The Changing Roles of Akan Queenmothers: A Study of Nana Yaa Asantewaa II.
By Lydia Amoah, Institute of African Studies, Lydiaamoah2003@gmail.com
Queenmothers in Ghana occupy very important position as part of traditional authority. Though, they are often referred to as partners to the chiefs, their levels of authority and roles may differ from that of the Chiefs but together they have created a niche in the new system of governance in Ghanaian Traditional Societies.
This paper explores the roles of an Akan queenmother, Nana Yaa Asantewaa II and indicates how these roles have changed or are still changing. The findings of the study seem to suggest that some major roles such as selection of eligible male candidates to occupy the male stool of the paramountcy, giving the chief counsel as well as observing and pouring of libation on special days like the Akwasidaɛ, Awukudaɛ and Fofie performed by Nana Yaa Asantewaa II have not changed. Nevertheless, the vagary determinants of globalization and development have influenced some of the roles of an Akan Queenmother today.
In contemporary Ghana, the demand for development is gradually defining the modern traditional leaders’ position in terms of his or her ability to be a development leader who can source for funds, lobby the government and international agencies for development projects for their communities and play active roles in governance. Queenmothers are thus using their position as leaders to work hand in hand with the government, Non-governmental organizations and development agencies to spearhead developmental projects in their communities. Some of them are involved in projects that are tuned to benefit women, such as improved maternity and health care young girls and children, girl-child education and vocational training to mention a few.
Thus, Nana Yaa Asantewaa II lobbies government and non-governmental agencies for developmental projects to be brought to her community and undertakes fundraising campaigns home and abroad to fund empowerment projects instituted by her such as the Virgins club, expansion of the municipal market and the refurbishment of the maternity block of the Ejisu government hospital in Ejisu-Juaben District of Ashanti Region.