THE CHRISTIAN EXECUTIONER: CHRISTIANITY AND CHIEFTAINCY AS RIVALS BY MICHELLE GILBERT* (Trinity College, Hartford) Competing values What is immediately clear is that any simple notion of conversion as an abrupt change from one set of' beliefs to another, must be given up. (Simenscn 1992:85) The christianization of Akuapem, a small kingdom in southern Ghana, began over 150 years ago, and ever since has led to con- tinual debate and uncertainty on the part of the local population. Both broad historical parallels and detailed knowledge of local social and historical contexts, including the actors' beliefs and values, must be considered if we are to understand the experience of christianization in Africa today (see Peel 1987: 106-110). In this essay I examine the diverse perspectives of fragmented and multi- ple traditions in this kingdom, consider indigenous discourses as nearly as possible on their own terms, and explore 'the degree to which the reasons for action may be partly uncertain or underdeter- mined and open to alternative explanations by the participants themselves' (Hobart 1990: 91; also Carrithers 1992). Christianity is not an undifferentiated category devoid of competing interests, and today Akuapem christians and non-christians share in dual but contradictory traditions. At
Journal of Religion in Africa – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1995
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