Elmina is also known as "La Mina" by the Portuguese and "Edina" by its native Fantes (or assimilated Guans) is an important fishing town and the capital of the Komenda/Edina/Eguafo/Abirem District on the south coast of South Ghana in the Central Region. This ancient important port and trading town is situated precisely on a south-facing bay on the Atlantic Ocean coast of Ghana, 12 km (7.5 mi) west of Cape Coast.

                    Elmina Omanhen Nana Kodwo Conduah IV wearing white in his palaquin

The traditional name of Elmina is ’Anomansa’, meaning "inexhaustible supply of water." It refers to the tributary of the Kakom and Suruwi rivers, upon which according to local historical tradition the founder of the town, Kwaa Amankwa, stumbled during a hunting expedition.

         Benya lagoon port in Elmina. This scene should tell you why the Dutch love it here.

 Elmina is the first European settlement in West Africa. Elmina has a population of 33,576 people. It was originally a Guan settlement that has been swallowed by Fante people and now see themselves as full blooded Fantes. Elmina which is the first town in West Africa to receive Europeans has from the 14th century changed hands between the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British. During the transfer of the ownership of Dutch possession in Elmina and Gold Coast to the British in 1872, an Elmina native
George Emil Emisang, the first Western educated lawyer in the Gold Coast and an authority on aboriginal law of the Gold Coast, facilitated the transaction. This a serious genius, Emisang was made a Commander in Elmina once the British had bought Elmina, but the locals mistrusted the situationand he relocated to Cape Coast.
Elmina - The Lord is my shepherd
Elmina people recounts that the Portuguese explorers who first visited their land took some Elmina sailors to the town of Moguer (in Huelva, Andalusia, Spain). Local Elmina history claim the three sailors  include a man later named Nino who sired four famous sailor children. The children were Pedro Alonso, Francisco, Juan and one other Niño. The most famous was the navigator, Pedro Alonso Nino also known as El Negro (the Black). The four Niño brothers became sailors with prestige and experience in Atlantic journeys before playing a distinguished part in Columbus's first voyage to the New World. Their friendship with the Pinzón Brothers, and especially with the oldest of them, Martín Alonso Pinzón, influenced their participation in Columbus's project. The participation of the Pinzón Brothers in the Columbian enterprise was the key to overcoming the doubts among the region's sailors; the help of the Niño Brothers made it possible to defeat the opposition among the men of Moguer to taking on an enterprise of uncertain outcome.
Elmina girl

On Columbus's first voyage, Pedro Alonso Niño was pilot of the Santa María, Juan Niño was master of La Niña, of which he was the owner, and Francisco Niño is believed to have been a sailor on La Niña.
The Niños took part as well in Columbus's second and third voyages. Between 1499 and 1501 they traveled on their own account, with the merchants Cristóbal and Luis Guerra, following the route of Columbus's second voyage to the Gulf of Paria on the South American mainland in what is now Venezuela.
Pedro Alonso was named by the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella chief pilot of the Ocean Sea (the Atlantic) as recompense for his services to the crown. He was also one of the teachers of Prince John, the ill-fated son of Ferdinand and Isabella, whom he taught the art of map-making.
Elmina native turned Spanish moor, black navigator Pedro Alonso Niño who sailed with Christopher Columbus across the blue ocean in 1492

Later another Elmina girl was taken to Spain and she dazzled the Europeans with her artistry intelligence. The young girl was Isabelita Hermonia (1632-1692), who was the first Gold Coaster (Ghanaian) to start painting or art. Isabelita was a 10 years old when she was taken from her Elmina family to Spain in 1642. She studied paintings in Flemish, Spanish and Gothic styles and was reputed all over Europe.
The writer in New African magazine edited by Baffour Ankomah, described Isabelita Hermonia of Elmina as "the first and so far the only African woman artist of note to have achieve so much from Europe schools of painting."

                 Flemish painting depicting a black woman [Expertise of Isabelita Hermonia (1632-1692)]

The Elmina people still have a strong relationship with Dutch government. Most of African descendants living in Holland, Netherland Antilles, Surinam, Java in Indonesia are all indigenes of Elmina. "It started from the involuntary migration of ten of thousands of slaves to the plantations in Surinam to the little known history of the African soldiers who sailed from Elmina to serve in the Dutch army in the East Indies; and from the role of Dutch genever in Ghanaian ritual to the dramatic life story of Jacobus Capitein, the first black Christian minister to be ordained in the Netherlands."
Jacobus Elisa Johannes Capitein (1717?-1747), Elmina native is one of the first known sub-Saharan Africans to study at a European university, the freed slave Jacobus Capitein became a celebrity in Holland for his academic and religious achievements and later returned to his homeland to evangelize the indigenous population.  He earned his doctorate degree from University of Leiden, in Holland in 1742 at the age of 25. He was one of the pioneers of formal education on the Gold Coast.

The Elmina people were the first coastal Fantes to start large scale fishing activities (apo-ye) in Dahomey (Benin). As a result of their larger migration to Benin, some Ga people who have fled to domicile in Aneho also joined them there and mixed up with the local Ewe and Fon people to to form a new ethnic group in Benin known as Mina people.

Elmina native, HANS KOJO FRANS, the first black man (African) to be elected into Swedish parliament in a memorable photo with a Swedish prime minister.

Elmina is  one the few towns in Ghana with a larger mulatto population and their inhabitants still bearing their Dutch, Portuguese and other European names such as Vanderpuiye, Planque (Plange), Dacosta, Waartemberg, Ballmos, (Van Dijke) Vandyck, Ruhle, Bartels, Nieser (Neizer), Vroom, De veer (De heer).
African Beauty Queens – 1967 :Four contestants from Africa line up at their London hotel before the 1967 Miss World beauty contest. From left to right, they are Miss Tanzania (Teresa Shayo), Miss Uganda (Rosemary Salmon), Miss Ghana (Araba Vroom) and Miss Nigeria (Rosalind Balogun). Miss Martha Araba Vroom from Elmina had the semi-finals at 1967 Miss World competition, the first African to do so!

