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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:A Chieftaincy Dispute and Ritual Murder in Elmina, Ghana, 1945-6
Author:Gocking, Roger
Periodical:The Journal of African History
Geographic term:Ghana
Subjects:traditional rulers
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
Law, Human Rights and Violence
Politics and Government
Abstract:In 1945 in the Colony of the Gold Coast (Ghana), the regent of Elmina and four of his supporters were charged with murdering a young girl to use her blood and body parts to make 'medicine' to help them win a forgery case in which they were defendants. They were found guilty and, after their appeals to the West African Court of Appeal and the Privy Council failed, they were hanged in 1946. The Bridge House murder, as it was known in the Gold Coast, was universally acknowledged to be linked to the bitter factional disputes over succession to the paramountcy of the Elmina State that existed in the 1940s. It provides insight into the contested political life in the colony's littoral towns as colonial rule was drawing to a close. The accused had tried to change the town's system of succession to the paramountcy from patrilineal to matrilineal succession. Their opponents claimed they had obtained a State Council decision in favour of this change by fraudulent means and brought charges in the British court. The murder case put the colonial judiciary on trial and provides insight into how murder was adjudicated in the Gold Coast. It also provides an example of how much 'superstition and juju' continued to have influence in an area of the colony with the longest exposure to Christianity and Western education. Notes, ref., sum.