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A CHIEFTAINCY DISPUTE AND RITUAL MURDER IN ELMINA, GHANA, 1945–6

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 July 2000

ROGER GOCKING
Affiliation:
Mercy College, New York

Abstract

Between 6.30 and 7.00 a.m. on Monday morning, 19 March 1945 the body of a young girl of ten was found on the beach a short distance from the town of Elmina at a popular bathing spot known as Akotobinsin. According to the coroner, she had been dead for between 24 and 48 hours. There was no water in her lungs or stomach which indicated that she had not died by drowning. Instead, her upper and lower lips, both cheeks, both eyes, her private parts and anus, and several elliptical pieces of skin from different parts of her body had been removed. Many of these wounds exposed large blood vessels and the coroner concluded that ‘death was due to shock and hemorrhage’. She was identified as Ama Krakraba who had been missing since the evening of Saturday, 17 March. Her frantic mother had immediately suspected foul play and had confronted Kweku Ewusie, the Regent of the Edina State, who was later accused of having ‘enticed’ the young girl to the third floor of Bridge House, where he lived, ‘by the ruse of sending her out on an errand to buy tobacco’. There she had been murdered so that her body parts could be used to make ‘medicine’ to help the Regent's faction win a court case that was critical for their political standing in Elmina. On the 24 March, after a preliminary investigation, the colony's attorney-general brought charges of murder against Kweku Ewusie and four others from Elmina: Joe Smith, Herbert Krakue, Nana Appram Esson, alias Joseph Bracton Johnson, and Akodei Mensah. They were tried at the Accra Criminal Assizes from 16 May to 2 June, found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to be hanged. The West African Court of Appeal turned down their appeal on 28 June 1945 as did the Privy Council on 14 January 1946. On 1 February 1946, Kweku Ewusie, Joe Smith and Herbert Krakue were hanged at James Fort in Accra, and on 2 February, J. B. Johnson and Akodei Mensah met the same fate.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2000 Cambridge University Press

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Footnotes

I would like to thank the Faculty Development Committee of Mercy College, as well as Dr Carol Moore, Mercy College's provost at the time of this research, for financial support that enabled me to carry out some of the research for this article in Ghana. I would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers of the Journal of African History for suggestions on how to improve the arguments presented. An earlier version of the article was presented at the 39th Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association, San Francisco, 25 Nov. 1996. I would also like to thank those who attended this panel for their comments and suggestions.
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