This is an exemplary and fascinating work of African cultural and historical documentation.
A fresh and insightful look into a sorely neglected aspect of history, Zac Adama’s Cultural Migration: A Short History of Nkrankwanta and Anyii Dwabene offers a thoroughly documented and compelling account of African history and culture. Presented for the first time in written form, this traditionally oral and guarded cultural history encompasses traditions, customs, and beliefs, making it an enlightening resource.
Having himself received the story from his great-uncle, Zac Adama presents the story of the Anyii Dwabene, an Akan tribe originating in what is now Ghana. This work details the tribe’s trials and tribulations in establishing a successful community since before the eighteenth century. The history includes migrations, wars, and the resistance of French colonization, as well as the founding of the city of Nkrankwanta and its continued growth and evolution as a major regional town. The book also details aspects of Anyii Dwabene life, and offers a brief look at the language and vocabulary of the tribe.
In essence, Adama’s work is a historical document, though it weaves passion, admiration, and humor into the text to uncommon effect. The tales, songs, and proverbs of the Anyii Dwabene are also present. Such liveliness helps to make the text’s straight historical data more manageable. This engaging means of relating the cultural history of the tribe also compellingly mimics how the information was presented as part of an oral tradition, resulting in a work that is true to its roots.
The large number of names and places could be overwhelming, particularly as many have multiple iterations, but Adama alleviates confusion by breaking down what words mean. An appendix more thoroughly explains the language, and this information is a significant resource.
Cultural Migration proves to be a fascinating reading experience that forwards the not-often-heard perspectives of those who are colonized. It explores the experiences of the Anyii Dwabene with the French, and also provides insights into the tribe’s spiritual practices, such as communing with departed relatives and the significance of the ruling stools.
Adama’s work proves invaluable, and his familiarity with primary sources, including the oral traditions of the tribe, is significant. His proximity to and fluency in the culture examined result in strong insights, both from his time living within and experiencing the Anyii Dwabene, and thanks to the stories of his great-uncle. Both are ably translated in this work, providing wider access to the community than has ever before been granted.
Cultural Migration is an exemplary and fascinating work of African cultural and historical documentation.
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