Asafo and Destoolment in Colonial Southern Ghana, 1900-1953 Author(s): Anshan Li Source: The International Journal of African

Historical Studies, Vol. 28, No. 2 (1995), pp. 327357 Published by: Boston University African Studies Center Stable URL: Accessed: 08/07/2009 22:53
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 to build trusted digital archives for scholarship. We work with the scholarly community to preserve their work and the materials they rely upon, and to build a common research platform that promotes the discovery and use of these resources. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

Boston University African Studies Center is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The International Journal of African Historical Studies.

The International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol. 28, No. 2 (1995)







The studyof the politicalhistoryof colonial Ghanahas generallyfocused on two indigenouspolitical forces: the chiefs' involvementin the struggleagainstor the collaboration withthe government, andtherole of Western-educated in the Africans movement.1 This interpretation, however,seems to be emergenceof the nationalist only partof the story.Storiesthatfocus on the chiefs or on educatedAfricanscannot explain a widespreadpolitical phenomenon: undercolonial rule chiefs were or frequentlydeposed by commoners, "youngmen,"organizedas asafo companies. Althoughin recent years therehave been some significantstudieson local politics and the role of the commoners,especially in some Ph.D. dissertations,2 there are still issues to be studiedand fit into both the historyof the nationalist movementandthe widerframeof Ghanaian history.

* This paper was originally presentedat the twenty-firstannual conference of the Canadian Association of African Studies in 1992. My thanks to M. Klein, J. Barker, G. Mikell, and J. Addo-Fening for their suggestions. The critical comments of three anonymous reviewers on an early version were most helpful. The errors,of course, remainmine. 1For example, MartinWight argued that there were two indigenous political forces in the colony: the native rulers and the educated class. Martin Wight, The Gold Coast Legislative Council (London, 1946), 181. D. Kimble has mentioned the commoners'role in local politics in his classic work. Yet by arguing that the indigenous chieftaincy was threatenedby the educated of governmentwas out of date,"he treatsboth chiefs young men, "who felt that the old apparatus and the educatedmuch more systematically.D. Kimble, A Political History of Ghana, 1850-1928 (Oxford, 1963), 458. In his Danquah lecture, Robert K.A. Gardiner used such a title for one section: "Reactionsto BritishRule-The Chiefs and Intelligentsia,"TheRole of EducatedPersons in Ghana Society (Accra, 1970), 20. There is a similar tendency in African historiography.This "elite history" has been recognized and criticized by some African historians. See E. Ayandele, AfricanHistorical Studies (London, 1979), 1-18. 2For example, E.Y. Twumasi, "Aspects of Politics in Ghana, 1923-39: A Study of the RelationshipBetween Discontent and Development of Nationalism"(D. Phil. dissertation,Oxford University, 1971); J. Simensen, "Commoners,Chiefs and Colonial Government:British Policy and Local Politics in Akim Abuakwa, Ghana, under Colonial Rule" (Ph.D. thesis, University of Trondheim,1975); and R. Addo-Fening, "AkyemAbuakwac. 1874-1943: A Study of the Impact of Missionary Activities and Colonial Rule on a TraditionalSociety" (Ph.D. thesis, University of Ghana, 1980).



Destoolment was widespread in colonial southern Ghana between 1900 and the early 1950s, as a traditional means to check a chiefs violation of the oath of office.3 Considering the changes in the position of traditionalleaders and the policy of indirect rule, it is not surprising that the destoolments were mainly launched by the Asafo company, an indigenous organization that represented the interests of the common people. In this article, the phenomenon will be studied comprehensively, with emphasis on the mechanism of asafo and its linkage with destoolment. I will argue that the colonial government destroyed democratic features of traditional chieftaincy and made it less possible for the commoners to participate in local politics. The asafo company therefore took on the responsibility of guarding their interests and became the main instrument for mass political action in the southern Ghana. Asafo: Its Features and Functions

Among the Akan people, the warrior organization known as asafo (osa, war, fo, people) is found in almost every town or village. This system has also been introduced to the Ga, the Krobo, the Guan, and some other ethnic groups. J. D. De Graft Johnson, a colonial officer who was a Fante himself, once described the system: Asafu is primarily a warrior organization and is the name given to all male adults banded together for any purpose, particularly war. In its wider sense it is a socio-politico-military organization embracing both men and women, including stool-holders or persons holding In its narrower sense the Asafu connotes the third positions.... estate, or common people, which socially goes by the nomenclature of Kwasafu, sometimes also described or referred to, politically, as mbrantsie, or "young men" to distinguish them from the mpanyinfu, chiefs and elders.4 Here Johnson distinguished two kinds of asafo, one in general and one in particular. Our interest however, is in the second, the asafo in its narrow sense. So far, the studies on the asafo company system suggest that historians have been more conGhana hadfourparts: theGoldCoastColony,Asante, Northern 3Colonial and Territories,
the British MandatedTogoland. The area covered by this article includes the Gold Coast Colony and Asante (unless otherwise indicated),where mainly the Akan live. In Akan political culture,the

the soulor spiritof thecommunity. stoolrepresents sense,the Everystatehasa stool.In abstract of a chief, thus"enstoolment," stool is the symbolof authority the installation of a chief, and thedeposition of a chief.Chiefsin thenorthern sit on leather "destoolment," partof Ghana puffs
and "de-skinned." (skins), the symbol of chiefly authority.So they are "skinned" 4J.D. De GraftJohnson, "TheFante Asafu,"Africa 5, 3 (1932), 308.

the commander of all the asafo companies was called tufuhene (captain-general).A. 2 (1972).C. Field.c. "The Asafo System in HistoricalPerspective. Chukwukere. 1. when there were company perfor- 5T. ADM11/1136. 449. "TheCompany System in the Cape Coast Castle. Canadian Journal Studies 8:1 (1974)."R. 164-93. medicines. 218. as an appointeeof the chief and his elders. . Simensen.ThePositionof the Chiefin the Modern Political System of Ashanti (London. 11/1919." of African Asafoof Kwahu. 56/1918. however." and T. 6For original documents. "Fromthe last quarterof the nineteenth century. "KwahuAgogo Land Dispute. K. 9-10. Other asafo leaders. ANA9/1920. akwasontsein Ga. the post is held by a hereditaryOhin of a division. I. "Asafo: Origin and the Powers of". horns. The equivalentsof the Fanti tufuheneare in Asante. were also chosen or approved by the members of the company.Ghana:A Mass Movement for Local ReformUnder Colonial Rule. was liable to dismissal by them. the asafo company had its own flag." 22.383-406. Porter. as they were usually called. Stone."Journal of the African Society 7 (1907-8)."Perspectiveon the Asafo Institutionin Southern Ghana. 39-47. caps. and asafoakyein Akyem. Economy and Society 3." See his article. but the office now tends to become hereditaryand in one state. Case no." The Gold Coast Review 2:2 (1927). ADM11/1/712. 88/1913.) ADM11/1/1393. at least. emblems and its own post. A. where all its paraphernalia were kept. Johnson. the rallying place of the company.7 All able-bodied males. (This file contains materialsof the Asafo in Asante Akym. 1951). drums. BanbataNative Affairs." 7ArthurFfoulkes. ADM1l/1311. see Ghana National Archives. "Kwahu Asafo".Akim-Kotoku An Oman of African of the Gold Coast (London. "RuralMass Action in the Context of Anticolonial Protest: The Asafo Movement of AkimAbuakwa.. Busia. Datta and R.27-34. "Akyem Abuakwa. "The Ghana. "Protest:Traditionand Change: An Analysis of Southern Gold Coast Riots. "Protest: Tradition and Change-A Critique. But in Akyem Abuakwa. "TheSignificance of Some Akan Titles." Economy and Society. 1874-1943.M. 1 (1974). 261-77. Johnson's reply. ADM11/1/738."InternationalJournal Historical Studies 8:3 (1975). 279-297. we seem to have enough information about the system as a whole to be able to describe its main features.25-41. It also had its own fetish.5 Since there are both published and unpublished case studies.1948).9 Each asafo held an annual custom.6 Originally a military organization. and priests. 1890-1920. In Fante. Each asafo had its own leader. "Destoolment". the asafoakye."Journal of African Studies 7:1 (1980). Case no. except the chief and the elders.ASAFO AND DESTOOLMENT 329 cemed with its origins or its changing impact on local politics.. R.8 His appointment was originally by popular choice. while sociologists and anthropologists have treated it as a social institution.."Journal of AfricanHistory 12:2 (1971). the appointmentof the tufuhene "was originally by popularchoice. stressing its patrilineal character complementary to the matrilineage. AddoFening. J. song. nkwankwaahene 9According to J. 8The titles of asafo leaders vary in differentareas. there is evidence of asafo asserting the right to choose their own leaders and merely presentingthem to the Chief and his Councillorsfor confirmation. Case no. were members of the asafo. Case no. 84-105. De Graft Johnson. like captains.

