by AndrewMc | 7/29/2009 07:07:00 AM
I'm still mulling over this story:

The descendants of an African chief who was hanged and decapitated by a Dutch general 171 years ago reluctantly accepted the return of his severed head Thursday, still angry even as the Dutch tried to right a historic wrong.

HuffPo Story

The story has all the elements of colonialism and post-colonialism mixed in with a bit of the bizarre. But it's not clear why the writer thinks that the Ahanta were "reluctant" to take the head back. Sounds to me like they were just pissed.

Interestingly, other writers describe the mood as "angry" or "tense."
Finding Dulcinea

The BBC probably has the most complete story on the wire services:

Anyway, it's an interesting tale.

Use this as an open thread.

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Blogger Ahistoricality on 7/29/2009 1:51 PM:

The HuffPo piece includes this line:

The head was taken by Maj. Gen. Jan Verveer in 1838 in retaliation for Bonsu's killing of two Dutch emissaries, whose heads were displayed as trophies on Bonsu's throne, said Arthur Japin, a Dutch author who discovered the king's head when he was working on a historical novel.

Is it just me, or is there some small bit of hypocrisy in the Ghanian claim to be the offended party in this case?

Also, kudos to the historical novelist!


Blogger AndrewMc on 7/29/2009 11:22 PM:

I wondered about that, too. What was the context of the killing of the emissaries?

The Ghanaians also demanded money for schools and roads, iirc.


Blogger Ahistoricality on 7/30/2009 3:36 PM:

No matter what the context or provocation, they claim that the failure to return the head threatens the eternal rest of the king: if that's their theology, then they've been doing a grave disservice to these Dutchmen and their relatives for even longer.

If it were about colonialism, the Ghanians would have a decent case, but they're staking their claim on grounds which cut both ways.

p.s. is anyone else beginning to panic about the approach of Fall semester?


Blogger Ahistoricality on 7/30/2009 7:06 PM:

In other news, the new Presidential Medal of Freedom honorees includes:
Joe Medicine Crow – High Bird

Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow, the last living Plains Indian war chief, is the author of seminal works in Native American history and culture. He is the last person alive to have received direct oral testimony from a participant in the Battle of the Little Bighorn: his grandfather was a scout for General George Armstrong Custer. A veteran of World War II, Medicine Crow accomplished during the war all of the four tasks required to become a “war chief,” including stealing fifty Nazi SS horses from a German camp. Medicine Crow was the first member of his tribe to attend college, receiving his master’s degree in anthropology in 1939, and continues to lecture at universities and notable institutions like the United Nations. His contributions to the preservation of the culture and history of the First Americans are matched only by his importance as a role model to young Native Americans across the country.


Anonymous Anonymous on 8/02/2009 4:00 AM:

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Blogger AndrewMc on 8/02/2009 10:01 AM:

I'll start leaving comments on these deletions, because they're getting more frequent:

I deleted the above comment because it was an advertisement.