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The features of the Akan political system

African Home, Uganda, Village, House

Paramount Chief
The Paramount Chief or the king, as the case may be, was the head of all the chiefs. He was in charge of all governance activities of the state. He was responsible for ensuring that the state was protected against military attack. he administered the state and also made sure laws were enacted to maintain law and order.

The Akan state was constituted by sub-chiefdoms. Each chiefdom was headed by a Divisional Chief who was answerable to the Paramount Chief. There were also other chiefs below the Sub-chiefs who were referred to as District Rulers. Then in charge of towns and villages were Age Chiefs who owed their allegiance to the Paramount Chief through the Divisional Chiefs.

The Queen Mother
a provision was made for a Queen Mother. It was her duty to nominate a successor to the chief when the royal stool became vacant. She performed judicial functions. Apart from having her own court to settle disputes, she also sat with the chief in court. If the male line fails to produce a male candidate, the Queen Mother could become the Paramount Ruler. 

The Linguist
The position of a linguist was an integral part of the Akan political system before the advent of the colonialists. The office of the linguist could not be passed on after the death of a current linguist. The linguist was the Chief Spokesman for the Chief and the people. 

The Council of Elders
There was a Council of Elders in every political unit. This Council was made up of the heads of principal families, the most senior of the captains of Asafo companies and divisional chiefs. The Council approved the nomination of a chief and could also destool a chief.

State Council  
Provision was traditionally made for a State Council which was the highest authority in the state. It was made up political heads of the various villages and towns and their Councillors. It also included Divisional Chiefs and their Councillors and finally, the Paramount Chief. The State Council met on issues as important as the enstoolment of a Paramount Chief or for war to be declared.

The Judiciary
There was a traditional system of justice. There were local courts with divisional chiefs in charge, there was also a superior court which doubled as an appeal court, and was headed by a paramount chief. Subjects who were dissatisfied by a ruling at the lower courts could appeal the ruling at the superior court and they have the right to be heard. Trials were conducted in the normal way but for intractable cases, they resorted to trial by ordeal.

State Treasury
There was a state treasury into which taxes, fines, royalties, proceeds from the sale or lease of lands, etc., were paid. These proceeds were divided into three parts and one-third of the amount was used to take care of the chief. One half of the rest was used for the maintenance of the stool and the provision of social amenities and the other half was set aside for the people.

Asafo Companies
The Asafo companies performed para-military functions. They were responsible for the defense of the communities. They assisted in the construction of social amenities through communal labour. They helped in the construction of roads, for example, the construction of local markets and village toilets. They were also involved in ceremonies to enstool or destool chiefs.

1. Highlight six features of the Akan pre-colonial political system.

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