J. Gold Coast and Asianti Reader Book I (London. 1983). the asafo company's fundamental characteristics are indigenous.Double Descent Among the Fanti (New Haven.Kwame Arhin. Brown. 1974). 93. Fortheroleof women. providing them with war medicines and weapons. n. 107-26. De Graft Johnson. Early History of the Akan State of Ghana (Lopdon.W. See J." Africa 37 (1967). E.Kwame Oppong. "Diffuse Authority Among the Coastal Fanti. In addition. 96.111-12. 68.14 Thirdly. One view holds that the asafo is indigenous to Fante society. several generalizations can be made from the available evidence. "The see alsoChristensen.S. 11It is recorded that a woman was once elected as tufuhene. 14Meyerowitzsuggests that the Fante borrowedthe asafo system from the Effutu.11 There are various interpretations of the origin of the asafo."GhanaNotes and Queries 9 (1966)."279-97. it is necessary to distinguish different kinds of asafo to avoid any confusion. the history of its introduction and spread is not clear. although the contact with Europeans might have influence upon its formation or adaptation. anotherGold Coast scholar. Two main schools have offered their explanations. who usually took charge of cooking and domestic arrangements. R. Wartemberg. Porterand Datta.). 197-217. 217-18. But Kwame Arhin argues that the asafo companies had their origin in the slave trade.Sao Jorge d'El Mina. Danquah.330 ANSHAN LI mances. Second.).15 Moreover. the asafo 10B. the Christian congregation and dancing and playing clubs formed by youngsters are all called asafo. 91-98.13 However. 13Thereason might be that the asafo was claiming political rights that would challenge their authority. it seems to have appeared among the Fante first.12 Lack of evidence prevents us from making a definite conclusion. Women.P. since the word "asafo" has multiple meanings.d. Wyllie. chiefs were reluctant to accept the asafo as an indigenous organization and everyone claimed to have borrowed the asafo from someone else.Asafo leaders might have been local wealthy merchants. while the other attributes its origin to the presence of early Europeans. Captaincies descended from father to eldest son. but others hold different views. also suggested that asafo was indigenous. Aboakyer 15For example. Brown.81-85. All affairs in the asafo were managed on patrilineal lines. thought that the asafo originated during the FantiAshanti wars with the help of the Dutch.d.10 Occasionally there were women captains. A father trained his sons in all possible skills of war." Descent. Premier West African Settlement(Ilfracome. A Critique of Meyerowitz's of theEffutu: "The Account.P.n. Porterand Datta maintainthat the asafo is indigenous to various Akan peoples.B.Their view seems to be more convincing. 53. Christensen." Double Significance in Christina "The Political andMilitary Rolesof Akan Arhin. KarikariAkyempo.J. First. 1954). Gold Coast Akan Laws and Customs and the . See E.Female and Male in WestAfrica (London. Meyerowitz. of SomeAkanTitles. See EJ. J. Deer Hunt Festival of the Effutus (Accra. 12Wartemberg. but the characterand development of the system have been much influenced by the situationscreated throughcontact with Europeans.a native of Elmina. However. 1929).C. "TheAsafo System.

16 In the Eastern Province. 373-83." (Seminarpaper. Canadian ofAfrican 17The earliest mention of young men and company system of the Eastern Province in the colonial documents was by Traveling CommissionerH. 1888-1935 (London. I. 1923-39. "The Accra Crowd: The Asafo and the Opposition to the Municipal Corporations Ordinance. For Winneba. 36. Case no. Jenkins. For Asante. Then other towns copied from Accra. Addo-Fening.9-13. see Akyempo. Since most accounts are about Fante asafo.EasternProvince. Fortescue. and its organization varies from locality to locality.4 December 1905."The 261-77. For Akyem Abuakwa. Although certain basic features are universal in Akan areas. see D. "Asafo of Kwahu. For example." Journal Studies 24:3(1990). A. 11/1919. For Kwahu. For Accra." System. Social 1973). in Akyem Abuakwa the asafo on the central level consisted of the Amantoo-miensa (the Council of Three Counties) lying within a Ghana: TheAutobiography Constitution Abuakwa Akim (London." 25-41. of theGaPeople(London. Twumasi. Most important. 1965).18There were also different forms of asafo organization. so it would be better to interpret its origin from the perspective of a process of adaptation to social change rather than a stagnant traditional form.Kwame ofKwame Nkrumah(London. Simensen. the termsand songs were all Fante. Field. not only was the organization of asafo copied from the Fante. See ADM11/738.ASAFO AND DESTOOLMENT 331 in various areas might have different origins. "Towardsa Definition of Social Tension in Rural Akan Communities of the High Colonial Period-The Asafo Movement in the Eastern Province and Eastern Asante." 447-59. Owusu.M. which seems to be the best known and fully developed. the asafo seems to have been introduced from the coastal Fante.348-75. M.J. the asafo must have undergone some changes through different periods. Asafu. see E." "Company Fante Asafo: A Re-examination. see Danquah. W. 1924-25. The AshantiUnderthe Prempehs. Uses and Abuses of Political Power (Chicago. 1928)." Africa 42 (1972). 1970).Y.168. differences between asafo companies in Fante and other areas should be noted. In Accra. "Fante 307-22. since it was less elaborated and developed. 1928). Nkrumah. Simensen. Akan Laws and Customs (London. Datta. Sarbah. 40-44. Asante in the Nineteenth Century(London. Asafo: Origin and Powers of. 18p.M.Legon. Tordoff. 119-24.224. For the Effutus. "Akyem Abuakwa. asafo companies assumed a wide variety of institutional forms.Johnson. Confidential. 231-32. Positionof the Chief. enclosed in Secretaryfor Native Affairs to Acting Commissioner. Ffoulkes. "Aspects of Politics in Ghana. the asafo of the Eastern Province and Eastern Asante was by definition a movement among people of low status. see M. Wilks. Deer Hunt Festival. see Busia.University of Ghana. Organization . 9 February1971). for example. 1957). 305-314. 1975). 535-43." 39-44.17 Moreover. Hull in his reportdated 12 September 1898."383406. 16For Fanti asafo. 1968). I should thankJenkinsfor sending me this unpublished article.Fanti National Constitution [1906] (London. "Rural Mass Action. see J.

1986).Rebellion and Social Protest in Africa (London. 1982). 22Casely Hayford. Being AkanLaws and Customs.M." ed. wars between states were frequent. Trade. Banditry. The asafo was importanton account of its religious power to affect people's status in the next world by honoring them at the funeral.19 All these features had political implications. see R. the military origin of the asafo was always stressed. membersof the asafo went to fetch him from his house. 19Danquah.22.21 J. andBanditry GoldCoast. 109-32. To obtain greater mobilization and to provide for an effective supervision in wartime.22 The asafo played an important role in the rituals associated with installation or deposition of a chief.Gold Coast Native Institution[1903] (London. or village were organized into fighting groups. 23After a new chief was elected. 20Theletterwritten by the Mayor See J. The asafo either fought against other states or were responsible for the peace of their own state. They also performed the same duty when a chief was destooled.332 ANSHAN LI seven-mile radius of the capital town. Sarbah.23 They were also involved in other religious activities. But how was this social organization translatedinto a political force that began to challenge the chiefs authority? To explain this transformation. and Politics in SeventeenthCenturyGold Coast (Baltimore. 1970). who had a reputation for fierce fighting between rival asafo companies. It had the right to criticize all acts of the executive and was regarded as representativeof the common people.Fanti CustomaryLaws [1897] (London. of CapeCoastto the ChiefJustice. M. First. fewer inter-company conflicts occurred in the Eastern Province compared with the Fante. D. Field. 21For its early activities. Brokensha. The asafo among the Akan used to be a military force. During annual festivals. then brought him before the assembly. As a farewell to him as a commoner. . 1966). the unified character provided a favorable condition for the involvement of asafo in destoolment. 85-92.20 Second.. 1968). R. Kea. Though the Pax Britannica rendered the military function redundant. 114.W. The commander of asafo companies had to be brave and able to provide some ammunition. all the male members in the state. town. Third.they gave him a last ceremonialflogging and smearedhim with white clay. 136-37.Social Change at Larteh (London. 16-20. Akim-Kotoku. it was easier for them to adapt to the changing situation and meet the new challenge. we have to compare its main functions before and after the establishment of colonial rule. 12-13. 29 November 1859. 181. In the precolonial period. Settlements. Kea. Sarbah and Casely Hayford described the military spirit of the asafo and its operation during early times. 150. Crummey. the asafo performed before the chief in order to show their strength and loyalty. "'IAm Here to Plunderon the in thePre-Nineteenth-Century General Road': Bandits in D.

Brokensha.for they wereresponsible with the chief for any decision. 28Christensen. such as in the building of markets. The asafo leader was officially recognizedas representative he had made to them. 1961). the maintenanceof routes. Uses and Abuses.27Commoners elders would consider any representations measuresissued by the chief. while the elders could could oppose any unpopular not for fearof being accusedof disloyalty.In Fante. 109. or chief. Akim-Kotoku. Peoplebelieve the "playthatyou aregivenhereis the play thatyou will be received The asafo also filled a wide rangeof social functions with in the next world. couldnot be electedas chief. Social Change. The overthe moralsof theirmembers' wives. Having recognized effective way to expresstheiropinion.Without of the commoners. accompaniedby asafo songs. who offered the protection of his conjugal rights. 9-10. They were also involved in witch-hunting. Field.25 calleduponin cases of emergency. to local units whichformedpartof theirroutineduties. Ga when a Ga Mantse (chief) state. but also in all matters asafo members theirapproval. 27-33. the akwasontse was the firstpersonto be told by the eldersthata new chief 24Field.Owusu.or even a chief himself. Debrunner. political had a say not only in the electionof the chief. 149 25They formed huntingteams. 103. the scouts of his company would take the widow to the companypost and question her to see if she was responsible for his death. H. It was to show to the spirit of the dead man that the asafo was concerned about his affairs. The Position of the Chief. Double Descent. 120."' strangeror retrievea drownedperson. They also worked as communal laborers when needed. he who drowns It was accepted thatonly membersof the asafo companies could save a drowning only 'strangers. 27Busia. northof the Winnebadistrict. .Double Descent. They were responsible for the sanitation of the town as well. In Agona.people believed in the "greatAku (rivergod) of the AkoraRiver. Christensen."24 rangingfrom cooperativegroupsprovidinglaborfor public works.ASAFO AND DESTOOLMENT 333 responsiblefor fetchingthe dead body andcarryingit to the town. no.26 asafo also actedas guardians of the asafo was theirrole in the traditional Butthe mostinteresting function a and structure.the Asafo leadershad differentresponsibilities tufuhenewas the next authoritative personafterthe ohene. The tufuhene The Gaasafoakye(the captaincould become a regent. grave digging and so on. 2. When he died. Akim-Kotoku. 145-46. a fire brigade. recognized died. 195.Witchcraftin Ghana (Accra.28 in had a constitutional role the Abuakwa andwas general) Akyem politicalstructure a In as member of the councils. in differentareas.drinkingand dancing. the asafo also performedat the funeral. a candidate affectingthe state. 26A member notified the company of his marriageby presentinghis wife to the assembled company.or a searchpartyto find missing persons.

