gonja, in the centre, was created by Mande conquerors about the beginning of the 17th century. Tradition tends to present these migrations as movements of whole peoples. In certain instances-for example, Dagomba, Mamprusi, and Gonja-it can be shown that the traditions relate in fact to comparatively small bands of invaders who used military and political techniques acquired farther north to impose their rule on already established populations whose own organization was based more on community of kin than on allegiance to political sovereigns. It is probable that the first Akan states-e.g., such influential states as Bono and Banda north of the forest or the smaller states founded on the coast by migration down the Volta River-were also established in this way. The later Akan infiltration into the forest, which then was probably sparsely inhabited, and the Ga and Ewe settlement of the southeast may have been more of mass movements, though in the latter case it is known that the immigrants met and absorbed earlier inhabitants.’ [2] The fluidity of the situation makes the choice of a single code more difficult.

[1]: http://www.britannica.com/place/Akan-states

[2]: http://www.britannica.com/place/Ghana/Daily-life-and-social-customs#toc76828

Relationship to Preceding Entity:
elite migration

’Akan states, historical complex of gold-producing forest states in western Africa lying between the Comoé and Volta rivers (in an area roughly corresponding to the coastal lands of the modern republics of Togo, Ghana, and, in part, Côte d’Ivoire). Their economic, political, and social systems were transformed from the 16th to the 18th century by trade with Europeans on the coast. Of the northern Akan (or Brong) states the earliest (established c. 1450) was Bono; of the southern the most important were Denkyera, Akwamu, Fante (Fanti), and Asante.’ [1] The first Akan states date back to the 13th century, although migration remained relevant: ’It would seem that the first states of the Akan-speaking peoples who now inhabit most of the forest and coastlands were founded about the 13th century by the settlement, just north of the forest, of migrants coming from the direction of Mande; that the dominant states of northern Ghana, Dagomba, Mamprusi, and their satellites were established by the 15th century by invaders from the Hausa region; that a little later the founders of the Ga and Ewe states of the southeast began to arrive from what is now Nigeria by a more southerly route; and that Gonja, in the centre, was created by Mande conquerors about the beginning of the 17th century. Tradition tends to present these migrations as movements of whole peoples. In certain instances-for example, Dagomba, Mamprusi, and Gonja-it can be shown that the traditions relate in fact to comparatively small bands of invaders who used military and political techniques acquired farther north to impose their rule on already established populations whose own organization was based more on community of kin than on allegiance to political sovereigns. It is probable that the first Akan states-e.g., such influential states as Bono and Banda north of the forest or the smaller states founded on the coast by migration down the Volta River-were also established in this way. The later Akan infiltration into the forest, which then was probably sparsely inhabited, and the Ga and Ewe settlement of the southeast may have been more of mass movements, though in the latter case it is known that the immigrants met and absorbed earlier inhabitants.’ [2] The fluidity of the situation makes the choice of a single code more difficult.

[1]: http://www.britannica.com/place/Akan-states

[2]: http://www.britannica.com/place/Ghana/Daily-life-and-social-customs#toc76828


Preceding Entity:
Akan States

’Akan states, historical complex of gold-producing forest states in western Africa lying between the Comoé and Volta rivers (in an area roughly corresponding to the coastal lands of the modern republics of Togo, Ghana, and, in part, Côte d’Ivoire). Their economic, political, and social systems were transformed from the 16th to the 18th century by trade with Europeans on the coast. Of the northern Akan (or Brong) states the earliest (established c. 1450) was Bono; of the southern the most important were Denkyera, Akwamu, Fante (Fanti), and Asante.’ [1] The first Akan states date back to the 13th century: ’It would seem that the first states of the Akan-speaking peoples who now inhabit most of the forest and coastlands were founded about the 13th century by the settlement, just north of the forest, of migrants coming from the direction of Mande; that the dominant states of northern Ghana, Dagomba, Mamprusi, and their satellites were established by the 15th century by invaders from the Hausa region; that a little later the founders of the Ga and Ewe states of the southeast began to arrive from what is now Nigeria by a more southerly route; and that Gonja, in the centre, was created by Mande conquerors about the beginning of the 17th century. Tradition tends to present these migrations as movements of whole peoples. In certain instances-for example, Dagomba, Mamprusi, and Gonja-it can be shown that the traditions relate in fact to comparatively small bands of invaders who used military and political techniques acquired farther north to impose their rule on already established populations whose own organization was based more on community of kin than on allegiance to political sovereigns. It is probable that the first Akan states-e.g., such influential states as Bono and Banda north of the forest or the smaller states founded on the coast by migration down the Volta River-were also established in this way. The later Akan infiltration into the forest, which then was probably sparsely inhabited, and the Ga and Ewe settlement of the southeast may have been more of mass movements, though in the latter case it is known that the immigrants met and absorbed earlier inhabitants.’ [2]

[1]: http://www.britannica.com/place/Akan-states

[2]: http://www.britannica.com/place/Ghana/Daily-life-and-social-customs#toc76828


Degree of Centralization:
quasi-polity

Multiple, sometimes short-lived, Akan states governed the coastal area in the colonial period: ’The Portuguese first arrived in 1471 and later built a trading post at Elmina in 1486. Drawn by the trading activity on the coast, descendants of the defunct Bonda and Kumbu kingdoms settled along the north-south trade routes connecting the coast to the Niger bend region. The Queen mother of the Bonda founded the Akyerekyere kingdom along one trade route, which became a clearinghouse for goods from the coast. A prince of the former Kumbu royal house founded the Akumu-Akoto kingdom on another trade route. The Portuguese referred to this latter kingdom as the ’Acanes,’ hence the name Akan. Emigrants from Akumu-Akoto founded a second city-state to the east, called Akwamu. Emigrants from Akwamu in turn founded the Asantemanso kingdom in the Kumasi region. Mande-speaking immigrants conquered the Akyerekyere kingdom and later the Asantemanso kingdom to become the dominant power in the region, the Denkyira. In 1701, the Asantemanso under the leadership of Osei Tutu (d. 1717) rebelled and defeated the Denkyira.’ [1] The individual Akan polities shared some structural commonalities, despite of considerable differences in popular participation: ’According to some ancient writers, there are two forms of government at the Gold Coast, namely, Monarchical and Republican. The districts of Axim, Ahanta, Fanti, and others were, previous to the year 1700, considered to be commonwealths; whereas Commenda, at that time a very populous district, Effutu or Fetu, Asebu, and Accra, were of the first kind. Henry Meredith, whose work was published in 1811, describes the governments along the coast as partaking of various forms. At Appolonia it was monarchical and absolute; in Ahanta it was a kind of aristocracy; but in the Fanti country, and extending to Accra, it was composed of a strange number of forms; for in some places the government was vested in particular persons, whilst in others it was in the hands of the community. What struck him as strange in the Fanti districts was that they frequently changed their form of government on certain occasions by uniting together under particular persons for their general safety, giving implicit [Page 26] obedience to their leaders; but as soon as the object of their union was attained, they reverted to their independent units. What is undoubtedly true is, that for very many years the Fanti town and village communities have enjoyed independence in a greater degree than any other tribes on the Gold Coast. In Appolonia one finds that so much authority was vested in the Omanhene that writers frequently thought his power was absolute. But on examining the constitutions of these places, they will be found to be sprung from the same root; the monarchical form of government so mentioned is what is common in Wassaw and other inland districts, and the republican is simply the constitution of some of the sea-coast towns close to European settlements and forts. These coast towns are communities whose government is based on the system already described; the president is Ohene, and his office is elective. Each town is divided into several parts, for fighting purposes, called companies (Asafu). One of these companies acts as the Gyasi to the Ohene. The Tufuhene is responsible for the good order of all the fighting men; the orders of the Ohene and his council are communicated to them by the Tufuhene.’ [2]

[1]: HRAF Cultural Summary for ’Akan’ Michelle Gilbert, Robert O. Lagacé, and Ian Skoggard

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 25p


Language

’The Ashanti and related Akyem, Anyi, Attie, Baule, Brong, Fanti and Guang speak languages of the Akan subdivision, Twi branch, of the Kwa subfamily of Niger-Congo linguistic stock.’ [1] ’The Akan are Twi-speaking people living between the Volta river and the Atlantic coast in southern and central Ghana and in southeastern Cote d’Ivoire. They include the Akwamu, the Akwampim (Akuapem), the Akyem (Akim), the Asen-Twifo, the Ashanti (Asante), the Fanti (Fante), the Kwahu, and the Wasa.’ [2]

[1]: White 2009 ’Pinpointing Sheets for the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample: Complete Edition’ World Cultures

[2]: HRAF Cultural Summary for ’Akan’ Michelle Gilbert, Robert O. Lagacé, and Ian Skoggard

’The Ashanti and related Akyem, Anyi, Attie, Baule, Brong, Fanti and Guang speak languages of the Akan subdivision, Twi branch, of the Kwa subfamily of Niger-Congo linguistic stock.’ [1] ’The Akan are Twi-speaking people living between the Volta river and the Atlantic coast in southern and central Ghana and in southeastern Cote d’Ivoire. They include the Akwamu, the Akwampim (Akuapem), the Akyem (Akim), the Asen-Twifo, the Ashanti (Asante), the Fanti (Fante), the Kwahu, and the Wasa.’ [2]

[1]: White 2009 ’Pinpointing Sheets for the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample: Complete Edition’ World Cultures

[2]: HRAF Cultural Summary for ’Akan’ Michelle Gilbert, Robert O. Lagacé, and Ian Skoggard


Religion

Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Hierarchical Complexity
Settlement Hierarchy:
3

levels.
(1) Towns housing rulers (Omanhene); (2) Villages integrated into the recognized regional power hierarchies, comprising multiple family farms; (3) residential Hamlets and other non-permanent micro-settlements
Most authors recognize both towns and villages, the latter growing out of small micro-settlements founded by family groups: ’It is interesting to think that these small nations of the Gold Coast, each consisting of a few towns and villages with a bare handful of population, have been so highly successful in maintaining this well-developed form of self-government. The Akan nations, with all the disadvantages of lack of transferring thought by any means other than speech, and in the absence of any proper medium of communication, have been able to march abreast of the times, adhering to their ancient, but by no means archaic, form of self-government.’ [1] ’Most of the towns scattered over the whole of Guinea have grown from villages originally founded and occupied by single family groups. As each family gets larger and the households increase in number, the village community grows, and its general affairs are guided and controlled by the patriarch of the family, who, now headman of the [Page 4] village, is assisted by a council composed of the eldest members of each family group or household, and other fit and proper persons, who are generally old men.’ [2] ’The Penin of the subsequent settlers exercises similar rights over his own people, and as the household grows larger so is that Penin assisted by a person “sitting behind” him. The founder of the village or his successor is now called Odzikuro (owner of the village), who, in looking after the village affairs, is assisted by the Penin of the new [Page 7] settlers, and thus arises the village council. The different family groups become the village community, and in all public matters the village council, composed of the Penin of each important household, acts, the Odzikuro being president of such council. The members of the village council have a spokesman (Kyiami, a linguist), whose office is hereditary, but is traced in the male line, for a son succeeds as linguist his father, and not his uncle. Land in possession of the founder of the village is family stool property. Land cleared and occupied by subsequent settlers who have joined the founder is the property of the subsequent settlers. Land acquired by the founder and the settlers together is held by the village community, and becomes attached to the stool of the person for the time being head of the village. All the inhabitants of the village have each of them a proportionate share in such lands as common property, without any possession or title to distinct portions. From the moment a tribal community settles down finally upon a definite tract of land, the land begins to be the basis of society in place of kinship. The Odzikuro, with the village council, has the control of such land, but each person has the right to cultivate any portion of it, and having done so or settled on it, he may not be removed by any single individual unless the council so decrees.’ [3] ’Suppose the original founder of the village to be a junior member of the family, whose elder brother was the family stoolholder; there still will be seasons when he and those under him would have to take part in observing the annual custom of the family stool, and participate in the family festival. And where there are several subordinate branches of a similar nature, the stoolholder of the original family acquires a greater importance and influence, and is termed Ohene - a term which has been rendered indifferently in English, king, caboceer, head chief, chief, and even headman. The Ohene will now have under him ( a) his family: comprising (i.) members under his immediate control, and (ii.) subordinate family groups that have branched off from the parent family; ( b) settlers: (i.) family groups in the same village as the Ohene, and (ii.) family groups sprung from the aforesaid and living in other places. In addition to individual persons enjoying his protection, there may be among his retinue a whole family or village community, to or for whom money loans have been given. These swell the retinue of the Ohene, and are included in his own bodyguard (Gyasi), a portion of the fighting men of the village community. Like the others, the headman of the protected family or community attends the annual festival of the Ohene, and to the tribunal of the Ohene these vassals have the right to appeal. Moreover, the oath of the stool of the Ohene is binding on them. The whole community is now likened to a body of which the Ohene supports the head, and the next in authority to him the foot. The Ohene of the oldest ancestry and most powerful becomes by election or tacit consent of the other Ahenefu of the district or country Omanhene, that is, a king. In reference to his own particular jurisdiction he is Ohene, and as such he may not interfere in the domestic [Page 9] affairs of any other fellow-ohene, so far as they do not injuriously affect the district as a whole.’ [4] According to Sarbah, Fante communities enjoyed a greated degree of autonomy than other Akan settlements: ’According to some ancient writers, there are two forms of government at the Gold Coast, namely, Monarchical and Republican. The districts of Axim, Ahanta, Fanti, and others were, previous to the year 1700, considered to be commonwealths; whereas Commenda, at that time a very populous district, Effutu or Fetu, Asebu, and Accra, were of the first kind. Henry Meredith, whose work was published in 1811, describes the governments along the coast as partaking of various forms. At Appolonia it was monarchical and absolute; in Ahanta it was a kind of aristocracy; but in the Fanti country, and extending to Accra, it was composed of a strange number of forms; for in some places the government was vested in particular persons, whilst in others it was in the hands of the community. What struck him as strange in the Fanti districts was that they frequently changed their form of government on certain occasions by uniting together under particular persons for their general safety, giving implicit [Page 26] obedience to their leaders; but as soon as the object of their union was attained, they reverted to their independent units. What is undoubtedly true is, that for very many years the Fanti town and village communities have enjoyed independence in a greater degree than any other tribes on the Gold Coast. In Appolonia one finds that so much authority was vested in the Omanhene that writers frequently thought his power was absolute. But on examining the constitutions of these places, they will be found to be sprung from the same root; the monarchical form of government so mentioned is what is common in Wassaw and other inland districts, and the republican is simply the constitution of some of the sea-coast towns close to European settlements and forts. These coast towns are communities whose government is based on the system already described; the president is Ohene, and his office is elective. Each town is divided into several parts, for fighting purposes, called companies (Asafu). One of these companies acts as the Gyasi to the Ohene. The Tufuhene is responsible for the good order of all the fighting men; the orders of the Ohene and his council are communicated to them by the Tufuhene.’ [5] Spatial proximity to colonial forts was associated with significant cultural changes: ’Pursuing the same object, they claimed tribute on the takings of the fishermen at Axim, Elmina, and Mowre, who were forbidden under severe penalties from holding any communication whatever and from trading with any other Europeans. Moreover, they attempted to exercise in these coast towns jurisdiction over all civil and criminal matters, and assumed the power of life and death. In spite, however, of these oppressive measures, they were compelled to, and did pay, every year to the local rulers and their people, the rents for their forts and other establishments; nor could they wholly deter the people from trading or otherwise dealing with other European traders, against whom the Dutch now took extreme measures as enemies and interlopers.’ [6] ’The government of the sea-coast communities is a variation of the general system which has been described. This variation has been caused by frequent intercourse with European traders and the accumulation of wealth by means of lucrative trade. Ancient travellers who wrote described only what they saw in the coast towns. From these men one learns that, over two centuries ago, at seedtime farmers marked out for farming their plots of land, situate usually on rising grounds near the towns and villages. The next step was to obtain the permission of the Ohene or his officers in charge of the land, after permission had been granted, to pay the usual rent. The head of the family, assisted by his wives, children, and any slaves he might possess, prepared the ground for sowing. When the day of sowing arrived, the farm belonging to the village, or town chief, was first sown by all the people, and the others followed in due course. † This custom has continued to modern times with slight modifications. A few years ago the sum of half a crown was paid to landowners on asking for a plot of land to farm on for one season, but within the last two years this sum has been raised to ten shillings; in some instances, such as for land near the large towns, as much as a pound has been paid.’ [7]

[1]: Danquah, J. B. (Joseph Boakye) 1928. “Gold Coast: Akan Laws And Customs And The Akim Abuakwa Constitution”, 16

