This thesis uses archaeological, anthropological, and historical evidence along with indigenous texts as the determining factors to address two major problems in the literature: the widely held belief that Akan culture developed in the forests of modem Ghana and that their supreme deity, Onyame, is a 'withdrawn deity', with whom they did not share an intimate relationship. Although these problems may seem unrelated the former is used to support the latter by ignoring the historical antecedents of Northern Akan culture that blossomed in the savanna-forest transition zone and the subsequent movement of well-developed religious practices and beliefs from the north to the south with the expansion of Akan culture into the forest zone. Those practices and beliefs had persisted until the 19th century, as religious action, and have persisted until today as religious ideology in indigenous texts.

The central theme of this project is the transformations of belief and practice from the eighteenth century onward brought about with the expansion and the reduction of the Asante state. Subsumed by this theme is the decline in what I call 'indigenous literacy' brought about by the regional and societal upheaval rooted in the increasingly aggressive expansion of the British empire into the area known by them as "The Gold Coast" and their eventual incorporation of the Asante nation into The Gold Coast Colony in 1901. The decline in indigenous literacy is addressed by focusing on one, multi-faceted, aspect of Akan indigenous culture (religion) and using the continuity, knowledge, and meaning of its practice as a gauge to measure the impact of colonial discourses about Akan culture on Akan views of their religion. Also examined is the interplay between texts ( drum and some oral) and time as represented by the structure of the adaduanan. A sub-theme of this thesis is the performance of cultural texts (ceremonies) and culture as text (symbolism/meaning) that this interplay allows and its significance in observing the historical transformations belief and practice have undergone.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Date of Award


Online Submission Date


First Advisor

Nicholas Hopkins

Committee Member 1

Nicholas Hopkins

Committee Member 2

Elizabeth Coker

Committee Member 3

Donald P.Cole

Document Type



149 leaves

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Akan (African people)


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Call Number

Thesis 2003/31