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Komfo Anokye of Asante: Meaning, History and Philosophy in an African Society

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 January 2009

T. C. McCaskie
University of Birmingham


This paper – which builds upon the author's previously published work on the forest kingdom of Asante (Ghana) – deals with the role of Komfo Anokye in Asante thought and history. The source materials and historiography pertaining to Komfo Anokye are critically reviewed, but the principal focus of the paper is on issues of cognition, belief and philosophy. Komfo Anokye's ‘place’ in Asante thought is analysed, and his meaning(s) identified with reference to Asante concerns about the nature of history, society and the human. The paper tries to go beyond epistemology and a ‘traditional’ reading of Asante religion and its practices to a hermeneutical interpretation of Komfo Anokye and the sense-meaning of Asante history. Philosophical and psychological issues are addressed in a historical context. The larger object of the paper is, by the example of Komfo Anokye and Asante history, to attempt to indicate a way forward for the Africanist historical enterprise in the understanding of meaning.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1986

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1 The content of this paper is very far from its original formulation. I would like to record my gratitude to three people; J. D. Y. Peel, J. G. Platvoet, and the late Meyer Fortes all contributed to the refinement of the ideas presented here.

2 For examples see Sarpong, P., Ghana in Retrospect: Some Aspects of Ghanaian Culture (Tema, 1974)Google Scholar; ibid.The Sacred Stools of the Akan (Tema, 1971); Kyerematen, A. A. Y., Panoply of Ghana (London, 1964)Google Scholar; ibid.‘Ashanti royal regalia: their history and functions’, D.Phil. (Oxford, 1966)Google Scholar; ibid. ‘The royal stools of Ashanti’, Africa , xxxix, i (1969), 1–10; ibid.Kingship and Ceremony in Ashanti (Kumase, n.d.); Fynn, J. K., ed., ‘Akan history and culture’, Tarikh , vii, ii, 26 (1982), 173.Google Scholar For an interesting non-Asante view see the traditions collected in Perrot, C. H., Les Anyi-Ndenye et le pouvoir aux 18e et 19e siècles (Paris, 1982).Google Scholar

3 McCaskie, T. C., ‘Social rebellion and the inchoate rejection of history: some reflections on the career of Opon Asibe Tutu’, Asantessm , iv (1976), 34–9,Google Scholar; ibid. ‘Time and the calendar in 19th century Asante: an exploratory essay’, History in Africa , vii (1980), 179–200; ibid.State and society, marriage and adultery: some considerations towards a history of pre-colonial Asante’, Journal of African History , xxii, iv (1981), 477–94Google Scholar; ibid.‘Anti-witchcraft cults in Asante: an essay in the social history of an African people’, History in Africa, viii, (1981), 125–54Google Scholar; ibid.‘Ahyiamu - ‘a place of meeting’: an essay on process and event in the history of the Asante state’, Journal of African History, xxv, ii (1984), 169–88.Google Scholar The fullest formulation – thus far – is in my ‘Accumulation, wealth and belief in Asante history. 1. To the close of the nineteenth century’, Africa , liii, i (1983), 23–43 and ‘ …ii. The twentieth century’, Africa, lvi, i (1986), forthcoming.

4 For a recent example see Izard, M., Gens du Pouvoir, Gens de la Terre: Les institutions politiques de l'ancien royaume du Yatenga (Bassin de la Volta Blanche) (Cambridge and Paris, 1985).Google Scholar See, too, some of the essays in Izard, M. and Smith, P., eds., Between Belief and Transgression : Structuralist Essays in Religion, History, and Myth (Chicago, 1982).Google Scholar

5 See Coquery-Vidrovitch, C., ‘La fête des coutumes au Dahomey: historique et essai d'interprétation’, Annales: E.S.C., xix (1964), 696716CrossRefGoogle Scholar and Law, Robin, ‘Human Sacrifice in pre-colonial West Africa’, African Affairs, lxxxiv 334 (1985), 5387CrossRefGoogle Scholar. An interesting but completely different perspective on aspects of these processes is Gordon, R. L., ‘The real and the imaginary: production and religion in the Graeco-Roman world’, Art History, 11, i (1979), 534.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