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 3p

[3]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 6

[4]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 8p

[5]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 25p

[6]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 72

[7]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 24


Religious Level:
[2 to 3]

levels.
(1) priests serving major shrines associated with the Omanhene; (2) priests serving minor shrines and chiefs; (3) priests and healers associated with the commoner population and village shrines
Priests and spirit mediums communicated with deities and other spirits: ’Indigenous Akan religion is based upon the worship of a High God, various spirits or deities, and ancestors. The High God-known as Onyame, Onyankopon, and by other names-is the Creator, now otiose; Asase Yaa, the goddess of the earth, accompanies him. The ancestors live in the land of the dead and may demand offerings, in the past including those of slaves.’ [1] ’Spirits or deities are many, and the living can communicate with them through prayer, sacrifice, and possession. Each has its own OSOFO, or priest; an OKOMFO is a living spirit medium who interprets the words of a spirit who is consulted to remove sickness and human disasters.’ [1] Rulers and royal lineages were closely connected to the cult: ’The royal ancestors are at the heart of the ritual protection of a kingdom. They are "fed" at shrines in the form of blackened stools of wood and kept in the "stool rooms" in palaces and houses. Traditionally, the stools were anointed with human blood, gunpowder, and spider webs, and given alcoholic drink; human sacrifices are no longer made. Each kingdom and town has, or had in past years, an annual purification ritual, known as ODWIRA, in which the king, the office of kingship, the kingdom, and the town are purified of the pollution of the preceding year; this is often known in the literature as a "yam festival."’ [1] In Fante communities, high-ranking priests played a prominent role in the polity: ’The object, however, of this work is not to deal with religious theories, deities, or matters of belief. In the Fanti districts, with their numerous free and independent communities, the priests who officiated at the shrine of Nanaam (that is ancestors), the national deities, situate at Mankesim, exercised large powers and wielded great [Page 52] influence, so much so that the opinion has been expressed that the high priest, a Braffo, was the sovereign ruler of the Fanti people. The physician was so often a priest that it is not surprising to discover him possessed of much influence; but this much may be said, the priests did not rule the people. The general name for God is Nyankupon (Nyankrupon according to the Akanfu), meaning the Only One, than who none is greater, or, as others say, the Great Friend. Nyankupon is invisible. He lives above the heavens, and the winds are His messengers. The common saying is, “Speak to the winds, and God will hear thee.” This word has different pronunciations, and the difficulty of finding its root may be through this cause. Rain is called Nyankum; rainbow is nyankunton. Nyan is to awaken, and it has been suggested that probably Onyan (the awakener) was an old name for the sky. One is rather inclined to form the opinion that Nyankupon is not derived from ye, meaning to do, act, create, as some say. This subject is certainly interesting, and requires further study and much thinking over.’ [2]

[1]: Gilbert, Michelle, Lagacé, Robert O. and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Akan

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 51p


Military Level:
5

levels.
(1) Omanhene; (2) his Bodyguard (Gyasi) and Generals (Tufuhene); (3) Wing chiefs; (4) Local Chiefs acting as captains of companies; (5) commoners fulfilling the role of infantry
Political and military leadership often coincided: ’The long, complex history of the Akan peoples is one of internecine conflicts and, since the eighteenth century, of opposition to the encroachment of various colonial powers: the Dutch, Portuguese, Danish, French, and English. In addition, there have been continual threats from the Islamic peoples of the southern Saharan fringe. Essentially all these conflicts have been over monopolies in trade, first across the Sahara with northern Africa and, in later centuries, across the Atlantic with the countries of Europe and the Americas. Warfare has historically been a central institution, a means of extending territory and controlling external trade. The Akan state was typically divided into five or six military formations or "wings," each under the authority of a wing chief. Beneath the wing chiefs, who are chosen by the king, are the chiefs of the main towns of a kingdom. The latter are from the town’s ruling line.’ [1] ’It must be admitted that the origin of our State government and the principles on which it was founded, being solely military in character, one should feel content to accept the fact that the whole structure of the civil government we enjoy to-day is the result of martial adventures. This being so, it is only natural that people whose powers are clearly labelled as “military commanders”, etc., should exercise civil powers when the fruit of their labours bring peace. In almost all the Akan institutions, from the lowest servant to the highest officer, there is scarcely any whose civil powers are not based on military appointments. It is, therefore, most natural to fall into the habit of merging a civil into a military power.’ [2] ’The Ohene of every district is the supreme commander of the fighting men. His orders are communicated through the captains (Asafuhenefu), or the Tufuhene, as the case may be. Whenever a council of war is convened he presides, and it is his duty to provide them with some powder and shot. Every male person able to bear arms is bound to serve his country, and each fighting man [Page 28] provides himself with arms and ammunitions, as well as provisions, at his own expense.’ [3] According to Sarbah, imperial Ashanti military organization was more ’developed’ than that of smaller Akan predecessors: ’The common origin of the inhabitants of the Fanti districts, Asanti, and wherever the Akan language is spoken, has been already shown. † The Customary Laws of the inhabitants of these places are in the main identical, and the national constitutions resemble each other in many points, although Asanti military organization had been [Page 3] developed in a greater degree. In fact, while the Fanti communities were gradually bringing under their sway smaller states, the Asanti king by conquests was extending his power over many lands. At one time all countries from Cape Mount in Liberia to the western boundary of Dahomey were, with few exceptions, under Asanti jurisdiction.’ [4] But the Omanhene was supported by a bodyguard even before Ashanti imperial expansion: ’Omanhene is the head of the national life, and naturally president of the rulers of the people assembled either as a court for deciding cases or for legislation. The district, taken as a whole, is likewise considered as a body, whereof the Omanhene supports the head, and the next man in authority to him carries the foot. By virtue of his office, Omanhene has the right to be carried by four men or more, and uses three or more canopy umbrellas. At his installation a small sword, the insignia of his office, is handed to him, and he enjoys several other privileges. He is the commander-in-chief of all the fighting men of the district. His bodyguard and the immediate fighting men are called Gyasi. He is almost invariably a member of the Domtsifu or Intsin Company. Tufuhene is the man whose duty it is to command the fighting-men (from tuu, “to throw, e.g., arrows, etc.;” hence etuo, itur, “a gun”); a fighting leader, or commander. In some districts, and especially in the coast towns, Tufuhene is the next man in authority after Ohene.’ [5] ’An Ohene is entitled to ride in a palanquin carried by two men and attended by two canopy umbrellas. An Odzikuro is the headman of a village. Penin is an elder, generally an old man of experience. Sahene is a man appointed to conduct war. A Safuhene is a captain of a company, and in some instances is a stoolholder. In fact, among the Akanfu, that is Asanti, Wassaw, Assin, Akim, and such like, each Ohene of the several towns and districts is referred to as the Safuhene of his Omanhene. The Gyasi are the bodyguard of an Ohene or Omanhene. They comprise, first, the blood relatives, especially the children and grandsons of the Ohene, and are called Bogyadom ( bogya, “blood”; dom, “troop”), who have the immediate custody of the stool; secondly, certain Asafuhenefu, with their men; thirdly, personal servants and domestic attendants (Gyasifu). The Gyasi perform the rites of the stool custom each year.’ [5] ’The immediate retinue and body-guard of the Omanhene are called Gyasi, and consist of three groups of persons. (1) His male blood relatives, e.g. brothers, uncles, nephews; also his sons, whether by free or bond women. These persons usually are captains of the other fighting men. (2) Servants, slaves, and pawns, and their descendants. (3) Those originally attached to him by commendation or adoption; and captains, with their forces, appointed by the community as such.’ [6] Akan troops were organized in companies under the leadership of captains, but even on this level civil and military leadership were often united in one person: ’Supi is a company captain, who keeps the company’s flags, and especially their ammunition. The spokesman of an Ohene or village community is selected by the Ohene or Odzikuro. On his appointment it is usual in some districts for his family to give to the Ohene or councillors sua duma,that is, £2 9 s. 6 d. The councillors (Begwafu) are sometimes selected by the people on account of personal character and intelligence. Every councillor is not a stoolholder, nor is every stoolholder a councillor; but a great number of the councillors, however, are stoolholders. A stoolholder may be appointed a councillor, and his successor, when deemed a fit and proper person, follows him in his office. When a person becomes a councillor he is considered as promoted, therefore he severs his connection with his company, and must not take an active part in the management of the affairs of the company. A councillor must not be a partisan. Councillors who have not attained that position by right of inheritance are practically, and in truth, the direct representatives of the people, and voice public opinion. It is somewhat difficult to define the qualifications of such public men.’ [7] ’The male persons of each ward originally formed a [Page 27] company, having its distinctive flags, drums, and other equipments. The honour of the flag is the first consideration, and his service to his company is the most indispensable duty of the citizen. The organization of the town companies has been already described. * In some towns there are as many as seven companies, members of which reside not only in the town, but also in the neighbouring villages. Lands cleared by the companies belong to them. The lands of the companies do not belong to the Ohene, for there are town lands, family lands, and stool lands. The Ohene has no right to ordinary tribute, and the public-stool income is derived from fines, penalties, and court fees. In this also the jurisdiction is personal. The Tufuhene, the councillors, and captains of the companies take part in the election and installation of a new Ohene. Before them he takes his oath of office, and if any lands are attached to the town stool, he holds them in trust for the public. The succession generally follows the common rule, but in some places it is the son who succeeds, not the brother or nephew. The townspeople can pass over the person nominated by the family and elect some other suitable person instead. They may also remove the Ohene, if found unfit to rule them any longer; in either of which events the town sword and stool, with all the public property thereunto appurtenant, are vested in the town council, whose duty it is to take them from the deposed ruler or his family and give them to the person appointed as new ruler or manager during the interval.’ [8] ’Each subordinate ruler, correctly the captain-chief (Safuhene), of the Omanhene, owns a stool of his office, commands the fighting men of, and rules, his district. The lands of the district are attached to his stool. Like the Omanhene, he also has officers and captains under him, and with his linguist, councillors, and elders he sits as a magistrate, before whose tribunal his subjects and people in his district are bound to appear.’ [9]

[1]: Gilbert, Michelle, Lagacé, Robert O. and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Akan

[2]: Danquah, J. B. (Joseph Boakye) 1928. “Gold Coast: Akan Laws And Customs And The Akim Abuakwa Constitution”, 17

