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In My Time of DyingA History of Death and the Dead in West Africa$
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John Parker

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780691193151

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691193151.001.0001

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Speaking of Death

Speaking of Death

Chapter:
(p.42) 3 Speaking of Death
Source:
In My Time of Dying
Author(s):

John Parker

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691193151.003.0004

The chapter highlights the rise of the Asante forest kingdom and what oral histories of that epochal event have to say about death, dying and the dead. It focuses on an aspect of Akan mortuary culture touched on in the previous chapters: the ways in which death was spoken about or, as was often the case, not spoken about. Asante tradition records that the kingdom was forged by the combined genius of two men: Osei Tutu, the omanhene of Kumasi and then the first Asantehene, and Komfo Anokye, the ritual specialist or 'priest' (okomfo) Anokye; these two were ably assisted by a third figure, the military commander Amankwatia. Theirs is a history that was familiar throughout Asante across the centuries, one endlessly recounted at firesides alongside the mythic cycles of odamankomasem and anansesem and the traditions of settlement of families, clans and stools. Yet it is a history that is characterized too by silences, contradictions and interpretive complexities.

Keywords:   Asante forest kingdom, death, Akan, mortuary culture, Asante, odamankomasem, anansesem, Osei Tutu, okomfo, Amankwatia

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