6 Peel, J. D. Y., Ijeshas and Nigerians: The Incorporation of a Yoruba Kingdom, 1890s–1970s (Cambridge, 1983), 14.Google Scholar Much has been made recently of the ‘revival’ of narrative history. See Stone, L., ‘The revival of narrative: reflections on a new old history’, in his The Past and the Present (London, 1981), 7496.Google Scholar

7 See Peel, op. cit. and his ‘Kings, titles and quarters: a conjectural history of Ilesha. 1. The traditions reviewed’, History in Africa, vi (1979), 109–53, ‘…H. Institutional growth’, History in Africa, vii (1980), 225–57, and ‘Making history: the past in the Ijesha present’, Man, new series xix (1984), 111–32. I should like to thank John Peel for showing me the draft (1985) of his ‘History, culture and the comparative method’. For other views of some of these problems see Henige, D., ‘In the possession of the author: the problem of source monopoly in oral historiography’, International Journal of History, i, iii (1980), 181–94Google Scholar and Law, Robin, ‘How many times can history repeat itself? Some problems inthe traditional history of Oyo’, International Journal of African Historical Studies, xviii, i(1985). 3351CrossRefGoogle Scholar

8 See K. Hart's paper in Annual Review of Anthropology (1985).

9 I find the ‘rational’ and ‘superstructural’ approach of Wilks, I., Asante in the Nineteenth Century: the Structure and Evolution of a Political Order (Cambridge, 1975)Google Scholar increasingly limited (and limiting) in its ruthless imposition of a mechanistic order. Much more satisfactory, to this author, is the Wilks of ‘The Golden Stool and the Elephant Tail: an essay on wealth in Asante’, in G. Dalton, ed., Research in Economic Anthropology, 11 (1979) 1–36. A sensitive treatment of political history is Yarak, L., ‘Asante and the Dutch: a case study in the history of Asante administration 1744–1873’, Ph.D. (Northwestern, 1983).Google Scholar See too Yarak's ‘Elmina and greater Asante in the nineteenth century’, Africa, lvl, i (1986), forthcoming. A treatment of Akan history that tackles the material base – but not the cognitive – is Kea, R. A., Settlements, Trade, and Polities in the Seventeenth-Century Gold Coast (Baltimore and London, 1982).Google Scholar For the development of his thought I am grateful to Ray Kea for an opportunity to consult a draft of his forthcoming ‘I am here to plunder on the general road: bandits and banditry in the pre-nineteenth-century Gold Coast’. In attempts to confront ‘ideas’ in Asante (and Akan) history the work of K. Arhin is important. For the most recent statement see ‘A Note on the Asante Akonkofo: a non-literate sub-élite, 1900–1930’, Africa, lvi, i (1986), forthcoming. I have listed in part (fn. 3 above) some of my own efforts to grapple with the cognitive in Asante history; for insights into my own ‘superstructural’ past see McCaskie, T. C., ‘The paramountcy of the Asantehene Kwaku Dua Panin (1834–67): a study in Asante political culture’, Ph.D. (Cambridge, 1974).Google Scholar There is a vital point in all of this, and I will make it very briefly. The very wealth of Asante historiography makes it all at once possible to, and excessively difficult to, break out beyond the politico-‘superstructural’ paradigm. The present paper is a contribution, in part, to this effort.

10 For the rational analyses see Lewin, T., Asante before the British : the Prempean Years, 1875–1900 (Kansas, 1978)Google Scholar and Aidoo, A. A., ‘Political crisis and social change in the Asante Kingdom 1867–1901’, Ph.D. (UCLA, 1975).Google Scholar The fullest account of Asamoa Nkwanta's charm is in Bonnat MSS, Cahier, 12.