[3]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 27p

[4]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 2p

[5]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 9

[6]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 23

[7]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 10

[8]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 26p

[9]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 22


Administrative Level:
4

levels.
(1) rulers of Akan polities (Omanhene); (2) his female equivalent (Ohema) and a Council of Elders assisting him; (3) Chiefs of lineages/clans or district rulers (Ohene); (4) councils of village leaders (mpanyinfo, odekro, obaapanyin)
Central authority rests with the King, but the role of sub-chiefs who complement the hierarchy have developed over time. [1]
According to Sarbah, Akan polities of the time shared many structural commonalities when it comes to political organization: ’The common origin of the inhabitants of the Fanti districts, Asanti, and wherever the Akan language is spoken, has been already shown. † The Customary Laws of the inhabitants of these places are in the main identical, and the national constitutions resemble each other in many points, although Asanti military organization had been [Page 3] developed in a greater degree. In fact, while the Fanti communities were gradually bringing under their sway smaller states, the Asanti king by conquests was extending his power over many lands. At one time all countries from Cape Mount in Liberia to the western boundary of Dahomey were, with few exceptions, under Asanti jurisdiction.’ [2] But polities differed in the degree of popular participation: ’According to some ancient writers, there are two forms of government at the Gold Coast, namely, Monarchical and Republican. The districts of Axim, Ahanta, Fanti, and others were, previous to the year 1700, considered to be commonwealths; whereas Commenda, at that time a very populous district, Effutu or Fetu, Asebu, and Accra, were of the first kind. Henry Meredith, whose work was published in 1811, describes the governments along the coast as partaking of various forms. At Appolonia it was monarchical and absolute; in Ahanta it was a kind of aristocracy; but in the Fanti country, and extending to Accra, it was composed of a strange number of forms; for in some places the government was vested in particular persons, whilst in others it was in the hands of the community. What struck him as strange in the Fanti districts was that they frequently changed their form of government on certain occasions by uniting together under particular persons for their general safety, giving implicit [Page 26] obedience to their leaders; but as soon as the object of their union was attained, they reverted to their independent units. What is undoubtedly true is, that for very many years the Fanti town and village communities have enjoyed independence in a greater degree than any other tribes on the Gold Coast. In Appolonia one finds that so much authority was vested in the Omanhene that writers frequently thought his power was absolute. But on examining the constitutions of these places, they will be found to be sprung from the same root; the monarchical form of government so mentioned is what is common in Wassaw and other inland districts, and the republican is simply the constitution of some of the sea-coast towns close to European settlements and forts. These coast towns are communities whose government is based on the system already described; the president is Ohene, and his office is elective. Each town is divided into several parts, for fighting purposes, called companies (Asafu). One of these companies acts as the Gyasi to the Ohene. The Tufuhene is responsible for the good order of all the fighting men; the orders of the Ohene and his council are communicated to them by the Tufuhene.’ [3] In general, public office was attached to stools: ’Before proceeding further, it is necessary to explain the origin of stools, whether family or public. Where the head of a family has more than one stool, he may give one to a member of the family on appointing him the Penin of a junior branch of the large family. The person so appointed thereby acquires possession of all the goods, chattels, and lands appurtenant to that stool. His own property becomes stool property, and is merged in whatever is given him. The children of the last stoolholder call him father, and the widows become his wives; each woman can, however, obtain her freedom on repayment of the Consawment money, that is, dowry. But a new stool is created in this wise: when the family of a man of wealth or influence on his death so will, they create a family stool which is named after the deceased. For this purpose the favourite chair of the deceased, generally a small one, which was in constant use by him, is cleaned, then rubbed all over with the blood of sheep, and finally smeared with a mixture of soot and eggs. The stool is afterwards wrapped in some skin and safely kept. During this consecration, libation is made and prayers are freely offered for the prosperity of the family, and that its members may, in time to come, attain greater influence and prominence. These stools are added to from time to time, but count is made of only the prominent ones. Too often the name of the original founder of the family is dropped for that of one of his successors of greater eminence. When an old stool is so decayed that it ought to be destroyed, it is burnt, and the ashes thereof are made into a paste with oil, blood, eggs, and other substances. The paste is then daubed on a new stool, which is [Page 13] consecrated as a family stool and named after the old one. When an old stool is lost a new one is specially made and consecrated.’ [4] Akan polities were ruled by an Omanhene, assisted by multiple officials and councillors, including a female equivalent of his (Ohema): ’Omanhene is the head of the national life, and naturally president of the rulers of the people assembled either as a court for deciding cases or for legislation. The district, taken as a whole, is likewise considered as a body, whereof the Omanhene supports the head, and the next man in authority to him carries the foot. By virtue of his office, Omanhene has the right to be carried by four men or more, and uses three or more canopy umbrellas. At his installation a small sword, the insignia of his office, is handed to him, and he enjoys several other privileges. He is the commander-in-chief of all the fighting men of the district. His bodyguard and the immediate fighting men are called Gyasi. He is almost invariably a member of the Domtsifu or Intsin Company. Tufuhene is the man whose duty it is to command the fighting-men (from tuu, “to throw, e.g., arrows, etc.;” hence etuo, itur, “a gun”); a fighting leader, or commander. In some districts, and especially in the coast towns, Tufuhene is the next man in authority after Ohene.’ [5] ’The several Akan peoples each consist of a single kingdom ruled by a king, OMANHENE (lit. "state-chief"). The king comes from whatever clan provides the royal line in a particular kingdom, and is chosen in rotation from one of this clan’s kingly lineages (there are often other, non-kingly, lineages within a royal clan). He is elected by various officials, of which the most important is the OHEMMAA (or similar terms; lit. "woman-chief" and usually translated in the literature as "queen-mother") although she is typically not the actual mother but a senior woman of the clan, who "knows" genealogy and may have her own court and be assisted by various officials. Criteria for the selection of a king include assumed competence, general personality, and the fact that kingly lines usually rotate in providing the king. Once selected, the king is "enstooled"-that is, seated upon the stool of kingship. His former status is annulled symbolically, his debts and lawsuits are settled, his clothing and personal possessions st ored; he is then symbolically reborn and given the identity of one of his forebears. He assumes the royal name and title borne by that previous ruler. A king has his palace, in which work members of his court. Details vary considerably, but, in general, the royal officials comprise several categories: those from the royal clan itself; those representing the remainder of the people; and ritual officials, drummers, and others who were considered the "children" of the king, being recruited from many sources, including royal slaves, and often observing patrilineal descent. The king is a sacred person. He may not be observed eating or drinking and may not be heard to speak nor be spoken to publicly (speaking only through a spokesman or "linguist," OKYEAME). He is covered from the sky by a royal umbrella, avoids contact with the earth by wearing royal sandals, and wears insignia of gold and elaborate and beautiful cloth of royal design. In the past, an Akan king held power over the life and death of his subjects and slaves. These powers were eroded during colonial rule, but today an Akan king remains extremely powerful, representing his people both politically an d ritually and acting as a focus for the identity of his kingdom. By far the most powerful is the king of Ashanti, who has the largest of all the Akan kingdoms, the Asantehene at Kumasi.’ [6] Councillors supported the ruler in his duties, but could also contain autocratic ambitions: ’The Council of the people is the only effective instrument or body which tempers the will or power of the ruler. For no discreet or wise ruler would undertake any matter of importance affecting his people, until it has been discussed at length in council, where freedom of speech and the publicity thereof give every facility for the expression of public opinion. In fact, it is the duty of every ruler first to summon his councillors, and then his people, when an occasion arises, in the same way as the head of a family calls the senior or elder members of his family and confers about the affairs and other business of the family. The principle is the same; the application thereof is only a matter of degree. The representative character of a councillor is well understood and appreciated by the people. The expression generally used by old councillors and other public men whose influence has waned, who are not considered to reflect current public opinion, or who do not command public confidence, is as follows: “Nya Oman ese nidu wont[unavailable]t[unavailable] n’anan mu,” meaning “the representatives of the people for the time being should not be interrupted too much nor without very good reason.”’ [7] Regional government and belonging to social categories operated through clan membership: ’Every aboriginal inhabitant of this country is a member of some clan, the relationship to which is traced through the mother. Take the case of a man who is about to build a separate home or settle on some portion of land of the tribe or clan: he will be accompanied by his wives, if any, also his mother, brothers, unmarried sisters, nephews and nieces who have left their fathers. The land on which this man with his people will settle may be either a portion of the virgin forest or where he had been farming before. When the brothers marry their wives join them, but their children are not members of this family. As the household increases and multiplies new houses are set up. In this smallest family group the Penin, or Egya, is the natural guardian of every member. The land on which the members dwell is family property. The Penin, as head [Page 5] of the family, represents all the members, holding and administering the property as a trustee for himself and them. If the family is so wealthy as to hold slaves and pawns (Ahubafu), they reside with their masters. When this family unit has grown large it is usual to appoint a person to “sit behind” the Penin. He must be a fit and proper person, generally one of the heritable blood relations (Dihyi); in some instances, however, a bondsman is selected. This second man acts as the spokesman of the Penin, assists him in settling disputes, takes a prominent part at the annual observance of the stool, or other festival, when, in the presence of the whole family, he makes the libation and offers the family sacrifice with prayers to the spirits of the departed ones.’ [8] Villages were governed by councils of elders or ’patriarchs’: ’Most of the towns scattered over the whole of Guinea have grown from villages originally founded and occupied by single family groups. As each family gets larger and the households increase in number, the village community grows, and its general affairs are guided and controlled by the patriarch of the family, who, now headman of the [Page 4] village, is assisted by a council composed of the eldest members of each family group or household, and other fit and proper persons, who are generally old men.’ [9] As micro-settlements grew into villages, leadership would adjust accordingly: ’The Penin of the subsequent settlers exercises similar rights over his own people, and as the household grows larger so is that Penin assisted by a person “sitting behind” him. The founder of the village or his successor is now called Odzikuro (owner of the village), who, in looking after the village affairs, is assisted by the Penin of the new [Page 7] settlers, and thus arises the village council. The different family groups become the village community, and in all public matters the village council, composed of the Penin of each important household, acts, the Odzikuro being president of such council. The members of the village council have a spokesman (Kyiami, a linguist), whose office is hereditary, but is traced in the male line, for a son succeeds as linguist his father, and not his uncle. Land in possession of the founder of the village is family stool property. Land cleared and occupied by subsequent settlers who have joined the founder is the property of the subsequent settlers. Land acquired by the founder and the settlers together is held by the village community, and becomes attached to the stool of the person for the time being head of the village. All the inhabitants of the village have each of them a proportionate share in such lands as common property, without any possession or title to distinct portions. From the moment a tribal community settles down finally upon a definite tract of land, the land begins to be the basis of society in place of kinship. The Odzikuro, with the village council, has the control of such land, but each person has the right to cultivate any portion of it, and having done so or settled on it, he may not be removed by any single individual unless the council so decrees.’ [10] ’In the small settlement which has so grown into a village community there will be subordinate stools belonging to the junior families, which are offshoots of the parent family. The holders reside in the village or in its neighbourhood, and are usually members of the village council. It will be found that the headman of the village community is generally a member of the family which founded the village, and has succeeded to that post by virtue of his right as head of the founder’s family; but inasmuch as he rules over the whole community, the inhabitants, through the village council, have the right to reject any one proposed as headman if deemed unsuitable for the post, and, passing over the original family, can select a fit and proper person [Page 8] from another family whose connection with the village is ancient. And so all things being equal, preference is given to families according to priority of settlement.’ [11] The headmen of multiple lineage branches would assume the position of clan-chief or district ruler (Ohene): ’Suppose the original founder of the village to be a junior member of the family, whose elder brother was the family stoolholder; there still will be seasons when he and those under him would have to take part in observing the annual custom of the family stool, and participate in the family festival. And where there are several subordinate branches of a similar nature, the stoolholder of the original family acquires a greater importance and influence, and is termed Ohene - a term which has been rendered indifferently in English, king, caboceer, head chief, chief, and even headman. The Ohene will now have under him ( a) his family: comprising (i.) members under his immediate control, and (ii.) subordinate family groups that have branched off from the parent family; ( b) settlers: (i.) family groups in the same village as the Ohene, and (ii.) family groups sprung from the aforesaid and living in other places. In addition to individual persons enjoying his protection, there may be among his retinue a whole family or village community, to or for whom money loans have been given. These swell the retinue of the Ohene, and are included in his own bodyguard (Gyasi), a portion of the fighting men of the village community. Like the others, the headman of the protected family or community attends the annual festival of the Ohene, and to the tribunal of the Ohene these vassals have the right to appeal. Moreover, the oath of the stool of the Ohene is binding on them. The whole community is now likened to a body of which the Ohene supports the head, and the next in authority to him the foot. The Ohene of the oldest ancestry and most powerful becomes by election or tacit consent of the other Ahenefu of the district or country Omanhene, that is, a king. In reference to his own particular jurisdiction he is Ohene, and as such he may not interfere in the domestic [Page 9] affairs of any other fellow-ohene, so far as they do not injuriously affect the district as a whole.’ [12] ’An Ohene is entitled to ride in a palanquin carried by two men and attended by two canopy umbrellas. An Odzikuro is the headman of a village. Penin is an elder, generally an old man of experience. Sahene is a man appointed to conduct war. A Safuhene is a captain of a company, and in some instances is a stoolholder. In fact, among the Akanfu, that is Asanti, Wassaw, Assin, Akim, and such like, each Ohene of the several towns and districts is referred to as the Safuhene of his Omanhene. The Gyasi are the bodyguard of an Ohene or Omanhene. They comprise, first, the blood relatives, especially the children and grandsons of the Ohene, and are called Bogyadom ( bogya, “blood”; dom, “troop”), who have the immediate custody of the stool; secondly, certain Asafuhenefu, with their men; thirdly, personal servants and domestic attendants (Gyasifu). The Gyasi perform the rites of the stool custom each year.’ [5]

[1]: (89)Abdebayo, A. et al. 2014. Indigenous Conflict Management Strategies: Global Perspectives. Lexington Books.

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 2p

[3]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 25p

[4]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. "Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asant, And Other Akan Tribes of West Africe Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration of Early English Voyages, And A Stody Of The Rise of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.", 12p

[5]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 9

[6]: Gilbert, Michelle, Lagacé, Robert O. and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Akan

[7]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. "Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asant, And Other Akan Tribes of West Africe Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration of Early English Voyages, And A Stody Of The Rise of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.", 11

[8]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 4p

[9]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 3p

[10]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 6

[11]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 7

[12]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 8p


Professions
Professional Soldier:
absent

Full-time specialists Political and military leadership often coincided: ’The long, complex history of the Akan peoples is one of internecine conflicts and, since the eighteenth century, of opposition to the encroachment of various colonial powers: the Dutch, Portuguese, Danish, French, and English. In addition, there have been continual threats from the Islamic peoples of the southern Saharan fringe. Essentially all these conflicts have been over monopolies in trade, first across the Sahara with northern Africa and, in later centuries, across the Atlantic with the countries of Europe and the Americas. Warfare has historically been a central institution, a means of extending territory and controlling external trade. The Akan state was typically divided into five or six military formations or "wings," each under the authority of a wing chief. Beneath the wing chiefs, who are chosen by the king, are the chiefs of the main towns of a kingdom. The latter are from the town’s ruling line.’ [1] ’It must be admitted that the origin of our State government and the principles on which it was founded, being solely military in character, one should feel content to accept the fact that the whole structure of the civil government we enjoy to-day is the result of martial adventures. This being so, it is only natural that people whose powers are clearly labelled as “military commanders”, etc., should exercise civil powers when the fruit of their labours bring peace. In almost all the Akan institutions, from the lowest servant to the highest officer, there is scarcely any whose civil powers are not based on military appointments. It is, therefore, most natural to fall into the habit of merging a civil into a military power.’ [2] ’The Ohene of every district is the supreme commander of the fighting men. His orders are communicated through the captains (Asafuhenefu), or the Tufuhene, as the case may be. Whenever a council of war is convened he presides, and it is his duty to provide them with some powder and shot. Every male person able to bear arms is bound to serve his country, and each fighting man [Page 28] provides himself with arms and ammunitions, as well as provisions, at his own expense.’ [3] According to Sarbah, imperial Ashanti military organization was more ’developed’ than that of smaller Akan predecessors: ’The common origin of the inhabitants of the Fanti districts, Asanti, and wherever the Akan language is spoken, has been already shown. † The Customary Laws of the inhabitants of these places are in the main identical, and the national constitutions resemble each other in many points, although Asanti military organization had been [Page 3] developed in a greater degree. In fact, while the Fanti communities were gradually bringing under their sway smaller states, the Asanti king by conquests was extending his power over many lands. At one time all countries from Cape Mount in Liberia to the western boundary of Dahomey were, with few exceptions, under Asanti jurisdiction.’ [4] But the Omanhene was supported by a bodyguard even before Ashanti imperial expansion: ’Omanhene is the head of the national life, and naturally president of the rulers of the people assembled either as a court for deciding cases or for legislation. The district, taken as a whole, is likewise considered as a body, whereof the Omanhene supports the head, and the next man in authority to him carries the foot. By virtue of his office, Omanhene has the right to be carried by four men or more, and uses three or more canopy umbrellas. At his installation a small sword, the insignia of his office, is handed to him, and he enjoys several other privileges. He is the commander-in-chief of all the fighting men of the district. His bodyguard and the immediate fighting men are called Gyasi. He is almost invariably a member of the Domtsifu or Intsin Company. Tufuhene is the man whose duty it is to command the fighting-men (from tuu, “to throw, e.g., arrows, etc.;” hence etuo, itur, “a gun”); a fighting leader, or commander. In some districts, and especially in the coast towns, Tufuhene is the next man in authority after Ohene.’ [5] ’An Ohene is entitled to ride in a palanquin carried by two men and attended by two canopy umbrellas. An Odzikuro is the headman of a village. Penin is an elder, generally an old man of experience. Sahene is a man appointed to conduct war. A Safuhene is a captain of a company, and in some instances is a stoolholder. In fact, among the Akanfu, that is Asanti, Wassaw, Assin, Akim, and such like, each Ohene of the several towns and districts is referred to as the Safuhene of his Omanhene. The Gyasi are the bodyguard of an Ohene or Omanhene. They comprise, first, the blood relatives, especially the children and grandsons of the Ohene, and are called Bogyadom ( bogya, “blood”; dom, “troop”), who have the immediate custody of the stool; secondly, certain Asafuhenefu, with their men; thirdly, personal servants and domestic attendants (Gyasifu). The Gyasi perform the rites of the stool custom each year.’ [5] ’The immediate retinue and body-guard of the Omanhene are called Gyasi, and consist of three groups of persons. (1) His male blood relatives, e.g. brothers, uncles, nephews; also his sons, whether by free or bond women. These persons usually are captains of the other fighting men. (2) Servants, slaves, and pawns, and their descendants. (3) Those originally attached to him by commendation or adoption; and captains, with their forces, appointed by the community as such.’ [6] Akan troops were organized in companies under the leadership of captains, but even on this level civil and military leadership were often united in one person: ’Supi is a company captain, who keeps the company’s flags, and especially their ammunition. The spokesman of an Ohene or village community is selected by the Ohene or Odzikuro. On his appointment it is usual in some districts for his family to give to the Ohene or councillors sua duma,that is, £2 9 s. 6 d. The councillors (Begwafu) are sometimes selected by the people on account of personal character and intelligence. Every councillor is not a stoolholder, nor is every stoolholder a councillor; but a great number of the councillors, however, are stoolholders. A stoolholder may be appointed a councillor, and his successor, when deemed a fit and proper person, follows him in his office. When a person becomes a councillor he is considered as promoted, therefore he severs his connection with his company, and must not take an active part in the management of the affairs of the company. A councillor must not be a partisan. Councillors who have not attained that position by right of inheritance are practically, and in truth, the direct representatives of the people, and voice public opinion. It is somewhat difficult to define the qualifications of such public men.’ [7] ’The male persons of each ward originally formed a [Page 27] company, having its distinctive flags, drums, and other equipments. The honour of the flag is the first consideration, and his service to his company is the most indispensable duty of the citizen. The organization of the town companies has been already described. * In some towns there are as many as seven companies, members of which reside not only in the town, but also in the neighbouring villages. Lands cleared by the companies belong to them. The lands of the companies do not belong to the Ohene, for there are town lands, family lands, and stool lands. The Ohene has no right to ordinary tribute, and the public-stool income is derived from fines, penalties, and court fees. In this also the jurisdiction is personal. The Tufuhene, the councillors, and captains of the companies take part in the election and installation of a new Ohene. Before them he takes his oath of office, and if any lands are attached to the town stool, he holds them in trust for the public. The succession generally follows the common rule, but in some places it is the son who succeeds, not the brother or nephew. The townspeople can pass over the person nominated by the family and elect some other suitable person instead. They may also remove the Ohene, if found unfit to rule them any longer; in either of which events the town sword and stool, with all the public property thereunto appurtenant, are vested in the town council, whose duty it is to take them from the deposed ruler or his family and give them to the person appointed as new ruler or manager during the interval.’ [8] ’Each subordinate ruler, correctly the captain-chief (Safuhene), of the Omanhene, owns a stool of his office, commands the fighting men of, and rules, his district. The lands of the district are attached to his stool. Like the Omanhene, he also has officers and captains under him, and with his linguist, councillors, and elders he sits as a magistrate, before whose tribunal his subjects and people in his district are bound to appear.’ [9] This material suggests that troops were drawn from the male population rather than a trained corps of professional soldiers. The importance of blood-relatives of the ruler in his guard militates against its characterization as a corps of military specialists.

