Lost Kingdoms of Africa The Kingdom of Asante Series 2 Episode 1 of 4
Duration: 1 hourWe know less about Africa's distant past than almost anywhere else on Earth. But the scarcity of written records doesn't mean that Africa lacks history - it is found instead in the culture, artefacts and traditions of the people. In this series, art historian Dr Gus Casely-Hayford explores some of the richest and most vibrant histories in the world, revealing fascinating stories of four complex and sophisticated civilisations: the Kingdom of Asante, the Zulu Kingdom, the Berber Kingdom of Morocco and the Kingdoms of Bunyoro & Buganda.
In this episode, Dr Casely-Hayford travels to Ghana in West Africa, where a powerful kingdom once dominated the region. Asante was built on gold and slaves, which ensured its important place in an economy that linked three continents. He reveals how this sophisticated kingdom emerged from the unlikely environment of dense tropical forest and how it was held together by a shared sense of tradition and history - one deliberately moulded by the kingdom's rulers
Paulina says: I think if I were to look at a lost kingdom in Ghana’s history, I wouldn’t choose the Asante Kingdom which is still very much alive as Dr Gus found out but maybe the rarely documented ‘Koma Land’ clay figures from Ghana ancient past (more of that later)..
Anyway, I’ve just finished watching cultural historian Dr Gus Casely-Hayford’s first episode of the second series of Lost Kingdoms of Africa –The Kingdom of Asante and unfortunately that famous Johnny Nash song is blowing through my mind, yep….. ‘There are more questions than answers’…
I don’t know if its disappointment or the very real realization that a kingdom like Asante cannot be condensed into an hour long episode without losing some of its important truths like the (nearly) one hundred years war with the British or internal fractions with fellow Akan group like the Fantes…
Also Dr Gus Casely-Hayford’s was shown some ancient ‘Koma Land’ clay figures (now that’s a lost empire I know nothing about) believed to be between 800 and 1,400 years old. See (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8518185.stm) (http://www.manchester.ac.uk/aboutus/news/display/?id=5462) –which I had hope would have been given more airtime.
These ancient figurines referred to as the ‘Koma Land’ clay figures - go some way to verifying that we the people of Ghana, be it the Asantes or Fantes (Dr Gus Casely-Hayford’s tribe) -didn’t just crawl out of the ground in the 15th Century just because the Portuguese arrived and started documenting our existence then, –but we have existed in this area since 600 and 1200 AD to the present –a fact that matters –me thinks….
Still …..whilst the lions has yet to start writing down its own stories, the hunters will always be the heroes, plus this episode was about the unification of the powerful Asante kingdom and its symbols of wealth and power which had its zenith in the 18th century when its founder Osei Kofi Tutu 1 (along with Okomfo Anokye) was crowned Asantehene (King of all Ashanti) in 1701 ---so I guess it was never going to be about ‘Koma Land’ clay figures (big sigh)…..
Anyway as I stated earlier, this episode has left me with more questions than answers –and highlighted just how very mysterious Ghana’s history is and continues to be, plus I’m guessing the BBC got what it wanted, –the Asante kingdom pared down, sanitized and pummeled into bite size pieces, perfect for an hour’s consumption by people who probably know less now about the Asante kingdom than before they watched this simplistic account of said empire… Plus I’m wondering why Dr Gus Casely-Hayford didn’t let the viewer’s know his family hails from Ghana, ---that he is also an Akan??? But fundamentally, I wanted to watch a 'real' lost kingdom from Ghana --and this wasn’t it…
“There are more questions than answersPictures in my mind that will not show
There are more questions than answers
And the more I find out the less I know
Yeah, the more I find out the less I know.”
To view the Lost Kingdoms of Africa The Kingdom of Asante visit the BBC via: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01bgndm
For more info about the Koma Land’ clay figures visit: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8518185.stmhttp://www.manchester.ac.uk/aboutus/news/display/?id=5462
More Info…It appears the Koma Land’ clay figures are now outside of Ghana ($@*&5 read between the lines) and that “Francis Amu a conservator from Ghana Museums and Monuments Board” has a “selection of pottery from Koma Land, this will be only the second time this type of pottery has been seen in Europe” to The Manchester Museum where the “figurines will be studied by Prof. Timothy Insoll before they go on display in October in the exhibition “Fragmentary ancestors: Figurines from Koma land.” You can read all about it via: http://conservationmanchester.wordpress.com/tag/koma-land/