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Casely-Hayford, Augustus Lavinus (1992) A genealogical history of Cape Coast stool families. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00032194

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Abstract

Cape Coast was one of the most politically and socially significant towns in West Africa. Between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries, it was one of the main trading emporia on the West African coast. By the early twentieth century Cape Coast had developed into the centre of the West African proto-nationalist movement. Longstanding trading, familial and social connections with Europe, had created a social infrastructure that nurtured political activity. Throughout the period of establishment of permanent European settlements, there was increasing indigenous conflict between fte Fante, (an immigrant group who favoured systems of matrilineal inheritance) and the native EfUtU, who maintained patrilineal systems of lineage. By the eighteenth century, the mercantile success of the Fante gave their families and institutions a disproportionate amount of power within Cape Coast. As Cape Coast grew in size and influence, the two systems of lineage created independent and competing histories which legitimised their respective claims to jurisdiction of the town. Over generations the histories supported by the two lineages diverged to a point where they could no longer be reconciled. The political differences of the two lineages served to reinforce the opposition they held in their histories, which in turn fuelled their vehement support for their separate customs and institutions. Toward the end of nineteenth century, as the church's influence grew and British law became increasingly accepted, the stool ceased to be the sole source of indigenous reaction to colonial and Asante encroachments. The stool's relative loss of power to the British had been exacerbated by an extended interregnum at the end of the nineteenth century and the continuance of lineage disputes between the stool families. From within the Fante section of the stool family, several individuals stepped forward to voice the opinions of the town. Although such men could justify their roles through their genealogical links to the stool, they chose not to. In the first two decades of the twentieth century the political agenda of certain local politicians broadened beyond the bounds of Cape Coast, and then beyond the bounds of the colony. The weakness of the Cape Coast stool and a catastrophic downturn in trade pushed the town into recession. Cape Coast never recovered A major stool dispute enquiry in 1916, underlined how obscure and contradictory the stool history had become. It was only at that point that people realised that the demise of the stool history ran parallel to the decay of the extended stool family. The stool families' cohesion was inextricably linked to the general acceptance of specific homogenising genealogical accounts of stool history. As the history became obscured by time, so the stool family went into decline.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00032194
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2020 10:44
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/32194

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