Modes of succession to high office in Africa today present the same problems for study as most other institutions in that continent; we have to analyse and understand both ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ practices. The two terms imply time-depth and it is of course true that we can pinpoint, for example, the recent entry of the extensive electoral procedures which follow a European model, whereas the kind of hereditary system by which offices circulated between segments of royal dynasties was there long before. But today ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ exist side by side and from one standpoint the insistence upon this division carries some dangers if it leads automatically to the idea that, as time goes on, ‘modern’ practice is necessarily going to completely oust ‘traditional’ methods. In the first place, the two systems may continue to operate in different spheres of social life, the ‘traditional’ for local chiefs, the ‘modern’ for national politicians. Even when this is the case, both types of leadership occur within one socio-cultural field, which, however highly differentiated it may be, is bound to modify the behaviour of the interacting individuals, roles and institutions. The mode of selecting an Ashanti chief is certainly not what it was before the advent of first colonial over-rule and secondly independent nationhood. The style of choosing representatives for local and national government is in turn influenced by the norms of chiefship. One continues to modify the other because both exist side by side.