This chapter explores the cultural register of poison and poisoning on the Gold Coast and in its forest hinterland. European apprehension about guileful native poisoners is certainly part of this story, but as the chapter argues, these anxieties, far from simply being febrile orientalist imaginings, were in part derived from African perceptions of the quotidian ubiquity of poison — both medicinal and magical. The chapter investigates its cultural terrain by way of a sequence of episodes beginning at Accra in 1745, moving to the Asante court at Kumasi in the 1790s to 1810s, and then back to the Gold Coast in the mid-nineteenth century, when accusations of poisoning began to emerge in British colonial courts. Ultimately, the chapter studies the spectrum of vernacular concepts encapsulated by the term 'poison'. It then examines the poison in the Akan world and its discrete materiality and an extensive and unstable semantic range.
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