The article shows the recent changes in the institution of African chieftaincy. In the pre-colonial era and also during the colonial period, the traditional ruler was perceived as divine as he was supposed to be an earthly representative of gods and dead ancestors. This special bond with the ancestors gave him the right to run the ritual practices on which the wealth of his people depended. But recently in Ghana more and more white tourists are installed as chiefs in traditional societies. This change is caused by the new role of the chiefs and new expectations of the people. The data gathered during the authoress' field work in Ghana shows that nowadays the chiefs act as the agents of development in the rural areas. Contemporary chiefs are the well-educated professionals using theirs skills in combating poverty, diseases and illiteracy. While pre-colonial chiefs were the guards of the tradition and the order established by the ancestors, contemporary chiefs in Ghana are the agents of development, the builders of the new, modern and democratic order.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.