. 10-11. 81-82. it was universal that through the political role of the asafo an individual could make his opinion heard concerning state affairs. Under colonial rule.Akan and Ga-Adangme Peoples of the Gold Coast (London. Resistance did exist. Under the Trade Roads Ordinance of 1894. that of obtaining labour. 373-74. and the captains of the companies now arrogate to themselves an independence and freedom from restraintwhich formed no part of the original scheme. African Politics and British Policy in the Gold Coast. A colonial official pointed out in 1887: The Colonial Government while destroying the power of the chiefs has left the company organization intact. especially in the field of local politics. 1868-1900 (London. 383. especially against public work. the government issued several ordinances. 1950). 32F. Because of ignorance.29 In Asante the nkwankwaahene represented the interest of commoners or young men (mmerante). The Tshi-Speaking Peoples of the Gold Coast of West Africa [1887] 1964). the functions of the asafo underwent a great change. Manoukian.B.334 ANSHAN LI was needed. Agbodeka points out: The refusal of the Gold Coast people to permit alien interference in their affairs caused the British one particular difficulty. 46. the asafo transformed its main function from a military one to a "public works department" and acted as a task force in particular situations. but he was not a member of the chiefs council. its role received no recognition from the colonial government. increased. of secular After warfare ceased andpopulation affairs. theytookoverthemanagement 30Busia. Asafoatsemei in origin were hunters. chiefs were given power to call on people for 29M. even paid labor. Tordoff. under which paid labor could be recruited. The Position of the Chief. they now gradually became the major role of the asafo. Although the asafo represented the commoners' interests.280. 1971).31 Since colonial rule put an end to inter-state wars. Ashanti Under the Prempehs. Ellis.32 To solve this problem. the British government at first did not interfere with the asafo company as a political force.30 No matter how its functions varied. among others. while they checked the chiefs authority at will.134. Agbodeka. A Public Labour Ordinance was passed in 1883. Field. 31A. and commoners could offer or withhold their support to the chief. (Chicago. 138-9. Although the duties were always important. Social Organizationof the Ga People. for public works.

"Kwahu Quoted Papers. the asafo of each town and village organized themselves in 1905 by uniting all companies into a new and wider organization. almost all these public works were performed on a compulsory basis with little or no payment.35 J. Some recruitment had nothing to do with their communal interests.ASAFO AND DESTOOLMENT 335 six days labor in each quarter. 36Simensen. As a result.CocoaandChaosin Ghana (NewYork. the to bringabout thedestoolment of theOmanhene if theirdemands whichare Asafowereprepared arenotmet.34 Third.38 In 1920 a provincial commissioner noticed: 6 October1900. For example." 37The oncecursed thisAsafocompany omanhene of Kwahu is in by saying"'Asafo Kyenku' all but in name a Bolshevic [sic] or Communist society seeking to pull down the native administration.Then the Compulsory Labour Ordinance was enacted in 1895. 35G. In addition. Gold Coast 403.89-90.33 Second. See Agbodeka.37 which became very active from the 1910s to the 1930s. theOmanhene andmany of thesubchiefs Unfortunately regard themovement withthegreatest disfavour andhavedecided to ignore it as muchas possible.1989).1174/31. The to Chamberlain.36 Another change in the function of the asafo is that commoners in different companies were now more united and usually acted with one voice.The is well organized movement andis a visibleexpression of thedesireof theyounger to generation takea handin thecontrol of affairs. Government." wereverycommon 34These recruited complaints amongthosecarriers by the government. First." 39-40. which met some resistance. ChiefsandColonial 150-2. the Asafo Kyenku (the united asafo)." 38Anofficialcommented on thisasafoin 1931. such as the service needed for the battle against the Asante. 135-36.. requiring chiefs to provide workers for the government. in Kwahu.CSO.Mikell."Inorder to induce theOmanhene andState Councilto redresscertaingrievancesthe Asafo have combinedunderone Asafoakye.Report undoubtedly . communal labor recruitment became a major source of grievances later." reasonable on theEastern Province fortheyear1930C098/58.. Low (Governor) of Axim complained districtcommissioner about"thedifficultyof obtaining carriers to take in connection service under theGovernment withtheexpedition. not from the community. the demand for service now came from the government or the chief." AsafoCompany fromTwumasi. "Aspects. Compulsory labor became a heavy burden on commoners under colonial rule for several reasons. GNA. laborers suffered severe penalties under the Ordinance. 33C096/363.AfricanPolitics. "Commoners. Simensen has argued that the main reasons for both the 1915-1918 rising in Akyem Abuakwa and the 1932 attempted deposition of Paramount Chief Ofori Atta were the use of communal labor for public purposes on government directive and dissatisfaction with payment for the labor. it was not uncommon for chiefs to require some extra service for their own benefit.

not the odikro (chief)." and "The Asafo of Kwahu.April 1920. In some villages. the odikro is not informed what his youngmen have done or intend to do. SS Conf. 42ADM11/1332. This metamorphosis has taken place in the last year or so. Chiefs and Colonial Government. The amended Ordinance in 1910 gave traditionaltribunalsexclusive jurisdiction without either effective control from above or practical checks from below. "Commoners. Slater to Avery. 7 November 1927.40 The Native Jurisdiction Ordinance passed in 1878 and enacted in 1883 remained the basis for the administrationuntil 1927. 39ADM 1/738. BirimDistrict (Kwahu). and cases of oppression and exploitation greatly increased. The asafo risings in 1915-1918 in Akyem Abuakwa shared the same feature. but to the asafo leader. Thisshowsthatthereweredifferent the asafo's 31. the real power did not belong to the chief. In the Ordinance. opinions regarding activities among the colonial officials."146-61. ..336 ANSHAN LI Asafos (who are known as the "young men" of Kwahu) have formed themselves into an organised body and have members in nearly every town in this district. The chiefs took advantage of the situation. Colin Hardingsto the Governor."and Stone's critique of his article with Johnson's reply also covered some importantasafo activities during the 1920s in southern Ghana. During the three decades before 1920 more than seventy attempted destoolments occurred in Akyem and Kwahu. which may throw some light on the fact that the governmentnever adopteda strongmeasureto prohibitits existence. 41For asafo in Akyem Abuakwaand Kwahu. 2.41 The asafo's influence spread so rapidly that Governor Slater was surprised to discover in 1927 that in Akyem rural areas. see Simensen. 11/1919."Johnson's "Protest:Traditionand Change.. in the majority of villages. the person who has power today is the asafuakye. commoners organized as asafo began to fight back. 40Simensen. Case no. Destoolment became the means of retaliation most frequently used. nothing was mentioned about the position of other political forces except the chiefs.39 The "opposition to established authority" was characterized by an increasing number of destoolments.42 An extraordinary fact has come to light. Consequently. "RuralMass Action. . Simensen suggests that the risings were not only spontaneous protest reactions against various forms of exploitation but were a general expression on the political level of increasing socioeconomic differentiation in Akyem Abuakwa. Its policy seems to be a consistent opposition to established authority.

an unmoral be could his of at Chief. an insufficientor incapableChief.. rulers. which strengthenedthe paramount of Native Administration chiefs power.its aimwas to makelaws for the chiefs and Theasafo becamesucha challengeto Ordinance. It comprises the rabble of Kwahu.Second. the stool symbolizes the pride and stabilityof the state. .being "independent of the natural the asafo's mainfunctionseemedto balancethe chiefs authority. Third. Asafo and Destoolment: A Historical Perspective As the chiefs position. destoolment.First. opposethe NativeAdministration the established orderthatchiefs desperately lookedfor helpfromoutside. In 1928."Quotedfrom Twumasi. ... describedthe conditionin Kwahu chief of Akyem Abuakwa." 41-42.. The omanhene. of the town andvillages headedby desperados Commoners known as asafoakyesthe worditself gave [sic] you an idea of theiroriginAkanandGa insteadof Stool Captains." included in "KwahuAsafo CompanyPapers. "AkuamoaBoateng II to Ofori Atta I. They arequiteindependent of the natural rulers. As oncepointedout: cally significant Danquah The foundersof the AkanStateConstitution in theirwisdom instituted a mode of procedurewhereby an unwantedand oppressive or easy-going Chief.ASAFO AND DESTOOLMENT 337 The asafo companyfaced greaterchallengeswith the introduction of the Native AdministrationOrdinancein 1927." andwas thusfearedby the a politiTherefore. system. CSO 1174/31..43 Ordinance This descriptionoutlined almost all the important featuresof the modem asafo in termsof bothits membersandleaders. "Aspects. deprived positionpermanently anytime the 43GNA. It is a Kyenku of no asafo. Ordinance who was finallydestooledin 1932 by the was new in organization Although epithets such as "rabble of Kwahu" and "desperadosknown as were unpleasant.Twi andFantiStatesof the Gold Coast. asafoakyes" they did indicatethatthe membersof asafo included thepeopleof lowerclass in thetraditional sense. . matter. 30 December 1927. a protestagainstthe application led to the actualrunningthe KwahuStateby the asafo. the paramount his politicaldifficulties: Kwahuasafo is something fromall otherasafos in entirelydifferent all Akan. and their object is mainly to make laws for their Chiefs and oppose the Native Jurisdiction Ordinance of 1883 andthe new Native Administration of 1927. have their own oaths .. the formalremovalof a chief fromhis position. The asafo in Kwahuis a thingquitedifferent fromthe old constitutional asafos.for help in when he askedOfori Atta I.

