Everyday Islam in Kumasi: Devout Lay Men and Women in Daily Life

by Gracia Clark

Runaway Wife

Date: January 3, 1939
This wronged husband is appealing to the Asantehene because he feels the chief of his ethnic community in Kumasi has been unfair.

Palaver Held at the Central Market, Kumasi

Date: October 13, 1946
Muslim traders settled freely in Kumasi after British conquest in 1898, but they had to negotiate a place for themselves politically and economically as a minority. Each immigrant ethnic group acknowledged a Kumasi headman, who maintained constructive relations with the Asante chiefly hierarchy and the British colonial authorities to protect their trading activities and legal traditions. Although most of the translations for this case will be from oral interviews, the paramount chief's archives contain valuable English language documents from earlier decades, such as petitions and court cases. The following sample document shows high-ranking palace officials mediating a conflict between male traders from Gao (Mali) and Asante women traders. Their rivalry over access to truckloads of yams arriving in Kumasi Central Market sparked several violent clashes between 1938 and 1952.