In the 1480’s, this ancient settlement now called Elmina or Edina was known to the Portuguese as “the village of two parts”, because the little River Benya, which skirts the north-eastern walls of the castle, formed the boundary between the states of Edina and Fetu, and there was a Fetu settlement on its eastern bank.  (qv. J.D. Fage, ‘GHANA – A Historical Interpretation’, 1958, p.43). The Edina people emphatically deny that they are Fantes, and only acknowledge an ancient relations with the Ancient Guan Kingdom of Aguafo, based upon the tradition that the putative founder of Edina, Kwaa Amankwa, the eldest son of the king of Aguafo, while on hunting expedition, discovered the Benya River and established a fishing settlement close to it.  There is therefore, sufficient evidence for us to identify the Edina as a separate ethnic group among the Fantes, however, Elmina has been Fantelized and is now more of  a Fante state than Guan state.  The Rev. G. Acquaah asserts that “the chief towns of the Guan were Efutu, Aguafo, Kromantse and Edina” (See: OGUAA ABAN 1946, p.10).  Also according to Henige, “Eguafo, Jabi (late Shama), Abrem, Fetu, Edina and Asebu are recognized by the Fante themselves as non-Fante states” (in Chronology of Oral Tradition’, 1974, p.148).

The people of Elmina are known for the celebration of two important festivals; Edina Bakatue and Edina Bronya. The Bakatue Festival celebrates the “opening” of Benya River, and is thus closely connected to the main economic activity of fishing. Edina Bronya is also called the Elmina Christmas. Bronya is actually a Libation Day during which ancestors are remembered. Elmina is a major tourist destination site in Ghana. Elmina’s  importance for Ghana and the world are currently the two UNESCO World Heritage protected sites: the castle of St. George d’Elmina and Fort Coenraadsburg on St. Jago Hill. These sites attract over 100,000 tourists annually (of whom 50,000 come from abroad).

 Edina royals carrying their chiefs stool during Edina bakatue festival. Courtesy http://georgequaenoo.com/

The Name Elmina
Historical perspective The name Elmina is derived from the Portuguese “La Mina” for “The Mine”. The Portuguese named the town as such when it became the centre of commerce in gold after the Portuguese settled and built the St. George’s Castle in the town in 1482. Elmina is the most common and popular of the three names by which the town is called. The other two names are Edina and Anomansa or Amankwaakrom.
Elmina - Resting canoes
 Edina, the second name of the town, is a corruption of the Portuguese words “Adea” or “Oda” meaning village or settlement, where the employees of the Portuguese retired to after the days work in and around the St. George’s Castle. The local population commonly uses this name. "Edina Botweku, Asankuma, abrokyir kakra, eyi h)n a w)nk), w)k) so a w)mba" (Edina botweku, Asankuma, miniature overseas, if you sack them they will not go and if they go, they do not return.)
            Coastline of Elmina.  Courtesy http://georgequaenoo.com/

The traditional name of Elmina is ’Anomansa’, meaning inexhaustible supply of water. It refers to the tributary of the Kakom and Suruwi rivers, upon which according to local historical tradition the founder of the town, Kwaa Amankwa, stumbled during a hunting expedition. The availability made him establish a hamlet for rest, which was the start of the town of Elmina.
Elmina - Lovers and beyond
 The tributary has been severed from the main rivers by seismic disturbances and has dried up, though its course is still evident.The inhabitants of Elmina traditionally recognise strong historic links with the interior of Ghana, more specifically with the Ashanti stock of people, since the 17th Century united in the powerful Kingdom of Ashanti.
Group 'embassy of the Ashanti at Elmina'. Group of thirteen men wearing cloth, with a central figure who is seated and with a staffbearer in front of him, known as the &quotOkyeame" or interpreter. From the seventeenth century onwards, Elmina had had reprentatives of the Ashanti government within its boundaries; this could be one of these. However, the way in which the cloth is worn (across the shoulder), as well as the somewhat impoverished look of the group, make Muller's description doubtful.

History of Elmina
Elmina was considered a ‘large’settlement when the Portuguese arrived.There is little indication of what this meant, but the population probably only numbered a few hundred. During the following four centuries, the town became one of the largest, if not the largest, settlement on the coast. This may already have been true by the late sixteenth century when Elmina, followed by Shama, was said to be larger than settlements in the coastal  hinterland such as Efutu (Hair 1994:77 note 126). Harvey Feinberg (1989:85) estimates Elmina’s population as between 12,000 and 16,000 during much of the eighteenth century,while Larry Yarak (1990:48) suggests similar figures for the 1820s. During the late nineteenth century the number of inhabitants may have been somewhat higher. A Dutch report of 1859 estimated a total population between 18,000 and 20,000 (Feinberg 1989:95 note 42; see also Baesjou 1979:214–224; Kea 1982:32–39; Wartemberg 1951:14).
 Fante women of Elmina (Edina) with their Europeanized hairstyle in a wooden engraved drawing (1800-1895)

Maps of the coast by Luis Teixeirain 1602 and a Dutch manuscript of 1629 show Eguafo (Comendo) to the west of Elmina, while the country of Efutu (Fetu, Futu, Afutu) lies to the east as shown in Figure 2 (see Blake 1987; Cortesão and Teixeira de Mota 1960 vol.3:67–70; Daaku 1970:182–184; Daaku and Van Dantzig 1966;de Marees 1987[1602]; Kea 1982:23–28; and Müller cited in Jones 1983). Efutu controlled much of the coast east of Elmina as far as Cape Coast. The Dutch map further shows theEguafo Kingdom bordered by Abrem to the north-east, Adom to the north-west, and Yabiw and Ahanta to the west. This western border was linguistic as well as political (see Daaku and van Dantzig 1966; Hair 1969:229; Kea 1982:27). The relative positions of the polities seem to hold through the seventeenth century (see Roussier 1935:10).
Elmina woman sitting on a chair

These names, and possibly the lineal descendants of the polities represented, still exist (Chouin 2005
Elmina (now the principal town of the Edina State) only emerged as an independent polity after the advent of the Atlantic trade. European contact cannot be fully evaluated, it is clear that fifteenth-century Elmina was not an independent state. Prior to European contact the Eguafo and Efutu states may have both claimed territorial rights to Elmina. Some Elmina oral traditions recount the founder of Elmina was Kwa Amankwaa,a member of the Eguafo royal family who came to Elmina to hunt (Feinberg 1969:8–14; Fynn 1974b:3–4; Meyerowitz1952, 1974:76–77).
Young lady with bare breasts, possibly an engagement picture.
This set of three portraits is not identified by Muller. Possibly he regarded the portraits of women in traditional dress as ethnographic curiosities. The compositions of the portraits indicates, however, that these are photo's made for the use of the depicted persons themselves.
The young woman shows her virginity by showing her bared breasts. A portrait like this was often made in well to-do circles to commemorate the engagement of the girl in question. The group portrait of two women and two girls seems to be a family group of three generations (grandmother, mother, daughters)

