Seminar | Kwame Abe, Akan Highwayman

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee alumni Dr. Ben Wendorf (PhD African & African Diaspora Studies ’16, MA History ’10) will present his research “Kwame Abe, Akan Highwayman.” This presentation is co-sponsored by the UWM Department of History.

March 1, 2019
1:00-2:00 pm
Mitchell Hall 206


“As Kwame Yeboah Daaku sought consultation in Gold Coast history with Akan elders in the 1960s, he understandably learned much about the ‘Asante Great Roads,’ a vast highway system developed by the Asante to consolidate their control politically and economically in the Gold Coast. Daaku, perhaps to challenge the elders’ assumption of Asante absolutism, frequently asked them if they had heard of any highwaymen, disrupters of such a network. Invariably, Akan elders invoked one name: Kwame Abe. An infamous, virtual-historical figure, Abe’s notoriety seemed to span nearly two centuries, his abilities as mysterious and elusive as his placement in time. Able to materialize and de-materialize out of thin air, impossible to catch, Abe seems very much a product of his time (because there must be a highway for a highwayman) whose preeminence is at an end. In my paper, I seek to place Abe in his Gold Coast (and especially Akan) historical context, as well as explore why his time might have ended–and grapple with the fact that there is anonymous Ghanaian internet commentary invoking his name in 2013. Why is Kwame Abe still here?”