E-30.31.041
"The sub-chiefs of the King of Bamum renewing allegiance."
Schwarz, Eugen (Mr)
date early : 1907-01-01.0., date late : 1912-12-31.0.


E-30.31.042
"People attending the ceremony
at which chiefs renew allegiance to the King of Bamum."
Schwarz, Eugen (Mr)
date early : 1907-01-01.0., date late : 1912-12-31.0.


E-30.31.043
"The Queen Mother of Bamum, with many attendants."
Schwarz, Eugen (Mr)
date early : 1907-01-01.0., date late : 1912-12-31.0.

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African Political Culture I

Sitting in state was and is an important part of chieftaincy and political protocol in West Africa. Superior chiefs sat in state during festivals, at royal funerals, to receive foreign dignitaries, to ratify treaties, and to acknowledge the swearing and renewing of allegiances by subordinate chiefs. It was crucial for the chief or king to make a favorable impression at these occasions. Hence visitors to a kingdom could be delayed while the king sent for his subordinate chiefs and courtiers as well as subjects from surrounding settlements in order to mount an impressive reception. At these state affairs, political hierarchy was evident in the seating arrangement of the court, in the question of which chief had the privilege of being carried into court in a palanquin, and the chiefly paraphernalia at chiefs' disposal. In E-30.31.041 and E-30.31.042, the king of Bamum sits in state to receive the renewal of allegiance from his sub-chiefs. But sitting in state was not just a male preserve: in E-30.31.043 the Queen Mother of Bamum also sits in state surrounded by many attendants. A chief should not be seen in public unattended by courtiers.

In D-30.14.048, Nana Odow [Addo] Kwame, chief of Abetifi, poses with his elders and attendants. Boys were often part of the chief's entourage. Boys were groomed early to take on political functions, which were usually hereditary, and the elders selected those who exhibited qualities of bravery, eloquence, intelligence and respectfulness for training at the royal court. The firing of musketry (D-30.18.025) accompanied festivals and the funerals of royal personages or very important persons. Chiefly regalia were part of a visual political culture of communication. Royal emissaries bore distinctive regalia that showed their accreditation. Other kings and chiefs recognized these regalia. The headgear and the sword borne by the head of the sword-bearers of Chief Odow [Addo] Kwame was distinctive in this respect (D-30.14.056). Likewise drums were an important part of chiefly regalia and particular types of drums were reserved for a certain rank of chiefs in Akan political culture (D-30.14.055). Chiefs danced in state to drum music, drum language drummed out the history of the state and royal dignitaries, and drums were used to communicate news between settlements. D-30.15.010 shows several Kwahu chiefs in state as the British colonial government makes evident its annexation of Kwahu. Kwahu had been opened up through the activities of the Basel missionaries. But the presence of the Gold Coast Constabulary in this photo brought to the fore the "power" behind the colonial establishment and the futility of resistance.

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