Constructing the historicity of chieftaincy among the Nawuri of northern Ghana
AbstractPre-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.