The present article explores the selfhood and reign of Asantehene Osei Yaw (1823-34). It investigates his formation as an individual, and his behaviour and expectations as the ruler of Asante. It looks too into the motives that led to his disastrous military defeat at the battle of Katamanso (7 August 1826). Thereafter it analyses the possible reasons for and the evident consequences of his resort to and dependence upon alcohol as an individual and as a king, and at the nature of his rule between Katamanso and his death eight years later. Throughout this article attention is paid to matters of emotion, affect and performance in the life of an individual African monarch whose impulses and experiences can be traced in unusually revelatory detail in Asante oral historical traditions supplemented by contemporary written commentaries by non-Asante.
keywords: asantehene, oral history, alcohol, selfhood, affect, behaviour.