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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'My Arse for Okou'. A Wartime Ritual of Women on the Nineteenth Century Gold Coast
Author:Jones, AdamISNI
Year:1993
Periodical:Cahiers d'études africaines
Volume:33
Issue:132
Pages:545-566
Language:English
Geographic term:Ghana
Subjects:ethnic warfare
rituals
women
History and Exploration
Women's Issues
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Historical/Biographical
Cultural Roles
Sex Roles
External link:https://doi.org/10.3406/cea.1993.1492
Abstract:The wartime role of Akan-speaking and G~a women on the nineteenth-century Gold Coast (the southern part of modern Ghana and an adjacent area of Côte-d'Ivoire) was not limited to that of supplying and congratulating their menfolk. On an ideological level the position of these women vis-à-vis men changed significantly during war. This change was expressed through a ceremony known in Twi as 'mmobomme', a set of rituals that still exists but whose function and outward form have changed considerably. Aspects of this ceremony are mentioned in sources written by a number of European observers between 1784 and 1903. The author discusses the frequently recurrent features of this set of rituals, including 'dance', praise and execration, 'prayer', symbolism, 'obscene' behaviour, inversion of gender roles, and the abuse of male 'cowards'. He detects parallels with other African and European rituals of status-reversal. The meaning of 'mmobomme' was highly complex, but under certain circumstances this ceremony might serve to consolidate male dominance in 'normal' social life by offering an outlet for the expression of resentment by women with regard to their culturally defined role. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in French (p. 689).
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