Support for Efutu claims, on the other hand, primarily come from documentary sources. The principal source is the Dutch map of 1629 (see Figure 2) that states “… in the old days one half [of Elmina] used to be under Great Commendo [Eguafo] and the other Futu [Efutu], who came there to collect their contribution” (see Daaku and Van Dantzig 1966; Feinberg 1969:12). This division is repeated in later sources. The Portuguese, and later the Dutch, at Elmina gave gifts to both kings of Eguafo and Efutu at various times(see Blake 1967[1942]:44-45; Fynn 1974b:4; Meyerowitz1952:70–73, 1974:76–80; Yarak 1986a).

 According to local tradition, Kwaa Amankwa, the founder of Elmina, claimed direct blood relationships with an Guan progenitor. Kwaa Amankwa and his two cousins, Sama and Amo Tekyi, migrated from  Timbuctu via Tekyiman in the present Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana to the south. Sama founded the town Shama in the Western Region of Ghana. Tekyi founded Eguafo, now a traditional state within the KEEA. Kwaa Amankwa settled at Eguafo too, before founding Elmina during one of his hunting expeditions.
Elmina women in group photograph

During Eustache de laFosse’s journey between 1479 and 1480, he only identified two places to trade on the borders of what we know to be the seventeenth-century Eguafo polity: Shama and Elmina, both referred to as “la minne” (see Foulché-Delbosc 1897:181–182; Hair 1994:43 note 3). Whether these were also the borders in the fifteenth century is unclear.Pacheco Pereira(1937:119), who travelled to the Gold Coast between 1498 and 1505, wrote that midway between the villages of Shama and Elmina was the “village of Torto”. This is the first identification of Komenda we have from European sources (see Fage 1980:54–55), though again it does not refer to the inland polity. Rui de Pina, from material collected in the 1490s(Hair 1994:6), wrote of a war which was started between two men who lived in the vicinity of Elmina (Blake 1967[1942]:86). Hair (1994:39) has cautiously argued that this may refer to the rulers of two polities which surround Elmina:Eguafo and Efutu. Certainly by 1503 we have reference to an individual “who is now king of Acomane [Eguafo], came hither with all his people to a point about three bombard shots from this fortress [Castelo São Jorge da Mina] in order toclear the roads to the fortress there and to permit the merchants to come” (Blake 1967[1942]:94; also see Chouin1998).

The castle of St. George d'Elmina, from 1637 to 1872 headquarters of the Netherlands Possessions on the Coast of Guinea. The photo's in the collection show the castle from the West, the East, and the North. The middle picture shows the main entrance with drawbridge and main buildings.

Ray Kea (1982:28) noted that the town of Eguafo was  referred to in 1688 as “Aguaffoman”, which would further suggest the existence of the Eguafo oman or state. By the nineteenth century,however,the population of Eguafo was in decline, and late in the nineteenth century it was reported that the ruler of Eguafo could only promise 150 men to assist in a military campaign (Brackenbury 1968[1874] II:127). It is therefore clear from this historical narration that Fantes came to meet Elmina people.

View of the hill St. Jago with the fort Coenraadsburg, with on the right the so-called Herenweg, now Liverpool Street, in Elmina, seen from the Parade Ground across the river.
The fort Coenraadsburg was built by the Dutch in the seventeenth century, to guard the castle St. George. The Dutch themselves had seized St. George from the Portuguese in 1637 by means of an attack from St. Jago hill. The Herenweg (Liverpool Street) was developed from 1840 onwards as a street lined with large merchants' houses - built by merchants who were predominantly of Euro-African descent. Currently, many of these houses are in a state of disrepair. The street itself is an important thoroughfare for transport to and from the large fishing port nowadays situated on the river quay visible in the front.

In the course of history, the focus on hinterland origins meant that the Elmina people found their natural allies in the Ashanti, and their enemies in their Fante neighbours. For a long time it also established the status of Elmina as an independent city-state. Historically, the development of Elmina is strongly linked to the development of the European trade with West Africa. The Portuguese explorers Juan de Santaran and Pedro d’Escobara landed in Elmina in 1470. On 19th January 1482, 600 men lead by Don Diego d’Azambuja arrived in Elmina in twelve ships from Portugal to build the George’s Castle. The construction of the Castle initiated the development of Elmina both as a regional commercial centre and as a node in an international trading network, spanning three continents. Competition between European trading nations for strategic positions on the West African Coast grew in the 16th and 17th centuries, with the Dutch and the British eventually gaining the strongest footholds. The Dutch conquered Elmina in 1637, by attacking the castle from the landside with the assistance of local allies, and guns positioned on St. Jago Hill. They made it their headquarters on the Gold Coast for the next 235 years.All through the 15th to 19th centuries, the town thrived on a host of economic activities.

The so-called Parade Ground in front of the castle of St. George d'Elmina (facing West). Until 1873, the original African town of Elmina was situated on this terrain, housing circa 15,000 inhabitants. Just over a year after the transfer of the Dutch possessions to Great Britain, the British bombarded and burnt the town. This was a punitive action against the population of Elmina, because of their continuing protest against the British government. In the action no one was wounded, as the inhabitants had been warned beforehand. After the bombardment, the British did not allow any building in the area. Up to this day it is an open space.

 Although some of these were not directly connected to the European presence, the volume and intensity of economic activities, as well as the growth of the town, was caused by that presence. Economic activities included fishing and food production (cassava, maize, groundnuts, palm oil, yam, sugar cane) and food provision (especially for the local market and the European garrison), essential services like transport (porters, canoes, boats), security, storage, as well as artisan activities like pottery, carpentry, and masonry. The population of the town grew from several hundred people at the arrival of the Portuguese in the 15th Century to roughly 20,000 in the mid-19th Century.
The Dutch factory in Elmina, with European and African personnel
Between circa 1888 and 1894, the firm of Gebroeders Ter Meulen of Rotterdam ran a factory, mainly trading in palm oil. The firm left Elmina during the worldwide agricultural crisis, which cut profits severely.
The photo shows three European staff (among whom probably one or two Ter Meulen's), three African agents (standing) some clerks (sitting), and manual labourers and carriers. The photo is taken in front of the Viala Houses, a merchant's house in Liverpool Street. This house was rented by the firm.