(9) defiling his stool-inability to uphold the dignity and good reputationof the stool. According to customary law.B. However."45 Destoolment.The AkimAbuakwaHandbook(London. Sarbah. "Destoolment. there is a long traditionof destoolment. (2) habitual drunkenness and the resulting disorderly conduct. is not a new thing to the Akan peoples. (7) circumcision.AkanLaws and Customs. 8-11. 46The Akan custom used to look upon circumcision as an attribute of inferior foreign people. the chief was generally made to give the injured husband sufficient money for compensation. the specific offenses generally included the following: (1) notorious and habitual adultery. or referring contemptuously to the genealogy or pedigree of his subjects and elders.44 Among the Akan people.Fanti National Institution. (10) insufficient provision for the members of the stool family. "The Ceremony of Enstoolment of the GhanaNotes and Queries7 (1965). (3) habitually opposing the councillors and disregarding their advice without just cause. . (4) theft. It has been a part of their constitution since the earliest times. and inflicting extortionate fines and penalties as well as failing to protect his subjects. 22-24. was usually the last resort as a constitutional means to keep the political power in balance.47 Owing to the scarcity of evidence. But it is no longer regarded as a bar to the office. for all that.Akan Laws and Customs. (6) cowardice in war. who might have come from a low status. it is very difficult to discern a general pattern of destoolment in pre-colonial period. such as constantly provoking strife by acts and words. Danquah.Akan Laws and Customs. (11) and general misconduct unworthy of his position.338 ANSHAN LI governed felt that there were good reasons for deposing and replacing him by a better man. 1928). however. 68. 11517. See Agyeman-Duah.M. No stool in Akan toleratedit Danquah. and other liabilities improperly contracted or incurred. some interesting material 44J. which degraded him. Danquah." 47J. (5) perverting justice when hearing cases. Only the ruler who committed grave offenses was subject to such punishment. Asantehene. 116. for the second and third offense. extravagance and persistently involving his people in debt. 115.46 (8) unwarranteddisposal of stool property. 45Danquah.

In Kokofu.Kwame Asonane of Bekwai for being a glutton.49 Asantehene (King) Osei Kwame ruled from 1777 to the end of the century. KS. 21-22. Position of the Chief. T.48 Take the Asante area. Asantehene Kofi Kakari took some gold trinkets and other valuable treasures from the royal mausoleum at Bantama without the consent of his councillors in Kumasi or the chiefs. Consequently the king was destooled. during which he tried to establish Islam as the official religion. Missionfrom Cape Coast Castle to Ashantee. 52Busia.50 Commoners realized that the acceptance of Islam would weaken the very basis of their religious beliefs. for dealing in charmsand noxious medicines.Kofi Karikari's British invasion of Asante in 1874. and places them at the arbitrary discretion of the sovereign. in Ashantee [1824](London. 1966).245.Bowdich. Osei Yaw was destooled disclosing the origin of his subjects (i. 99..51 In 1874. and Mensa Bonsu for excessive cruelty.E. 238-40.and AkuamoaPanyin of Dwaben for his abusive tongue. and political and social institutions as well. KwameArhin'sunpublished conferencepaper.ASAFO AND DESTOOLMENT 339 does exist on the subject. Traditional oncecollected casesin thetraditional histories 49Busia someinformative of thedivisions of the Asante area. "Sanction AgainstAbuse of in Pre-ColonialAfrica"(Wurzburg. "Remembrance of these horrors influenced all future decisions with British officials and made dissident Asante politicians very eager to have British assistance in their opposition to authoritiesin Kumasi. 99. a conspiracy was entered into. See also his 1989) has a good description. 50J. which would threaten their own prestige and interests. According to oral tradition. As a result they deposed the king. the young men of Asante openly took the lead in the Journal 48J. 238-40. 51Bowdich. Position of the Chief in Ashanti. might be introduced. This change was rejected by both chiefs and commoners. and for not following the advice of his elders. Position of the Chief. also of Bekwai. of a Residence Missionfrom Cape Coast Castle to Ashantee [1819] (London.and Kwai Ten of Nsuta were destooled for drunkenness. 1966). Authority Rule in Ghana:Past and Present (Legon. People were angered when the case was discovered. To anticipate the calamity they dreaded. 245. 1875-1900 (Lawrence. reproachingthem with their slave ancestry). Kwame Asona. Dupuis. whereby they would lose that ascendancy they now enjoy. Asante Before the British: The Prempean Years. Busia. when the Asante army was badly beaten. which they well know levels all ranks and orders of men. 1981). KwabenaBruku. Journal of a Residence in Ashantee. It seems the reason for the destoolment was much more militantpolicy was thoughtto have broughtthe complicatedthan Busia described. .52 In the 1880s. See Busia. The powerful chiefs feared that the King would use Islam to strengthen his individual power. for example. The chiefs of four districts together with Kumasi councillors denounced this action as unconstitutional and sacrilegious.e.Dupuis."See Thomas Levin.Chiefs KwabenaAboagye of Asumegya. the chiefs worried that the Moslem religion.

which included extortion.53 Under colonial rule several changes occurred regarding the grounds for destoolment. This measure caused protest from nkwankwaa elements in the southern districts of Asante. however. "ChargesAgainst the Deposed Chiefs (1925-1929). the chief of Tumentu in Gwira was destooled on the ground that for several years he had neglected his district by residing permanently at Axim.54 General mismanagement could also lead to destoolment. since bribery was increasing.55 If a chief constantly made use of his subjects for his own benefit. 55Sarbah. thesis. In addition.44-48.Fanti National Constitution. 377. or ignored the asafo's warning. A ruler could be questioned for improper conduct that caused discontent among his subjects.D. elders or commoners.340 ANSHAN LI movement which eventually overthrew Asantehene Mensa Bonsu. and cheating in order to get some money. A chiefs actions could also bring about discontent or even unrest among his people.AshantiLaw and Constitution(London). 7475. Many chiefs were also destooled because of their involvement in land dealing or financial misappropriation. 115-116. he would be asked to explain his conduct. or "rich men")."R. They carried out a successful coup and Mensa Bonsu was destooled in early March 1883. . See Wilks. For example.56 Such cases the youngmenplayeda crucial rolein thisdestoolment. spent for his own use the rents and monies paid for concessions. See also Chapters III andIV. Lewin. both in legal cases and in the election of chiefs. acceptance of bribery also became a ground for destoolment.S. 54Anshan Li. if a chief absented himself continuously from his traditional duties in order to attend to his private interests. Table V. and wasted the stool revenue. University of Toronto. The Kumasi nkwankwaa led the campaign against the asantehene by uniting both the ahiafo (the "poor") and the asikafo ("men of gold. It was not clearwhether But as Wilks points out. which included a chiefs exploitation of his people by means of the native tribunal or a chiefs action beyond the limit of his authority. In 1882 the Bonsu regime introduced new rates of taxation on the southern gold-mining industries and heavy fines for violations. Asante in the Nineteenth Century. Asante in the Nineteenth Century. 1993). Asante Before the British. 53Wilks. the nkwankwaaacquired"theirfirst experience of political action in the anti-war and anti-conscriptionmovements"of the late 1860s and early 1870s.534-43. 251. Abuse of power became a frequent cause of deposition. In 1903. collecting unlawful tribute. "Social Protest in the Gold Coast" (Ph. 1978).47. he faced destoolment. 56Rattraynoted that "A Chief who was always orderinghis subjects to be flogged would. Rattray. such as collaborating with the government in the application of certain ordinances without consulting his people. soon be destooled.535.

" 64. Memorandum by Secretaryfor Native Affairs for the visit of Ormsby-Gore in 1926.d. there was an increase in the number of destoolments. 1923-24. 59C096/473. "AkyemAbuakwa."59 When a destoolment occurred in Begoro in 1908. the depositions were recordedin the Gold Coast Gazetteonly.ASAFO AND DESTOOLMENT 341 usually happened when a chiefs engagement in expensive litigation resulted in increasing taxes. According to a 1924 colonial report."60The colonial report of 1918 disclosed that there had been "an unusual number of depositions. 62C098/45. "Commoners. the asafo company had pursued its political activities without much interference. Ellis memo (n." 404." See Addo-Fening. After 1929. the secretary for native affairs warned that "the chiefs have been losing influence of late owing to the growth of the 'Companies'."63In 1926-1927." Governor Guggisberg'sAddress to Legislative Council. and a desire when dissatisfied to take the law into their own hands. 58C096/663. the provincial commissioner said.61 The governor complained in 1922 that "Elections and destoolments were unfortunately frequent among the Omanhin [paramountchiefs] and Ohin [chiefs]. "A Review of the Events of 1921-22 and the Prospects of 1922-23. or when he collaborated with the government at the sacrifice of his people. . . Gold Coast 530." when the destoolment of no fewer than sixteen chiefs was confirmed in the year. November 1908. Ashanti Under the Prempehs. Some case studies also indicate that the number of destoolments was increasing during the first decades of colonial rule. the nkwankwaa in Asante had enjoyed a "feeling of independence and safety which gives vent to criticism of their elders.. 27 June 1919."Then he mentions threecases of destoolmentin the nineteenthcentury. 61C096/601. Simensen. 5 60ADM11/457. Note 37. 204. 141-60."62 During the first quarter of the present century.58 As early as 1908. Quoted in Tordoff. Commissioner of EasternProvinceto Secretary for Native Affairs.57 There were about 119 destoolments during the period from 1904 to 1925. 27 February1922. the situation seemed to 57Addo-Fening points out that "Casesof destoolment in the 19th century were few and far between. but much more frequent than they were. 63Colonial Reports: Ashanti. From the turn of the century.) enclosure in Governor Rodger to Secretary of State.. "By contrastno fewer than thirteen cases of destoolment or attempteddestoolment were reported in the period 1900-1912. There is a register of deposed chiefs from 1904 to 1929 in ADM11/2/14. where destoolments were much more frequent. enclosure in Acting GovernorSlater to Viscount Miller." He suggested the inland people were probably "takingover the customs of the coastal towns. "Destoolments are very rare still. 8 November 1908. Native Affairs DepartmentReport for 1918.

