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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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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 18 May 2022

Human Sacrifice

Human Sacrifice

(p.139) 9 Human Sacrifice
In My Time of Dying

John Parker

Princeton University Press

This chapter recounts the broader Akan world's or Asante's human sacrifice. It notes that the practice, as established by Law, was widespread in those parts of the West African coastal and forest zones largely untouched by Islam, both in powerful states such Benin, Dahomey and Asante and among non-centralized peoples such as the Igbo in present-day southeastern Nigeria. The chapter presents evidence suggesting that human sacrifice may well have increased in magnitude in the era of the Atlantic slave trade, as increasing levels of militarization and accumulation generated new forms of violence, predation and consumption. The earliest evidence for human sacrifice in the region, however, came from the Gold Coast itself, where, as elsewhere in West Africa, it was identified as an integral part of mortuary customs for the wealthy and powerful. The chapter then shows seventeenth-century accounts about the slaves who composed the majority of those immolated at royal funerals. It also explores how the self-sacrifice of certain individuals served on the early Akan states.

Keywords:   Asante, human sacrifice, Atlantic slave trade, Gold Coast, West Africa, mortuary customs, Akan states

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