During their presence in Elmina, the Dutch had a significant influence on the culture and socio-economic development of the town and region. The Dutch planned the town and built a number of defence works around it. They also established strong relationships with the local leaders and community, and vice versa. The relationship between the Elmina people and the Dutch was one of equal footing. Militarily, the Dutch and the Elmina people were allies, often fighting together against mutual enemies. Economically, they were partners: the Elmina merchants maintaining the trading network and the flow of goods from the hinterland; the Dutch merchants providing for the European and American connections and goods. Politically, the Dutch and the Elmina authorities had their own jurisdictions, but co-operated with each other when necessary. Socially, the Dutch and the Elmina people fraternized up to a certain level.
Johannes Jacobus Cornelis Huydecoper, clerk in Dutch government service and later merchant in Elmina, worked for the firm of Ter Meulen. He was also a member of a prominent Euro-African family. His great-great-grandfather was Jan Pieter Theodoor Huydecoper (1728-1767), member of the Amsterdam elite family of that name, who served the Dutch West India Company on the Gold Coast from 1756 till his death, latterly as director-general. His grandfather Willem (1788-1826) and father Jacob (1811-1845) were both ambassadors of the Kingdom of the Netherlands at the Court of the King of Ashanti at Kumasi.

 Many European men, including high officials in the Dutch administration, married women from local families. In the case of officials, the bride often came from stool holding (elite) families, and the marriage, concluded according to local rites, reinforced the already close connections between the local and Dutch elites in Elmina. Children from these marriages bore their father’s surnames, and were regularly sent to the Netherlands for education. Apart from the Elmina dialect of Twi, Dutch was spoken in Elmina, and the Elmina elite adopted Dutch cultural traits. After the abolition of the Slave Trade by the Dutch government in 1814, the Dutch lost interest in the Gold Coast and Elmina, and minimized their presence.
Jacob Abraham de Veer (1838-1926), grandson of a Dutch governor of that name on the Gold Coast, was a merchant in Elmina, Dutch and French consul in Elmina, and burgomaster of that town. Until this day he is recognised locally as an important historical figure.

During the 19th century, one tried to revitalize the economy of the place by setting up plantations for palm oil and some other products. For a short time palm oil trade was profitable, whereby local businessmen profited more than the Dutch merchants. The boom led to a spree of  house building in the former Government Garden Area of Elmina. The remainder of these houses now make up the core of the historical townscape of Elmina. After 1860, with a drop in world market demand for palm oil, the economic prospects of Elmina foundered, and the local merchant community moved to Cape Coast, Accra, Axim, and other Gold Coast towns, as well as further fields, to set up new enterprises in timber and rubber production, cocoa farming, and gold prospecting.
Old lady Johanna Vitringa Coulon herself!! She married the whiteman Pieter Maria. Pieter, Maria (ca. 1864-1953) and Johanna Vitringa Coulon were children of the Dutch colonial official Julius Vitringa Coulon (1824-1878), who served on the Gold Coast between 1853 and 1866, and Adjua Hogen from Elmina. At the time of Muller's visit, Pieter was registrar to the District Commissioner's Court at Elmina. Johanna has her daughter Mercy Hughes sitting on her lap. Descendants of the two women still live in Cape Coast and Elmina.

During the 19th century, the Dutch Government tried to enhance its income from the Gold Coast by developing a gold mine and a cotton plantation, both of which failed. More successful was the recruitment exercise the government set up in the 1830s, to enlist African soldiers for service in the Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia). Most of the recruits came from the north, and were provided by the king of Ashanti, in accordance with a contract he had with the Dutch Government.
Van Dijke

Many of these recruits were originally slaves, who were given their freedom before they embarked in Elmina, in exchange for a regular military service contract. After the conclusion of the contract, the soldiers could opt for return to the Gold Coast on a pension. Many returned and settled in Elmina, on what is now known as Java Hill. Eventually, the Dutch Government decided that its possessions on the Gold Coast were more a burden than a benefit, and transferred them all to the British in 1872.
Maria Vitringa Coulon,Elmina half caste (mulatto)

 In Elmina, as in other places, this gave rise to public protest and guerrilla activities against the British, in which the Ashanti were also involved. The king (Omanhene) of Elmina, Kobina Gyan, openly pledged his steadfast allegiance to the Dutch. Eventually the British grew tired of all this protest, and exiled the king to Sierra Leone. In June 1873 they also bombarded the old town of Elmina, burning it to the ground completely. The population fled to the countryside and settled in surrounding villages. For almost a decade Elmina was a ghost town. The site of the old town was transformed into a parade ground and never rebuilt. Currently the area is a protected archaeological site.From 1880 onwards, now part of the British Gold Coast Colony, the town came alive again, although it took more than a century before it regained the population level of the mid-19th century.
Pieter Vitringa Coulon. Pieter, Maria (ca. 1864-1953) and Johanna Vitringa Coulon were children of the Dutch colonial official Julius Vitringa Coulon (1824-1878), who served on the Gold Coast between 1853 and 1866, and Adjua Hogen from Elmina. At the time of Muller's visit, Pieter was registrar to the District Commissioner's Court at Elmina. Johanna has her daughter Mercy Hughes sitting on her lap. Descendants of the two women still live in Cape Coast and Elmina.

 Elmina businessmen who had done good businesses elsewhere returned to their hometown, and built large residential houses, often on the ruin of old family houses. The less prosperous part of the population also returned around this time, and mainly settled in the area known as Esuekyir (’behind the hill’) and New Town. Fishing and trading activities gradually picked up too, but the former prosperity of the town was lost forever.
Mr. Johannes Adolphus Bartels. Johannes Adolphus Bartels, merchant in Elmina. Son of Louis Bartels (ca. 1818-1857). He descended both on his grandfather's and grandmother's side from prominent Euro-African families in Elmina.