[1]: Gilbert, Michelle, Lagacé, Robert O. and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Akan

[2]: Danquah, J. B. (Joseph Boakye) 1928. “Gold Coast: Akan Laws And Customs And The Akim Abuakwa Constitution”, 17

[3]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 27p

[4]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 2p

[5]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 9

[6]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 23

[7]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 10

[8]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 26p

[9]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 22


Professional Priesthood:
present

Full-time specialists Priests and spirit mediums communicated with deities and other spirits: ’Indigenous Akan religion is based upon the worship of a High God, various spirits or deities, and ancestors. The High God-known as Onyame, Onyankopon, and by other names-is the Creator, now otiose; Asase Yaa, the goddess of the earth, accompanies him. The ancestors live in the land of the dead and may demand offerings, in the past including those of slaves.’ [1] ’Spirits or deities are many, and the living can communicate with them through prayer, sacrifice, and possession. Each has its own OSOFO, or priest; an OKOMFO is a living spirit medium who interprets the words of a spirit who is consulted to remove sickness and human disasters.’ [1] Rulers and royal lineages were closely connected to the cult: ’The royal ancestors are at the heart of the ritual protection of a kingdom. They are "fed" at shrines in the form of blackened stools of wood and kept in the "stool rooms" in palaces and houses. Traditionally, the stools were anointed with human blood, gunpowder, and spider webs, and given alcoholic drink; human sacrifices are no longer made. Each kingdom and town has, or had in past years, an annual purification ritual, known as ODWIRA, in which the king, the office of kingship, the kingdom, and the town are purified of the pollution of the preceding year; this is often known in the literature as a "yam festival."’ [1] In Fante communities, high-ranking priests played a prominent role in the polity: ’The object, however, of this work is not to deal with religious theories, deities, or matters of belief. In the Fanti districts, with their numerous free and independent communities, the priests who officiated at the shrine of Nanaam (that is ancestors), the national deities, situate at Mankesim, exercised large powers and wielded great [Page 52] influence, so much so that the opinion has been expressed that the high priest, a Braffo, was the sovereign ruler of the Fanti people. The physician was so often a priest that it is not surprising to discover him possessed of much influence; but this much may be said, the priests did not rule the people. The general name for God is Nyankupon (Nyankrupon according to the Akanfu), meaning the Only One, than who none is greater, or, as others say, the Great Friend. Nyankupon is invisible. He lives above the heavens, and the winds are His messengers. The common saying is, “Speak to the winds, and God will hear thee.” This word has different pronunciations, and the difficulty of finding its root may be through this cause. Rain is called Nyankum; rainbow is nyankunton. Nyan is to awaken, and it has been suggested that probably Onyan (the awakener) was an old name for the sky. One is rather inclined to form the opinion that Nyankupon is not derived from ye, meaning to do, act, create, as some say. This subject is certainly interesting, and requires further study and much thinking over.’ [2] This seems to suggest a degree of professionalization.

[1]: Gilbert, Michelle, Lagacé, Robert O. and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Akan

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 51p


Professional Military Officer:
absent

Full-time specialists Political and military leadership often coincided: ’The long, complex history of the Akan peoples is one of internecine conflicts and, since the eighteenth century, of opposition to the encroachment of various colonial powers: the Dutch, Portuguese, Danish, French, and English. In addition, there have been continual threats from the Islamic peoples of the southern Saharan fringe. Essentially all these conflicts have been over monopolies in trade, first across the Sahara with northern Africa and, in later centuries, across the Atlantic with the countries of Europe and the Americas. Warfare has historically been a central institution, a means of extending territory and controlling external trade. The Akan state was typically divided into five or six military formations or "wings," each under the authority of a wing chief. Beneath the wing chiefs, who are chosen by the king, are the chiefs of the main towns of a kingdom. The latter are from the town’s ruling line.’ [1] ’It must be admitted that the origin of our State government and the principles on which it was founded, being solely military in character, one should feel content to accept the fact that the whole structure of the civil government we enjoy to-day is the result of martial adventures. This being so, it is only natural that people whose powers are clearly labelled as “military commanders”, etc., should exercise civil powers when the fruit of their labours bring peace. In almost all the Akan institutions, from the lowest servant to the highest officer, there is scarcely any whose civil powers are not based on military appointments. It is, therefore, most natural to fall into the habit of merging a civil into a military power.’ [2] ’The Ohene of every district is the supreme commander of the fighting men. His orders are communicated through the captains (Asafuhenefu), or the Tufuhene, as the case may be. Whenever a council of war is convened he presides, and it is his duty to provide them with some powder and shot. Every male person able to bear arms is bound to serve his country, and each fighting man [Page 28] provides himself with arms and ammunitions, as well as provisions, at his own expense.’ [3] According to Sarbah, imperial Ashanti military organization was more ’developed’ than that of smaller Akan predecessors: ’The common origin of the inhabitants of the Fanti districts, Asanti, and wherever the Akan language is spoken, has been already shown. † The Customary Laws of the inhabitants of these places are in the main identical, and the national constitutions resemble each other in many points, although Asanti military organization had been [Page 3] developed in a greater degree. In fact, while the Fanti communities were gradually bringing under their sway smaller states, the Asanti king by conquests was extending his power over many lands. At one time all countries from Cape Mount in Liberia to the western boundary of Dahomey were, with few exceptions, under Asanti jurisdiction.’ [4] But the Omanhene was supported by a bodyguard even before Ashanti imperial expansion: ’Omanhene is the head of the national life, and naturally president of the rulers of the people assembled either as a court for deciding cases or for legislation. The district, taken as a whole, is likewise considered as a body, whereof the Omanhene supports the head, and the next man in authority to him carries the foot. By virtue of his office, Omanhene has the right to be carried by four men or more, and uses three or more canopy umbrellas. At his installation a small sword, the insignia of his office, is handed to him, and he enjoys several other privileges. He is the commander-in-chief of all the fighting men of the district. His bodyguard and the immediate fighting men are called Gyasi. He is almost invariably a member of the Domtsifu or Intsin Company. Tufuhene is the man whose duty it is to command the fighting-men (from tuu, “to throw, e.g., arrows, etc.;” hence etuo, itur, “a gun”); a fighting leader, or commander. In some districts, and especially in the coast towns, Tufuhene is the next man in authority after Ohene.’ [5] ’An Ohene is entitled to ride in a palanquin carried by two men and attended by two canopy umbrellas. An Odzikuro is the headman of a village. Penin is an elder, generally an old man of experience. Sahene is a man appointed to conduct war. A Safuhene is a captain of a company, and in some instances is a stoolholder. In fact, among the Akanfu, that is Asanti, Wassaw, Assin, Akim, and such like, each Ohene of the several towns and districts is referred to as the Safuhene of his Omanhene. The Gyasi are the bodyguard of an Ohene or Omanhene. They comprise, first, the blood relatives, especially the children and grandsons of the Ohene, and are called Bogyadom ( bogya, “blood”; dom, “troop”), who have the immediate custody of the stool; secondly, certain Asafuhenefu, with their men; thirdly, personal servants and domestic attendants (Gyasifu). The Gyasi perform the rites of the stool custom each year.’ [5] ’The immediate retinue and body-guard of the Omanhene are called Gyasi, and consist of three groups of persons. (1) His male blood relatives, e.g. brothers, uncles, nephews; also his sons, whether by free or bond women. These persons usually are captains of the other fighting men. (2) Servants, slaves, and pawns, and their descendants. (3) Those originally attached to him by commendation or adoption; and captains, with their forces, appointed by the community as such.’ [6] Akan troops were organized in companies under the leadership of captains, but even on this level civil and military leadership were often united in one person: ’Supi is a company captain, who keeps the company’s flags, and especially their ammunition. The spokesman of an Ohene or village community is selected by the Ohene or Odzikuro. On his appointment it is usual in some districts for his family to give to the Ohene or councillors sua duma,that is, £2 9 s. 6 d. The councillors (Begwafu) are sometimes selected by the people on account of personal character and intelligence. Every councillor is not a stoolholder, nor is every stoolholder a councillor; but a great number of the councillors, however, are stoolholders. A stoolholder may be appointed a councillor, and his successor, when deemed a fit and proper person, follows him in his office. When a person becomes a councillor he is considered as promoted, therefore he severs his connection with his company, and must not take an active part in the management of the affairs of the company. A councillor must not be a partisan. Councillors who have not attained that position by right of inheritance are practically, and in truth, the direct representatives of the people, and voice public opinion. It is somewhat difficult to define the qualifications of such public men.’ [7] ’The male persons of each ward originally formed a [Page 27] company, having its distinctive flags, drums, and other equipments. The honour of the flag is the first consideration, and his service to his company is the most indispensable duty of the citizen. The organization of the town companies has been already described. * In some towns there are as many as seven companies, members of which reside not only in the town, but also in the neighbouring villages. Lands cleared by the companies belong to them. The lands of the companies do not belong to the Ohene, for there are town lands, family lands, and stool lands. The Ohene has no right to ordinary tribute, and the public-stool income is derived from fines, penalties, and court fees. In this also the jurisdiction is personal. The Tufuhene, the councillors, and captains of the companies take part in the election and installation of a new Ohene. Before them he takes his oath of office, and if any lands are attached to the town stool, he holds them in trust for the public. The succession generally follows the common rule, but in some places it is the son who succeeds, not the brother or nephew. The townspeople can pass over the person nominated by the family and elect some other suitable person instead. They may also remove the Ohene, if found unfit to rule them any longer; in either of which events the town sword and stool, with all the public property thereunto appurtenant, are vested in the town council, whose duty it is to take them from the deposed ruler or his family and give them to the person appointed as new ruler or manager during the interval.’ [8] ’Each subordinate ruler, correctly the captain-chief (Safuhene), of the Omanhene, owns a stool of his office, commands the fighting men of, and rules, his district. The lands of the district are attached to his stool. Like the Omanhene, he also has officers and captains under him, and with his linguist, councillors, and elders he sits as a magistrate, before whose tribunal his subjects and people in his district are bound to appear.’ [9] This material suggests that troops were drawn from the male population rather than a trained corps of professional soldiers. The importance of blood-relatives of the ruler in his guard militates against its characterization as a corps of military specialists.

[1]: Gilbert, Michelle, Lagacé, Robert O. and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Akan

[2]: Danquah, J. B. (Joseph Boakye) 1928. “Gold Coast: Akan Laws And Customs And The Akim Abuakwa Constitution”, 17

[3]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 27p

[4]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 2p

[5]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 9

[6]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 23

[7]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 10

[8]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 26p

[9]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 22


Bureaucracy Characteristics
Specialized Government Building:
absent

The house of the Ohene doubled as court: ’The place of trial is usually the house of the Ohene, and is open to everybody. It has been observed by Cruickshank, among others, that in addition to these official members, any person of respectability in the community has the right to attend the court of the ruler and councillors. Causes of great public importance are heard in the open air, and in the presence of as many as it pleases to attend. On such occasions, any one-even the most ordinary youth-will offer his opinion or make suggestion with an equal [Page 34] chance of its being as favourably entertained on its merits as if it proceeded from the most experienced sage, for in the multitude of people is the king’s honour, and there is safety in the multitude of counsellors. To prevent this license being abused, to the interruption of business by the interposition of crude and absurd opinions, a sufficient check is supplied in the general ridicule with which they are received, the offensive forwardness of the fool is jeered at and reprobated in no measured terms, while approbation and loud expressions of applause reward the prudent adviser. Mr. Justice Macleod, in Amocoo v. Duker, * correctly stated, decisions of these tribunals should not be lightly set aside. And in land cases especially, judges ought to be guided by what was laid down by the court in Asraidu v. Dadzie, † namely, give the same judgment that a native court judging honestly and in accordance with native law and custom ought to give.’ [1]

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 33p


Merit Promotion:
absent

The Omanhene was chosen from royal lineages and assisted by multiple officials: ’The several Akan peoples each consist of a single kingdom ruled by a king, OMANHENE (lit. "state-chief"). The king comes from whatever clan provides the royal line in a particular kingdom, and is chosen in rotation from one of this clan’s kingly lineages (there are often other, non-kingly, lineages within a royal clan). He is elected by various officials, of which the most important is the OHEMMAA (or similar terms; lit. "woman-chief" and usually translated in the literature as "queen-mother") although she is typically not the actual mother but a senior woman of the clan, who "knows" genealogy and may have her own court and be assisted by various officials. Criteria for the selection of a king include assumed competence, general personality, and the fact that kingly lines usually rotate in providing the king. Once selected, the king is "enstooled"-that is, seated upon the stool of kingship. His former status is annulled symbolically, his debts and lawsuits are settled, his clothing and personal possessions st ored; he is then symbolically reborn and given the identity of one of his forebears. He assumes the royal name and title borne by that previous ruler. A king has his palace, in which work members of his court. Details vary considerably, but, in general, the royal officials comprise several categories: those from the royal clan itself; those representing the remainder of the people; and ritual officials, drummers, and others who were considered the "children" of the king, being recruited from many sources, including royal slaves, and often observing patrilineal descent. The king is a sacred person. He may not be observed eating or drinking and may not be heard to speak nor be spoken to publicly (speaking only through a spokesman or "linguist," OKYEAME). He is covered from the sky by a royal umbrella, avoids contact with the earth by wearing royal sandals, and wears insignia of gold and elaborate and beautiful cloth of royal design. In the past, an Akan king held power over the life and death of his subjects and slaves. These powers were eroded during colonial rule, but today an Akan king remains extremely powerful, representing his people both politically an d ritually and acting as a focus for the identity of his kingdom. By far the most powerful is the king of Ashanti, who has the largest of all the Akan kingdoms, the Asantehene at Kumasi.’ [1] Councillors aided the Omanhene in judicial matters, but there was no formalized system of examination or merit promotion for them: ’But as a man attracts the favourable attention of the observant ones of his tribe, as he more and more impresses the people by his ability in their public gatherings, by the soundness of his opinion, by the depth of his knowledge of the customary laws and traditions, by his skill in public debate, by his keen interest in public affairs, by his bravery or warlike qualities, or by some other qualifications, he acquires public influence, and is accepted, in a greater or less degree, as a public man, representative of a portion of the community. Success in trade, or other personal attributes, are likewise qualifications for this post. The position of such a person is definitely confirmed when the head ruler with his council invites him to be a councillor. Attending an Omanhene or Ohene are always to be found some councillors, who assist him in hearing and determining lawsuits and administering justice. In the town of the [Page 11] Omanhene these men perform many of the duties of officers, who in European countries are known as ministers of state. It is worthy of note that, as a general rule, a Tufuhene is not a member of the Council (Begwa) of the Ohene or Omanhene.’ [2]

[1]: Gilbert, Michelle, Lagacé, Robert O. and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Akan

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 10p


Full Time Bureaucrat:
absent

Full-time specialists The Omanhene was chosen from royal lineages and assisted by multiple officials: ’The several Akan peoples each consist of a single kingdom ruled by a king, OMANHENE (lit. "state-chief"). The king comes from whatever clan provides the royal line in a particular kingdom, and is chosen in rotation from one of this clan’s kingly lineages (there are often other, non-kingly, lineages within a royal clan). He is elected by various officials, of which the most important is the OHEMMAA (or similar terms; lit. "woman-chief" and usually translated in the literature as "queen-mother") although she is typically not the actual mother but a senior woman of the clan, who "knows" genealogy and may have her own court and be assisted by various officials. Criteria for the selection of a king include assumed competence, general personality, and the fact that kingly lines usually rotate in providing the king. Once selected, the king is "enstooled"-that is, seated upon the stool of kingship. His former status is annulled symbolically, his debts and lawsuits are settled, his clothing and personal possessions st ored; he is then symbolically reborn and given the identity of one of his forebears. He assumes the royal name and title borne by that previous ruler. A king has his palace, in which work members of his court. Details vary considerably, but, in general, the royal officials comprise several categories: those from the royal clan itself; those representing the remainder of the people; and ritual officials, drummers, and others who were considered the "children" of the king, being recruited from many sources, including royal slaves, and often observing patrilineal descent. The king is a sacred person. He may not be observed eating or drinking and may not be heard to speak nor be spoken to publicly (speaking only through a spokesman or "linguist," OKYEAME). He is covered from the sky by a royal umbrella, avoids contact with the earth by wearing royal sandals, and wears insignia of gold and elaborate and beautiful cloth of royal design. In the past, an Akan king held power over the life and death of his subjects and slaves. These powers were eroded during colonial rule, but today an Akan king remains extremely powerful, representing his people both politically an d ritually and acting as a focus for the identity of his kingdom. By far the most powerful is the king of Ashanti, who has the largest of all the Akan kingdoms, the Asantehene at Kumasi.’ [1] Councillors aided the Omanhene in judicial matters, but there was no formalized system of examination or merit promotion for them: ’But as a man attracts the favourable attention of the observant ones of his tribe, as he more and more impresses the people by his ability in their public gatherings, by the soundness of his opinion, by the depth of his knowledge of the customary laws and traditions, by his skill in public debate, by his keen interest in public affairs, by his bravery or warlike qualities, or by some other qualifications, he acquires public influence, and is accepted, in a greater or less degree, as a public man, representative of a portion of the community. Success in trade, or other personal attributes, are likewise qualifications for this post. The position of such a person is definitely confirmed when the head ruler with his council invites him to be a councillor. Attending an Omanhene or Ohene are always to be found some councillors, who assist him in hearing and determining lawsuits and administering justice. In the town of the [Page 11] Omanhene these men perform many of the duties of officers, who in European countries are known as ministers of state. It is worthy of note that, as a general rule, a Tufuhene is not a member of the Council (Begwa) of the Ohene or Omanhene.’ [2] Much public authority was attached to stools: ’Before proceeding further, it is necessary to explain the origin of stools, whether family or public. Where the head of a family has more than one stool, he may give one to a member of the family on appointing him the Penin of a junior branch of the large family. The person so appointed thereby acquires possession of all the goods, chattels, and lands appurtenant to that stool. His own property becomes stool property, and is merged in whatever is given him. The children of the last stoolholder call him father, and the widows become his wives; each woman can, however, obtain her freedom on repayment of the Consawment money, that is, dowry. But a new stool is created in this wise: when the family of a man of wealth or influence on his death so will, they create a family stool which is named after the deceased. For this purpose the favourite chair of the deceased, generally a small one, which was in constant use by him, is cleaned, then rubbed all over with the blood of sheep, and finally smeared with a mixture of soot and eggs. The stool is afterwards wrapped in some skin and safely kept. During this consecration, libation is made and prayers are freely offered for the prosperity of the family, and that its members may, in time to come, attain greater influence and prominence. These stools are added to from time to time, but count is made of only the prominent ones. Too often the name of the original founder of the family is dropped for that of one of his successors of greater eminence. When an old stool is so decayed that it ought to be destroyed, it is burnt, and the ashes thereof are made into a paste with oil, blood, eggs, and other substances. The paste is then daubed on a new stool, which is [Page 13] consecrated as a family stool and named after the old one. When an old stool is lost a new one is specially made and consecrated.’ [3] We follow Arhin Kwame’s characterization of this system as ’patrimonial’ rather than ’bureaucratic’ (see the Ashanti Period sheet).

