Religion and Chieftaincy in Ghana: An explanation of the persistence of a traditional political institution in West Africa 

Published With Lit Verlag: Http://Ww.lit-Verlag.de/Isbn/3-643-90360-0

This book is the result of extensive historical and empirical research in the Kumasi Metropolis in Ghana (West Africa). Ghana is a modern nation-state with a secular government. Parallel to this post-colonially rooted political institution; a number of sacred pre-colonially rooted institutions of chieftaincy rule the country. Among them, due to its clear hierarchical structure and high sanctity, the Asante institution is most prominent. Since the pre-colonial period, Asante chiefs and queen mothers have derived their authority from a religious source. Traditionally, they perceive themselves as servants of the ancestral spirits, from whom they receive the divine power to rule by occupying a ‘stool’ (throne). This power enables them to mediate between the spiritual beings and the community and to take care of their wellbeing. Also, since pre-colonial times, traditional Asante authorities have performed as religious peacekeepers as they have managed both religiously and socially to maintain a relationship of balanced tension between Asante indigenous practitioners, Muslims and Christians within the community.

This book raises the following two questions. First, to what extent do the present day Asante traditional authorities still have a religious mediatory function? To answer this question the author looks at characteristics of this role in the pre-colonial and colonial period. She also studies four different Asante indigenous religious rituals that have recently been performed in the Kumasi Metropolis: the Asanteman Adae Kese festival, a royal pre-burial ritual, a ritual of pouring of libation and a chief’s installation ritual. The author researches whether Asante Indigenous Religion is present in these rituals and whether there is a formal or informal relationship with the Asante persistence of chieftaincy. This provides insight into to what extent the role of the Asante traditional authorities is still that of religious intermediation in the performance of those rituals. The second question is how Asante chiefs and queen mothers have operated as religious peacekeepers and how this role still contributes to the persistence of Asante chieftaincy. The answer lies in the demonstration of the persistent uniqueness of Asante chieftaincy as a religious pluralistic peacekeeping body in today’s Kumasi Metropolis.

The author concludes that Asante traditional authorities in the Metropolis still fulfil a significant role as both religious mediators and religious peacekeepers. This phenomenon offers an explanation for the persistence of Asante chieftaincy in this ancient capital of the Asante Kingdom and its surrounding areas. The role of the Asante chiefs and queen mothers as religious peacekeepers also provides a model for peaceful coexistence in more conflicted areas in West Africa, such as Nigeria, and in the rest of Africa.

 

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