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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, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 24 January 2022

Northern Frontiers

Northern Frontiers

(p.277) 17 Northern Frontiers
In My Time of Dying

John Parker

Princeton University Press

This chapter recounts the early life and death of Gandah, a naa or 'chief', of Birifu, a dispersed settlement of traditional mud-walled compounds located near the bank of the Black Volta River in the northwestern corner of the Northern Territories of the Gold Coast. It narrates the final stages of Gandah's life as a renowned healer and accumulator of ritual 'medicines'. The chapter investigates how Gandah's story encapsulated key themes in the history of death and the dead in the Northern Territories in the first half of the twentieth century. This was a region that was in many ways quite distinct from the Akan forest and Gold Coast to the south. Historically, connections between the Akan world and the peoples of the middle Volta savannas did exist. Yet in terms of ecology, culture and political structure, the savanna, as the Akan perceived it, was another realm. The chapter outlines the emergence of a complex of kingdoms forged by horse-riding migrants who from the fifteenth century entered the savannas of the Volta basin straddling present-day Burkina Faso and northern Ghana.

Keywords:   Gandah, Birifu, Northern Territories, Akan forest, Gold Coast, savanna, Volta basin

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