[1]: Gilbert, Michelle, Lagacé, Robert O. and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Akan

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 10p

[3]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. "Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asant, And Other Akan Tribes of West Africe Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration of Early English Voyages, And A Stody Of The Rise of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.", 12p


Examination System:
absent

The Omanhene was chosen from royal lineages and assisted by multiple officials: ’The several Akan peoples each consist of a single kingdom ruled by a king, OMANHENE (lit. "state-chief"). The king comes from whatever clan provides the royal line in a particular kingdom, and is chosen in rotation from one of this clan’s kingly lineages (there are often other, non-kingly, lineages within a royal clan). He is elected by various officials, of which the most important is the OHEMMAA (or similar terms; lit. "woman-chief" and usually translated in the literature as "queen-mother") although she is typically not the actual mother but a senior woman of the clan, who "knows" genealogy and may have her own court and be assisted by various officials. Criteria for the selection of a king include assumed competence, general personality, and the fact that kingly lines usually rotate in providing the king. Once selected, the king is "enstooled"-that is, seated upon the stool of kingship. His former status is annulled symbolically, his debts and lawsuits are settled, his clothing and personal possessions st ored; he is then symbolically reborn and given the identity of one of his forebears. He assumes the royal name and title borne by that previous ruler. A king has his palace, in which work members of his court. Details vary considerably, but, in general, the royal officials comprise several categories: those from the royal clan itself; those representing the remainder of the people; and ritual officials, drummers, and others who were considered the "children" of the king, being recruited from many sources, including royal slaves, and often observing patrilineal descent. The king is a sacred person. He may not be observed eating or drinking and may not be heard to speak nor be spoken to publicly (speaking only through a spokesman or "linguist," OKYEAME). He is covered from the sky by a royal umbrella, avoids contact with the earth by wearing royal sandals, and wears insignia of gold and elaborate and beautiful cloth of royal design. In the past, an Akan king held power over the life and death of his subjects and slaves. These powers were eroded during colonial rule, but today an Akan king remains extremely powerful, representing his people both politically an d ritually and acting as a focus for the identity of his kingdom. By far the most powerful is the king of Ashanti, who has the largest of all the Akan kingdoms, the Asantehene at Kumasi.’ [1] Councillors aided the Omanhene in judicial matters, but there was no formalized system of examination or merit promotion for them: ’But as a man attracts the favourable attention of the observant ones of his tribe, as he more and more impresses the people by his ability in their public gatherings, by the soundness of his opinion, by the depth of his knowledge of the customary laws and traditions, by his skill in public debate, by his keen interest in public affairs, by his bravery or warlike qualities, or by some other qualifications, he acquires public influence, and is accepted, in a greater or less degree, as a public man, representative of a portion of the community. Success in trade, or other personal attributes, are likewise qualifications for this post. The position of such a person is definitely confirmed when the head ruler with his council invites him to be a councillor. Attending an Omanhene or Ohene are always to be found some councillors, who assist him in hearing and determining lawsuits and administering justice. In the town of the [Page 11] Omanhene these men perform many of the duties of officers, who in European countries are known as ministers of state. It is worthy of note that, as a general rule, a Tufuhene is not a member of the Council (Begwa) of the Ohene or Omanhene.’ [2]

[1]: Gilbert, Michelle, Lagacé, Robert O. and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Akan

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 10p


Law
Professional Lawyer:
absent

Plaintiffs presented their case themselves and took oaths rather than being aided by an advocate: ’As far back as 1600 the practice has been that, in ordinary cases, every man tells his tale by turns without interruption before the judge, who decides after hearing both sides. On the conclusion of the complainant’s or plaintiff’s statement, the linguist, turning to the defendant, says to him, “Wu nsem pa,” that is, “Such is your good report”-an ironical expression, meaning, “That is what you call good conduct; pray, what have you to say?” for every man is presumed innocent and expected to conduct himself properly, so that a report of his doings may deserve praise, not censure. The defendant having made his defence, questions are put to the parties, who are now allowed, if they so desire, to question each other. By such means the facts or points in issue are made clear. The endeavour is [Page 37] to discover a person admitted by the persons to be present, and who is put forth by them as worthy of credit. After this each party calls his witnesses. When a witness, through sickness or other good reason, is unable to be present, a linguist is sent with the parties or their representatives to him for his statement, and this is repeated to the court. After the parties have made their statements, questions may be put to them by the president and councillors. What a party does not deny he is taken to affirm, especially when this is specially brought to his notice by any member of the court and it is not met. A party may or may not call his witnesses, but if the right is waived, it is no ground for a rehearing. When an accused person demands leave to swear the big oath, or appeal to the gods-‘misire ntam, misire abusum”-libation is quickly made by him and the linguist. The form repeated by the accused is somewhat thus: “As soon as I in my defence speak falsely or act deceitfully, kill me, my god.” The linguist follows him at once thus: “Should you say what is untrue, or practise the slightest deception in your defence, may the god (Katawiré, or other god named) strike you dead.” Sometimes, however, the linguist simply says, “If you speak falsely, may this oath kill you” (“nsiw nk[unknown] wu,” hence “enchiou-keu ou,” in ancient books of travel, erroneously called the oath administered at every trial in Gold Coast). One may correct the present mistake, which confuses the gods ( abusum) with charms ( esuman). Busum is a god visible or invisible. Suman is a charm, an object which can be handled, generally a dangerous or poisonous concoction. Suman is properly called fetish, a word which comes from what the Portuguese explorers used to designate the objects they supposed the Africans worshipped, and in which they were shrewd enough to recognize a certain similarity to their own little images and relics of saints, namely, Feitiço. In criminal cases man and wife may give evidence either for or against each other, so long as they take the oath or fetish to testify [Page 38] truthfully. The evidence, however, of a woman against her husband is viewed with great disfavour. In civil cases objection is usually taken, and therefore it is not accepted, unless no other evidence is available. The statement of a man’s mother, brothers, or sisters is not received as evidence, but as a part of his own statement, because of the identity of interest and their joint liability for costs of the suit.’ [1]

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 36p


Councillors assisted rulers in judicial matters: ’But as a man attracts the favourable attention of the observant ones of his tribe, as he more and more impresses the people by his ability in their public gatherings, by the soundness of his opinion, by the depth of his knowledge of the customary laws and traditions, by his skill in public debate, by his keen interest in public affairs, by his bravery or warlike qualities, or by some other qualifications, he acquires public influence, and is accepted, in a greater or less degree, as a public man, representative of a portion of the community. Success in trade, or other personal attributes, are likewise qualifications for this post. The position of such a person is definitely confirmed when the head ruler with his council invites him to be a councillor. Attending an Omanhene or Ohene are always to be found some councillors, who assist him in hearing and determining lawsuits and administering justice. In the town of the [Page 11] Omanhene these men perform many of the duties of officers, who in European countries are known as ministers of state. It is worthy of note that, as a general rule, a Tufuhene is not a member of the Council (Begwa) of the Ohene or Omanhene.’ [1] ’The several households of each town are divided into wards, which are under the control of several heads of families; an elder of these is called Penin (pl. Mpeninfu). A council, composed of Mpeninfu and other representative men, as well as Abremponfu * and the Ohene, governs the town. This council is the tribunal that settles all law-suits and regulates the internal organization of the community and enacts laws. There are other persons elected to see after local sanitary matters, such as the cleaning of the country lanes, footpaths, and market roads. They summon before the council persons breaking sanitary regulations, as well as those committing any serious breach of the public peace.’ [2] The councillors were not legal professionals, but rather men of standing in the community: ’The council is composed of (1) the head ruler; (2) worthy old men of intelligence and experience, not necessarily men called chiefs; (3) men of position and wealth, generally heads of families and stoolholders; (4) representative men invited by the head ruler and his council. The Tufuhene is not generally a member of this council. In the coast towns a person severs his connection with his company and relinquishes any office he holds when he becomes a councillor. A councillor holds his office for life, but, should he be guilty of treason or receiving bribes to pervert justice, he can be suspended or dismissed. Councillors with the ruler may hear and decide cases, and advise on the general administration of public affairs.’ [3] There were civil and military tribunals: ’For the determination of plaints there are two kinds of tribunals-military, that is, Asafu, and civil. No case is tried in default of appearance. These Asafu tribunals exist principally in coast towns. Each company has the right to determine cases, especially on matters of discipline and charges of misconduct and intrigue between a member of one company and a married woman of the same or other company. Bosman and other writers call this tribunal the Manceros, evidently a corruption of the Fanti word Mbrantsé, meaning “young men.” The court summarily deals with cases, which the civil or ordinary tribunal is unable to hear, through the refusal of one of the parties to attend the trial or any adjournment thereof. The proceedings are somewhat like a drumhead court-martial. An Asafu trial is so expensive to the litigants that no one appeals to such tribunal if he can possibly avoid doing so. The expression used by the complainant or plaintiff when applying for summons runs somewhat thus: “Dompo or Damfu (whatever may be the name of the other party) [Page 32] has wronged me. I sell, or hand him to you; deal with him accordingly.”’ [4] The Ohene presided over the tribunal, assisted also by a ’linguist’, an official versed in what Sarbah walls customary law: ’The Ohene, presiding over the tribunal, as well as the several councillors, express themselves through the linguist. The decision in every trial is pronounced by him. He goes with the president and councillors when they retire to deliberate on the case before them, and he delivers the judgment of the court. A linguist occupies a most confidential position, and the head linguist is usually one of the principal advisers of the ruler. In ordinary cases the [Page 33] ruler and he alone can lawfully constitute a court and decide cases. It is his duty to be conversant with the history of his country and the family history of the stool. At the yearly observance of the stool custom he takes a prominent part; moreover, he should be learned in the customary law, command a large stock of parables and apt phrases, be a man of ready and effective speech, and not unacquainted with the arts of diplomacy. In former years public speakers, for such are linguists, were not considered competent until they had been trained in the courts of the Asanti king and certain principal towns in Fantiland, which the non-Fanti inhabitants called the land of history, the seat of poetry, and the abode of enlightenment.’ [5]

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 10p

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 26

[3]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 32

[4]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 31p

[5]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 32p


Formal Legal Code:
absent

Oaths had a legally binding character: ’This done, each subordinate ruler, by order of seniority, swears to be faithful to the ruler, and to obey all his lawful orders; that if called upon by night or by day to join the public forces or otherwise to defend the state and the ruler, he and his people will be found ready. Similar oath is taken by the headmen and captains of the Gyasi. Persons unable to be present through unavoidable causes are represented by competent persons, and the oaths taken with the ceremonies observed by such representatives are lawful, and bind their principals. Having completed the oath of allegiance and fealty, the subordinate rulers and Gyasi, linguists, councillors, and other elders, solemnly consummate the ceremony with a sacrament by eating fetish; the Omanhene, however, does so by a deputy, who is his nearest blood relative (male), or, if a woman, one past childbearing. In conclusion, sacrifice is made and libation poured in memory of the deceased rulers, and for the safety and prosperity of the general community. In some places the priest offers the prayers and makes the sacrifices, but in others the custodians of the stool make the sacrifices, besprinkle it with blood the while the head linguist invokes blessings on the new ruler and the people generally. On the meeting breaking up, the rest of the day is given up to feasting, firing of guns, and public rejoicings. Advantage is taken of this opportunity to appoint new officers, create new offices, settle any disputes and misunderstandings between the subordinate rulers or other persons of importance; charges against public officers are investigated, [Page 22] undesirable officers are removed, new laws are discussed, enacted, and promulgated by the beating of a gong. As previously stated, the subordinate rulers of the Wassaw country representing the people generally as against the Omanhene (head ruler) are called Asamanfu, namely, the mortals, for they march before the head ruler in battle array, and, as they lead the van, the enemy must vanquish and annihilate them before he reaches the Omanhene. The ruler of Sekeri-Himan is next in authority to the head ruler. The ruler of Apintoe Awudwa is next to that of Sekeri-Himan.’ [1] The Ohene presided over the tribunal, assisted also by a ’linguist’, an official versed in what Sarbah calls customary law, orally transmitted: ’The Ohene, presiding over the tribunal, as well as the several councillors, express themselves through the linguist. The decision in every trial is pronounced by him. He goes with the president and councillors when they retire to deliberate on the case before them, and he delivers the judgment of the court. A linguist occupies a most confidential position, and the head linguist is usually one of the principal advisers of the ruler. In ordinary cases the [Page 33] ruler and he alone can lawfully constitute a court and decide cases. It is his duty to be conversant with the history of his country and the family history of the stool. At the yearly observance of the stool custom he takes a prominent part; moreover, he should be learned in the customary law, command a large stock of parables and apt phrases, be a man of ready and effective speech, and not unacquainted with the arts of diplomacy. In former years public speakers, for such are linguists, were not considered competent until they had been trained in the courts of the Asanti king and certain principal towns in Fantiland, which the non-Fanti inhabitants called the land of history, the seat of poetry, and the abode of enlightenment.’ [2] The variable was provisionally coded ’present’.

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 21p

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 32p


The house of the Ohene usually doubled as court: ’The place of trial is usually the house of the Ohene, and is open to everybody. It has been observed by Cruickshank, among others, that in addition to these official members, any person of respectability in the community has the right to attend the court of the ruler and councillors. Causes of great public importance are heard in the open air, and in the presence of as many as it pleases to attend. On such occasions, any one-even the most ordinary youth-will offer his opinion or make suggestion with an equal [Page 34] chance of its being as favourably entertained on its merits as if it proceeded from the most experienced sage, for in the multitude of people is the king’s honour, and there is safety in the multitude of counsellors. To prevent this license being abused, to the interruption of business by the interposition of crude and absurd opinions, a sufficient check is supplied in the general ridicule with which they are received, the offensive forwardness of the fool is jeered at and reprobated in no measured terms, while approbation and loud expressions of applause reward the prudent adviser. Mr. Justice Macleod, in Amocoo v. Duker, * correctly stated, decisions of these tribunals should not be lightly set aside. And in land cases especially, judges ought to be guided by what was laid down by the court in Asraidu v. Dadzie, † namely, give the same judgment that a native court judging honestly and in accordance with native law and custom ought to give.’ [1]

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 33p


Specialized Buildings: polity owned
Market:
unknown

The European presence was centered around trade. Forts were established for this purpose: ’The claim of the Portuguese to be, in comparatively modern times, the first European discoverers of and settlers in Gold Coast is supported by more reliable and satisfactory evidence. According to several Portuguese writers including de Barros, Alphonso, the king of Portugal, farmed out in 1469 for five years the Guinea trade to one Fernando Gomez, at the rate of five hundred ducats, or about £138 17 s. 9 d.; the said Gomez having undertaken on his part to explore five hundred leagues, that is, three hundred miles each year, starting from Sierra Leone. In 1471 he directed that the coast-line should be discovered as it lay. This was done by Joao de Santaren and John de Scobar, who, skirting the coast past what is now Liberia, rounded Cape Palmas, went as far as the island of St. Thomas, and on the return voyage discovered Odena in five degrees of latitude. Fernando Po island was discovered in 1472 by Fernando da Poo. And so much gold was found at Odena that they called that port El Mina, afterwards known as the Castle, or Mina. These men also found gold at Chama, and it is said that Gomez opened a gold-mine at Approbi near Little Kommenda, the Aldea des Terres of the Portuguese.’ [1] We have provisionally assumed that forts would act as markets connecting foreign traders with Akan polities. However, only permanent structures built by the Akan, not the Portuguese would count as present.

