a1 University of Zambia
a2 University College, Cape Coast
There has been some controversy as to the origins of the Asafo, the patrilineal military bands of the coastal Akan, and especially of the Fante, in Ghana. One view holds that the asafo system is indigenous to Fante society, the other that its development is in some way connected with the presence of Europeans on the coast from the end of the fifteenth century onwards. After an examination of the nature of the asafo system and of its patrilinealism, historical evidence relating to the asafo, the manceroes (young men), and town wards in Fante society is set out in some detail. It is concluded that the asafo system is probably indigenous in its origins, but that its development, particularly on the coast and among the Fante especially, has been much influenced by situations resulting from contact with Europeans.