Ghana: Earth And Shadow - Substance, Medicine And Mobility In The History Of Ghana's Tongnaab Shrines

John Parkera, 2011


Shrines associated with the deity Tongnaab in the Talensi region of northern Ghana formed the centre of a precolonial regional cult that encompassed a variety of peoples in the savannas of the Volta basin. Despite attempts by the British colonial state to destroy the shrines and to suppress ritual activity in the Tong Hills, by the 1920s the cult was spreading beyond its heartland into the Akan forest and the Gold Coast to the south. There it became known as Nana Tongo, one of a wave of anti-witchcraft healing movements. This paper examines the material culture and the mechanics of this history of ritual mobility and metamorphosis. It reflects upon the connection between the metaphysical concept of ‘shadow’ and the physical substance of earth, both of which were transported in a portable shrine called a bo’artyii and used to empower satellite medicine shrines. As these items traversed cultural frontiers they were subject to local reinterpretation and transformation.


Anthropology & Medicine External link; 18(2): 257 - 270

Tags: Ghana  religion  Tongnaab  

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