African American Studies
Nan Yartel III was born on the 15th of an unmentioned month in 1965 in a village called Amatsou in the West African nation of Ghana. He attended primary school from 1971 until 1981. He is a member of the Fanti ethnic groups, one of the many different ethnic groups found in Ghana.
As a member of the Fanti people, he was able to obtain the position of chief, which enabled him the opportunity to finish his secondary education and thus came to the United States to do such that. He completed his education back in his homeland of Ghana specializing in Social Studies and Geography in 2005.
As a Fanti chief, it is an important position, his main responsibility is to ensure that the families that live in his communities are kept united and supported, he has a title for this position; it is called Hnona. These communities can range in size from about 5,000 to 10,000 persons. He states that he in total is responsible for about 20,000 people. He states that the chief is providing the stability that the modern Democratic government containing judges and administrators are not able to deliver such as unifying the communities, education and the general welfare of the people.
He mentions to Dr. Naison that since the majority of the inhabitants of Ghana are Christian, that most of his Fanti people are also Christians but before the introduction of Christianity they would practice their traditional African religions.
Nan goes on to state that he arrived into the U.S. only 6 months previously. He is trying to increase the amount of the already very limited resources that can be available to his fellow Ghanaians so they can access various educational opportunities. He has instituted scholarships for this very purpose and he is in the Bronx because of the significant Ghana community there. He has a development foundation.
Nan goes on to describe his primary school he attended in Ghana. He described it as a 6 block one floor campus with no tall buildings, just 6 salas roofs. They did not have computers and some students didn’t even know what a computer is.
He talks about his life before becoming a chief such as traveling to Turbo, Benin. He was married with 8 children and was a businessman also, buying watches, jewelry and other items from Nigeria and selling it for a profit.
Nan mentions about that the government does do a decent job of providing electricity; they do not provide roads unless it is going to be a major road. Education although almost free, is not very good, the better education has a cost attached, though church Christians as well Muslims would a times help out. This weakness of the central state is putting many services to be provided by the local civil authorities.
He ends the interview reiterating the point of that education is important and he wants to help out his Ghanaians obtain educational opportunities so they can make more of themselves and move up in the world.
Yartel III, Nan. 25 June 2010. Interview with the Bronx African American History Project. BAAHP Digital Archive at Fordham.
Click below to download supplemental content.Yartel, Nan Part 1.mp3 (112314 kB)
Yartel, Nan Part 2.mp3 (1235 kB)