 Only in the 1920s, when money from gold and cocoa flowed into the town, did expectations of a new economic dawn return.The typical 1920s-style colonial merchants’ houses built in this period are still dominant in several parts of the Elmina township. Private initiatives to develop Elmina into an economic hub  undertaken between 1880 and 1920 , including a railway connection to the mining and timber areas of the Western Region and the development of a modern harbour for intercontinental shipping, did not materialize.
J.W. Ephson, merchant at Elmina. Man in top-hat, tail-coat, carrying a walking stick, identified by Muller as &quotEphson&quot. He is J.W. Ephson who ran his own mercantile business in Elmina in the 1880s and 1890s.

In recent times, Elmina has become a sub-regional centre of limited economic importance, mainly servicing the needs of its direct surroundings. The port remains the largest traditional fishing port of Ghana. Together with Cape Coast, Elmina is a nucleus in the Central Region tourism development, with cultural heritage, beach tourism, and small-scale natural reserves as main assets for development. The region and Elmina are relatively successful in this development, but as yet few of the benefits of tourism actually reach the local population and the local administration.
Mr. Frederick Isaac Dolphijn ( died 11 Sep 1895 aged 46). Merchant, built a huge merchants' house in Elmina in 1880. He is wearing the costume of a member of a Masonic lodge, or a Masonic-type organisation, of which the Gold Coast had several in the nineteenth century.

Majority of the prosperous sons and daughters of Elmina have left the town and live in Kumasi, Accra or overseas and no longer invest much time and money in the town. Like the local people, however, the Elmina people in the Diaspora nurture the close relations Elmina had for so long with the Dutch, and which are not only visible in the monuments and sites in the town itself, but also in the Dutch family names many Ghanaians still bear.
Johannes Jacobus Cornelis Huydecoper and Mr. J.W. Ephson, portrayed together. They were important members of Elmina elites and Gold coast merchants.

Political structure
Regardless of the political claims that may have existed over the port town, the Elmina settlement became increasingly autonomous after the founding of the Castelo São Jorge da Mina. By the mid-sixteenth century, the settlement was an independent polity, which expanded with the assistance of the Portuguese and the Dutch during the following centuries.

Governor Sir W.B. Griffith, D.C. H. Vroom and staff [photograph]

 Both British and Dutch Komenda would follow a similar path,becoming independent from Eguafo by the end of the Komenda Wars in the early eighteenth century, when the prominent trader John Kabes was able to found a new paramount stool independently of Eguafo (see Henige1974 a:241–242). There is, however,no evidence for kingship at Elmina until much later, and even then it is an office lacking in the hierarchical authority typified in traditional formulations of the state.Today,the head of the Edina state is the Omanhen, who rules through monarchical succession. He is viewed as the political, military and religious leader of the Edina state. In contrast to most other Akan groups, inheritance of the position is considered patrilineal. The Omanhen must also be a member of the Enyampa Asafo and a member of either the Anona or Nsona clans. Other important officials are the state linguist (Oman okyeame), the heads of families (nguabadofo),the heads of the asafo companies (Asafohene), and the divisional chiefs. While the organization of the modern Edina state may appear clear, the origins and structure of these features are complex. A single king and the central role of the Omanhen did not emerge until the eighteenth century (DeCorse 2001a:39–40, 2008; Henige 1974b). Although some writers have viewed Caramansa, theAfrican ruler who met with Azambuja at the foundation of  Castelo São Jorge da Mina, as the King of Elmina (one on a list of rulers stretching back to the thirteenth century) there is no textual evidence for this (for review see DeCorse 2008). After his initial appearance, Caramansa is not mentioned in Portuguese records again. On the basis of the limited contemporary documentation available, Caramansa can only be described as a ruler, possibly either from, or subservient to,a neighbouring polity, but whatever his position it was not comparable to the
Omanhen of the Edina state known ethno-graphically (Hair 1994:55–56 note 37; Henige 1974b:504).

At the apex of Elmina political hierarchy is the paramount chief (omanhen or Ohen).  The Ohen has divisonal chiefs and sub-divisional chiefs under him. Succession of the ohen also appears to have varied at Elmina. The position may have rotated among lesser kings and not followed strict patrilineal succession, power eventually being centralized in a paramount king or Omanhen. Although succession of the position is now regarded as patrilineal (unlike for example at Eguafo, or other Akan polities) king lists suggest the actual line of inheritance has been variable. In fact, the issue of succession remains a source of great debate in modern Elmina, as it has in other coastal Fante states (see for example Chouin 1998:65–73, 1999). The Elmina royal court was likely initially undistinguished, with the importance of the Omanhen and the royal court becoming fully solidified during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Even then the head of the state appears as only one of a series of political balances, the most important of which were asafo.
The ownership of land (including mineral rights) was traditionally vested in the family stool, and so the head of family acts as the custodian, giving individuals the right to use such land which only returns to the family stool once they have ceased to use it. Common land is vested in the paramount stool. The Omanhen has the ability to grant land to settlers,and extract tribute from them, which then goes back to the stool (see for example de Marees 1987 [1602]:110–111).Change in how ownership was conceptualized may have begun in the coastal towns during the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as chiefs increasingly attempted to control and profit from the land. At Elmina, the earliest mention of private property (erfgrond)dates to the early eighteenth century (Algermeen Rijksarchief NBKG 318). A corollary of the fact that the office of
Omanhen did not emerge at Elmina until the eighteenth century may have been comparatively limited control over the profits afforded by land tenure. Occupation of houses, if not private ownership of houses, likely insured ownership within the town. In the surrounding farmlands of the expanding Edina State,allocation by divisional chiefs and lineages continued to be the means through which land rights were established. Perception of the commercial value of land did not begin until the twentieth-century.
 Kwamena Essilfie Adjaye, economist and proud native of Elmina

Among the principal hierarchical structures within the coastal Akan, the asafo are most important. The asafo are military associations based on lineal descent, often associated with specific areas within a town known as bron or wards.They are characteristic of the coastal Akan, particularly within the Fante states.

                                 Edina asafo No 4 company posuban.

