Don’t be fooled by the title. “The Akan House of Mystery” by George B. Streetor is not a mystery novel, but rather a detailed historical account of the Akan people, who are an important ethnic group of West Africa (mostly Ghana and the Ivory Coast) and comprise over twenty million people.
The book is divided into three main parts and also has a preface that highlights the author’s dedication to homatherapy (the process of healing the atmosphere through the agency of fire in a copper pyramid tuned to the rhythm of the sunrise/sunset).
The Introduction serves as a primer to acquaint the reader with the Akan people and their language, culture, society, and traditions. Of particular interest is the fact that the Akan people follow matrilineal rules of ancestry and inheritance, and, therefore, women are highly regarded in Akan culture. Throughout history, they served as powerful rulers (queens), orators, and decision-makers. When a new king was to be chosen, it was the queen mother or the elder woman in the family who nominated a male royal for the kingship.
Part I of the book describes the various Akan tribes in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, and the strife and civil wars that ensued among them.
The story of Nana Abena Pokua (the first Asante warrior queen under the Asante confederacy) is also told in great detail and describes her courageous rebellion, tragic act of sacrifice, and emigration to the Ivory Coast, where she founded the Baoule Kingdom in 1720 and reigned for thirty years. To this day, she is revered for her courage, bravery and selflessness, and a statue in her honour stands in the centre of Abidjan, the economic capital of the Ivory Coast.
Other interesting stories told include that of the first president of the Ivory Coast (Houphouet Boigny), who secured independence for the country in 1960, and the history of the state of New Juaben in the eastern region of Ghana.
Part II of the book is an intriguing tale of family, betrayal, destiny, and mysticism. It revolves around the children of Yaa Akyaa (an Akan woman from Koforidua), particularly her daughter Yaa Daben who was conceived under strange circumstances. Yaa Daben’s story unfolds in typical Akan fashion with a traditional marriage, the birth of two children, and life according to Akan custom. The story then takes a spiritual turn when Yaa Daben’s son Marfo dies mysteriously while in the army. His death is considered suspicious and what unfolds is a tale of intrigue, ghosts, and witchcraft. The story leads into present day and describes some of the descendants of Yaa Akyaa (and Yaa Daben) who are still alive today.
“The Akan House of Mystery” is part history, part fable. It is a noble attempt to highlight the accomplishments of the Akan people through loosely intervowen stories of Akan historical events, significant persons, traditions, fables, and modern-day events. Some social commentary is also sprinkled throughout the book to bring awareness to modern-day issues in Africa.
All in all, the book is a fascinating read even though some of the stories and events are not always presented in chronological order or coherently linked together. However, the impeccable storytelling is spellbinding, especially in Part II of the book, which draws you in wanting more and more.
If you want to learn about the history and customs of the Akan people, then you definitely need to enter “The Akan House of Mystery”!
This book is available on Amazon