Mikell.. this generated some protest. and the Porcupine: 68Tordoff. . 1929. and rule them in his own way without any lawful means of getting rid of him.C098/53. "The time is coming when a Chief once installed will sit firmly on the neck of the people.68 64C098/48. there Actually GoldCoastTime. She suggests the reason for this decrease was that the application of the Ordinance "increased the powers of chiefs and their ability to control native courts and treasuries. 1927.. for Self-determination. But in 1927-28 and 1928-29.64 The Native Administration Ordinance. In a letter to the chief commissioner. threeparamountchiefs in the province were destooled by their subjects.142. AnnualReportof the EasternProvincefor the FinancialYear. 65The CocoaandChaosin Ghana. the omanheneof Kwahu was later allowed to abdicateand the omanheneof New Dwaben was reinstatedby the governoron February12."TheYoungmen Class. the nkwankwaa reminded him of the case of Mensa Bonsu in 1883. Together with the governor's power to withhold recognition of destoolment. the relations between the Chiefs and their people are better than I have ever known them to be. Nana Prempe I dropped the issue. there was a decrease of destoolments after 1927 in the Brong-Ahafo area. There were three destoolments in the province in 1926-27." Struggle of African History 31(1990). In 1930 the nkwankwaa in Asante were outraged by the news that Kumasihene Nana Prempe I and his chiefs were considering a law requiring that a percentage of a deceased person's property be given to the Kumasihene and his chiefs. According to G. the deposition of the Ga mantse was confirmedin 1930. Report on the EasternProvince for the Year 1927-28. 66Mikell. Jean Allman. six were from Akyem Abuakwa. increased the authority of chiefs. However. 269. Journal Nationalism andAsante's 1954-57. who were taking their responsibility more seriously."66 The situation in the Eastern Province differed. there were nine and seven. In addition. whose overthrow was caused by a similar measure."65 Did this Ordinance check the tendency of destoolment? The effect seemed to vary. Ashanti. 1926-27..342 ANSHAN LI stabilize and a provincial commissioner used a very optimistic tone in his report: "There has been an almost complete absence of destoolments during the year. in thewholecolonyduring weresevendestoolments theyear. 375-82. See C099/45-50. 67C098/50." He suggested that the reason was that people were beginning to show more respect to their chiefs. enacted on April 21. the asafo's involvement in local politics assumed an aggressive aspect.19 March 1927.67 Throughout the 1930s. especially the paramount chief. Among the nine chiefs. Report on the EasternProvince for the Year 1928-29.Government Gazette. Following the chief commissioner's advice. 1927-29. A local newspaper predicted that. like the old man of the sea. respectively.

ASAFO AND DESTOOLMENT 343 The propaganda for the Native Administration Revenue Measure and the launch of Income Tax Ordinance in 1931-32 caused great confusion and protest. neither colonial officials nor chiefs were comfortable with the asafo's involvement in destoolment. also asafo should be abolished from the whole of Ashanti in view of the fact that they are the cause of political unrest in Asante. "Nationalismfrom Below. usually with the support of the government police. in Akyem Abuakwa. ed. 74AshantiConfederacyCouncil Minutes. the Asante Confederacy Council voted unanimously in 1936: "The position of Nkwankwaahene and asafoakye." Company 73Tordoff. 75Allman. quoted from 255.72 In 1935. 20 August1932. She also quoted M."71 On the other hand.Confidential.75 IncomeTaxandProtest. Simensen." 71MP1163/31. "Commoners. the official in charge of the investigation strongly suggested the abolition of the office of senior asafoakye and the repeal of asafo laws. andthe Depression: d'Etudes Africaines 14:2 (1974)."as Allman points out. Twumasi. Simensen. Papers". 365-69. Minute. QuarterlyReports.." 255. Acting Commissionerof EasternProvince to Secretaryfor Native Affairs. "Aspects. 1975)."Cahier "TheIncomeTax. G. 359-75." Asafo 72GNA. Fortes' observation in the mid-1940s when he was in Asantecompleting his "Ashanti Social Survey."Review 43.73 In response to the nkwankwaa's challenge to chiefly power." and made a list of twelve persons whom he wanted to have arrestedby the government police. in "Kwahu of Evidenceand Recommendations. 31-57. The GoldCoastRiots of 1931. Indirect Rule.C. "Commoners. quoted from Simensen.90-104.CSO 1174/31. After Kwahu asafo destooled their paramount chief in 1932. 17 October 1932. to Lister.January1936.69 The chiefs took advantage of the power granted to them by the Ordinance either to seek their own benefits or to keep opposition under control."270." He found that association andself-helpgroups on thenkwankwaa continued (modeled youngmen's organizations) to give expression to the "opinionsof commoners. 69C096/699/7050A.. AkyemAbuakwaand Politics of the Inter-war Period in Ghana (Basel.31 March Governor 1932.Ashanti. September 1932. For example. followed by a wave of destoolments. "Youngmenand Porcupine. MP22/32.Stanley to Lister. 70A chief in Begoro insisted that "heruled the people and not they him. all the main divisional chiefs were destooled and ParamountChief Ofori Atta was facing a political crisis." and "Crisis in Akyem Abuakwa:The Native AdministrationRevenue Measure of 1932." in Addo-Fening.ActingGovernor Shaloff. C096/704/7260. some of the Kumasi young men failed in an attempt to remove Asantehene Prempe II from the Golden Stool." .70 A district commissioner commented that "thechiefs with their autocraticmethods have been sowing the seed of unrest ever since the introductionof the Native Administration Ordinance."74 But it is not so easy to "legislate away the historically entrenched nkwankwaa.

seventeen chiefs were deposed.see Reportof the Commission on Enquiry into Disturbance in the GoldCoast. 1942. GovernmentGazette.3-4. 80Among them threewere in the British MandatedTogoland.79 Then there came a big wave of deposition from 1945 to 1949. when more than ninetythree chiefs were destooled. there was a movement in 1948 to break down the Native Authority and refuse to pay the annual rate."78the situation did not change for the better. destoolment was widespread. It was believed one asafo leader named Kwadjo Dei was "the leader and instigator of the abortive attempt to break Council 29 September Debates.82In Yilo Krobo. 82. In the period between 1932 and 1942. 1942. 1945-49. G.3-4. 18/1910. Burns. 78Legislative 79C099/71-72. 26 February 77ADM11/1679. 81 There are three possible reasons for this boom in destoolment. and finally became a national protest. The 1948 Accra riots brought great attention from Westminster. (Colonial no. In 1943 and 1944. taxation." He had to consider seriously "the question of disbanding these companies throughout the colony and Ashanti. Austin. In the case of subordinate chiefs. no fewer than twenty-two paramount chiefs were destooled. in most cases in order to forestall deposition. London noted with deep concern "the number of riots and disturbances which have been caused by members of the Company (Asafu) Organisation existing in different forms in various parts of the colony and Ashanti. First."The Company (Asafu) System.344 ANSHAN LI During the 1930s."76 By 1942 the asafo organizations were so actively involved in local politics that it caught the acting governor's attention." Council 29 September Debates. 23 for 1948. 82Forthe Accrariots. Although he warned that the disorder caused by destoolment "will not be permitted and will be put down with a strong hand.80 At the same time. spread elsewhere. the rest were in the Gold Coast Colony and Asante.1948. 1943-44. or high living standards. 81Thefiguresare26 for 1947. Confidential. 1946-1960(London. was "struck with dismay" by this gloomy picture. Report. the new governor. 1964). C099/73-77. with various protests against chiefs' wrongdoing.and 16 for 1949."77 Sir Alan C. no. 76Legislative Caseno. . the growth of nationalist feeling after the World War II contributed to the increase of destoolments.49-92. 231. Watson for thepostwar see D. The local political situation was tense. E. a great number of chiefs abdicated. GovernmentGazette. situation. Gazette. 1942.C099/75-77.) Politicsin Ghana. Government 1947-49. the situation was "as bad or worse.

