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Akan Social Organization

par Phil Bartle, PhD

This is a collection of papers and essays which belong to the study of the social organization of the Akan. It is not a unified or cohesive set, for the subject is huge and could not be covered in a web site like this.

Files in the Social Organization set:

Noir Apoma; is an ethnographic report of the sacred black linguist staff, its role in Kwawu beliefs and political ritual, and the libation poured to it every six weeks on Akwasidae, at the matrilineal home of the chief okyeame and the other six acheame of the Obo chief, prior to the libation poured to the sacred black stool in the Chief's palace.

L'étude de Cas , Akan Sociology; is a description of the matrilineal family and kinship system of the Akan (based on research in Obo, Kwawu) aimed at sociology of the family students as part of the family and kinship module.

Correspondence; is a collection of email messages, mainly with researchers for the Refugee Board of Canada, trying to determine if claims for asylum seekers were legitimate. The Akan have historically had an enmity with Islam, and strongly opposed any circumcision (male or female) although some claimants, for example, used fear of FGM as a reason to seek asylum in Canada.

Dissimulée de la Gynécocratie; uses Sjaak van der Geest's term, which indicates that Akan women have more power, prestige, wealth and independence than they let on (keeping the status covered, or covert). This is common in matrilineal societies. Almost two hundred years of proselytizing by European missionaries, who wished to see Akan women more subservient to their fathers and husbands (they brought more than the gospel of the New Testament), has not removed this element of modern Akan society.

Le mariage entre cousins croisés. In matrilineal societies there are several types of cross cousin marriage, and this paper looks at some which are used by the Akan.

Une Communauté Dispersée (Résumé); This is a two page abstract of the 500 page PhD thesis for the University of Ghana. It sketches the ethnographic description of the community of Obo, including its members dispersed by cyclical migration.

Quarante Jours; Some elements of Akan culture originate from the prior patrilineal Guan people, while other elements came with the arrival of the matrilineal Akan. This fusion is well illustrated by the combination of the Guan six day week and the Akan seven day week, to make the ritual forty two day (adaduanan, "40" days) cycle, on which all Akan ceremonies are based, and which is more important than the lunar month (bosome),

Kwasi Bruni. The ethnic nick name for European males, Kwasi Bruni, is linked to the importation of maize from Central America by the Portuguese, and to the European habit of celebrating Sundays as the sabbath.

Pêle-mêle d'observations. This is an eclectic group of observations which do not fit anywhere else.

Trois âmes. The three sacred and primary colours, red, white and black, are used to describe Akan cosmology, linking the red soul, female matrilineal, danger, land, blood, the white soul, male, patrilineal, morals, semen. water, caves and bones, and black soul, breath, destiny, time, air, wind and change, in individuals and the universe.

Bibliographie; A list of publications and papers.

Liens Internet; Web pages are notorious for disappearing. An attempt is made here to identify web sites which tell more about the social organization of the Akan.

Pourquoi Obo? Research for the dispersed community of Obo included participatory observation, household survey, collecting oral histories, examining archival documents and a variety of methods. Why I chose Obo (or why Obo chose me) for research is described here.

The documents in this set range from superficial and descriptive to technical and analytical If you have questions about any of them, please write.

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© Droits d'auteur 1967, 1987, 2007 Phil Bartle
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Mise à jour : 13.10.2014

 Études des peuples akan