"The Humble Petition of Johana Nyewuame Bekrah": Becoming/Being Gã, Straddling "Spaces," and Negotiating Boundaries in the Gold Coast Christian "Model Town" (Abokobi), ca. 1860–1980

Ernest Sewordor
Journal of West African History, 2020

By the mid-nineteenth century, Basel Mission (BM) evangelical activities on the Gold Coast had expanded beyond the Accra littoral and this significantly informed the establishment of many Pietist Christian urban enclaves or Salems for African converts. Salems therefore became sites that epitomized Basel missionary encounters on the Gold Coast. Abokobi, as an envisioned “Model Town,” is key because it was the only Salem established completely outside the sociopolitical ambit of an existing Accra polity. Abokobi is thus uniquely positioned for examining how intercultural exchanges shaped contested memories and for revealing the ways that African women of slave ancestry renegotiated identity and belonging. The assumption that the Christian outlook of Salems was enough to blur ethnic, hierarchical, and gendered differences is questioned in this study because such a notion misleads and shifts scholarly enquiry away from understanding the nuances of the everyday experiences of families of servile ancestry in Abokobi and other BM religious centers.

Image credit: Basel Mission Archives

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