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By T. C. McCaskie

An account of the lifetime of a Ghanaian village in the course of a century of tumultuous switch, this examine is usually a richly textured microhistory and an exploration of the meanings of background and modernity in an African context. The years 1850-1950 witnessed numerous momentous and transformative advancements in Asante background, together with British annexation and colonial overrule. In Asante Identities,
T. C. McCaskie offers a nuanced examine of this period 'from below,' targeting the standard lives of commoners in Adeebeba, an autonomous village that was once engulfed by way of the growth of town of Kumase within the twentieth century. He tells this tale during the phrases of the villagers themselves, drawing on existence histories amassed by way of the Ashanti Social Survey within the Nineteen Forties.

McCaskie presents a deep cultural analyzing that levels over problems with selfhood and group and their influence at the colonial event. His dialogue touches on questions of identification, trust, strength, cash, rights, responsibilities, gender, sexuality, and lots more and plenty extra. the result's a ebook compelling in either its old element and its analytic sophistication.

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Sample text

He was understood to have entered into his own and was entitled to say ‘I have made a cap for myself now’ (ma ye kyew ma fa) in affirmation of that fact. Reign and rule were now synchronised and the new Asantehene was seen to be acting in a dispensation of his own making that set him apart and distinguished him from his predecessor(s). The Asantehene Kwaku Dua took a decade over this process. Enstooled in 1834, he spent the first ten years of his incumbency asserting his legitimate right to rule in the face of scurrilities concerning his descent; during this time he confronted his critics and suppressed his foes, real or imagined.

Numbers are impossible to establish and identities are elusive. It is known that some of the early settlers themselves acquired individual slaves, but the details are sparse. The best-documented case involved two sons of the pioneer Kwasi Yentumi, the custodian of the atwere shrine. These two were sent by Kwasi Brantuo (or perhaps his successor in office) to trade kola for shea butter in the northern savanna. At Yendi in Dagomba they acquired two slaves, a man and a girl, and brought them back to Ade∑beba.

The effects of these traumas on Kwaku Dua were evident to contemporaries. As an adult and as an Asantehene he was wary, aloof, prickly, capricious, autocratic and, above all else, trusting of very few people. An estimate of his character supplied by Asante witnesses shows us the ruler and is richly suggestive in relation to the background that formed the man. It was reported that [T]he circumstances of his father belonging to the humbler classes is said to have been not without its effects on King Quaku Duah’s conduct both as a sovereign and as the Head of the Royal Family of Ashantee.

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