Membership is by patrilineal descent, which generally contrasts with the matrilineal orientation of other aspects of Akan office succession and kinship, though the patrilineal inheritance of the position of "ohen" (chief) at Elmina has been noted (DeCorse 2001a:40–41; also see Arhin 1966; Christensen 1954:108; Chukwukere 1970, 1980; Danquah1928:16–20, 199–121; Datta and Porter 1971:281; de Graft-Johnson 1932; Ffoulkes 1907; Hernaes 1998; Sarbah 1968[1906]:26–32).
Safohen Edward Abraham Ulzen of Edina, the first registrar of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, in his traditional safohen dress holding a sword of authority

 Certain aspects of  asafo organization,pageantry and symbolism suggest European influences, for example the company structure, the use of flags, and the representation of European warships and uniforms in shrines. Nevertheless, the groups are clearly indigenous in form and conceptualization. They may represent Akan institutions, such as the young men’s associations in Asante (mmerante) that evolved to include new elements and non-traditional groups. In Elmina, for example, asafo included groups made up of company slaves, vrijburgers (a certain group of Elmina mulattos), and Europeans (see Christensen 1954:107). The asafo provided a mechanism through which young men and commoners could express their opinions. Although often characterized as serving primarily military or social functions,the asafo are also validated through rituals and fealty oaths.Each asafo had its own shrine in which offerings were made.
Dr R P Barffour, first African vice chancellor of KNUST, native of Elmina

At Elmina the origin of asafo likely predate the office of  Omanhen. Beginning in the late seventeenth century or early eighteenth century, the number of leaders noted in Dutch records increased, possibly an indication of the development or expansion of the asafo system (Henige 1974b:505–506;Baesjou 1979:19; Christensen 1954:107; DeCorse 2001a:40–41; Feinberg 1989:104–108; Wartemberg 1951:53–55). The asafo
organization may have started to emerge in neighbouring coastal states, like Eguafo, at about the same time (Chouin 1998:129–141). Elmina’s seven core asafo were recognized by 1724, but three others were added during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Two of the additions consisted of refugees displaced by the Fante War of 1810. The final asafo was the Akrampa, consisting of the Dutch West India Company slaves and their descendents. This brought the total number of Elmina asafo to ten, more than any other settlement. For example, in the twentieth century Eguafo only had four asafo companies resident in the town itself, though the kingdom as a whole had twelve (Fynn 1974a).The role of the asafo in Elmina politics contrasted with other coastal Akan polities, as the asafo appear to have had apreeminent position in the political hierarchy. Most significantly, the asafo determined the election of the kings(Feinberg 1970:24; Henige 1973:226, 1974b: 506–507). The political structure of Elmina is also distinct in its lack (prior to 1873) of divisional chiefs, and the nineteenth-century creation of the besonfo, a council of wealthy Elmina people that also originated from the asafo (Feinberg 1969:72–89; 1970, 1989;Yarak 1986b:33–34). These institutions to some extent counter-balanced one another, but within the Elmina polity all were of secondary importance to the patrilineally linked asafo. The Dutch clearly recognized the primary importance of the
asafo. The overall leader of the asafo (ekuwessonhin) and the individual company heads all received a larger allowance than the king (Feinberg 1969:86).

   Paa Kwesi Nduom, businessman, and presidential candidate of PPP and his family, proud natives of Elmina

Such favouritism may have fostered a vested interest in the asafo relations with the Dutch.The growing infrastructure of the Elmina polity was commensurate with its increasing political autonomy from the neighbouring states of Efutu and Eguafo, and the emergence of port towns like Elmina, Komenda and Shama as competitors for territory from the hinterland states. Elmina originally was limited to the settlement area and adjacent farmlands. With its emergence as an independent polity, however,additional land was incorporated with the help of the Portuguese and the Dutch. By 1813 it had extended as far to the east as the Sweet River,the location of the modern boundary (Feinberg1989:77). Presently,the Edina State with Elmina as the capital includes several towns and smaller settlements. It is bounded by the stools of British Komenda in the west, Oguaa (Cape Coast) in the east, and Eguafo to the north. Oral traditions suggest some of the villages currently incorp
orated within the Edina State were part of Eguafo until the nineteenth century (Fynn 1974b:21)

Edina Bakatue Festival
Edina Bakatue is a fishing as well as a harvest festival of the people of Elmina. The festival is purposed at bringing and fostering unity among the people and to reaffirm their relationship with the river gods. It has also been recognized that this also allows for the replenishment of the fish stock of the river. This is associated with the bountiful harvest of fish, following the festival because of the ban placed on fishing activities before and during the entire duration of the festival. While its history might not be clear, it is a festival associated with the fishing occupation of the people which has served as their primary and subsistent activity from time immemorial.

Gwira Akyinim Obaahemaa (queen mother) dancing in her palanquin during Edina Bakatue festival

Bakatue is an annual festival, celebrated on the first Tuesday of July, by the chiefs and people of Elmina. During the celebration when the Omanhene (paramount chief), divisional chiefs and entire state go to the priest to offer a sacred food to the river goddess and pray for peace, protection and prosperity for Elmina and its satellite allegiance communities. Preparation of rituals are performed, Six weeks before this Tuesday.
Key Activities
The preparation begins with the paramount chief, who orders the gong-gong beater to inform the people of the imposition of a ban on net fishing in the Benya lagoon, forbidding the selling of fresh fish in the market place, forbidding newly harvested crops from being eaten or sold in public, causing the dead to be buried without delay, placing a ban on drumming, as well as other noise making activities, to bring quietness in the town. Widows are made to end widowhood rites in order to purify themselves for the coming year during the first of the six weeks of preparation towards the festival. Burukutu Kyew (a cap on top of the sacred shrine) is replaced with a new one and the old one is carried to Kunkuntar, an abode of one of the gods, to be swallowed by the sea.

               Edina ahenfo (chiefs) in procession

On Monday evening of the second week, youth organize at the river embankment a “gyantsiatu” (bonfire), which takes them into the following day (Tuesday). In the morning, the men carry a pieces of wood with fire to chase their female counterpart, singing and casting of insinuations to get rid of all evil of the past year and as atonement to the women for wrongdoings.In the afternoon on Monday of the third week, Ankobea (Asafo No. 1) goes to carry out an important ceremony called “Kora Butw” (overtuning of the wooden platter). As part of the ceremony, a sheep is presented to the state to be sacrified, signifying official loyalty to the gods to the taboos mentioned above.
On this same Monday very late in the evening, the gods of the lagoon is invoked and carried to the shrine to guard and guide the states as it prepares to enter the new harvesting year. The morning of the following Tuesday, the Sheep is slaughtered and offered to the gods in the midst of the pouring of libation and incantations. The women organize retaliation events and by using “mpapan” (whip), they whip menfolk they meet as they move through the streets of the town. This denotes the condemnation of immorality of on the part of men, which is offence against the state.
Edina Akomfo dancing

At the dusk of Monday of the fourth week, the first of three traditional state drumming and dancing ceremonies, popularly known as “dombo”, is carried out in front of the sacred shrine. The traditional priest and the priestess drum and dance exhibiting real culture and historic events in front of all the chiefs and concerned citizens present. At certain stages, the gods of the land possesses the priest, thereby, directing and controlling his actions and utterances. These activities are repeated in the following week (fifth week).
In the sixth week, the akyemfo company (Asafo No.2) goes to the shrine to revoke the taboos institute for the purification of the town and people in preparation for towards the festival. In the evening of the Monday, they present a sheep for sacrifice in accordance with custom, signifying the lifting of the ban imposed six weeks earlier: a ceremony is known as “kobatae”.

