Asante and the Akan and Mossi States

Pashington Obeng

in African Studies

ISBN: 9780199846733
Published online March 2015 | | DOI:
Asante and the Akan and Mossi States

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Studies of the Asante, Akan, and Mossi show the importance of migration, language, identity, polity, trade, and state expansion. Earlier works focused exclusively on either the Akan and the Asante as a subgroup or the Mossi. The current scholarly literature from various disciplines provides valuable insights into the evolution of West African societies, including their origins and migratory practices, as well as their cultural practices, how cultures interacted, and the ways in which discrete communities might have emerged as states or declined. The contemporary scholarship further expands its scope to address how imperial power, inheritance systems, gender, spirituality, and royal authority were intertwined in the West African region before and during migrations of the various groups. The West African groups on which attention has focused include the Akan of contemporary Ghana. Akan society consists of numerous subgroups, including the Asante, Fante, Brong, Akyem, Akwapim, Akwamu, Kwahu, Aowin, Wassa, Assin, Denkyira, Sewhi, and Adansi. Some Akan are also found in present-day Ivory Coast. Views on the origins of the Akan vary. While some earlier scholars suggested that the Akan and, by implication, the Asante originated in the vicinity of Ethiopia or the Niger-Chad region (Dupuis 1966, originally published in 1824, cited under Accounts by Non-Ghanaians) or Libya, Adu Boahen contends that based on linguistic and oral traditions and on archaeological evidence, the Akan might have emerged in the Chad-Benue region, the areas around the Lower Volta and middle Niger, the region between the Comoe and the Black Volta and the Pra River and Ofin River basin. Recent scholarship using archaeology and ethnography provides additional information on the debates about the Akan origins. Although the Asante kingdom is often mentioned in West African historiography, the Mossi state also played an important role in the precolonial period. Mossi people are another ethnic group who originally were located in the Mossi plateau in present-day Burkina Faso. Sources among French colonial authorities give some earlier historical data about the history and kingship systems as well as members of the Mossi society. Recent accounts shed further light on the socioeconomic organization and land use among the Mossi. Recent scholars in African studies who focus on dispersal of people have contended that the Mossi settled in areas such as Ouahigouya, Kongoussi, Kaya, Koudougou, Ougadougou, Manga, Tenkodogo, Koupela, and Bousla. The scholars argue that the Mossi state once constituted a strong kingdom that resisted the spread of Islam during its initial expansionary period. Mossi and Bamana formed the powerful Segu kingdom, which also flourished along the Saharan trade routes. The Mossi states were known for inland trading activities around the Niger River, where the ancient West African empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay flourished. When the trans-Saharan trade began to be eclipsed by European trade with West African states such as the Fante, Asante and the Brong, the Mossi shifted their trading ventures as they settled among the Asante and other societies south of their premigration locations.

Article.  16148 words. 

Subjects: African History ; African Languages ; African Music ; African Philosophy ; African Studies

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