11 As yet, unfortunately, there is no adequate treatment of the ‘history’ of African historiography. Existing analyses are strident rather than analytical; see Temu, A. and Swai, B., Historians and Africanist History : a Critique (London, 1981).Google Scholar

12 See Freund, B., The Making of Contemporary Africa: the Development of African Society since 1800 (London, 1984).CrossRefGoogle Scholar A more sensitive treatment is Coquery-Vidrovitch, C., Afrique Noire: Permanences et ruptures (Paris, 1985).Google Scholar Usurpation at its most unconscious but sophisticated is in Hopkins, A. G., An Economic History of West Africa (London, 1973).Google Scholar

13 See McLeod, M. D., The Asante (London, 1981)Google Scholar; Platvoet, J. G., ‘In de koelte van de ontvangstboom: de polietike functie van een akan religieus symbool’, in Manschot, H., van Reisen, H. and Veldhuis, W., eds., Van Gerechtigheid tot Liturgie (Hilversum, 1984), 6191Google Scholar; ibid. , ‘The return of Anokye: the use of a political myth by an Asante “Puritan” movement’, unpublished MS (1985).

14 For insight see Hobsbawm, E. and Ranger, T., eds., The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge, 1983).Google Scholar

15 The fullest accounts are Rattray, R. S., Ashanti Law and Constitution (Oxford, 1929)Google Scholar and Manhyia Record Office (MRO), Kumase, ‘The History of Asante’, MS prepared by a Committee of Traditional Authorities under the Chairmanship of Asantehene Osei Agyeman Prempe II, n.d., but in the 1940s. Popular accounts abound. See conveniently Anti, A. A., Akwamu-Denkyira-Akuapem and Ashanti in the Lives of Osei Tutu and Okontfo Anokye (Tema, 1973)Google Scholar It is perhaps significant (see fn. 9) that Komfo Anokye receives no attention in Wilks, Asante; his ‘Laws’ are dealt with, but in a strictly instrumental sense.

16 The Dutch material is in the appropriate files of the Archief van de Nederlandsche Bezittingen ter Kuste van Guinea, The Hague. Useful translations into English are to be found in Van Dantzig, A., The Dutch and the Guinea Coast 1674–1742 : a Collection of Documents from the General State Archive at The Hague (Accra, 1978).Google Scholar The English material is in the T/70 series held in the Public Record Office, London. For context see Fynn, J. K., Asante and Its Neighbours 1700–1807 (London and Evanston, 1971).Google Scholar

17 For the most recent discussion see Van Dantzig, A., Les Hollandais sur la côte de Guinée a l'epoque de l'essor de l'Ashanti et du Dahomey 1680–1740 (Paris, 1980).Google Scholar Disappointingly, the matter does not come up in the extremely useful collection assembled in Jones, A., Brandenburg Sources for West African History 1680–1700 (Wiesbaden, 1985).Google Scholar

18 Both are mentioned by these names in the Dutch sources. See WIC, 124, Minute of Council, Elmina, 20 March 1708. For oral material on Amankwatia Panin see, conveniently, Institute of African Studies (IAS), Legon, IASAS/39 and 40: Bantama Stool History and MRO, ‘The History of Asante’.

19 The matter is documented in Van Dantzig, The Dutch and discussed in ibid.Les Hollandais.

20 Bosman, W., Naauwkeurige Beschryving van der Guinese Goud-, Tand- en Slave-Kust (Utrecht, 1704)Google Scholar, translated into English as A New and Accurate Description of the Coast of Guinea (London, 1705).Google Scholar

21 For elucidation of this passage see Van Dantzig, A., ‘English Bosman and Dutch Bosman: a comparison of texts – III’, History in Africa, iv (1977), 252sub 157 1/11.Google Scholar

22 The translation used here has been assembled from four sources – Van Dantzig, idem.; Bosman (London, 1705; facsimile reprint, London, 1967), 156–7; a translation kindly provided by J. G. Platvoet; and, my own gloss on Bosman, op. cit. (Utrecht, 1704). I remain obstinately convinced that, in spite of the effort involved, problems remain!

