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    Cozzens, Susan and Sutz, Judith 2014. Innovation in informal settings: reflections and proposals for a research agenda. Innovation and Development, Vol. 4, Issue. 1, p. 5.


Gun Culture in Kumasi


This article is about gun culture in Kumasi today. Gun use in Asante, and elsewhere in Ghana, has increased significantly in the last decade. In practice and in the public imagination this is associated with the rise of youth gangs and the criminalization of urban space. Much has been written about youths and violence elsewhere in Africa, but this article focuses on the neglected topic of guns themselves – their manufacture, sale, distribution, use and meanings. In Kumasi, which in Suame Magazine has the biggest indigenous metalwork and engineering complex in all of West Africa, skilled artisans now make copies of imported automatic assault rifles, like the Soviet AK-47, as well as shotguns and pistols. This development is explored in a number of ways, and most especially in terms of the relationship between guns and their local history, Kumasi youth, crime and shifting patterns of desire and consumption. It is the purpose of this article to add to the growing literature on ‘violent youth’ in Africa, but to do so from the viewpoint of the weapons that enable this violence.

Cet article a pour thème la culture des armes à feu à Kumasi aujourd'hui. L'usage des armes à feu en pays Ashanti, et ailleurs au Ghana, s'est considérablement développé au cours des dix dernières années. Dans la pratique et dans l'imagination publique, cet essor est associé à la multiplication des bandes de jeunes et à la criminalisation de l'espace urbain. On a beaucoup écrit sur les jeunes et la violence ailleurs en Afrique, mais cet article s'intéresse à un thème négligé, à savoir les armes elles-mêmes, leur fabrication, leur vente, leur distribution, leur utilisation et leurs significations. À Kumasi et plus particulièrement à Suame Magazine, le plus grand complexe métallurgique et mécanique indigène d'Afrique de l'Ouest, des artisans habiles fabriquent aujourd'hui des copies de fusils d'assaut automatiques importés, comme la Kalachnikov AK-47, ainsi que des fusils et des pistolets. L'article explore cette évolution à plusieurs égards, en se penchant plus particulièrement sur la relation entre les armes et leur histoire locale, les jeunes de Kumasi, la criminalité et les schémas changeants du désir et de la consommation. Il a pour objet d'ajouter à la littérature croissante consacrée à la 〈violence des jeunes〉 en Afrique, mais du point de vue des armes qui rendent cette violence possible.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

A. Bah (2004) ‘Micro-disarmament in West Africa: the ECOWAS moratorium on small arms and light weapons (SALW)’, African Security Review 13 (3): 3346.

C. Gore and D. Pratten (2003) ‘The politics of plunder: the rhetorics of order and disorder in southern Nigeria’, African Affairs 102 (407): 211–40.

T. C. McCaskie (2000) ‘The consuming passions of Kwame Boakye: an essay on agency and identity in Asante history’, Journal of African Cultural Studies 13 (1): 4362.

T. C. McCaskie (2007) ‘Denkyira in the making of Asante c. 1660–1720’, Journal of African History 48 (1): 125.

J. Parker (2004) ‘Witchcraft, anti-witchcraft and trans-regional ritual innovation in early colonial Ghana: Sakrabundi and Aberewa, 1889–1910’, Journal of African History 45 (3): 393420.

R. Rathbone and J. Allman (1991) ‘Discussion: “the youngmen and the porcupine”’, Journal of African History 32 (2): 333–8.

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  • ISSN: 0001-9720
  • EISSN: 1750-0184
  • URL: /core/journals/africa
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