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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Witches, Oracles, and Colonial Law: Evolving Anti-Witchcraft Practices in Ghana, 1927-1932
Author:Gray, Natasha
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies
Geographic terms:Ghana
Great Britain
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
History and Exploration
Law, Human Rights and Violence
Abstract:This article demonstrates how local forces molded witchcraft beliefs in colonial Ghana through an exploration of the Tongo witchcraft controversy of 1927-1932. When the British colonized the Gold Coast in 1874, they declared that 'native customs' would be respected except those 'repugnant to natural justice and morality'. British and Gold Coast Akan ideas of 'natural justice' differed: most Akan believed witchcraft was a threat that had to be combated while the British saw it as a dangerous superstition. Conflict arose over the power of Native Tribunals to judge witchcraft cases. The controversy over the Tongo oracle prompted the colonial government in 1930 to revoke this power. The government went further by prohibiting 'the practice of witch or wizard finding', leaving their subjects without a mechanism for settling witchcraft conflicts. The compromise suggested by the lawyer J.B. Danquah, which allowed voluntary participation in the activities of witchfinding oracles, offered a workable solution for both parties. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]