ASAFO AND DESTOOLMENT 345 into the Yilo Krobo prison and rescue prisoners" in 1949. the odikro of Apedwa. 84Simensen. 1993). he became the object of "increasingly violent political attacks"from the C.P. for a recent analysis of this story. he was a member of the executive council until February 1952 and a knighthood was conferred upon him in 1948. even the Convention People's Party (C. 86This is called by Simensen the "administrative tie-up between the chiefs and Government effected by the Ordinancesof 1944. dated 22 June 1944.) members joined the asafo company in the deposition of unwanted chiefs.ChiefCommissioner to ColonialSecretary.E.. 43. A settlement was finally reached in 1949. a series of appealswere started. 1944. 1501. in 1950. 85Themost different Ordinance of 1927 is thatthe partfromthe NativeAdministration governor. who occupied the governorship for most of this period (1941-1947). Sections 3-6.P." See Native Authority (Colony) Ordinance. to review cases of destoolment although he had been grantedpower to do so. he even failed in his Caseno. 18 February 83ADM11/1797.B. if he thought the chief and council unfit for the job. the enactment of the Native Authorities Ordinance in 1944 greatly increased the governor's power in both the election and deposition of native authorities. O.83 Simensen's study on Akyem Abuakwa indicates at least two removals were caused by the commoners' dissatisfaction with the chiefs lukewarm reaction towards the arrest of nationalist leaders after the Accra riot. no. "RuralMass Action."J. "Nationalism From Below. See Simensen. Thus "nativeauthority" synonymous with "traditional authority. As a staunch supporter of the colonial government.P. 1949. 87In February 1944.86 Third."330-35. . Simensen. Nana Sir Tsibu Darku. one of the three leading amantoo-mmiensa villages in Akyem Abuakwa was reported missing (he was later said to have been ritually murdered)in connection with the ParamountChief Ofori Atta's funeral. and the guilt men executed." 46. could appoint other temporaryor was no longer automatically permanentexecutive authorityin theirplace.Murderand Politics in Colonial Ghana (New Haven. Rathbone. He seemed to lack the time or energy. but also raised mass resentment against both the chiefs and the governor.84 Secondly.The case was brought four times before the Privy Council in London and kept the matterbefore the courts through 1945 and 1946. The case itself was a reflection of the conflict between the local asafo company (amantoo-mmiensa) and the paramountchief in Kyebi.P. was enstooled as paramount chief of the Assin Attandasu State in 1930. In some cases.85 yet made no mention of the problem of popular representation. When Governor Bums refused to exercise his prerogativeof mercy. Supplementto the Gold Coast Gazette.87 Destoolment continued to be a conspicuous phenomenon in the early 1950s. A very influential chief. This not only upset the already tenuous balance of power. see R. Sir Alan Burns. seemed fully occupied with the Kyebi murder trial (1945-1949) in respect of native affairs. Because of his unpopularity. or the tactical reasons." 38. "Commoners.

Destoolment of Chiefsin theGoldCoast.90They are still present in local affairs even today. As a result."The Journal of Modern Coups: A JuridicalInterpretation African Studies. 6 December did not includethe destoolment 1951.346 ANSHAN LI own rural electoral district against a C. the figurehe quoted of subchiefs.88 From 1950 to 1953. 90As late as 1955.P." The asafo enjoyed such popularity that in some places. He was "properly destooled. see "The andthePorcupine. the influence of the asafo company gradually declined. while forty-three abdicated. an agreement was reached between the asafo and chiefs in the Kwahu State.P. Destoolment of Chiefsin theGoldCoast.After1954there 89C099/78-79." or attributed destoolment to the "weakness of the native institution. . 24. From 1954 on. in Government is no destoolment recorded Fortheperiod1948-51." according to a commissioner's words. Uses and Abuses of Political Governor of theGoldCoast 88C0554/702. Governor of theGoldCoastto Secretary of State. it was reportedthat an asafo company was involved in a blood feud in Akyem-Chia. but it by no means disappeared. see "Customand of Civil Orderand Disorder in Ghana. The educated gradually gained an influential position in the arena of local politics and the young men's protests began to assume different forms. Allman. Owusu. 3.89 The rise of nationalism gave birth to various political organizations.June 27. no fewer than thirty-six chiefs were destooled.C099/86. by the chiefs.Government Gazette. thereis no recordof destoolmentin Government Gazette. 22. in the early 1900s. 1992. Gazette. Youngmen 91When I was doing the researchin Ghanain 1992. some asafo company members were among those protesting against the imposition of new propertyrates. For the Asante young men's involvement in local politics in the 1950s. sixty-six charges were laid against him. candidate in the general elections. 69-99. 2 (1989). owing to complaints about the heavy oath fines. They either complained of the disobedience of the young men.see also C0554/702. they became the real "bosses" in local politics. 89-108. For example. elders. and asafo leaders. C099/81-82. 1 (1986). 31. who they believed were the "rabble"or the "lazy and discontented part of the population. Soon after the election. "Politics Without Parties: Reflections on the Union Government Proposals in Ghana. 1950-1953. For Owusu's recent publications on the role of the asafo in postcolonial Ghanaianpolitics."African Studies Review. "Rebellion. 1 (1979). of State.91 Irregularity and Legitimacy All these examples show that destoolment was a very popular practice from about 1900 to the early 1950s."ComparativeStudies in Society and History. Almost every colonial officer noticed the frequency of destoolment." 263-79. 217. People'sDaily Graphic.However. which gradually took over the role the asafo used to play. Revolution and Tradition:ReinterpretingCoups in Ghana.14 December to Secretary 1951.

as insignificant in local politics. the British officials did not quite understandprecolonial political institutions in the Gold Coast. which imposed extensive price controls.93 To analyze this accusation of irregularity. GovernorClifford to Secretaryof State." Appendix III. G17152/T19212.P. 94C096/528.92 This agreement shows the asafo became a real challenge to both the chief and the government. Amery (M. .S. 11/1919. 3 August 1915. "if the asafo is allowed to exert. 56/1918.).ASAFO AND DESTOOLMENT 347 which was reaffirmed in 1913. First. He also noted the threat of the asafo to the chiefly power. Governor Clifford observed that Under the curiously democratic native constitution.. Case no. Gold Coast (Confidential).Ofori Atta to the Secretaryfor Native Affairs. 3 March 1913. as they considered the young men. Guggisberg to L.several factors have to be considered. 93C096/654. The omanhene and his divisional chiefs agreed to observe these asafo laws. To act otherwise would be to encourage the wholesale destoolment of head chiefs. Early in 1913. its authority in opposition to that of the chiefs. ADM11/1393 (Confidential). forbade chiefs to apply for gunpowder unless with the permission of the asafo leader. Regarding the asafo's attempted destoolment of the Ga mantse in Accra in 1924. and that destoolment is now-a-days by no means an uncommon practice. Gold Coast Secret. a Chief who abuses his powers to an extent sufficient to arouse popular indignation against him. 356-61.94 The word "curiously" reflected the governor's understanding. Case no. C018836. ADM11/1/738. forbade any stool heir to offer a bribe to any party with power to elect and install a chief. "Social Protest in the Gold Coast.. an evil which is already sufficiently great to be serious." See also ADM11/1/712. it will be impossible for the latter to 92Anshan Li. In 1917 the asafo passed a system of bylaws. 4 April 1925. and laid down that any chief who cohabited with the wife of a commoner would be deposed. is liable to be destooled. which later was referred to as the Magna Carta of Kwahu. or the asafo. "New Orders and Regulations Inauguratedby the Whole Kwahu Asafos at Abetifi on the 6th November 1917 and which will be always adheredto. the governor explained why the government should stand firm in dealing with the asafo: it is clearly the duty of the administrationnot to confirm a deposition which has been conducted irregularly and without justifiable cause.

Yaw Dakwa. a report was sent to the governor claiming that there was "a marked tendency on the part of the asafo to usurp powers it was never intended they should possess.100 Nor did they understand the symbolic meaning of the stool." W." For documents of the asafo in Akyem Abuakwa. Asante Before the British." 1/1311. who knew very little about the indigenous system. "Bompata 98C098/48. BonarLaw. For instance. 1918." He insisted that the effective administration"can only be carried on by us through the agency of the native system of tribal government. seeking to strengthen British claim to authority in Asante. see ADM1l/ Native Affairs. 97ADM11/1/738. A. made his infamous and inflammatory demand on March 28. AnnualReportof the EasternProvince for the FinancialYear 1926-27. no. Ward.N. chief of Pankesi."96 In 1919. the government did not understand "what an important and sacred thing" the stool was. 26 May 1916. or in any importantmatter concerning state affairs. Ward correctly pointed out "the Government did not understandat that time what an importantand sacred thing the Golden Stool was. 1900. 136.GovernorClifford to A.99 That is why the governor."98 All these assumptions are dubious since the young men had to be consulted both in enstoolment or destoolment. 1918."97 Later. 82 (Extraordinary). The governor or the provincial commissioner. The British thoughtthat it was an ordinarystool to sit on. Council." But the governmentseemed at a loss facing this "curiously Gazette. 96C096/567. Second. the process of enstoolment or destoolment became less regular because of interference from the government. Kwahu 1919.A9/1920. when the Native Administration Ordinance was enacted. Gold Coast Confidential." and that the young men were trying to "destroy the existing form of power. 100Lwin. Case no. for the Asante people to hand in their Golden Stool. 209. it was said that the asafo "has endeavored from time to time both in the Kwahu and other Akan Divisions to arrogateto itself powers which it was never intended that it should possess. 1935). was removed from his position because he refused to accept the governor's ruling Address to theLegislative 28 October "Governor's Government 95CO99/33. importantbecause it was a seat of the Asantehene.348 ANSHAN LI carry out the administration of the tribe."95 He noticed the rise of the "'young men'--who are the third estate" in traditional kingdoms and thought "in the actual management of the little kingdom they hitherto have had no real voice.A ShortHistory of the Gold Coast (London. began to destool disloyal chiefs or punish rebellious elders at will.E. 11/1919. . After the establishment of British rule. democratic constitution" and nothing effective had been done before 1927. 99Speaking of the Golden Stool. "Report on the Akim Asafo by the District Commissioner.