23 For example, Kea, Settlements. See too, from a later era, Arhin, K., ‘Rank and class among the Asante and Fante in the nineteenth century’, Africa, liii, i (1983), 122.Google Scholar

24 For Komfo Anokye's club see Rattray, Ashanti Law, 300 (especially the line, na wo fa aba de bo Akyeame), and 383.

25 MRO, ‘The History of Asante’.

26 W akoa yi, obi nnim adie a wa yo. Nne wako hye hotna. Obi nnim ade koro a ba wo tiri mu. Nti wamfa mma ha, ama yamfa asopa ntie, na wo fa aba de bo Akyeame, wu ku yen a, wu di yen aboa, wo di fo. See fn. 24.

27 Chapman MSS, Diary entry for 13 October 1843. (I am currently preparing the Chapman Diary in an annotated edition for publication by Crossroads Press.)

28 Rømer, L. F., Tilforladelig Efterretning om Kysten Guinea (Copenhagen, 1960)Google Scholar was apparently invited to Kumase but failed to go there. The received wisdom is that no European visited Kumase between Van Nyendael and Bowdich. I am not entirely convinced by this. Further explorations in the Dutch and the Danish archives may force a revising of opinion.

29 Two sources may stand as representative of all these drawbacks. See Pel, H. J., Aanteekeningen gehouden op eene reis van St. George Delmina [sic] naar Comassie, Hoofstad van het Ashantijnsche Rijk, engedurende een kort verblijf aldaar (Leiden, n.d.)Google Scholar and National Archives of Ghana (NAG), Accra, ADM 1/2/4, Diary of Governor Winniet, 1848.

30 Bowdich, T. E., Mission from Cape Coast Castle to Ashantee (London, 1819)Google Scholar; ibid.A Reply to the Quarterly Review (Paris, 1820)Google Scholar; ibid.An Essay on the Superstitions, Customs, and Arts Common to the Ancient Egyptians, Abyssinians and Ashantees (Paris, 1821)Google Scholar; ibid.An Essay on the Geography of North-western Africa (Paris, 1821)Google Scholar; Dupuis, J., Journal of a Residence in Ashantee (London, 1824)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Freeman, T. B., Journal of Two Visits to the Kingdom of Ashanti (London, 1843)Google Scholar [Freeman's larger MS diary and letters are in the Methodist Missionary Society Archive, SOAS, London]; Gros, J., Voyages, Aventures et Captivité de J. Bonnat Chez les Achantis (Paris, 1884)CrossRefGoogle Scholar (Bonnat's writings also appear in L'Explorateur and in his recently recovered, voluminous MSS); Ramseyer, F. A. and Kühne, J., Four Years in Ashantee (New York, 1875)CrossRefGoogle Scholar (the fullest recension known to me of Ramseyer's diary is in the Basel Mission Archives – an as yet unpublished manuscript).

31 See Hobsbawm's comment on Beyle's La Chartreuse de Parme and the ‘Fibrizio syndrome’ (by implication) in Hobsbawm and Ranger, eds., Invention, 13, fn. 17.

32 Bowdich, Mission, 296.

33 idem. 276 et seq. and facing plate.

34 idem. 274–5.

35 idem. 233.

36 idem. 262–3.

37 idem. 228 and compare MRO, ‘The History of Asante’.

38 Dupuis, Journal, 224–64.

39 idem. 225.

40 idem. 229.

41 idem. 227–8.

42 idem. 227.