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 55


Irrigation System:
absent

This is unclear for the sources reviewed for this time period. The sources reviewed so far do not describe any publicly managed irrigation systems.


Food Storage Site:
present

Sarbah mentions urban storage facilities: ’On the 21st of February he sent one of his men with attendants to King Abaan, whose town was about four leagues up-country, where was stored a large quantity of corn and millet. This town is described to be as large as the London of that period. It was guarded every night, and to warn the watchmen, cords were stretched across the roads and paths leading to it. Attached to the cords were bells, which give the alarm. In addition to these cords, nets were hung over the few entrances, and were so contrived as to fall on any person endeavouring to steal into the town. Four hours after their arrival in the morning, these men were sent for by the king at nine o’clock, “for there may no man come to him before he be sent for,” nor was it customary in that country to offer their presents to the ruler until they had visited him thrice. On the last visit, after the king had accepted their presents, he drank palm-wine with them. The king, we are informed, used a cup of gold, and when he drank, the people cried all with one voice, “Abaan, Abaan,” with certain other words. “The king drinks; and when he had drunk, then they gave drink to every one, and that done, the king licensed them to depart; and every one that departeth from him boweth three times towards him, and waveth with both hands together, as they bow and do depart. The king hath commonly sitting by him eight or ten ancient men with grey beards.”’ [1] Sarbah also speaks of quasi-feudal arragements in some polities: ’In the Fanti system allegiance is personal, but in the Asanti it is personal and territorial combined. ‡ The head ruler is not necessarily the owner of any land in his jurisdiction; e.g., Ohene Tchibu, of Asin Yankumasi, owns no land, and is a tenant of Abesibro, his captain; so also is Ohene Aka Ayima, of Beyin in Appolonia, by the [Page 25] judgment of Mr. Justice Nicoll, declared to own no land in his district-at least he did not lead evidence to show the land in question was his. In the case of Ohene Tchibu, the explanation is, that his ancestors fled to Fantiland for protection from the north side of the Pra in the kingdom of Asanti. The greater part of the Asinfu settled on lands within the jurisdiction of the head ruler of Abura, who became their feudal superior. * Many of the Asinfu continued to work on their lands across the river Pra, and held them. Among such is Akessi of Fumsu, until, by an order of the Executive Council of Gold Coast, an arbitrary boundary was fixed, and the possessions of the Asinfu, Denkerafu, and others, trans-Pra and trans-Ofin, were declared Asanti territory in the district of Adansi, and this in spite of the fact that Yamsu village, the stool of which was the subject of the case, Ghambra v. Ewea, † is situate on the Adansi side of the Ofin.’ [2]

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. "Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asant, And Other Akan Tribes of West Africe Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration of Early English Voyages, And A Stody Of The Rise of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.", 69

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. "Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asant, And Other Akan Tribes of West Africe Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration of Early English Voyages, And A Stody Of The Rise of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.", 24p



Transport Infrastructure

The Ashanti empire relied on a road network: ’A full history of the great-roads ( nkwantεmpon) of Asante has yet to be written. Rather more is known about the southern routes than the northern, since European merchants on the Gold Coast were keenly interested in the matter and made many relevant entries in their journals. Yarak has suggested that the roads from Kumase to Axim via Denkyera, Wasa and Aowin, and from Kumase to Elmina via Denkyera and Twifo, were already in use in the first decade of the eighteenth century. Security was a constant problem on both. L. F. Rømer, a Danish factor on the eastern Gold Coast in the 1730s and 1740s, commented on the matter. In the mid-1740s he thought it likely that, because of marauding, the Asante ‘will create another road to the western forts on the seacoast’. He was later to report that this happened. ‘They have got a road open,’ he wrote, ‘from their country to Elmine [Elmina], Cap Cors [Cape Coast], and the forts which lie west of Elmine.’ It may be that this was the great-road via Asen and the Fante country to Anomabo, whence it was a short journey along the beach to the headquarters of the British at Cape Coast and of the Dutch at Elmina. If so, the Dutch could have regarded it as no more than a temporary solution to their problem of communications with Kumase. In the 1750s the Asante and Dutch authorities were involved in intensive negotiations to improve security on the old westerly routes.’ [1] Further information on earlier Akan coastal towns is needed. We have provisionally assumed no roads prior to Ashanti rule.

[1]: Wilks, Ivor 1992. “On Mentally Mapping Greater Asante: A Study Of Time And Motion”, 176


European traders constructed ports and coastal forts: ’The claim of the Portuguese to be, in comparatively modern times, the first European discoverers of and settlers in Gold Coast is supported by more reliable and satisfactory evidence. According to several Portuguese writers including de Barros, Alphonso, the king of Portugal, farmed out in 1469 for five years the Guinea trade to one Fernando Gomez, at the rate of five hundred ducats, or about £138 17 s. 9 d.; the said Gomez having undertaken on his part to explore five hundred leagues, that is, three hundred miles each year, starting from Sierra Leone. In 1471 he directed that the coast-line should be discovered as it lay. This was done by Joao de Santaren and John de Scobar, who, skirting the coast past what is now Liberia, rounded Cape Palmas, went as far as the island of St. Thomas, and on the return voyage discovered Odena in five degrees of latitude. Fernando Po island was discovered in 1472 by Fernando da Poo. And so much gold was found at Odena that they called that port El Mina, afterwards known as the Castle, or Mina. These men also found gold at Chama, and it is said that Gomez opened a gold-mine at Approbi near Little Kommenda, the Aldea des Terres of the Portuguese.’ [1] As far as we can tell, Akan polities did not construct ports.

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 55




Special-purpose Sites
Mines or Quarry:
present

Gold was a major factor in commercial relations with Europeans and the payment of tribute: ’In ancient times the Omanhene held the whole unoccupied land in his territory as trustee for the people, and as they increased so this public land was brought under cultivation. The chiefs of the different towns were actually placed in charge of the unoccupied land in the districts, or were considered as caretakers for the Omanhene. When a tribe was conquered it became subject of the conqueror’s stool; these people continued to hold and enjoy the lands under cultivation; but used forests and unoccupied land as public property attached to the [Page 16] stool of the Omanhene. * Besides the public land, the Omanhene has attached to his stool family land in the [Page 17] occupation of his family; his subsequent deposition does not affect the possession of the family. The Omanhene can live and reside and farm on any unoccupied part of his territory without the leave or permission of the sub-ruler, who holds it as caretaker, but he cannot sell or lease it without the concurrence of such sub-ruler. He is entitled to an Ebusã of the sub-ruler’s Ebusã. His immediate followers or household servants may mine for him, but no tribute is payable to the sub-ruler. The subordinate captains (Safuhene, pl. Asafuhene) are bound to obey the commands of the Ohene and pay tribute to him of all gold gotten from gold workings. It is not usual to pay Ebusã to the Ohene or Safuhene on the ordinary [Page 18] washing for alluvial gold. Ebusã is only paid when work is being done in a goldfield, or when one has found an unusually large quantity of gold or discovered a large nugget, or persons are systematically mining.’ [1] ’In all the sea-coast towns the head ruler collected or received one-fourth part of the fish caught by fishermen. Tolls were collected on traders passing through the district; he was also entitled to receive tribute of a third, and in some cases of a fourth, of gold recovered by mining, rubber, and other products. Finders of large nuggets were bound to send the same to the head ruler on penalty of capital punishment. Three hundred years ago persons who recovered gold by mining or otherwise could not retain for their own use more than a half. The Ohene is also entitled to receive the tail of every elephant slain in his district, and he alone can use it. One-fourth part of game killed on his family land has to be sent to him.’ [2] ’The claim of the Portuguese to be, in comparatively modern times, the first European discoverers of and settlers in Gold Coast is supported by more reliable and satisfactory evidence. According to several Portuguese writers including de Barros, Alphonso, the king of Portugal, farmed out in 1469 for five years the Guinea trade to one Fernando Gomez, at the rate of five hundred ducats, or about £138 17 s. 9 d.; the said Gomez having undertaken on his part to explore five hundred leagues, that is, three hundred miles each year, starting from Sierra Leone. In 1471 he directed that the coast-line should be discovered as it lay. This was done by Joao de Santaren and John de Scobar, who, skirting the coast past what is now Liberia, rounded Cape Palmas, went as far as the island of St. Thomas, and on the return voyage discovered Odena in five degrees of latitude. Fernando Po island was discovered in 1472 by Fernando da Poo. And so much gold was found at Odena that they called that port El Mina, afterwards known as the Castle, or Mina. These men also found gold at Chama, and it is said that Gomez opened a gold-mine at Approbi near Little Kommenda, the Aldea des Terres of the Portuguese.’ [3]

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. "Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asant, And Other Akan Tribes of West Africe Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration of Early English Voyages, And A Stody Of The Rise of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.", 16p

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 29

[3]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 55


Information / Writing System
Written Record:
absent

The Akan languages did not receive a script until the late colonial period: ’Twi is a tonal language and, since missionary work during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, has been written in Roman script’ [1] ’Akan languages started to be written down, mainly in religious publication, by Danish, German and British missionaries during the 17th and 18th centuries.’ [2] ’Towards the end of the century the use of written records and communications had made some headway. Europeans like the Frenchman Bonnat were absorbed, albeit briefly, into the system, and Asantes like the Owusu Ansa brothers, mission educated, were fully literate. Written messages were sent: for example, in 1889 Prempe 1 received a written account of the fate of a force dispatched against recalcitrant Ahafo towns. The writer described himself as ‘Chief Miner’, possibly an Elminan. The year before the King received a letter from a Muslim divine, Abu Bakr B. Uthman Kamaghatay, setting out terms for his return to Kumase. Both letters were kept until removed from Kumase by British forces in 1896.’ [3]

[1]: (Gilbert, Michelle, 1994:11; Literacy Database)

[2]: (Ager, Simon 2013; Literacy Database

[3]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 88


The Akan languages did not receive a script until the late colonial period: ’Twi is a tonal language and, since missionary work during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, has been written in Roman script’ [1] ’Akan languages started to be written down, mainly in religious publication, by Danish, German and British missionaries during the 17th and 18th centuries.’ [2] ’Towards the end of the century the use of written records and communications had made some headway. Europeans like the Frenchman Bonnat were absorbed, albeit briefly, into the system, and Asantes like the Owusu Ansa brothers, mission educated, were fully literate. Written messages were sent: for example, in 1889 Prempe 1 received a written account of the fate of a force dispatched against recalcitrant Ahafo towns. The writer described himself as ‘Chief Miner’, possibly an Elminan. The year before the King received a letter from a Muslim divine, Abu Bakr B. Uthman Kamaghatay, setting out terms for his return to Kumase. Both letters were kept until removed from Kumase by British forces in 1896.’ [3]

[1]: (Gilbert, Michelle, 1994:11; Literacy Database)

[2]: (Ager, Simon 2013; Literacy Database

[3]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 88



Nonwritten Record:
present

The Akan had ’officialized’ oral traditions about lineage ancestors and past royal exploits: ’Every Akan state has official custodians of its history. These include the heralds, the drummers and the executioners, said to have been created by Odomankoma, the creator, before the ruler himself (Rattray, 1923: 263), and the minstrels. The herald is present at all state occasions and has thereby become a storehouse of knowledge about public affairs; the drummer ‘drums’ the history of the state on public occasions; and the executioner is a policeman, a protocol officer and a bard (Wilks, 1967: 231).’ [1]

[1]: Arhin, Kwame 1986. “Asante Praise Poems: The Ideology Of Patrimonialism”, 166


Mnemonic Device:
present

The following comments refer to the Ashanti period: ’Oral creators also attached their texts to material objects. A particular tree or rock could serve as the starting point for a narrative that was associated with this landmark. In the Asante kingdom in Ghana, an elaborate material culture was developed which filled the social space with verbal texts: the finials on chiefs’ ceremonia lumbrellas embodied proverbs; gold-weights -small brass figurines used to weigh gold dust in the extensive trading networks centered on the Asanta kingdom- were often designed to represent sayings or epithets relating to the owner; adinkra symbols, also evoking proverbs and other verbal formulations, were carved into wooden prestige objects and metal jewellery, and stamped on cloth. Across West Africa, cloth carried woven, dyed or appliquéd symbols that alluded to oral texts. [...] Thus the Asante gold-weight showing two leopards might call to mind different proverbs [...] And most proverbs can be interpreted in more than one way.’ [1] We have provisionally assumed that, despite of the later introduction of adinkra symbols, some of these mnemonic devices must have been present before Ashanti rule already, given the tradition of story-telling in the area.

[1]: Barber, Karin and Newell, Stephanie 2015. "Dissent and Creativity", 122p


Information / Kinds of Written Documents





Lists Tables and Classification:
absent

The following refers to the Ashanti and colonial periods: ’In order to meet the clerical service required for these forms, there is attached to the important Tribunals a Registrar’s office where summonses and all other processes are taken. The Registerar has charge of the cause list and the Records Books.’ [1] We have assumed here that clerical work was introduced during the Ashanti period and performed by foreigners. European traders certainly used lists for commercial purposes, but so far no information on equivalent Akan practices has been found.

[1]: Danquah, J.B. 1928: 97; Literacy Database




Calendar:
absent

’Even though the Akan share a number of cultural traits with other ethnic groups in Ghana and Africa in general, they seem to possess certain unique cultural traits and institutions not found in other ethnic groups in Ghana. [...] Besides language, Boahen lists a common 40-day calendar [....].’ [1] Prior to the Ashanti expansion and the introduction of literacy by missionaries, this would have been orally transmitted.

[1]: Yankah, Kwesi, 1989: 21; Literacy Database’


Information / Money
Token:
present

Some of the Ashanti period material describes cowrie shells: ‘Tramma means literally cowries, the small shells from the Indian Ocean which, by the route from the north, found their way all over West Africa, and to this day may be seen used for small change in the native markets. The word came to be applied to a sale of movable or immovable property in the following manner. No contract of sale was valid in olden times unless a payment called tramma had been made. Tramma was the name derived from that sum, additional to the selling price, which was set aside and given to the witnesses of the transaction. It was a fixed proportional amount, and, at least for certain specified articles, seemed uniform, e.g. the tramma on the purchase of a cat-the old Ashanti bought cats as repositories of their okra or breath-was always a pesewa, about 1 d.; for a female slave, ntaku-anan, about 2 s.; for a male slave, ntakumiensa, [Page 235] 1 s. 6 d. In the case of such purchases no part of the tramma could be used by vendor or purchaser, and it was said that if a purchaser used any of it to buy food with it for his purchase, the slave or cat would die. This tramma may perhaps be called ‘earnest money’, but it was not originally paid to the vendor. If the transaction was afterwards repudiated, the receivers of the tramma were the witnesses to vouch for the transaction. The word therefore came to be used to designate a sale outright as opposed to awowa, ‘pledge’, or in case of land, ‘mortgage’.’ [1] We have assumed those to be in use prior to Ashanti rule as well.

