Chieftaincy and the Implantation of Christianity: An analysis of the Contact between the Chiefs and the Activities of the European Missionaries in Ghana, 1482-1969

Vincent Assanful ORCID iD  & Peter Boakye

Issue: Vol.6  No.6 September 2020 5th Anniversary Special Edition  Article 4 pp. 297-307
DOI :    |   Published online 14th September 2020.
© 2020 The Author(s). This is an open access article under the CCBY license (


Chieftaincy as an institution was in existence before the advent of the Europeans in West Africa in the second decade of the fifteenth century. The Europeans first arrived on the coast of modern Ghana in 1471. Christianity, on the other hand, started in the Gold Coast in 1482 when Don Diego d’Azambuja came to the country with some European Christian missionaries, (E.C.M.) specifically, the Roman Catholic priests from Portugal. As foreigners, the E.C.M. needed to contact the indigenes. The Chiefs, both political and religious leaders, were the first point of call by these missionaries as custom demands. As custodians of the land, the Chiefs provided places for the construction of chapels and other social amenities set up by the various Christian missions which operated tin Ghana. This meant that there was an interaction between the Chiefs and the EC.Ms. in Ghana. This paper, which is multi-sourced, uses archival data, interviews and scholarly secondary sources in the form of books and journal articles, to examine how the E.C.M. fared in the hands of the Chiefs in Ghana (the Gold Coast). To this end, the paper offers an overview of the position of the chiefs in pre-colonial and colonial Ghana, the historical interaction between the chiefs and the E.C.M. The paper argues that the efforts of the E.C.M. in Ghana would have been fruitless had it not been the support they received from the host communities led by their chiefs.

Keywords: Chiefs, Missionaries, Interaction, European, Traditional

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Vincent Assanful (PhD) is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Religion and Human Values,University of Cape Coast. Email:

Peter Boakye (PhD) is a Lecturer in the Department of History, University of Cape Coast. Email:

Assanful, Vincent and Boakye, Peter. “Chieftaincy and the Implantation of Christianity: An analysis of the Contact between the Chiefs and the Activities of the European Missionaries in Ghana, 1482-1969” E-Journal of Religious and Theological Studies – 5th Anniversary Special Edition 6, no.6 (2020): 297-307

© 2020 The Author(s). Published and Maintained by Noyam Publishers. This is an open access article under the CCBY license (