Legacies of Slavery in Early-twentieth-century Gold Coast Africa
Author: Dylan C. Penningroth
The histories of Ghana and the U.S. South during the nineteenth century were significantly shaped by debates about the claims that slaves and their descendants made to kinship and to the products of their labor. This comparative argument raises questions about what followed in the twentieth century. Although slavery is legally gone from Ghana today, and many people avoid talking about “slave origins,” they still matter there and elsewhere in Africa. Such tensions would have been especially strong as much of southern Gold Coast experienced a series of massive social shifts, including the rise of cocoa as an export crop, the consolidation and expansion of colonial rule, and mass migration. Each of these had implications for the claims that slave-descended people might make to property and lineage membership. The project utilizes legal records from the Ghana national archives and the royal archives of Akyem Abuakwa State, to look closely at issues of inheritance, slander, and stool succession.