From Offline to Online Imagined Community: Recuperating Asante Culture and History for Development in Ghana
University of Cambridge
Question Journal, 2021. Issue 6 (2021), pp. 36-43.
Since the advent of social media, mediated through smartphones, about a decade ago in Ghana, West Africa, many of the youths have appropriated this modern communicative technology to rejuvenate indigenous cultures as important models for fashioning the pathways of development. About half a decade ago, some young men and women of Asante origin in Ghana embarked on a project of recuperating Asante cultures. These youths saw themselves as responding to the national call, since the mid-2000s, for re-traditionalisation. It was also partly a response to the United Nations’ call for alternative development narrative, framed around cultural revivalism, since the 1990s. It equally dovetails with the call of Thabo Mbeki, former president of South Africa, for African Renaissance. Given this continental and trans-continental contexts and the recent coronavirus protocol of social distancing, a group of Asante youth aligned themselves with their chiefs and cultural historians to establish an online community on WhatsApp. Their aim was/is to recuperate the Asante Kotoko Society, which was first established as an offline Society in 1916, to support Asanteman’s progress. Thus, this online imagined community has been established to serve as a point of confluence for the teaching, researching, and promoting “relevant” Asante cultures to ensure the socio-economic development of Asanteman and Ghana. Using critical discourse analysis and ethnographic technique of in-depth interviews with key respondents of the Society, I contribute to the discourse on community as I analyse the question: How relevant is online community to offline development?
Asante, Development, Online, Social Media, Culture