43 The specific reference is in Reindorf, C. C., History of the Gold Coast and Asante, Based on Traditions and Historical Facts, Comprising a Period of More than Three Centuries from About 1500 to 1860 (Basel, 1895), 48.Google Scholar The more commonly used edition of Reindorf (Accra, 1966) is corrupt and is not to be trusted. For discussion see Jenkins, R., ‘Impeachable source? On the use of the second edition of Reindorf's History as a primary source for the study of Ghanaian history’, History in Africa, iv (1977), 123–47 and v (1978), 81–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar For a brief review of relevant Basel publications see Jenkins, P., ed., Archivbeiträge, as Mitteilungen der Basler Afrika Bibliographien ix (1973).Google Scholar Particularly relevant for Komfo Anokye and for the intellectual development of C. C. Reindorf is Sika-Mpoano Kristofo a Wokasa Twi no: Senkekafo. By far and away the best summary of the relevant intellectual milieu is Jenkins, R. G.' thesis on Gold Coast historians, ‘Gold Coast historians and their pursuit of the Gold Coast pasts, 1882–1917’ (Ph.D., Birmingham, 1985).Google Scholar

44 R. G. Jenkins, loc. cit., 1985, has some discussion. In addition , useful background on Württemberg pietism is to be found in Fulbrook, M., Piety and Politics: Religion and the Rise of Absolutism in England, Württemberg and Prussia (Cambridge, 1983)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Attention should be paid to Jenkins, P., ‘Towards a definition of the pietism of Württemberg as a missionary movement’, ASAUK Conference Paper(Oxford, 1978).Google Scholar Characteristically trenchant observations are to be found in T. Ranger's contribution to Hobsbawm and Ranger, eds., Invention, and note should be taken of his references to Robinson and Lonsdale. But for this author by far the most satisfying account of this species of Weltanschauung is a novel - G. Grass, The Meeting at Telgte – which attempts to assimilate ‘groaning Christianity’ to the mid-seventeenth century world of Simplicissimus.

45 The best summary is Jenkins' ‘Gold Coast historians’.

46 von Herder, J. G., ‘Reflections on the philosophy of the history of mankind’ (17841791) in Sämtliche Werke (Berlin, 18771913), xiii.Google Scholar There is a vast literature in elaboration. To take in turn the three ‘descendants’ mentioned, see conveniently Gadamer, H. G., Philosophical Hermeneutics (Berkeley, 1976)Google Scholar; Ricoeur, P., Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences (Cambridge, 1981)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Derrida, J., De la Grammatologie (Paris, 1967)Google Scholar and Éperons. Les Styles de Nietzsche (Venice, 1976)Google Scholar. Derrida's obligation to Condillac is obvious, but I am not sufficient of a philosopher to trace the links between Condillac and Herder.

47 As in the case of Heidegger, M. whose Sein und Zeit (Tübingen, 1927)Google Scholar is a quintessential example of the author as hermeneus, ‘an interpreter’.

48 Rorty, R., Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (Princeton, 1979)Google Scholar; ibid., ed., Consequences of Pragmatism: Essays, 1972–80 (Minneapolis, 1982).Google Scholar Recent treatments of the tendency described are in Skinner, Q., ed., The Return of Grand Theory in the Human Sciences (Cambridge, 1985).Google Scholar The hermeneutical is approached, intelligently if obliquely, in Berlin, I., Vico and Herder (London, 1976).Google Scholar

49 Hoy, David, ‘Jacques Derrida’ in Skinner, , ed., The Return.Google Scholar Important qualifications, which I cannot enlarge upon here, are in Putnam, H., Meaning and the Moral Sciences (London, 1978)Google Scholar and ibid.Reason, Truth and History (Cambridge, 1981).Google Scholar

50 For a ‘proto-philosophical’ view see Horton, R., ‘African conversion’, Africa, xli, ii (1971), 85108CrossRefGoogle Scholar; ibid.On the rationality of conversion’, Africa, xlv, ii (1975), 219–35 and iii (1975), 373–99Google Scholar; ibid. ‘Introduction’ toFortes, M., Oedipus and Job in West African Religion (Cambridge, 1983).Google Scholar

