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- Volume 2006, Issue sup-7, 2006
Institute of African Studies Research Review - Supplement 7, January 2006
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Supplement 7, January 2006
The Accra Plains c. AD 1400 - 1800 overview of trade, politics and culture from the perspective of historical archaeologyAuthor James AnquandahSource: Institute of African Studies Research Review 2006, pp 1 –20 (2006)More Less
This paper discusses the canons of Historical Archaeology research methods as employed by western scholars, in which there is heavy reliance on European written sources and abundant data from datable archaeological remains of foreign imports. However, it argues for the formulation of a peculiar Sub-Saharan African variant of the discipline's research method which emphasises use of ethnohistories and ethnoarchaeology alongside normal archaeological excavation principles, as well as a rather subdued measure of archival documentation. <br>The paper demonstrates synthesis of multi-source data for elucidating trends in the development of European-African mercantilism, urbanism, state formation, indigenous cultural complexes in the Accra Plains in c. AD 1400-1800.
Author Osman AlhassanSource: Institute of African Studies Research Review 2006, pp 21 –35 (2006)More Less
Documentary evidence and oral sources of information describe the Accra Plains as a traditional vibrant economy as early as in the 13th century. Exposure to the outside world through early slave merchants, missionary work, and other commercial interests including colonisation created not only an added impetus for trade, but also resulted in the intensification of environmental resource utilisation namely, food crop production and rearing of domestic animals, hunting bush meat, iron mining and metal works, vivacious local architecture that went along with settlement expansion, and improving fishing technologies. <br>This article looks at the major land use patterns in early Accra around the 14th to the end of the 18th centuries. It relates land use practices to both natural endowments as well as technologies around that time, and argues that Accra was already a competitive place and commanded an honoured place among its neighbours. The likely impact of these land use patterns of the environment is explored, giving indications that land degradation was quite minimal. It concludes with a note that unlike present day Accra, where urban developments have overshadowed Accra's potential for food production, the area was a food basket for its people as well as its neighbours.
Author M.E. Kropp DakubuSource: Institute of African Studies Research Review 2006, pp 37 –54 (2006)More Less
This paper explores what linguistic research can tell us about the earliest history of the Ga and the Dangme languages: how they came to develop as separate languages, and where their early speakers may have come from. Hypotheses proposed in earlier writings by this author are refined. In addition, linguistic evidence is applied to develop hypotheses about several aspects of Ga-Dangme culture in earliest times, in particular the major food plants, the counting system and the calendar.
Author J. Boachie-AnsahSource: Institute of African Studies Research Review 2006, pp 55 –89 (2006)More Less
Finds from excavations at Wodoku and Ladoku, the original home of the Nungwa and La people respectively are described, and their implications for the archaeology of the Accra Plains, particularly as they relate to the pottery sequence, Ga-Dangme origins, chronology of settlements, economy and subsistence practices are discussed.
Author Brempong Osei-TutuSource: Institute of African Studies Research Review 2006, pp 91 –106 (2006)More Less
The paper examines the links between the social groups on the Akuapem ridge and the Shai area, who occupy contrasting landscapes. Oral, ethnographic, historical and archaeological evidence suggests that agricultural produce from the Akuapem ridge was exchanged for pottery from the Shai area. Sixteenth and seventeenth century pottery on the Akuapem ridge provides strong archaeological evidence for the socioeconomic links between the two landscapes. These interactions, which led to word borrowing on both sides, did not, however, result in significant sociopolitical influences. The dominant Akan community exerted the greatest influence on the groups.
Author Selena Axelrod WinsnesSource: Institute of African Studies Research Review 2006, pp 111 –120 (2006)More Less
For more than two centuries Europeans lived and worked on the Gold Coast, and wrote a number of books upon their return to their homelands. These books were descriptions of the authors' experiences, observations of virtually all facets of life among the Africans with whom they had come into contact. For Accra, it is the works of the Danes that would be of greatest interest for descriptions of early Accra and its surrounds. <br>One of these Danes, Johannes Rask, was the chaplain at Christiansborg 1708-13. He, too, wrote of many aspects of life in early Accra. He was keenly observant, and wrote extensively on many matters: religious worship, marriage customs, burial customs, rituals around childbirth, celebrations, healing, and much about plants and animals. I shall cull examples of the rules of comportment, rituals at rites of passage and at annual celebrations, and recreation. <br>As did others, Rask makes attempts at explaining rites, symbols, gestures. These analyses are as seen through the eyes of a Lutheran minister, or based on what he was told.