[1]: Rattray, R. S. 1923: 234; Literacy Database


Precious Metal:
present

Gold served as an important basis for trade and was taxed by the rulers: ’In ancient times the Omanhene held the whole unoccupied land in his territory as trustee for the people, and as they increased so this public land was brought under cultivation. The chiefs of the different towns were actually placed in charge of the unoccupied land in the districts, or were considered as caretakers for the Omanhene. When a tribe was conquered it became subject of the conqueror’s stool; these people continued to hold and enjoy the lands under cultivation; but used forests and unoccupied land as public property attached to the [Page 16] stool of the Omanhene. * Besides the public land, the Omanhene has attached to his stool family land in the [Page 17] occupation of his family; his subsequent deposition does not affect the possession of the family. The Omanhene can live and reside and farm on any unoccupied part of his territory without the leave or permission of the sub-ruler, who holds it as caretaker, but he cannot sell or lease it without the concurrence of such sub-ruler. He is entitled to an Ebusã of the sub-ruler’s Ebusã. His immediate followers or household servants may mine for him, but no tribute is payable to the sub-ruler. The subordinate captains (Safuhene, pl. Asafuhene) are bound to obey the commands of the Ohene and pay tribute to him of all gold gotten from gold workings. It is not usual to pay Ebusã to the Ohene or Safuhene on the ordinary [Page 18] washing for alluvial gold. Ebusã is only paid when work is being done in a goldfield, or when one has found an unusually large quantity of gold or discovered a large nugget, or persons are systematically mining.’ [1] ’The manner in which the ruler of a town four centuries ago derived revenue by means of tithes from his people is thus quaintly described by Artus. “When they have used the land and their harvest done, then they sell part of their corn to other men, who are not able to sow it, and by that means get a good quantity of gold; they give some to their king for rent of his land, and carry it home to his house, every one as much as he thinketh good. For there is no certain sum appointed for them to pay, but every one giveth according to his ability, and the quantity of ground that he hath used, and bringeth it unto the king, so that he hath at least five or six bendas of gold of them at one time; which they carry altogether to their [Page 29] king, who welcometh them for this Dache, * or gift; and for their labours giveth them their bellies full of meat and drink, and that they pay to the king for the farm of his lands and no more.”’ [2] ’In all the sea-coast towns the head ruler collected or received one-fourth part of the fish caught by fishermen. Tolls were collected on traders passing through the district; he was also entitled to receive tribute of a third, and in some cases of a fourth, of gold recovered by mining, rubber, and other products. Finders of large nuggets were bound to send the same to the head ruler on penalty of capital punishment. Three hundred years ago persons who recovered gold by mining or otherwise could not retain for their own use more than a half. The Ohene is also entitled to receive the tail of every elephant slain in his district, and he alone can use it. One-fourth part of game killed on his family land has to be sent to him.’ [3] Gold was a major interest of European traders: ’The ships were manned with a crew of seven score, and with ordnance and victuals requisite for such an adventure. Windham was outrageously incensed because he was associated with Pinteado, a wise, discreet, and sober man, who for his skill in sailing, being as well an expert pilot as a [Page 65] politic captain, was sometime in great favour with the King of Portugal, and was one of the gentlemen of the king his master’s house. The ships traded along the Gold Coast, and got as much as an hundred and fifty pounds’ weight of gold. Against the advice of Pinteado, Windham insisted on proceeding to Benin, where they met with great disaster; for here Windham, Pinteado, and almost two-thirds of the crew, died of fever. The large quantity of gold brought to England by these ships undoubtedly stirred up and encouraged others to venture forth.’ [4]

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. "Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asant, And Other Akan Tribes of West Africe Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration of Early English Voyages, And A Stody Of The Rise of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.", 16p

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 28p

[3]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 29

[4]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 64p



Indigenous Coin:
absent

Rule-breakers were fined in gold or kind rather than indigenous coinage: ’By virtue of his position, all penalties for breach of the [Page 30] tribal or public oath are collected for and paid to the Ohene, in addition to certain court fees, such as Asida, or Atingé. In former times the Ohene of every large town was entitled to fine strangers entering his town bearing arms without his permission so to do. Fines are paid for accidental homicide; such as carelessly wounding a person taking part in the chase. A person found guilty of criminal intercourse with a married woman is liable to pay to the injured husband a fine of two ounces of gold (benda), that is, £7 4 s. In cases of theft the guilty offender is made to restore to the owner the stolen article or its value, and to his ruler he pays a fine. Where a thief is unable to restore a priceless article, he is killed, and his nearest blood relatives are fined, and, if unable to pay, are sold for the amount. The amount of a fine for theft does not depend so much on the value of the article as upon the nature thereof; e.g. it is not considered theft for a starving man to steal any foodstuff to appease his hunger. Among a people who have been accustomed to have all things in common, the sensibility of many persons to the criminality of theft is not so great as in Europe. In the old settlements, however, the standard of morality in this respect is steadily rising.’ [1]

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 29p


Foreign Coin:
absent

Sarbah mentions foreign coinage, but it is not quite clear whether this was used extensively by Europeans when trading with Akan partners: ‘Following the early voyages already mentioned, a royal chartered company, formed in 1618, founded the first British settlement in Gold Coast at Kromantin. In 1662 a second company was formed, and during its existence De Ruyter, the famous Dutch admiral, took the British fort at Kromantin, but was repulsed when he attacked the castle of Cape Coast. This Anglo-African company not only exported woolen and other English goods to the value of about £75,000 a year, but it also supplied a large number of slaves to the American plantations, and the slave trade became so lucrative that, although slaves were sold at a very fair price, credit of £100,000 and upwards was often given to the planters until they could conveniently pay. It was therefore to the great advantage of these European traders to foster dissension and disunion among the Africans, to instigate them to constant hostilities, and to encourage raiding expeditions, so as to keep up the supply of war captives and other prisoners for sale. Seeing that the company imported not only a great quantity of ivory, camwood, and much gold dust, but that they also, in the reign of James II., frequently coined at a time from thirty to forty thousand guineas bearing the image of an elephant, the accursed slave trade could not be justified. This company was succeeded by the Royal African Company of England in 1672, which steadily fostered and extended British interest along the coast; but on the abolition of its exclusive privileges, it was finally dissolved in 1752, when a trading corporation was created. The membership of this, however, was open to all British traders on payment of a fee of two pounds. The statutes 23 George II. c. 31 and 25 George II. c. 40, which created the new company of merchants trading to Africa, also authorized Parliament to subsidize it every year; this was done up to the year 1821, when by statute 1 & 2 George IV. c. 28 it was dissolved, and all its possessions became vested in the Crown as a portion of the West African [Page 77] settlements, the seat of government being then at Sierra Leone.’ [1] We have provisionally assumed European currencies to not be in widespread use in Akan-European trade relations. This is open to re-evaluation.

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 76p


Article:
present

Colonial trade was mostly carried out through barter: ’The sole reason for the presence of Europeans in West Africa was, and is even now, principally Trade, and for the purposes of trade only were forts built and settlements founded, and the power and jurisdiction of the local rulers subsequently undermined. * The trade consisted mostly in barter or exchange, nor was the sale of slaves inconsiderable.’ [1] ’The government of the sea-coast communities is a variation of the general system which has been described. This variation has been caused by frequent intercourse with European traders and the accumulation of wealth by means of lucrative trade. Ancient travellers who wrote described only what they saw in the coast towns. From these men one learns that, over two centuries ago, at seedtime farmers marked out for farming their plots of land, situate usually on rising grounds near the towns and villages. The next step was to obtain the permission of the Ohene or his officers in charge of the land, after permission had been granted, to pay the usual rent. The head of the family, assisted by his wives, children, and any slaves he might possess, prepared the ground for sowing. When the day of sowing arrived, the farm belonging to the village, or town chief, was first sown by all the people, and the others followed in due course. † This custom has continued to modern times with slight modifications. A few years ago the sum of half a crown was paid to landowners on asking for a plot of land to farm on for one season, but within the last two years this sum has been raised to ten shillings; in some instances, such as for land near the large towns, as much as a pound has been paid.’ [2] The same is true of exchanges within Akan communities: ’The manner in which the ruler of a town four centuries ago derived revenue by means of tithes from his people is thus quaintly described by Artus. “When they have used the land and their harvest done, then they sell part of their corn to other men, who are not able to sow it, and by that means get a good quantity of gold; they give some to their king for rent of his land, and carry it home to his house, every one as much as he thinketh good. For there is no certain sum appointed for them to pay, but every one giveth according to his ability, and the quantity of ground that he hath used, and bringeth it unto the king, so that he hath at least five or six bendas of gold of them at one time; which they carry altogether to their [Page 29] king, who welcometh them for this Dache, * or gift; and for their labours giveth them their bellies full of meat and drink, and that they pay to the king for the farm of his lands and no more.”’ [3] ’In all the sea-coast towns the head ruler collected or received one-fourth part of the fish caught by fishermen. Tolls were collected on traders passing through the district; he was also entitled to receive tribute of a third, and in some cases of a fourth, of gold recovered by mining, rubber, and other products. Finders of large nuggets were bound to send the same to the head ruler on penalty of capital punishment. Three hundred years ago persons who recovered gold by mining or otherwise could not retain for their own use more than a half. The Ohene is also entitled to receive the tail of every elephant slain in his district, and he alone can use it. One-fourth part of game killed on his family land has to be sent to him.’ [4]

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 74

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 24

[3]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 28p

[4]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 29


Information / Postal System


Courier:
present

Sarbah describe the use of messengers: ’Where it is decided to contest the claim, the plaintiff with the court fee seeks the court linguist, and tells him his plaint for the information of the ruler and his council. Thereupon a messenger is sent to the defendant and the head of his family (if known) to summon him to the trial, telling him the plaint and requesting him to bring his witnesses at the trial, the date of which is given him. In some districts, for example Akim, the messenger is sent only to the headman of defendant’s family, and not to himself; if the headman is not found, it seems the Odzikuro of the village or some inmate of the family abode should be informed; the date for appearance is not fixed, but the defendant has to appear with reasonable despatch. In former days, a person failing to appear and unable to give a reasonable excuse for his absence was guilty of contempt, and fined, in addition to being brought by force. No case is heard in default of appearance; an opportunity is given to every defendant, and no one is to be condemned unheard.’ [1] ’An Ohene, or man of rank, coming to a town, ought to send messengers in advance to announce the time of his arrival, in order that the people may receive him with the customary honour due to his rank. Likewise, where such a person or some armed men intend to pass through a town, must timely notice be given to the head ruler of the town, and to the headman of the particular quarter where [Page 49] they will pass. Armed men are not allowed to enter a town without permission first had and obtained. The order of precedence is that the lower grade or inferiors go in front of the superior, who is always surrounded by his personal retinue, and arrives last.’ [2] He does not clarify whether these were ’specialists’ in the strict sense of the term. We have assumed this to be the case, given the use of couriers in the Ashanti period. This is open to re-evaluation.

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 35

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 48p


Information / Measurement System

Warfare Variables (Military Technologies)
Fortifications
Wooden Palisade:
absent

The following comments seem to apply to colonial forts rather than Akan settlements: "Towrson proceeded to Cape Coast Castle. The cape was then known as Cape Korea, and Don Juan, who had a large town up-country, was also the owner of Cape Coast town, which at this period consisted of not more than twenty houses, and was surrounded by a low fence made with reeds and tied with certain bark of trees." [1]

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 68










Complex Fortification:
absent

The European powers present on the Gold Coast erected numerous forts: "The claim of the Portuguese to be, in comparatively modern times, the first European discoverers of and settlers in Gold Coast is supported by more reliable and satisfactory evidence. According to several Portuguese writers including de Barros, Alphonso, the king of Portugal, farmed out in 1469 for five years the Guinea trade to one Fernando Gomez, at the rate of five hundred ducats, or about £138 17 s. 9 d.; the said Gomez having undertaken on his part to explore five hundred leagues, that is, three hundred miles each year, starting from Sierra Leone. In 1471 he directed that the coast-line should be discovered as it lay. This was done by Joao de Santaren and John de Scobar, who, skirting the coast past what is now Liberia, rounded Cape Palmas, went as far as the island of St. Thomas, and on the return voyage discovered Odena in five degrees of latitude. Fernando Po island was discovered in 1472 by Fernando da Poo. And so much gold was found at Odena that they called that port El Mina, afterwards known as the Castle, or Mina. These men also found gold at Chama, and it is said that Gomez opened a gold-mine at Approbi near Little Kommenda, the Aldea des Terres of the Portuguese." [1] "The relations between the Dutch and the people of Elmina and elsewhere were harmonious for some time, but when the English began to increase their trade, and sought to build factories and forts, the Dutch, becoming alarmed, changed their former politic conduct into one of harsh severity, took stringent measures, and devised means to deter the inhabitants from dealing with their competitors in the trade. Therefore they set up small forts at Boutri, Chama, Cape Coast Castle, Anumabu, Kromantin, and Accra, on the pretence that they were necessary to protect the inhabitants against attacks and raids by the inland people. The unlawful seizure by the Dutch of the English fort at Kromantin was one of the causes leading to the war between England and Holland in 1666, during which the Dutch fleet sailed up the Thames." [2] An Akan ruler captured a Danish fort at the end of the 17th century, but returned it after successful negotiations: "The narratives of the travellers of those days show that the natives did not tamely submit to any oppressive measures, whether from the Dutch, Danish, or English. On one occasion the people of Elmina confined the Dutch Governor-General and his garrison in the castle for ten months. The Danes were amongst the early settlers at Accra, and seemed to have got on well with their customers. But about the year 1693, finding their trade much diminished through Dutch competition, they advised their landlord and his people not to trade with them. When an attempt was made to enforce this advice, the African ruler, by name Asamani, and people, attacked the Danes and seized their fort, situate four miles to the east of James Town, with all the merchandise therein contained, including much treasure, which Asamani appropriated to his own use. On the fort he planted his flag, white, with an African brandishing a scimitar painted in the middle; and from its sixteen guns he exchanged salutes with passing ships, in addition to firing volleys-as much as two hundred on one occasion-in honour of his visitors. Soon after, the King of Denmark sent a special expedition, and the officer in command successfully treated for the restoration of the fort on the payment to Asamani of fifty marks of gold." [3] At the time, forts were not a regular feature of Akan military organization.

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 55

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 72

[3]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 73



Military use of Metals

Akan rulers and fighters started to acquire firearms and wrap them in brass wire at some point in the colonial period: "Gun barrels were wrapped with brass wire or tightly bound cloth to minimise the risk of bursting, a perpetual problem with ill-maintained poor-quality firearms, charged or overcharged with unreliable gunpowder. The addition of golden ‘cockle’ shells was less obviously functional. The way such shells came to adorn guns and ammunition belts again indicates how the exotic was assimilated into Akan culture." [1] It remains to be confirmed when this process started. According to this Wikipedia article, firearms were not in widespread use before the Ashanti period: ’The Ashanti became familiar with firearms in the 18th century, and by the 19th century, the bulk of their best troops were armed with a variety of guns, such as the standard European trade muskets, 6 feet in length, so-called "Long Dane".’ [2]

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 102

[2]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_military_systems_(1800%E2%80%931900)#The_Ashanti_military_system


Europeans traded brass and iron for gold and ivory: "Undaunted by the prohibition of the King of England, these gallant adventurers embarked, and pressing forward, reached Cape Verde on the 5th March, 1482. Bearing up to Rio de Festos on the 8th April, the French ships, at sight of them, fled. At the river St. Andras two big Portuguese warships fired at them, but by superior and skilful seamanship they cleverly slipped between them and Cape Three Points (Atinkin). They eventually defeated the Portuguese near Cape Coast Castle (Ogua), “to the no small joy of the negroes, as well as the security of themselves.” They were then invited to Mowre, the best trading town. Here for their pewter, brass, and iron they carried away two hundred and sixty-seven elephants’ teeth, weighing two thousand seven hundred and fifty-eight pounds, and a very large quantity of gold dust and nuggets; and so profitable was the venture, that, after paying half their profits to the duke their patron, they were able within three years to buy their traffic with Portugal and their peace with England, besides putting up an hundred thousand pounds apiece in their purses.W [1] Akan fighters also used weaponry made from iron: ’“We having stayed there a good space, and seeing that they would not come to us, thrust our boats head ashore, being both well appointed; and then the captain of the town came down, being a grave man. And he came with his dart in his hand, and six call-men after him, every one with his dart and his target; and their darts were all of iron, fair and sharp. And there came another after them which carried the captain’s stool: we saluted him, and put off our caps, and bowed ourselves, and he, like one that thought well of himself, did not move his cap, nor scant bow his body, and sat him down very solemnly on his stool; but all his men put off their caps to us, and bowed down themselves.’ [2]

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 63

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 66


Copper:
absent

Europeans traded brass and iron for gold and ivory: "Undaunted by the prohibition of the King of England, these gallant adventurers embarked, and pressing forward, reached Cape Verde on the 5th March, 1482. Bearing up to Rio de Festos on the 8th April, the French ships, at sight of them, fled. At the river St. Andras two big Portuguese warships fired at them, but by superior and skilful seamanship they cleverly slipped between them and Cape Three Points (Atinkin). They eventually defeated the Portuguese near Cape Coast Castle (Ogua), “to the no small joy of the negroes, as well as the security of themselves.” They were then invited to Mowre, the best trading town. Here for their pewter, brass, and iron they carried away two hundred and sixty-seven elephants’ teeth, weighing two thousand seven hundred and fifty-eight pounds, and a very large quantity of gold dust and nuggets; and so profitable was the venture, that, after paying half their profits to the duke their patron, they were able within three years to buy their traffic with Portugal and their peace with England, besides putting up an hundred thousand pounds apiece in their purses." [1] Akan rulers and fighters started to acquire firearms and wrap them in brass wire at some point in the colonial period: "Gun barrels were wrapped with brass wire or tightly bound cloth to minimise the risk of bursting, a perpetual problem with ill-maintained poor-quality firearms, charged or overcharged with unreliable gunpowder. The addition of golden ‘cockle’ shells was less obviously functional. The way such shells came to adorn guns and ammunition belts again indicates how the exotic was assimilated into Akan culture." [2] It remains to be confirmed when this process started. According to this Wikipedia article, firearms were not in widespread use before the Ashanti period: ’The Ashanti became familiar with firearms in the 18th century, and by the 19th century, the bulk of their best troops were armed with a variety of guns, such as the standard European trade muskets, 6 feet in length, so-called "Long Dane".’ [3] We have provisionally assumed that iron would have been preferred to copper in the construction of spear-heads etc. This is open to re-evaluation.