51 Wiredu, K., Philosophy and an African Culture (Cambridge, 1980), 213.Google Scholar Ironic contrast is to be found in the essay on Anton-Wilhelm Amo in Hountondji, P. J., African Philosophy : Myth and Reality (London, 1983).Google Scholar

52 A recent reflection in context is Thomas, K., Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England, 1500–1800 (London, 1983).Google Scholar

53 Kyeretwie, K. O. Bonsu, Ashanti Heroes (Accra, 1972).Google Scholar

54 Vansina, J., Oral Tradition as History (London and Nairobi, 1985)Google Scholar is the most recent effort at a non-hermeneutical classification of oral ‘texts’ and traditions.

55 Hoy, ‘Jacques Derrida’, 64.

56 See conveniently McCaskie, ‘State and society’.

57 Herder, Werke, xiii, 340 ff.

58 Claridge, W. W., A History of the Gold Coast and Ashanti, 2 vols. (London, 1915).Google Scholar

59 Fuller, F. C., A Vanished Dynasty : Ashanti (London, 1921).Google Scholar

60 Correspondence in National Archives of Ghana (NAG), Kumase, reveals Fuller's machinations in trying to maintain in office the usurpatory and highly corrupt Gyaasewahene Kwame Tua.

61 Fuller, Vanished Dynasty, 9. The ‘Cardinal Wolsey’ referred to is of course that of Green and the nineteenth-century constitutional nationalists and not that of Elton. For context see Burrow, J. W., A Liberal Descent: Victorian Historians and the English Past (Cambridge, 1981).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

62 Rattray, Ashanti Law; ibid.Ashanti (Oxford, 1923) and Religion and Art in Ashanti (Oxford, 1927); Fortes, M., Kinship and the Social Order: the Legacy of Lewis Henry Morgan (London, 1969).Google Scholar See too the Rattray MSS (Royal Anthropological Institute, London) and the Fortes MSS (African Studies Centre, Cambridge).

63 Rattray, Ashanti Law, especially 270–84.

64 Wilks, ‘The Golden Stool’; McCaskie, ‘Accumulation’, 1 and 11.

65 Fortes, Kinship, especially 122–37.

66 This is perhaps reflected in the fact that Fortes was more comfortable with a society ‘without history’. See his classic The Web of Kinship among the Tallensi: the Second Part of an Analysis of the Social Structure of a Trans-Volta Tribe (London, 1949).

67 For a revealing personal account see Fortes, M., ‘Custom and conscience in anthropological perspective’, International Review of Psycho-Analysis, iv (1977), 127–54.Google Scholar

68 This is most especially the case in Wilks, Asante. For an appropriate treatment of legal instrumentality by the same author see Wilks, Ivor G. Hughes, ‘Insurrections in Texas and Wales: the careers of John Rees’, The Welsh History Review/Cylchgrawn Hanes Cymru, xi, i (1982), 6791.Google Scholar

69 See the ‘chronology’ in MRO, ‘The History of Asante’.

70 For some contextual discussion see McCaskie, ‘Accumulation’, 11 and Arhin, ‘Akonkofo’. It might be noted that P. Sarpong (fn 2) is a bishop of the Catholic church.

71 For a distillation see Boahen, A. A., ed., UNESCO : General History of Africa. VII. Africa Under Foreign Domination, 1880-1935 (Paris, 1985).Google Scholar

72 See McCaskie, T. C., ‘R. S. Rattray and the construction of Asante history: an appraisal’, History in Africa, x (1983), 187206,CrossRefGoogle Scholar for some discussion of the issues.

73 As noted previously, this is the besetting weakness of Wilks, Asante. See too the essays on the state collected together in Cahiers d'Etudes Africaines, ‘Systèmes étatiques africains’, LXXXVH-LXXXVIII (1983).

