The presence of power and authority in absentia

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Societies since time immemorial have been communicating their ideologies, philosophies and beliefs to the outside world through methods and practices systematically and consciously fabricated, adopted and accepted by the generality of the members through time and space. These methods include recording and documentation of events, representation of ideas, expressing and communicating myths of origin, achievements in wars, succession plan, cherished values, taboos, etc. Art forms, more often than not provides the medium through which these ideas are documented or expressed. Societies composed and arranged lyrics or words into appellations, dirges, folklores, songs to recount events and feats, pray; bless or revere the gods, spirits, heroes or heroines; express joy or sadness; urge, motivate or incite the youth etc. Some lyrics are further composed into rhythms for playing and drums, flutes, horns and other instruments. Unique dance movements were choreographed not only to edify, praise or entertain the gods, ancestors, kings, priests, and warriors etc. but also to demonstrate journey through migration, feats in war, escape from enemies, capturing of antagonists as well as socio-economic activities. Images; real or imaginative of the ancestors, gods and spirits were moulded, modelled or carved for religious and secular activities such as rituals, libation, deifying, initiation, installation, performances, veneration, etc. Materials from nature and everyday life provided the avenue for these creative activities. Artworks in the form of drums, stools, linguistic staffs, figurines, masks, ceremonial swords, statues, gold weights, body ornaments, headdresses, pots and scare crow etc., were made in wood, metal, clay, ivory, gourds, leather, cowries and fibres. These items ideated, preserved and perpetuated the beliefs of the said people. Through them the history of the people through time and space is told. They manifest the thoughts, wishes, aspirations and beliefs, account for the progress and development, and provide evidence of the culture of the said people. It is worth noting that the aphorism of these symbols represent an authority or power which in most cases were absent. The issue of power and authority have been discussed severally at various forums. Many people are confused when it comes to the debate that seeks to draw the parallel between the two. A school of thought feels they mean the same while another thinks otherwise. The knotty issues that constitute the centrality of the argument have been discussed extensively. The standpoints and opinions of astute scholars in „power and authority‟ have been cited and discussed. It is an accepted axiom that the concept and exercise of power and authority are fundamental to the founding, stability and development of any society. Power and authority have been used to influence the behaviours of people in an attempt to sway them in order to change their thoughts, values and behaviours. The use of power and authority create social and political spaces in communities when those in authority become absentees. The management of power and authority during the absence of those who wield them has been the core around which most societies have survived. The crux of the research is derived from the events that characterized the arrest and detention of King Tackie-Tawiah I of the Gá State. The king‟s absence created a political and social space which the elders had to manage with passion and diplomacy. How did they do that? How has the information gathered from this experience influenced other societies in managing power and authority? The attempt in answering these questions ignited this research.
A dissertation submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Fine Art (MFA Painting).