‘I Could Not Look After My Body Or Health’: Marriage, Slavery, Colonialism, And Abina Trevor R. Getz Regina v. Quamina Eddoo, 1876, Cape Coast Judicial Assessors Court 2 William Melton, Acting Judicial Assessor James Davis, prosecutor Abina Mansah, appearing for the prosecution Adjuah N’yamiwheh, appearing for the prosecution James Hutton Brew, defense attorney Quamina Eddoo, defendant Eccoah Croom, appearing for the defense Yawowhah, appearing for the defense Three geographic levels of interpretation 3 1. The Gold Coast Colony and Protectorate as “state” 3. Akan (Twispeakers) as sociocultural community 2. The British Empire as “network” and “system” Abina’s stories in “three keys” 4 SCOPE FOCUS METHODS AND INTERPRETIVE SOURCES FRAME Negotiation and Converging Social history impact of abolition documents and courtroom testimony Thick interpretation World history Imperial/global The colonial courtroom and the meaning of “slavery” The colony Akan cultural world Marriage Linguistic analysis, oral histories, and proverbs Gender studies and ethno-history – informing a critical world history 1 A social history of abolition on the Gold Coast 1874 colonial establishment 6 Asante Confederation: Adanse 1874 Colony and Protectorate: the “Protectorate” is the broader area Coastal towns: “The Colony” British Press cover 1873-1874 war 7 Abolition of slavery in Gold Coast 8 July 1874 – Anglo-Asante war ends July - August 1874 – Anti-Slavery Societies lobby for abolition August1874 – Parliament investigates several models for gradual emancipation. Chiefs and “educated men” send petitions opposing abolition. September 1874 – Governor and Executive Council adopt “Indian Model”. “Success” of Indian Model 9 Abolitionists largely satisfied, yet little economic or political dislocation Under the surface – slave/master negotiation Rise in importation of young, female captives Basel Mission postcard from Gold Coast, 1896: “The freed slave children say ‘thank you’” Abina’s testimony 10 Abina Mansah, having been promised and declared that she would speak the truth says: “A man called Yowawhah brought me from Ashantee. I was his wife. He brought me to Salt Pond. Yowawhah went on purchasing goods. On the same day as he finished, he handed me over to defendant to be with with him, and said that he was going back and would return………” World history in the Gold Coast courtroom 11 Law: The “Indian Model” – adapted from the Raj (India) Palm oil as imperial commodity Abolitionism as a British middle-class core value Conceptualizing slavery as the binary opposite of “freedom” Paternalism and ethnography: “Women and children are…. So much property, which [the head of the Akan household] can sell, pawn, or give away at his pleasure” – Brodie Cruickshank “Slavery here is an emanation of parental and family authority” – 1874 Fairfield Report Melton’s formulation of slavery 12 Did any money change hands, or were any rituals denoting enslavement carried out? Was the witness physically abused? Was the witness called a slave (such local terms as “donko” or “amerfefley”)? What sort of labor was the witness required to do, and was he or she paid for it? Was the witness brought into the protectorate from outside? The making of James Hutton Brew – attorney for the defense and cultural broker 13 1750 - Irishman Richard Brew arrived in Gold Coast. He had two children with Afina Anson, the daughter of a local paramount Chief. Grandson Richard Brew II court interpreter and magistrate for the British. Grandson Samuel Kante Brew - “scholar” and slave trader who operated under the Spanish flag. Son Samuel Collins Brew – merchant and magistrate, married heiress to state of Abora Dunkwa. Son James Hutton Brew – prince, newspaper founder, and lawyer. Defended Quamina Eddoo Abina’s arguments 14 “when a free person is sitting down at ease the slave is working that is what I know”. “I had been sold and I had no will of my own and I could not look after my body and health”. “As they were in defendant’s house long before if the defendant had done anything for them I could not tell but as for me he did nothing good for me”. “Health” – 19th century Akan conceptions 15 Spouse Physical needs met abusua clan (matrikin) Relationship s Spiritual protection Sodalities (patrikin) Marriage Proverbs Peggy Appiah, Kwame Anthoy Appiah, and Ivor Agyeman-Duah, Bu Me Be: Proverbs of the Akans 16 “A woman’s glory is her marriage” “An unmarried person eats scantily” “A single person is like a dead chicken” “A new marriage, brother-in-law benefits from it.” Cognates for marriage? 17 Rattray’s Akan categories of marriage adehye awadie – marriage between a free man and a free women mpena awadie – concubinage awowa awadie – marriage between a free man and a pawn afona awadie – marriage between a free man and a slave kuna awadie – levirate marriage ayete awadie – sororate marriage Head drink and marriage rite John Kofi Fynn – Fante oral histories 18 “The family of the woman is consulted and the necessary formalities performed.” “When a man loves a woman he first sends envoys to the woman’s father. If the girl is not married the father informs the family. 2 pounds is first charged as Head drink; 4 pounds is secondly charged as marriage rite.” “The man proposes to the woman, if the woman approves the parents are informed and if they like the man or his character then a day is fixed for the marriage rites.” Divorce Proverbs Peggy Appiah, Kwame Anthoy Appiah, and Ivor Agyeman-Duah, Bu Me Be: Proverbs of the Akans 19 “If a marriage stinks, we don’t sleep with it so that the scent becomes good.” “Divorce does not destroy the town.” “It is not difficult to get a divorce.” Cognates for “slave”? 20 Rattray’s Akan categories of slavery akoa - “servant” awowa - “debt pawn” donko - “domestic slave” dommum - “war captive” akyere - “slave under capital punishment” 1896 Basel Mission image labeled simply “slave children” afona awadie marriages – 1870s 21 Expanded dramatically with increased importation of women with “donko” status. Far more affordable than marriage to “free” women with extensive matrilineages. British magistrates accepted that wives were not slaves. Wives had neither recourse to divorce nor protection of courts. Yaw Awoah marries Abina 22 Three advantages for Yaw: Provided him with a legal justification bring her into the Colony and Protectorate. Abina as his wife provided him essentially free labor for carrying his goods to the coast. The relationship may have made Abina amenable to sexual access for Yaw during the period of their relationship. Quamina Eddoo tries to force Abina to marry Tandoe 23 - - - “Whether the defendant purchased me or not I do not know. If the defendant had not given me in marriage, I could not have formed any idea that he had purchased me.” “Because defendant gave me in marriage I knew I had been sold” “I asked him how it was (that when I had been left by Yowahwah to live with him, and that he would return), that he had given me in marriage to one of his people. On this I thought that I had been sold and I ran away. “ PRAAD SCT 5-4-19 Regina v Quamina Eddoo 10 Nov 1876, Testimony of Abina Mansah. Abina expresses preference 24 “My master said that I should be married to Tandoe, and that he would give me plenty of cloths, and I said I did not like him.” “Defendant asked me if I liked him and I said I did not.” PRAAD SCT 5-4-19 Regina v Quamina Eddoo 10 Nov 1876, Testimony of Abina Mansah.