74 For instance, the number of wards in Kumase. See MRO, ‘The History of Asante’. For general treatment see Antubam, K., Ghana's Heritage of Culture (Leipzig, 1963).Google Scholar

75 In field-interviewing, the inexplicable is often assigned to Komfo Anokye. Bowdich, Mission recorded the same obduracy of analysis, but, of course, without names being mentioned.

76 On boundaries see McLeod, Asante. This relies (consciously or unconsciously) on Douglas, M., Purity and Danger: an analysis of the concepts of pollution and taboo (London, 1966)CrossRefGoogle Scholar and ibid.Rules and Meanings (London, 1973). See, too, Douglas, M., Natural Symbols (London, 1970).Google Scholar One aspect of ‘reversal’ is dealt with in R. Needham, ed., Right and Left: Essays on Dual Symbolic Classification (Chicago and London, 1973). For an attempt to address these matters from a philosophical perspective see Skorupski, J., Symbol and Theory: a Philosophical Study of Theories of Religion in Social Anthropology (Cambridge, 1976).Google Scholar

77 On order and anxiety see the references in fn. 3.

78 And see T. C. McCaskie, ‘Balance, imbalance and festival: order and disorder in nineteenth century Asante’, Past and Present, forthcoming.

79 Absence of the ‘existential component’ can be gleaned from the referential omissions in the index to Wilks, Asante .

80 Douglas, Purity, Rules and Natural Symbols .

81 McCaskie, ‘Accumulation’, 1 and 11; McLeod, Asante; Wilks, ‘The Golden Stool’.

82 McCaskie, ‘Paramountcy’.

83 Ramseyer Diary and Bonnat MSS.

84 McCaskie, ‘Accumulation’, 1.

85 ibid. ‘Accumulation’, 11.

86 McCaskie, ‘Accumulation’, 1; McLeod, Asante .

87 At the risk of repetition, belief is the great lacuna in Asante historiography. Once again the interested reader might consult - in terms of content analysis - the index to Wilks, Asante.

88 See McCaskie, ‘Ahyiamu’.

89 MRO, ‘History of Asante’.

91 Idem, and for context see Lewin, Asante and Aidoo, ‘Political crisis’.

92 Bowdich, Mission and Bonnat MSS, Cahier 15.

93 MRO, ‘The History of Asante’.

94 Chapman MSS, Diary entry for 2 August 1844.

95 Ansa, Owusu, ‘The King of Ashantee’, The Times, London, 29 07 1873.Google Scholar

96 For background see Platvoet, ‘The return of Anokye’.

97 McCaskie, ‘Anti-witchcraft cults’.

98 Note the precise wording in Basel Mission Archives (BMA), Basel, D-i, 32–159, Ramseyer to Committee, dd. Abetifi, 19 June 1880. Ramseyer's information was derived in substantial part from Owusu Ansa.

99 McCaskie, ‘Anti-witchcraft cults’.

100 Platvoet, ‘The return of Anokye’.

101 Fortes MSS, Cambridge, ‘The biography of Nana Mansa [sic] Bonsu’. Fortes furnished me with another, larger version of this interview, but I have used here the publicly available text.

102 Some of the names are in McCaskie, ‘Anti-witchcraft cults’. Attention should be paid too to unused material in MRO, File A/77, ‘Supernaturalism in Asante’.

103 idem.

104 ‘Hysteria’ is discussed in McCaskie, ‘Balance’.

105 A good summary is McLeod, Asante.

106 idem.