shownto be indifferentto the well-being of their state.The Native States. regardlessof their nationalwelfare and quite obviously antagonistictowardsnative institution. backedby the government.The elders were antagonisticnot towardsthe "well-beingof their state. described: situation. 13 May 1901. The custom of destoolmentwhich was knownonly amongcertain tribesis becominggeneralthroughout the Province. can also be seen as the result of the Third. According to an annual report.for those areas where there was no traditionof destoolment. and the Chiefs of Obo and Obomeng under the King of theiracts.Now the elders had less say since the chief. but towardsthe It was really theirpassive resischief. Report on the EasternProvince 1929-30.As a new tacticin a new people thismightbe regarded A 1924colonialreport as irregular.some new practiceswere introduced. The elders wereno exception. Fourth. now became less concernedaboutthe state'saffairsthanever before. andindividuals changingsituation."as the reportsuggested.101 fromoffice by the governorfor their eldersin Peki were eitherfined or suspended In protestagainst a newly elected chief who was not entitledto the position.the had to resortto this measureto protectthemselves. several divisional chiefs and regardinga land dispute.103 those Elderswho shouldassist and advise the natural rulersof the inhabitants of the capitalof the countryare. . 103C096/55. or being indifferent.makingit possiblefor theasafo to playa moreactivepoliticalrole.No initiative was left for them. was very little concernedabouttheiradvice."Gold Coast (Confidential). and thus the government'sdecision.a quasi-official.the resultbeing "ALandDispute Between theChiefof Pankesi under theKingof WestAkim 101C096/380. 102Welman.102 such as the suspensionof a chief addition. the so-called "irregularity" decreasing participationby the elders in state affairs. fromhis office. 32-35. This "indifferent" and "antagonistic" attitudeis understandable consideringthe The economicopportunities affectedeverybody. This left a political vacuum. But more important. only the choice between supportthe chief.the colonial governmentdestroyed the democratic featuresof traditionalinstitutions.ASAFO AND DESTOOLMENT 349 From 1917 to 1921. a notiontotallystrange to the traditional system. "agovernmentcreature." tance againstthe colonial establishment.

106By the 1940s the asafo company became very active in the Krobo state."YiloKrobo NativeAffairs. . Okaikoi. 1966). protesting the payment of levy. see also Field. subjects 1660whenhe wasdeserted His lastquestion was "My by his warriors. destoolment was also a new phenomenon. He could not be destooled and replaced by another mantse.C. "Yes."C. according to the degree of his misconduct. in ActingCommissioner Enclosure of Eastern Province to 106ADM11/1393.He therefore recommended that thegovernor should notagree pending against to the petitioners' of annual rateto the NativeAuthorities.however. History of the Gold Coast and Asante [1895] (Accra. Yilo Krobo. A mantse (paramount chief) was made a mantse by a magical process that could not be undone. ADM11/1797. 29-30. Resolutions. Social Organization. ActingSecretary Castno. He could be removed by killing or desertion." Petition of 107ADM11/1797. No Konor (paramount chief) has ever had the misfortune of being destooled. The paramount chief of Manya Krobo once stated: "We do not recognize destoolment in Krobo as there are no cases in our history. indicated thattheleader wasa troublemaker anda charge of inciting notto paytheannual persons ratewasalready him. withholding payment Caseno. Report April1924-March1925. At the end of 1948. Secretary." yet "the condition of affairs in the state of Yilo Krobo has grown progressively worse" and "theAuthority have done nothing whatsoever to improve the standardof life of the people.350 ANSHAN LI that chiefs of today are faced with the possibility of being destooled for the smallest indiscretion on their part. 22 December1948." In the 1930s. forNativeAffairs. and girls who had reached the age of puberty. 1501. Manya Krobo. however. buried aliveby angry Hertyrannical heldpoweruntil successor. Eight asafoiatsemei and nine sipim (asafo captains). Theirpetition. 13August1930. and there was a "double system of taxation on palm oil and palm wine and also on timber.Reindorf.we won'thaveany kingto governus. people.76-77. the Ga people had no custom of destoolment. 105It is toldthattheusurper insidea well and QueenDodeAkabi(1610-1635)wastrapped forhercruelty. They complained that the native authorities collected taxes for five years from herbalists."107 on theEastern fortheperiod Province 104C098/42.104 For example. together with other elders. received thechiefcommissioner warmly by thegovernment. the asafo company's involvement in local politics in Yilo Krobo caused alarm from the government. 1501. by Asafoiatsemei Yilo Kroboaboutthe payment of you wishme to Theanswer commitsuicide?" was.105 In the Krobo state." They therefore requested "animmediate investigation into Yilo Krobo Native Authorities account and financial affairs. Shaim and Osudoku all decided to adopt the practice of destoolment of the Akan states. sent a petition to the governor.ChiefCommissioner to Colonial 18February 1949.was not In a letterto thecolonialsecretary. fetish priests.

Regardinga destoolmentthatoccurredat Bekwai. which was not subjectto challenge in the courts. Sec. 110ChiefsOrdinance." thatis to say the lower classes.B.Danquah. According to the Chiefs Ordinanceissued in 1904. . in thatthe knowledgeof craticelementin Akan State Constitution the existenceof the rightandof the people'sreadinessto exerciseit on any necessary occasion acts as a check on the ruling princes themperpetually thatfirstandlast the supreme interestor reminding ideal before them is welfare the and of the good political governed andof the Stateas a whole. 109J. for What is the their justification the asafo company'sconstant powers? arrogate established These questionslead to anotherissue: the to the authority? challenge need legitimacy.thatthey did not respecthim in Bekwaiitself. For examgovernment a for the to appoint it was common the chief for important practice government ple. especially after the 1900 Uprising. as a formidableweapon in the hands of the people when is a certainand sure safeguard of the demoproperlymanipulated.110 This powerthrewsome doubt. law. 29. Now loyalty to and cooperation with the becamethe essentialrequirement for newly elected chiefs.Not only does an authority but the process of offeringpower or deprivingpower also Max Weberargues. Once incorporated the chiefs status underwent several changes.ASAFO AND DESTOOLMENT 351 and the frequencyof destoolment The criticismof the asafo's irregularity How could the asafo companies calls into questionthe legitimacyof destoolment.109 into the framework of colonial government. those who were not Elders. 1928). it is the rightof those who elect the chief to Accordingto customary him when find him no longer suitable for the position.108 needslegitimacy.the "youngmen. 294. areas in Asante.however.on the legitimacyof the chiefs position. Danquah destool they as well as thelegitimacy of destoolment: thefunction analyzed This.complainedthatthey were not consultedin the choice of the Headchief. andto a man they refused to serve him.AkimAbuakwaHandbook ( legitimacyof the asafo's activities. the commissionerin chargeof the investigation reported: In the case of Bekwai.for instance. From Max Weber:Essays in Sociology (New York).If we support the Headchiefwe 108MaxWeber. when the election or depositionof a chief was questioned. The Elders remarkedthat "One cannotbe a chief withoutsubjects. the governorhad the final say. 1904. 68. or whenhe visited the villages.

more secureauthority his people increased. of the governor rather was regarded as a meremouthpiece leader of his people.Thelimitation of thepowerof a Position.11. The Mantseis merelya caretaker. A chiefs authority over withinthe colonial administration.352 ANSHAN LI shall be alone. Report: "Ga Mantse 14.A moreimportant changeoccurred whichthe authority was exercised.By promoting the mechanismof the very structure had alreadybreached others.113 In those areaswhere the asafo companygained power. The whole of the youngmenrefuse to serve the them. with the secretary of theirlegitimate right. A Mantse is not responsiblefor the actionsof his people. DoubleDescent.yet therewas an inherent certainchiefs andpunishing dilemmain theirintentionandpractice. The sacrednotionof chieflypowerwas weakenedanda chief or a local administrator. The image problemworsenedby the than as a paramount in the chieflypowerand abuseof chieflypower. kingora chiefhasalsobeendescribed by other .the government they wantedto keep. checksfromhis people andelders. 113Busia.The asafo leadersseemed to takeit the commoners andto guardtheirinterests. but neverrules.the asafo's constitutional role was no longer a subjectof debate in 1932.andthe military the weakeningof the traditional A chief now caredmuchmore aboutthe favorof the backingby the government.'"11 Headchiefandwe support claimedmanytimesthatthe contentandoperation Althoughthe government of the traditional political system shouldremainintact. the of than support his people. (townspeople).while at the same time it became less legitimate and less fromtwo circumstances: situation resulted This seeminglycontradictory is clearlyshownin the oathandceremonyin his election. scholars. It was settled duringthe 111Colonial Ashanti.Christensen. to represent as theirresponsibility Also.1920.In AkyemAbuakwa.ll2 This theoryseems to be true.Exceptfor the channelsthrough the institutional chiefs now enjoyed a loss of power to wage war or to inflict capitalpunishment.117. government If the elders' indifferencecould be regardedas a passive resistance. their function in local politics was no longerquestioned.for the chief can only decide matterson which his peoplehave agreed.In an interview they werequiteconfident for native of the asafo leadersin Accra statedthe following theoryof theconstitution: The Stool of Accra belongs to the asafoatsemei and Manbii A Mantsereigns.the asafo'sposturewas moreactive andinitiative." 112C098/44. If his peopleask him to do a thing.he has only to do it. Incident.