Author Kwame Amoah LabiSource: Institute of African Studies Research Review 2006, pp 121 –136 (2006)More Less
The fifteenth to nineteenth centuries produced some interesting art works in the coastal areas occupied by the Ga people. The Ga despite their occupation of the low lying Plains of Accra displayed skills in utilising the available clay in establishing themselves as a major producer of pottery. Contrary to their inland neighbours, the Akans, who had more variety of natural resources, and a political structure which encouraged the production and use of art, the presence of European trading nations created new dynamics for architectural innovation, art and craft production, and acquisition of new skills by Ga craftsmen and women. This influenced and affected social life and its accompanying culture. The coastal lands became a strategic market place for trade in both European goods and local wares and products, and the Ga actively engaged in this by selling works such as pottery which they were noted for producing. The history of the Ga has therefore not only been determined by their natural environment and political structure but also by their contacts with other cultures in combination with their own local skills and willingness to adapt to change.
Author Abraham AkrongSource: Institute of African Studies Research Review 2006, pp 137 –147 (2006)More Less
The paper deals with the historical and social circumstances that led to the evolution of the peculiar structure of the Ga political system, which articulates the Ga political philosophy and theory of power relations. The theory of Ga politics, which has been described as graduated authority or diffuse authority expressed in different offices, is a product of the historical circumstances that brought about the transition from priestly theocracy to chieftaincy. The evolution of the Ga political authority structure was in response to three important events that have shaped Ga society. These are the separation of the Gas from the Dangmes, and the migration of the Gas to the coast. The transition from priestly theocracy to chiefly rule became necessary as a response to the pressure on the Gas as the middlemen between the merchants on the coast and the other inland groups.
In the shadow of Christiansborg : architectural history and genealogy of the Okantey Trading House at Danish OsuSource: Institute of African Studies Research Review 2006, pp 149 –161 (2006)More Less
The Christiansborg Castle, built by the Danes in 1661 at Osu, has an interesting history as an architectural entity. Emerging out of its original roots in the old Portuguese Ursu lodge (1640), and the Swedish fort (1652), it went through different constructional phases to become a fortress with a commanding architectural presence. <br>It began to dominate the landscape in the surround of the indigenous huts and houses built by the local trading families and their mulattoe relations. Besides being the headquarters building of the Danish colonial administration and trading activities on the Guinea Coast, Christiansborg served its function well as an architectural contraption for self-defence, domination and exploitation of the natives, as well as a means of abuse of human rights of the several slaves, who sojourned in its courtyards, warehouses and dungeons. <br>In 1753 one of the Danish sojourning Governors, Carl Engmann built an underground water cistern with a baroque style in the courtyard of the Christiansborg. The power of the architectural presence of this baroque architectural detail was transmitted into one of the indigenous slave houses as a replica. This house, located today at Osu Agblanshi in the old sections of Danish Osu, belongs to the Okantey family. <br>This paper discusses the architectural history of this slave-house, located nearby, on the north-east of Christianborg. It further explores the genealogy of the various groups of people who have been associated with this indigenously built slave house, which derived its spirit and form from the architecture of Christiansborg. The paper concludes with some reflections on lessons of meta-physical and moral consequences of the practice of slavery in Danish Osu.
Source: Institute of African Studies Research Review 2006, pp 163 –169 (2006)More Less
One is not certain what form of apparel the Ga-Adangme developed for themselves for day to day as well as for ceremonial clothing, before their encounter with the Portuguese in the mid or late 15th century. However, archival materials obtained from accounts of persons who visited the Guinea Coast in the 18th Century, such as Roemer and Isert, give vivid description of a well-developed dress-culture.
One striking item of apparel shown in archival drawings, referred to in the accounts of both Roemer and Isert, is the silk loin-cloth known as tεklε. According to the detailed description of Isert, there were different styles and manner of ways of donning on this silk loin-cloth (sliki tεklε). For men, the tεklε ends hung down both in front and behind the lower part of the body. For women, the tεklε ends were rolled up into a ball, which took a saddle-like form, known by the Ga as atofo. This apparel persisted in the Ga dress-culture, until it was replaced by the Portuguese influenced underwear called pioto amongst men.
The paper explores the historical evolution of the sliki tεklε as a funerary men's underwear and seeks to establish its socio-cultural significance for the Ga people.