107 There is a vast literature on this. For a convenient, popular introduction see Ferguson, J., Gods Many and Lords Many : a Study in Primal Religions (Guildford, 1982).Google Scholar

108 Variants of this can be found in Bowdich, Dupuis, Freeman and Chapman.

109 Bowdich, Essay, 42.

110 Chapman MSS, Diary entry for 13 March 1844.

111 MRO, ‘The History of Asante’. See, too, Rattray, Ashanti Law .

112 See, for example, Bowdich, Mission and Essay.

113 Complicated examples of this are to be found in Bowdich, Mission and Chapman MSS. On Asante medicine the reader should consult the various published and unpublished papers of D. Maier and T. C. McCaskie, ‘Innovational eclecticism: the Asante empire and Europe in the 19th Century’, Comparative Studies in Society and History xiv, i (1972), 3O-45

114 As in the extensively documented case of the death of the Abrafoohene Adu Kwabo in 1844.

115 For convenient discussion see Arhin, K., ‘Asante military institutions’, Journal of African Studies, vii, i (1980), 22–30.Google Scholar

116 Material is to be found in, Basel Mission Archives (BMA), Basel, Reports (1903–10) from Kumase by N. Asare; McCaskie, Interviews in Kumase, 1975–6; and, popularly, Bonsu Kyeretwie, Ashanti Heroes. Allusive information is in M. Fortes, ‘Conversations with Nsuta people in Kumasi’, n.d. (privately communicated).

117 Vansina, Oral Tradition seems still to be concerned with this matter. But this overview may reflect the scholar's ‘Africa’. In general, oral traditions from Central and Eastern Africa are more formalised than comparative material from West Africa (with the exception of Yoruba oriki; although even there - and I am grateful to Karin Barber for this point - it would appear that the formal structure of oriki still affords considerable space for invention and elaboration.)

118 See Turner, V., ‘Chihamba: the white spirit’, Rhodes-Livingstone Papers, xxxii (1962);Google Scholaribid.The Forest of Symbols (New York, 1967); ibid. ‘Myth and symbol’, International Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, x (New York, 1968), 576–82. There are curious resonances between Turner and Heisenberg, W., Philosophical Problems of Nuclear Science (London, 1952).Google Scholar The debate over ‘earlier’ and ‘later’ Turner I leave to others.

119 Rattray, R. S., Ashanti Proverbs: the Primitive Ethics of a Savage People (Oxford, 1916), n .Google Scholar

120 See, indicatively, Van Dyck, C., ‘An analytic study of the folktales of selected peoples of West Africa’, D.Phil. (Oxford, 1967).Google Scholar

121 Pelton, R. D., The Trickster in West Africa: A Study of Mythic Irony and Sacred DelightGoogle Scholar (, Berkeley, 1980).Google Scholar

122 Christaller, J. G., Dictionary of the Asante and Fante Language called Tshi (Twi) (Basel, 2nd ed., revised and enlarged, 1933), 176.Google Scholar

123 Wilks, I., ‘Land, labour, capital and the forest kingdom of Asante: a model of early change’, in Friedman, J. and Rowlands, M. J., eds, The Evolution of Social Systems (London, 1977), especially 515.Google Scholar

124 Rattray, Ashanti Law, 273.

125 Pelton, Trickster, 63.

126 Anti, Akiuamu, 39.

127 For the limitations see Danquah, J. B., The Akan Doctrine of God (London, 1944)Google Scholar and Parrinder, G., West African Psychology: a Comparative Study of Psychological and Religious Thought (London, 1951).Google Scholar Margaret Field, unfortunately, never worked directly on Asante. Tooth's work on insanity and mental illness is suggestive, but it is yet to be put into a historical context.

128 Gyekye, K., ‘The Akan concept of a person’, International Philosophical Quarterly, XVIII, iii (1978), 286.Google Scholar

129 Sperber, D., ‘Anthropology and psychology: towards an epidemiology of representations’, Man, new series, xx (1084), 86.Google Scholar See also the same author's On Anthropological Knowledge (Cambridge and Paris, 1985).Google Scholar

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Komfo Anokye of Asante: Meaning, History and Philosophy in an African Society
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Komfo Anokye of Asante: Meaning, History and Philosophy in an African Society
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Komfo Anokye of Asante: Meaning, History and Philosophy in an African Society
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