Just before I left Ghana in 1986, my young friend Ben Kofi Wilson gave me a set of photos. I came across them recently and thought I'd put them up on Flickr because he might like to look at them.
Three of the photos feature Ben's friend and classmate, Obese (Oh-bee-see) Yeboah, who also happened to be the soul of the Akwapihene, the chief of the Akwapims.
I didn't know that Yeboah was the chief's soul until the day I punished him for talking in class. I don't remember the punishment. Probably I made him kneel on the concrete floor for a few minutes.
After class, Ben ran after me and told me that I should not have punished Yeboah because he was the soul of the chief.
He had to explain to me about how for protection the chief lodged his soul in the body of a young boy. This meant that if I punished Yeboah, it was like I was punishing the Awkapihene.
I acted like I was unconcerned. "If he's the soul of the chief, he shouldn't do anything to get punished for."
But I was a bit concerned, so I asked my friend Emmanuel Asante-Ankwa the senior housemaster about it. "Hmm," he said, "I had heard something about this boy being the soul of the chief. I think it is all right for him to be punished if he misbehaves, but come see me if it is anything serious. Perhaps we should avoid caning him."
Fortunately for all of us, Yeboah's talking in class was an isolated incident and Emmanuel wasn't much for caning anyway.
- Akwapim is also often spelled Akuapem.
- There is interesting detail about Akwapim kings at page 171 of Religion and Power, Oriental Institute series, Number 4.