Enjoy the Dance and Look for the Flag Meaning

Asafo Flag Dancers’ Choreography of Concealing and Revealing

Kwame Amoah Labi


The literature on Fante asafo art reveals that frankaakitafo (flag dancers) carry, dance with, and display asafo flags, creolized from European flags displayed on the Gold Coast (now Ghana), and now used as a traditional dance prop. This is different from how the Europeans carried them in marching and salutation.

What is missing from the scholarship is an examination of the collaborative working relations between different performers and the nature of the dance. A study of the dance reveals a phenomenon, which is similar to a spectacle and lasts only for a short transitory period. I, therefore, take into account Frances Harding’s (2002) suggestion that we must identify the art and artists, the presence and role of the venue and audience in creating the conditions for a performance, and the possibility of a sacred presence. Thus, asafo dance performance transcends spiritual boundaries.

Not only is the dance associated with the gestures of the company’s or dancers’ deity and the company’s self-proclaimed belief in its military supremacy, but there is also the considerable display of skill and dexterity of the dancer. This article investigates how the frankaakitanyi (singular) is trained and dances with the flag, and the collaborators involved. It also examines the content of selected flags, which are both a dance prop and a work of art.

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