Gold Coast: A Review of the Events of 1920-1926 and Prospects of 1927-28 (Accra. 36."in C. Governor Clifford suggested that chiefs were destooled because they were "more enlightened and progressive than their subjects.117 Others considered it the result of the younger generation's demand for a share in power. Meek.ASAFO AND DESTOOLMENT 353 earlier risings against the chiefs when Paramount Chief Ofori Atta and the state council failed to deny the young men the right to organize for independent political action.'"119 This issue was dealt with more systematically by F. Gold Coast Confidential(A). where they had the opportunities of advising them in matters before the council. 238. no. 1940). According to Martin Wight.. 119W.24 March 1914. Annual reporton the EasternProvince 1933-34.Gold Coast Legislative Council. the increase of wealth. Europe and Africa (London. 12 September1934." 115C096/718/21755/A. enclosure in Gold Coast. 1927). . 94-115. Cliffordto Harcourt. They even learned how to use modern legal means in destoolment. 116C096/543. the asafo leaders gained the right to sit on the councils of the divisional chiefs as representatives of the commoners.K.M. 114Simensen. "Commoners."116 Governor Guggisberg thought that it showed the weakness of the native system. 457. But the senior asafo leader'sdemandto become a memberof the council and equal in rankto the wing chiefs was refused.115 Conclusions: Causes Within and Without There have been various interpretations of destoolments bought about by asafo companies. the cause of destoolment was "the struggles to control stool wealth and to enjoy the perquisites of office. the paramount chief had to compromise to some extent by encouraging the wing chiefs to bring their asafo leaders to the state council meetings.The Peculiar Case of the Gold Coast. who attributed the increase of destoolments to the spread of education. Finally. Crowther."118 Macmillan held the same view by comparing the stool in the Gold Coast with the office in eighteenth-century England: "an office is not so much an opportunity of service as a 'place of profit. "Political and Social Reconstruction. ed. the secretary for native affairs. These asafo leaders even refused to sit with their chiefs and tried to speak for themselves and to vote as though they were equal with the council members. 118Wight.114 In Kwahu. 117Sir Gordon Guggisberg. the change of the demand for a chiefs 255-56. Macmillan.

Address to the Legislative Council.121 Whenever there was a conflict between the chief and the people. "Governor's Government no. was deposed. enclosure in Clifford to Harcourt. Gold Coast. Governor Clifford stated this policy in 1914: The democratic institutions of the people cannot be safely tampered with. and is. 24 February1920. Long. 26 May 1916. but I none-the-less consider that some means should. 1918(Extraordinary). little more than a Goverment servant.24 March 1914. GoldCoast.25 January 121Thiswas confirmedin the Peace ConservationOrdinance(1897). Gazette. the government would try to support the chief if it was possible. Note on Conference on NativeJurisdiction Bill withtheLegislative Council 124C096/614. and asks that Government police will stop its occurrence. in ActingGovernor enclosed to Walter Slater 1917. knew how to take advantage of this condition. It is obvious that if this happens many abuses 120C096/543. Slater once said that if a chief.120 All these interpretations ignore the impact of colonial policy on local politics. C.. C096/577. Gold Coast. or police. then it is said that the Chief has the full support of Government in anything he may do. 7 July 1920.Confidential to Secretary of State. 122C096/33. but to the fact that they are more enlightened and progressive than their subjects. if possible."123 Colonial Secretary R. Chiefs. often grossly exaggerates the importance of the intended action. orders. not to excesses or extravagance. Crowther. . (A). in fact. A district commissioner complained of the difficult situation in 1934: Whenever the Chief hears any rumor that his opponents intend to do anything to which he can take the slightest objection he rushes to the D.122 He stated very clearly that "ithas been the endeavor of the government to strengthen the position of the chiefs and to support their authority over their subjects. this deposition would not automatically be recognized. Confidential.124 The chiefs.. Establishing the chiefs as administrative agents. and the lack of mutual respect and cooperation. If strong contingents of police are rushed to the spot and actually do cause the opposition to postpone or even abandon their intentions. in attempting to carry out a government order." 123C099/33. Confidential (A). 28 October 1918. 82.. Confidential (A). Clifford See also C096/567. enclosure in Confidentialto Secretaryof State. Gold Coast.354 ANSHAN LI duty. .Clifford to Secretaryof State. the colonial government could back them up with warrants. however. be devised whereby Government can afford a greater measure of support than is today available to Native Chiefs whose unpopularity is due. "Native Affairs Report submitted by Mr.24 March1914.

he could now count on the government support whenever he met a challenge from his opponent. enclosure in Gold Coast. was less successful for three major reasons." 48. this constant pressure from educated African put the chiefs in an advantageous bargaining position while dealing with the government to preserve their power. The amending Native JurisdictionOrdinance in 1910 strengthened further the chiefly power by giving the traditional tribunals exclusive jurisdiction. 128Simensen. First.On the other hand Government is bound to assist the Chiefs in upholding their position to a certain extent and the difficulty comes in deciding to what extent. This attempt. "NationalismFrom Below.127Ironically. which implied that the right was not vested in the government but in native institutions. the chief became "little more than a government servant"in his people's eyes. Besides consolidating chiefly power. 98-105.126Therefore the government. 126For its significance. This policy was adjusted consistently to strengthen the chiefly power. 457. see J. Second. even if the challenge was reasonable. no.B. the elimination of educated Africans from high government positions since the last quarterof the nineteenth century created an educated group who became increasingly critical of the colonial rulers. 3-29. AnnualReport on the EasternProvince 1933-34. he became "a complete autocrat."Transactionof the Historical Societies of Ghana 3 (1957). 127Kimble. frequently bringing about a direct confrontation between the government and the common people. often reluctantly or unwillingly. however. the government was also trying to incorporate the chiefs into local administration by increasing central control. Danquah.ASAFO AND DESTOOLMENT 355 will creep in to his administration and the opinion of the people will be set at naught. First. the government was bound to assist the chief even if it knew that the chief was wrong. 14 September 1934. "The Historical Significance of the Bond of 1844. Third. the Bond of 1844 had its impact on the government. He becomes a complete autocrat."Third. tried to leave some room for traditional authorities. the Native Jurisdiction Ordinance in 1878 did not mention the appointment of chiefs.125 These words disclosed the real problem of colonial rule.A Political History. The Bond was the first treaty signed by eight Fanti chiefs under which they acknowledged the power and jurisdiction of the Crown.128 125C096/718/21755A. Abusing his power. . Second. Later both the chiefs and the educated Africans always reminded the government its rule rested not on conquest but on free agreement.

356 ANSHAN LI Colonial rule eroded the checks and balances within the indigenous power structure.As Simensen correctly points out. 468. CunliffeLister. another cause for frequent destoolment was the commercialization of stools. Thomas to P. whichwastheonlyperiod sources limitmy choiceof thisparticular 130The period. and 129Ibid. charges. A 131C096/711. specificcasewasdescribed 132Busia. offering Inmostcases. C099/42-50. which resulted in destoolment." Chapter ."129 in mechanisms resulted serious abuse of chiefly power and misconduct in financial matters. When he became a chief he tried every means to get as much profit as possible by levying fines and fees. the people refused to serve him. S. On average. but persuaded the elders to sign a document making themselves responsible for reimbursing him in case he was destooled. During the 1920s. in C096/706. there were thirteen destoolments of chiefs whose charges were detailed in Government Gazette. See also AnshanLi. each chief was charged with nearly four financial misdeeds.19 August1933. chiefs continued to depend on fines from native courts and revenue from stool lands.18 August1932. 1925-29. Among the thirteen deposed chiefs.132 In addition to the legitimacy problem and abuse of chiefly power. GoldCoast.charges in theGovernment didnotappear somecaseswithdetailed Gazette. a candidate in Asante was offered the Kumawu stool on his undertaking to pay the stool debt. "SocialProtestin the Gold twelve were charged for economic offenses.131 Second. He accepted the offer.130 This problem was worsened by two other factors. owing to the lack of normal incomes and adequate funds to maintain their prestige. In 1920. various reports revealed that many disturbances resulted from the dissatisfaction which the asafo felt at not being consulted before any expenditure.Position of the Chief. As a result. such as the expropriation of stool land and money or extortion in native tribunals became very serious. it was not uncommon for stools to be offered to those who promised to pay the stool debt. there was neither a distinction between the chiefs' personal income and the stool revenue. It was they who were to be ultimately responsible for the payment.Lister.Government Gazette. Coast. "a reduction of the democratic element in the traditional constitution was a necessary precondition for establishing the This breakdown of traditionalpolitical chiefs as effective administrative agents. nor any system of control to ensure their expenditures should be on public purposes.Northcote to P.C. In the 1930s.208. When stool debt became a serious problem owing to the constant involvement in land litigation. First.

212. the asafo. chiefs felt quite secure under the protection of British rule. when the government noticed the clash between the asafo and the chief. Anothercase was describedin Welman'sNative States. with its traditional tendency to balance political power. This greatly alarmed the chiefs in Asante. 28-35. A vicious circle thus developed: fear of losing privileges led to an excessive use of power at hand.l34 This study shows that owing to its ignorance of the traditional system. The role of the asafo company in power structurewas disregarded and their normal participation in state affairs became less and less possible. Position of the Chief. Thus the situation became paradoxical. taking no notice of the democratic features of indigenous system. 133ColonialReports:Ashanti. and more abuse of power usually meant more destoolments. since destoolment was unpredictable and meant total loss of power. it was common for the asafo to destool unpopular chiefs. who decided to make some regulations on the problem. . 133Frequent use of bribery in elections also showed the tendency to commercialize the stool. This new condition caused by the colonial rule had a psychological impact on both common people and the chief. On the one hand. took the lead to protect commoners' interests. To meet this challenge. On the other hand. 1920. During the period we have discussed. Later. it consciously supported the chief in order to follow the principles of indirect rule and to strengthen local administration. the colonial government accepted the chief as an autocratwho enjoyed absolute power. the chiefs also had a sense of insecure possession of authority. 134Busia.ASAFO AND DESTOOLMENT 357 brought him before the chief commissioner.