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Asafo-A Political-Military Institution of the Akan

Asafo-A Political-Military Institution of the Akan

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Published by Rbg Street Scholar
Asafotufiam Procession
http://youtu.be/Duq_gzxiet4
Asafotufiam Procession
http://youtu.be/Duq_gzxiet4

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Published by: Rbg Street Scholar on Jul 07, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/24/2013

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RBG Blakademics July, 20121
What Does
 Asafo Mean?
” 
 
The
asafo
is a political-military institution of the Akan. Even though its social andpolitical functions have been well documented, the expressive and aesthetic cultureof the Asafo institution has received limited scholarly attention (de Graft Johnson, 1932;Fortes and Evans-Pritchard, 1940;Datta and Porter, 1971; and Sutherland- Addy, 1998).Sutherland-Addy(1998, p. 90), for example, suggests that "the rhetoric, libations, historical songs and chants, praise-poetry, legends and dramatexts may now be examined with a view to demonstrating how they provide thetexture, context, impact and value of historical fact" that mark the
asafo
institution.Even though the Akan societies, had no standing army, the
asafo
- i.e., a people'smilitia - was a well established social and political organization based on martialprinciples. Every able-bodied person belonged to an
asafo
group; every childautomatically belonged to his or her father's company.Internal sub-divisions within an individual company included the main fightingbody, the scouts, reserves, and the minstrel unit whose main job it was to singpatriotic and war songs to boost the morale of the military.
 
 
 
RBG Blakademics July, 20122
Asafotufiam Procession
The video below represents the annual festival celebrated by the people of Adacommemorates the victories of the Ada warriors and honours those who diedduring battle. The historic events are re-enacted with ritual battles between men incolorful fighting gear.
ASAFO MEMBERS
The
asafo
companies forming the national army wereorganized into main fighting divisions thus:
adonten
 (vanguard - main body under the
adontenhene
),
twafo
 (advance guard),
kyidom
(rearguard - under the
kyidomhene
),
nifa
(right wing under the
nifahene
),
benkum
(left wing underthe
benkumhene
),
akwansra
(scouting division),
ankobea
 (home guard under the
ankobeahene
), and
gyaase
(the king'sbodyguard under the
gyaasehene
).
 
 
RBG Blakademics July, 20123
ASAFO MEMBERS IN THEIR COLORFUL COMPANY OUTFIT
 Asafo
companies were also differentiated bythe different colors of headgear and hairstylesworn by members, exclusive drums, hornsand other musical instruments, appellations,and emblems. Other units within the maindivisions included
afonasoafoo
(the carriersof spears and shields),
sumankwaafoo
(theherbalists and medicine men), and the
asokwafo
(heralds).
 Asafo
companies existedin all the Akan states.In Asante, the national
asafo
was commanded by the Asantehene, but two generals,the
kurontire
and
akwamu
, were the military leaders. The Fantse went a stepfurther by incorporating some European customs in their Asafo companies.The typical
 Asafo
company in a Fantse township, according toAggrey(1978), washeaded by the
Tufohene
, the military advisor to the chief of the township. Next inline is the
 Asafobaatan
.
Supi
was the commanding officer, while the divisionalcaptain within a company was called the
Safohene
(for the male) or
 Asafoakyere
 (for the female). Other ranks in the
 Asafo
were the
 Asafokomfo
(the priest),
okyerema
- head of the
akyeremafo
(the drummers),
 frankaakitani
(flag bearer),
sekanboni
(sword maker),
okyeame
(spokesperson or linguist), and
abrafoo
(policeofficers) and
adumfoo
(executioners).
Abrafoo - Executioners

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