Tribes of the Ashanti Hinterland

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Girls, who are kept as lovers only, but not married, are those whom we address as "sisters" (tapa), but they are not children of our own father or mother but women of the same town who have the same tabus as ourselves. . . . The method of seeking a wife and seeking a lover are the same, the only difference is that you cannot marry a zaba (lover), and you do not give hoes (or cows), and that children born of such unions belong to the girl’s parents. . . .

[The conversation may be illustrated by the following:] The throat of the male is heard saying: "See, you are my tapa (sister in the classificatory sense). I may not marry you any day at all, but a man learns how to make love to women from his ’sister.’ If one does not seek one’s sister, how will he understand the finding of wives and avoid being laughed at by them. On account of this, I looked and saw you alone near this our dwelling place, a good girl, whom my sense and soul (sia) prefers: Well, I will finish speaking. If you do not want to hold conversation with me, I know where I came up" [referring to the ladder he had climbed to get over the wall into the yard].

[The man continues visiting the girl’s compound, always taking tobacco and guinea fowls and trying hard to ingratiate himself with her parents and in the course of time] he will sleep there and they will give them a separate mat and a separate room in order that they may be able to talk freely and shyness not have them. He can now go there any time he wants. If the girl has not yet been "cut" [incised] she will not agree to the man having sexual intercourse with her. If she loves him very much perhaps she may agree. In the latter case, when the time approaches for the ceremony, she will tell her lover and let him know the day, and her mother, who knows that her daughter has loved much, will not hide the day from him [and he bribes the man who performs the operation to conceal the fact that she is "spoiled"]. . . .

When the day comes for the girl to marry, that day is sour for them both. The man does not want his lover to marry, the girl does not want to leave her lover. Seekers after her in marriage, when they perceive that her lover has influence over her, offer him presents to advance their suit. The lover may try and persuade her to marry someone from whom he has received payment, instead of the man arranged by her parents, in order to spite them all.1

1Rattray, R.S.n/an/an/an/a, , 1: 153–156, passim (Clarendon Press. By permission).

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Chicago: Tribes of the Ashanti Hinterland in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed September 22, 2023,

MLA: . Tribes of the Ashanti Hinterland, Vol. 1, in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 22 Sep. 2023.

Harvard: , Tribes of the Ashanti Hinterland. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 22 September 2023, from