The drumming and dancing activity of the fourth/fifth week is repeated during the sixth week. However, unlike other times when they close deep into the night, this last one extends throughout the night into the next morning. It is also this last one that attracts most people, especially natives of the town. The priests in trance may mention names of people who have violated the taboos during the six weeks during the last dombo. They celebration continues to the bright Tuesday morning, when the Omanhene, stool-holders, sub-chiefs, elders and courtier department to their various places. This Tuesday being the festival day, they return to assemble at the chief’s palace by midday.

A royal procession begins with all the chiefs, stool-holders – some of them being carried in a beautifully decorated palanquins, Asafohenfo and concerned citizens from the paramount chiefs palace, through the principal streets of the town. The paramount chief, last but one in the process, is dressed in “krada” (calico), wears the nyinya “necklace” and “birifikyew” (a straw hat), and holds his scepter with the associated sword office, to grace the occasion. He rides in calico dressed palanquin under a beautiful twin umbrella that signifies his authority and power over all others. It stops for a moment at the sacred shrine for the final purification and then continues to the river embankment.

One of the courtiers carries a wooden tray believed to contain among others, all the evils, ills, bad omen and curses of the state. On reaching the river embankment, the chief linguist pours libation, performs some rituals after which the contents of the wooden tray are buried in the river, for all these to be washed away. Thrice, the Omanhene’s net is cast, and after the third net cast, the musketry is fired three times announcing the lifting of the ban on fishing, drumming, funerals, among other activities that the ban was placed on. The exchange of yam and fish between Eguafo and Edina respectively signifies the brotherhood and honoured relationship between the two states. This officially brings the ritual aspect of the festival to an end.

When rituals are over the chiefs and people return home amidst drumming, singing and dancing to welcome the New Year. One the Saturday, the chiefs in their best regalia, exhibiting their rich culture and possession, gather at the frontage of the castle to discuss how best they can develop the town for the coming year. Many distinguished personalities are invited to assist the town during this process and activities may include fund raising for developmental projects in the town. In the evening when the chiefs are returning to the palace, it’s a delight to watch, because one can see the styles and skills of dancing, along with seeing chiefs standing to dance in their palanquins, exhibiting true African, and for that matter, Ghanaian culture.

                            Edina chief
Edina Bronya
The Bakatue Festival celebrates the “opening” of Benya River, and is thus closely connected to the main economic activity of fishing. Edina Bronya is also called the Elmina Christmas. Bronya is actually a Libation Day during which ancestors are remembered.
The Edina Bronya festival is connected to the annual New Year festivities, which the Elmina people celebrated together with the Dutch. It takes place from the first Thursday of the calendar year.  The traditional ceremonies preceding this observance of the festival includes the exhibition of the Aketekete war drum captured from the Fantis in 1868.
On the Wednesday before the Thursday, the No. 7 Asafo Company perform some rites in the Benya Lagoon.  On the Thursday, families (Ebusua) gather in their ancestral homes and give food and drinks to the departed in ceremonies called Akor or Akordo-korye do (i.e a place that we reunite, settle all disputes and become one, place where the living and the dead become one). The ebusua celebration, Akordu, runs from Thursday to Saturday: Some ebusua on Thursday and some on Saturday, and those in which there have been accidental deaths or suicide on Friday.
It is after the Akor ceremonies that merriment starts because all citizens of the town come home.  These days the weekend of that Thursday is used for a durbar of chiefs, which is also very attractive to visitors.

An Etymology of “Bronya” (Christmas) as told by my friend Dominic Sagoe (native of Elmina)
As 25th December approaches, the sweet-scented aroma of Christmas sweetly works its purpose out through the chilly harmattan air. To hark back, Christmas is the season when Christians and also some non-Christians commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ on 25th December. Empirically, “bronya” has become the most popular rendition of Christmas in Ghanaian vernacular. However, there is a paucity of literature addressing how the expression “bronya” came to replace the English word Christmas in Ghanaian vernacular. Many of us, although we use “bronya” diurnally especially in recent days, have not spared a thought to decode how Christmas metamorphosized into “bronya” in Ghanaian vernacular. As captioned, this article elucidates the linguistic genesis of the word “bronya” which, empirically, has become the most popular expression for Christmas in Ghanaian parlance.
Etymologically, according to some accounts, “bronya” is derived from a Fante phrase “bor na nya”: “bor” meaning “swim” or “dive”, “na” meaning “and”, and “nya” meaning “get”. Thus, “bronya” simply means “swim and get” or “dive and get”. Other accounts suggest that “bronya” is derived from the Fante phrase “br3 na nya”: “br3” meaning “tire” (emanating from the tiring nature of swimming long distances) and “na” and “nya” holding the same meaning as above. Thus, “bronya” to these sources means “tire and get”.
According to oral tradition, the Portuguese during their stay in Elmina in particular, and Fanteland in general, between 1471 until their defeat by the Dutch in 1627 used to celebrate Christmas by organizing swimming competitions for the inhabitants. They used to stuff canoes with goodies and anchor these canoes at ‘reasonable’ distances from the shores of the sea and sometimes the Benya lagoon in Elmina. The best swimmers were then lined up for swimming competitions. Whichever swimmer reached first the stuffed canoes won whatever goodies the canoe had been stuffed with. Thus, the swimmers ‘swam to get’ or ‘tired to get’ the goodies in the canoes. These swimming competitions became the hallmark of Christmas celebrations in Elmina and Fanteland in general and attracted people from faraway to these celebrations.
With time, the people of Elmina and Fanteland in general came to classically condition the advent of Christmas with the swimming competitions, and eventually came to refer to Christmas as “bronya”, the season of “swimming and getting” or “tiring and getting”. With time, and through interaction with other ethnic groups such as the Ga and the Ashanti, the expression “bronya” was passed on to them. Through such further cross-ethnic interaction, the expression “bronya” born in Elmina and Fanteland, has, empirically, become the most popular expression for Christmas in Ghanaian vernacular.
After the defeat of the Portuguese by the Dutch in 1627 and the eventual control of trading cum colonial activities in Elmina, the Dutch introduced a novel form of “bronya” to the people of Elmina. This festival came to be known as “Edina bronya” which translates as “Elmina Christmas”. “Edina bronya” has always been celebrated on the first Thursday of January each year. Historically, the celebration of “Edina bronya” coincided with a Dutch Festival which falls on the first Thursday of January of every year and signified the bond of friendship between the Dutch and the people of Elmina. Today, “Edina bronya” is celebrated to usher in the New Year and to pray to our ancestors for blessings for Edinaman and Mfantseman in general such as the recent gold discovery on the shores of Elmina. The swimming competitions that in the past characterized “Edina bronya” have however been replaced by elaborate ritual to signify peace and to pray to our ancestors for prosperity and good health in the coming year. However, merry-making, drumming and dancing are still an important feature of “Edina bronya”.
Thus did the Fante expression “bronya” come to replace Christmas in Ghanaian vernacular. On this note, I wish all readers a merry Bronya and a happy New Year. I also invite all readers, especially Elminians in the diaspora, to the celebration of this year’s “Edina bronya” on Thursday 5th January, 2011. Edina Botweku Asankoma Kantakranka Abrokyir Kaakra Mfr3 Yie!! Mfantseman Mfr3 Yie!! Ghana Mfr3 Yie!!
The author wishes to express his sincere gratitude to Sir Knt. Dr Anthony Annan-Prah and Nana Kwamena Essilfie Adjaye for the priceless dose of historical edification.

