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The democratic aspects of the Akan pre-colonial system of Government



DEMOCRATIC ASPECTS OF THE AKAN PRE-COLONIAL SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT
The appointment of a new chief
The Akan political system allowed for the Queen Mother to nominate a candidate to replace a chief who died or abdicated the throne. She presented her choice to the kingmakers to either accept or reject. 

The Queen Mother was expected to consult members of the royal family, including the children of the late chief and the elders as well as influential persons to ascertain their wishes. 

The Kingmakers could reject the nominee of the Queen Mother, but she is was allowed to continue nominating a candidate until a suitable candidate was found acceptable Council of Elders. If she was unable to find a suitable candidate at all, the Council of Elders were empowered to select a person of their own choice from the royal family.

Council of Elders
The system made provision for a Council of Elders. The Council of Elders comprised the most senior Captains of Asafo Companies. It included representatives of the various clans, and the heads of the leading lineages of the community. The political power of the state ultimately resided with the people, however, it was held by the Council of Elders. Before laws and regulations were made and implemented, the Paramount Chief had to consult the Council of Elders, Senior Chiefs and Divisional Chiefs. 

Oath of Office and allegiance
At the ceremony to install a chief, the chief was made to swear an oath to abide by the requirements of his office. For the benefit of doubt, his duties were again spelt out. Some of the pieces of advice given to him included the importance of consulting Council of Elders and seeking their consent. This requirement to consult was a democratic feature in the Akan pre-colonial period. 

Destoolment of a chief
The Chief could lose his office if he disregarded the advice of the Council of Elder, if he was unable to protect the subjects or to maintain stool property. The chief could be destooled for any of the following reasons: violation of customs, mismanagement of state or for sexual promiscuity.

Settlement of disputes and other cases
In the administration of justice, arbitration, mediation and conciliation were used in the settlement of disputes. The disputants were given fair trial. For example, complainants and defendants were allowed to put their cases across and were cross-examined. After that the elders gave their judgment  after deliberating over the issue. One of the tenets of democracy is the right to fair trial.

Restraints on the Chiefs
Other democratic elements in the Akan pre-colonial political system were checks and balances embedded in the traditional governance. The Asafo companies could unite against the Chief, and if this happened, he could lose his throne. The Chief Priest, who was regarded as the link between the chief and the ancestors, wielded a lot of control over the chief because he brought messages from the ancestors which the chief could not ignore. Even common people also had their influence where they could demonstrate against the chief if they were dissatisfied with his performance.


SAMPLE QUESTIONS
1. In which six ways were the actions of the Chief controlled in pre-colonial Akan society?
2. Discuss six democratic elements in the pre-colonial political system of the Akan people.
3. Highlight six democratic features in the Akan pre-colonial political system.

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