Last Updated: Friday, 24 October 2014, 15:39 GMT

Ghana: Information on eunuch "bathers" of queen mothers among the Ashanti

Publisher United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services
Author Resource Information Center
Publication Date 21 April 2000
Citation / Document Symbol GHA00002.ZNK
Cite as United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, Ghana: Information on eunuch "bathers" of queen mothers among the Ashanti, 21 April 2000, GHA00002.ZNK, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a6a114.html [accessed 26 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Query:

Please provide information on a tradition among the Eterrah group of the Ashanti in Ghana in which any male member of a town's royal family who is born on Wednesday, September 13, is a candidate to be recruited and trained to be a bather of the town's Queen Mother.  Are these bathers required to be eunuchs?  If they refuse to undergo the initiation ceremony, in which they are administered herbs for two nights and then castrated the third night, will they be captured by fellow villagers, forcibly castrated, and then forced to serve as bather for the town's Queen Mother?

Response:

For more information on the Queen Mother tradition among the Ashanti of Ghana, please refer to GHA00001.ZAR. 

According to an Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Indiana University, there is no group among the Ashanti called the Eterrah.  He also states that the queen mothers have never had bathers, but that in the ancient Ashanti empire, in a practice abolished before 1900, certain of the king's male servants would be castrated before becoming bathers of the wife of the king.  The wife of the king was not a queen mother, and the professor emphasizes that these eunuch bathers were servants, and not members of the royal family (14 Sept. 1999).

An Associate Professor at the University of Ghana was also familiar with the eunuch bathers of the wife of the kings in the ancient Ashanti empire, yet doubts that any such practice is still extant (5 Aug. 1999).  An Associate Professor of Folklore at the Folklore Institute of Indiana University also stated that she feels it is "doubtful" that any practice such as this would still exist (5 Sept 1999).

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessibly information currently available to the RIC within time constraints.  This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

References

Assistant Professor of Linguistics, Indiana University, Bloomington. 14 September 1999. Electronic mail correspondence to the Resource Information Center.

Associate Professor, University of Ghana. 5 August 1999. Electronic mail correspondence to the Resource Information Center.

Associate Professor of Folklore, Folklore Institute, Indiana University, Bloomington. 5 September 1999. Electronic mail correspondences to the Resource Information Center.

Other sources consulted

Internet.

Minority Rights Group. 1997. World Directory of Minorities. London: Minority Rights Group International.

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