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Constructing the historicity of chieftaincy among the Nawuri of northern Ghana

CK Mbowura


Pre-colonial societies in Northern Ghana have been described as “centralized” and “acephalous.” While the Mole-Dagbani, Gonja and Wala states were said to be centralized, that is states with systems of government by which  jurisdiction is territorial and based on chieftaincy with a paramount chief  serving as the nexus of authority, the rest of the societies in Northern Ghana were described as acephalous – lacking territorial unity defined in  administrative terms and by the notion of chieftaincy. Categorized as  acephalous, the pre-colonial existence of chieftaincy in Nawuri society was  dismissed. This paper argues that the description of Nawuri society as  acephalous is inappropriate and inconsistent with available historical evidence  about the ancient existence of chieftaincy among the Nawuri. Scholars must  begin to construct the historicity of chieftaincy among the Nawuri in the  context of a centralized, rather than an “acephalous” society.

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print ISSN: 2343-6530