Akan Leadership Arts

by Doran Ross
Formerly Fowler Museum, UCLA

Court scene, Akuropon, Akuapem, Ghana, 1976. Photo by Doran Ross.

The Akan peoples of Ghana, the former Gold Coast of West Africa, are divided into a number of subgroups, of which the Asante and Fante are best known. Today the Asante are organized into a loose confederacy of fourteen states, each headed by a paramount chief, one of which, the Asantehene, is recognized as supreme. The twenty to twenty-five Fante states have less of a collective structure and exist more fully independent of each other, but, like the Asante, each state is ruled by a paramount chief and a hierarchy of divisional, town, and village chiefs supported by a council of elders and an elaborate complex of court officials, each with identifiable regalia (See Cole and Ross 1977, Kyerematen 1964, and McCleod 1981 for broad surveys of Akan arts.)