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 63

[2]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 102

[3]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_military_systems_(1800%E2%80%931900)#The_Ashanti_military_system


Bronze:
absent

Use of bronze would have made little sense for the colonial period


Projectiles


no mention in sources; does not make sense for time period


Self Bow:
present

It is unclear from this description whether self bows or composite bows were used: "Ansa the king appeared in full state, accompanied by a large retinue. Before him went his men ... His Gyasi men, that is, bodyguard, were armed with spears, javelins, shields, bows and arrows". [1] General reference for West Africa: "The self or simple bow consists essentially of a bent stave of pliant wood and a bowstring of a sufficient elasticity. Most West African types may be characterized as shortbows, being from about two and a half to five feet in height ... however, Wilhelm Muller describes the war-bows which he saw in the Fetu country (near Elmina) in the mid-seventeenth century as being ... nearly six feet." [2]

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 57

[2]: (Smith 1989, 72) Robert Sydney Smith. 1989. Warfare & Diplomacy in Pre-colonial West Africa. Second Edition. The University of Wisconsin Press. Madison.


Javelin:
present

"Ansa the king appeared in full state, accompanied by a large retinue. Before him went his men sounding trumpets and horns, carrying tinkling bells, and playing various kinds of drums, as well as other instruments, which were quite new to the Portuguese. His Gyasi men, that is, bodyguard, were armed with spears, javelins, shields, bows and arrows; on their heads they wore a sort of helmet made of skins thickly studded with shark’s teeth, the same kind of helmets one sees whenever a town company turns out in fighting attire, and as they came with their lord and master, they sang their popular martial airs. The subordinate rulers wore chains of gold and other ornaments, and each of them was attended by two pages, one carrying his master’s shield and arms, and the other a little round stool for him to sit on." [1]

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 57


Handheld Firearm:
absent
1600 CE

"By about 1700, however, the Asante were well supplied, and it was their comparative strength in firearms and skill in their use which largely enabled them both to dominate their neighbours to the north, including the Dagomba, and to initiate their drive to the coast with its trading opportunities - especially of obtaining more guns and powder." [1] European colonial forts were equipped with gunpowder weapons: "The Danes were amongst the early settlers at Accra, and seemed to have got on well with their customers. But about the year 1693, finding their trade much diminished through Dutch competition, they advised their landlord and his people not to trade with them. When an attempt was made to enforce this advice, the African ruler, by name Asamani, and people, attacked the Danes and seized their fort, situate four miles to the east of James Town, with all the merchandise therein contained, including much treasure, which Asamani appropriated to his own use. On the fort he planted his flag, white, with an African brandishing a scimitar painted in the middle; and from its sixteen guns he exchanged salutes with passing ships, in addition to firing volleys-as much as two hundred on one occasion-in honour of his visitors. Soon after, the King of Denmark sent a special expedition, and the officer in command successfully treated for the restoration of the fort on the payment to Asamani of fifty marks of gold." [2] Akan rulers and fighters started to acquire firearms at some point in the colonial period: "Gun barrels were wrapped with brass wire or tightly bound cloth to minimise the risk of bursting, a perpetual problem with ill-maintained poor-quality firearms, charged or overcharged with unreliable gunpowder. The addition of golden ‘cockle’ shells was less obviously functional. The way such shells came to adorn guns and ammunition belts again indicates how the exotic was assimilated into Akan culture." [3]

[1]: (Smith 1989, 80) Robert Sydney Smith. 1989. Warfare & Diplomacy in Pre-colonial West Africa. Second Edition. The University of Wisconsin Press. Madison.

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 73

[3]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 102

Handheld Firearm:
present
1700 CE

"By about 1700, however, the Asante were well supplied, and it was their comparative strength in firearms and skill in their use which largely enabled them both to dominate their neighbours to the north, including the Dagomba, and to initiate their drive to the coast with its trading opportunities - especially of obtaining more guns and powder." [1] European colonial forts were equipped with gunpowder weapons: "The Danes were amongst the early settlers at Accra, and seemed to have got on well with their customers. But about the year 1693, finding their trade much diminished through Dutch competition, they advised their landlord and his people not to trade with them. When an attempt was made to enforce this advice, the African ruler, by name Asamani, and people, attacked the Danes and seized their fort, situate four miles to the east of James Town, with all the merchandise therein contained, including much treasure, which Asamani appropriated to his own use. On the fort he planted his flag, white, with an African brandishing a scimitar painted in the middle; and from its sixteen guns he exchanged salutes with passing ships, in addition to firing volleys-as much as two hundred on one occasion-in honour of his visitors. Soon after, the King of Denmark sent a special expedition, and the officer in command successfully treated for the restoration of the fort on the payment to Asamani of fifty marks of gold." [2] Akan rulers and fighters started to acquire firearms at some point in the colonial period: "Gun barrels were wrapped with brass wire or tightly bound cloth to minimise the risk of bursting, a perpetual problem with ill-maintained poor-quality firearms, charged or overcharged with unreliable gunpowder. The addition of golden ‘cockle’ shells was less obviously functional. The way such shells came to adorn guns and ammunition belts again indicates how the exotic was assimilated into Akan culture." [3]

[1]: (Smith 1989, 80) Robert Sydney Smith. 1989. Warfare & Diplomacy in Pre-colonial West Africa. Second Edition. The University of Wisconsin Press. Madison.

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 73

[3]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 102


Gunpowder Siege Artillery:
absent

European colonial forts were equipped with guns or cannons. "In the year 1681 the English agent at Cape Coast Castle lost eighteen slaves, who escaped into this town, where they were protected by the inhabitants, who refused to give them up to their master upon any terms whatsoever. To frighten them the guns of the fort were trained on the town, but the people, far from being intimidated, came out in a body of about seven hundred armed men and attacked the fort, killing some of the English, and themselves losing about fifty or sixty. When this occurrence was reported to the Omanhene of Efutu, who was at that time one of the greatest Gold Coast rulers, he speedily came to Cape Coast Castle with only twelve followers, and assured the English agent he had no hand in the desertion of their men. For eight days he stayed underneath a sacred tree a short distance from the fort, and reminded the people of the existing treaty with the English, whereby he had solemnly sworn by his gods, and therefore would see justice done. Eventually the matter was settled to the satisfaction of all parties, and the English renewed their alliance with the Omanhene and the people of the town." [1] At one point, an Akan ruler occupied a Danish fort for a short time before returning it after successful negotiations: "The narratives of the travellers of those days show that the natives did not tamely submit to any oppressive measures, whether from the Dutch, Danish, or English. On one occasion the people of Elmina confined the Dutch Governor-General and his garrison in the castle for ten months. The Danes were amongst the early settlers at Accra, and seemed to have got on well with their customers. But about the year 1693, finding their trade much diminished through Dutch competition, they advised their landlord and his people not to trade with them. When an attempt was made to enforce this advice, the African ruler, by name Asamani, and people, attacked the Danes and seized their fort, situate four miles to the east of James Town, with all the merchandise therein contained, including much treasure, which Asamani appropriated to his own use. On the fort he planted his flag, white, with an African brandishing a scimitar painted in the middle; and from its sixteen guns he exchanged salutes with passing ships, in addition to firing volleys-as much as two hundred on one occasion-in honour of his visitors. Soon after, the King of Denmark sent a special expedition, and the officer in command successfully treated for the restoration of the fort on the payment to Asamani of fifty marks of gold." [2] This suggests that canons and other artillery were largely confined to colonial troops and did not figure in the military repertoire of Akan states at the time.

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 74

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 73


Crossbow:
unknown

This reference suggests we should not completely rule out its use: “was apparently in use among only a few of the forest peoples and seems to have been unknown in the savannah. No descriptions of this weapon have been found in the accounts of West African armament given by the early European and North African travellers, but a missionary report of a military review at Ijaye in 1861 refers to the carrying of ’great crossbows’ by some of the troops". [1]

[1]: (Smith 1989, 74) Robert Sydney Smith. 1989. Warfare & Diplomacy in Pre-colonial West Africa. Second Edition. The University of Wisconsin Press. Madison.


Composite Bow:
absent

no mention in sources; does not make sense for time period


Atlatl:
absent

no mention in sources; does not make sense for time period


Handheld weapons

Sword:
present

During the colonal period swords acquired a largely symbolic and non-functional status: ’The first reports of swords in Akan society are inevitably from the coast. Local swords may derive from Islamic weapons passed down the trans-Sanaran trade routes. Early visitors were quick to associate the swords they saw with Turkish or other Islamic weapons.’ [1] ’The growing complexity of the Asante government, its members’ need to communicate internally and externally, to show their differences in standing, and to reward allies or placate potential enemies are reflected in the way many slems, such as swords ( afena), were elaborated in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. What began as a functional weapon ended as an object whose significance was indicated by its size, shape and a variety of attachments, often in gold. The sword gained an increasing richness of meaning over the years until colonial rule removed many of its uses, ending its development but stimulating the growth of other forms of court art.’ [1] We have therefore assumed that prior to the acquisition of firearms, swords would have been in use among Akan fighters.

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 88


"Ansa the king appeared in full state, accompanied by a large retinue. Before him went his men sounding trumpets and horns, carrying tinkling bells, and playing various kinds of drums, as well as other instruments, which were quite new to the Portuguese. His Gyasi men, that is, bodyguard, were armed with spears, javelins, shields, bows and arrows; on their heads they wore a sort of helmet made of skins thickly studded with shark’s teeth, the same kind of helmets one sees whenever a town company turns out in fighting attire, and as they came with their lord and master, they sang their popular martial airs. The subordinate rulers wore chains of gold and other ornaments, and each of them was attended by two pages, one carrying his master’s shield and arms, and the other a little round stool for him to sit on." [1]

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 57


Polearm:
absent

no mention in sources; does not make sense for time period


Dagger:
present

"His servants, some of them had cloth about their loins, and some nothing but a cloth betwixt their legs, and made fast before and behind to their girdles and caps of their own making, some like a basket, and some like a great wide purse of beasts’ skins. All their cloths, cords, girdles, fishing-lines, and all such-like things which they have, they make of the bark of certain trees, and thereof they can work things very prettily, and iron-work they can make very fine, of all such things that they do occupy, as darts, fish-hooks, hooking irons, ironheads, and great daggers, some of them as long as a wood knife, which be on both sides exceeding sharpened, bended after the manner of Turkey blades, and the most part of them have hanging at their left side one of those great daggers." [1]

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 67


Battle Axe:
absent

Colonial sources describe only the use of ceremonial axes with an agricultural connotation: ’In 1881 a crisis occurred in relations between the British and Asante, and the Golden Axe was brought out again. A refugee from Kumase fled to Cape Coast and claimed British protection. A day later a senior delegation arrived, bearing the Golden Axe, and demanded he be returned to Kumase. The British saw the axe as a symbol of aggression and a threat, taking a literal view of its meaning. [...] the real meaning of the axe was more subtle: it showed the Asante determination to cut through all blockages on the path to a settlement.’ [1] This is open to re-evaluation.

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 106


Animals used in warfare
Armor
Wood Bark Etc:
absent

Barkcloth was considered a simple dress with hunting and ceremonial functions, but the sources establish no connection between bark and armour: ’Barkcloth was cheap, ‘the garb of the poorest slave in the realm’, and as recently as the 1920s it was used by hunters who wear old, cheap clothes as they are quickly soiled and torn by the thorny creepers and branches in the forest, the damp earth and the constant dripping from leaves. Barkcloth was also worn by the Asantehene during part of the Odwira festival. Here it was worn to contrast with the elaborate cloth robes worn in the rest of the ceremony, to give this part an archaic character and to show the King’s position in relation to the crucial yam crop.’ [1]

[1]: McLeod, M. D. (Malcolm D.) 1981. “Asante”, 149


Shield:
present

"Ansa the king appeared in full state, accompanied by a large retinue. Before him went his men sounding trumpets and horns, carrying tinkling bells, and playing various kinds of drums, as well as other instruments, which were quite new to the Portuguese. His Gyasi men, that is, bodyguard, were armed with spears, javelins, shields, bows and arrows; on their heads they wore a sort of helmet made of skins thickly studded with shark’s teeth, the same kind of helmets one sees whenever a town company turns out in fighting attire, and as they came with their lord and master, they sang their popular martial airs. The subordinate rulers wore chains of gold and other ornaments, and each of them was attended by two pages, one carrying his master’s shield and arms, and the other a little round stool for him to sit on." [1] "Their targets be made of such pits as their cloth is made of, and very closely wrought, and they be in form four square and very great, and somewhat longer than they be broad, so that kneeling down, they make their targets to cover their whole body. Their bows be short and of a pretty strength, as much as a man is able to draw with one of his fingers, and the string is of the bark of a tree, made flat, and almost a quarter of an inch broad. As for their arrows, I have not yet seen any of them, for they had wrapped them up close, and because I was busy I could not stand about it, to have them open them. Their gold also they work very well." [2]

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 57

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 67





Leather Cloth:
present

Sarbah reports leather helmets: "Ansa the king appeared in full state, accompanied by a large retinue. Before him went his men sounding trumpets and horns, carrying tinkling bells, and playing various kinds of drums, as well as other instruments, which were quite new to the Portuguese. His Gyasi men, that is, bodyguard, were armed with spears, javelins, shields, bows and arrows; on their heads they wore a sort of helmet made of skins thickly studded with shark’s teeth, the same kind of helmets one sees whenever a town company turns out in fighting attire, and as they came with their lord and master, they sang their popular martial airs. The subordinate rulers wore chains of gold and other ornaments, and each of them was attended by two pages, one carrying his master’s shield and arms, and the other a little round stool for him to sit on." [1] Shields were made from leather: "Their targets be made of such pits as their cloth is made of, and very closely wrought, and they be in form four square and very great, and somewhat longer than they be broad, so that kneeling down, they make their targets to cover their whole body. Their bows be short and of a pretty strength, as much as a man is able to draw with one of his fingers, and the string is of the bark of a tree, made flat, and almost a quarter of an inch broad. As for their arrows, I have not yet seen any of them, for they had wrapped them up close, and because I was busy I could not stand about it, to have them open them. Their gold also they work very well." [2]

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 57

[2]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 67



Helmet:
present

"Ansa the king appeared in full state, accompanied by a large retinue. Before him went his men sounding trumpets and horns, carrying tinkling bells, and playing various kinds of drums, as well as other instruments, which were quite new to the Portuguese. His Gyasi men, that is, bodyguard, were armed with spears, javelins, shields, bows and arrows; on their heads they wore a sort of helmet made of skins thickly studded with shark’s teeth, the same kind of helmets one sees whenever a town company turns out in fighting attire, and as they came with their lord and master, they sang their popular martial airs. The subordinate rulers wore chains of gold and other ornaments, and each of them was attended by two pages, one carrying his master’s shield and arms, and the other a little round stool for him to sit on." [1]

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 57




Naval technology
Specialized Military Vessel:
absent

European colonial powers employed warships: "Undaunted by the prohibition of the King of England, these gallant adventurers embarked, and pressing forward, reached Cape Verde on the 5th March, 1482. Bearing up to Rio de Festos on the 8th April, the French ships, at sight of them, fled. At the river St. Andras two big Portuguese warships fired at them, but by superior and skilful seamanship they cleverly slipped between them and Cape Three Points (Atinkin). They eventually defeated the Portuguese near Cape Coast Castle (Ogua), “to the no small joy of the negroes, as well as the security of themselves.” They were then invited to Mowre, the best trading town. Here for their pewter, brass, and iron they carried away two hundred and sixty-seven elephants’ teeth, weighing two thousand seven hundred and fifty-eight pounds, and a very large quantity of gold dust and nuggets; and so profitable was the venture, that, after paying half their profits to the duke their patron, they were able within three years to buy their traffic with Portugal and their peace with England, besides putting up an hundred thousand pounds apiece in their purses." [1] But this was not a feature of Akan military organization, which was mostly made up of infantery.

[1]: Sarbah, John Mensah 1968. “Fanti National Constitution: A Short Treatise On The Constitution And Government Of The Fanti, Asanti, And Other Akan Tribes Of West Africa Together With A Brief Account Of The Discovery Of The Gold Coast By Portuguese Navigators, A Short Narration Of Early English Voyages, And A Study Of The Rise Of British Gold Coast Jurisdiction, Etc., Etc.”, 63





Human Sacrifice Data
Human Sacrifice is the deliberate and ritualized killing of a person to please or placate supernatural entities (including gods, spirits, and ancestors) or gain other supernatural benefits.
- Nothing coded yet.