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Manu-Osafo, Manuel J. ‘The Days of their Heedless Power Were Over and Done’: Dynamics of Power in the Military Structures of the Precolonial Asante State, 1874–1900
2021, Manu-Osafo, M. J. (2021) “‘the Days of Their Heedless Power Were Over and Done’: Dynamics of Power in the Military Structures of the Precolonial Asante State, 1874–1900,” The Journal of African History, 62(2), pp. 254–270. doi: 10.1017/S0021853721000281.
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Abstract:

The British surprisingly faced no military resistance when they captured Asante in 1896. Previous works have focused on the agency of actors like Prempe and Frederick Hodgson to explain why. This paper, in contrast, approaches this epoch in Asante history from the context of the sociopolitical power structure within which the precolonial Asante state operated. It asserts that Asante's independence was contingent on having a strong military. But since it had no standing army, the state used Asante's ‘social contract’ to coerce its subjects into ad hoc armies to meet military threats. Starting from the 1874 Sagrenti War, however, the state disregarded the social contract. This unleashed a series of events that undermined the state's power to coerce Asantes into military service. The article posits further that this erosion of the state's coercive power ultimately prevented it from countering the British with armed resistance in 1896 to maintain independence.

Comment: This paper offers another interpretation of how colonial rule was imposed in the Asante Empire. Despite its military strength, the Empire submitted to the British in 1896. Using a version of Social Contract Theory, the author accounts for how the Asante state was, over time, undermined, which weakened its military. It is an easy paper to read, however the terms are very specific and niche to pre-colonial West Africa and requires a previous knowledge of the Asante Empire and its associated figures, such as Asantehene Prempe.

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Sackeyfio-Lenoch, Naaborko. The Ghana Trades Union Congress and the Politics of International Labor Alliances, 1957–1971*
2017, Sackeyfio-Lenoch, N. (2017) “The Ghana Trades Union Congress and the Politics of International Labor Alliances, 1957-1971*,” International Review of Social History, 62(2), pp. 191–213. doi: 10.1017/S0020859017000189.
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Abstract:

This article explores the motives of Ghana’s Trades Union Congress in
securing development assistance during the era of decolonization and early independence. African interests and agency in these complex processes of negotiation have not been sufficiently untangled to highlight the decisions that African trade unionists made as they aligned with, and fostered, international networks and alliances to meet particular development goals. By highlighting the perspectives and actions of Ghana’s trade union officials, the article demonstrates what Africans sought to achieve through connections to international trade union organizations. The Ghana case illustrates the ways in which African trade unionists actively engaged in the variable and competing politics and policies of local, regional, and global trade unionism in order to strengthen their union apparatus and meet shifting needs.

Comment: This article shows how a trade union functioned in sub-Saharan Africa’s first country to gain its independence from British colonial rule, and demonstrates how trade union diplomacy emerged as an important element of African national and international politics during the era of decolonisation. Through the lens of African labor interests and the actions of the Ghana Trade Union Congress, the article engages with the confluence of internationalism and decolonisation in post-independence African societies.

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