Twentieth Century Wanzams among the Asante People of Ghana: A Historical Study of the Facts on Male Circumcision


This paper studies the history of circumcision amongst religious and traditional societies and the arguments on the medical or non-medical essence of the practice. The paper further highlights amongst the Asante people of Ghana, a practice argued to have been introduced by Islamic Wanzams who are severally referred to as Muslim Circumcision Surgeons. Often circumcision amongst communities in West, Southern Africa, Asia and other Aboriginal groups has been spurred on by customs and traditions [1]. Yet the case of Asante was different. Hence attention has been paid to the history of circumcision amongst the people of Asante. More significantly, the health implications associated with circumcision surgery in Asante have been highlighted. Possible benefits from the practice of circumcision and the potential dangers associated with it, especially the operations of the Asante circumcision surgeons (Wanzams) have been amply scrutinised in the narrative. In the conclusion, attention is paid to some of the scientific arguments for male circumcision. The study is purely qualitative relying on documentary and non-documentary sources. Some of the documentary sources have been gleaned from journal articles, news papers and books etc. The non-documentary data have been sourced from interviews. Both the documentary and non-documentary sources have been thematically pieced together to form a social history of medicine narrative which has potential ramifications on the essence of male circumcision by Wanzams, as well as the need for further research, training and dialogue in the practice in Ghana and Asante in particular.

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Adu-Gyamfi, S. and Adjei, P. (2014) Twentieth Century Wanzams among the Asante People of Ghana: A Historical Study of the Facts on Male Circumcision. Open Journal of Preventive Medicine, 4, 730-739. doi: 10.4236/ojpm.2014.49083.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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