Tourism Attractions
A Growing Economic Sector In TownElmina is a major tourist destination site in Ghana. Elmina’s  importance for Ghana and the world are currently the two UNESCO World Heritage protected sites: the castle of St. George d’Elmina and Fort Coenraadsburg on St. Jago Hill.

These sites attract over 100,000 tourists annually (of whom 50,000 come from abroad). Apart from the castle and fort, we find other monuments in the town, like the Asafo houses, traditional shrines, and remnants from the Dutch period (cemetery, Government Garden), and 19th and early 20th century merchants’ houses. The town can also boast of a rich culture visible in the popular festivals of Bakatue, Edina Bronya and the Pan-African Festival (Panafest).

Tourism, which is a growing economic activity in Elmina, has great potential for development and expansion, as recognised by central and regional government. At the moment tourism is limited to the beaches and the castle and fort mainly. Other possible tourist attractions in town hardly seem to attract tourists. This has much to do with the unavailability of information and infrastructure.

Many tourists do not know much about the town, there is hardly any background information available, and there are hardly any facilities to rest, drink and eat apart from the main hotels. The castle has a restaurant, open during daytime, and in the town some low-price drinking spots and one newly opened cafe are available to the tourists.

As indicated before, Elmina has festivals, cultural activities and objects that attract a great number of people every year. The Edina Bronya and Edina Bakatue, the two unique glamorous festivals of the people of Elmina, are watched by thousands of people from far and near every year.

The bi-annual Panafest is held in Cape Coast, but does use space in Elmina too. This festival is especially popular with African-American tourists. Accommodation and catering facilities also exist in the town.  Out of ten hotels and guest houses in Elmina, two (2) are Three Star, two (2) are Two Star and the remaining six (6) are Budget facilities .

In all, the hotels can provide 631 guest rooms and 999 beds. In relation to hotel accommodation in the whole of the Central Region  with Cape Coast as the centre, Elmina has a shortage of One Star and Guest house accommodation, to cater for the medium-and low-budget foreign tourist (see A.2.4). On the whole, the quality of Budget accommodation does not appeal to this type of tourist, while Two Star and Three Star are already too expensive.

A total of 227 people, made up of 138 males and 89 females work directly in the hotels, Furthermore the town has six (6) restaurants, providing a total seating capacity for 292 guests. Many more people are involved in activities directly related to tourism.

Already in the 1970s, a comprehensive conservation study of Elmina was put forward including proposals for the designation of conservation areas, the restoration and rehabilitation of some structures in the core areas of the town, and the reconstruction of two historic buildings. The recommendations were set against the background of tourism development.

The rehabilitation programme foresaw in the conversion of historic buildings in tourist amenities, like guesthouses, cafes, restaurants, and a tourist information centre. The plans came to nothing, because of a change in the economic and political circumstances in Ghana in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  

During the last decade, the town’s cultural heritage resources and historical landscape have been increasingly affected. Population growth and lack of funding and planning have put much pressure on the historic core of the town and caused a number of privately owned historical buildings to fall into disrepair or collapse.

Generally speaking, the historical buildings still standing are now in a bad state of maintenance. A USAID funded project, started in the 1990s, mainly focussed on the Castle of St. George and Fort Coenraadsburg and the old town of Cape Coast, not Elmina Town.

The development potential of cultural heritage in Elmina, including Castle, Fort, Town and Festivals, is still in existence. The holistic approach to the development of cultural heritage as an engine for tourism is widely accepted now. The road to implementation is however, still to be mapped out clearly.

     Edina Bakatue festival

Jan Kooi, the Elmina man who became the first African to be awarded highest military honor in dutch army
The African corporal Jan Kooi achieved some fame in the Netherlands for his courageous feats in the Atjeh (now Aceh) war, the longest, deadliest and most inconclusive war in Dutch colonial history. The sultanate of Atjeh, on the northern tip of Sumatra, was known to be a stronghold both of piracy and of orthodox Islam. During the 19th century, the Dutch gradually expanded their control over Sumatra.
Corporal Jan Kooi (1849-unknown). Circa

The Atjeh war commenced in 1873 and ended only in 1904. To this day, there is a secessionist movement in Aceh fighting against Indonesian government troops. Jan Kooi entered into the service of the Dutch East Indies army in 1869, at the age of 20 years. He was born in Elmina in 1849. His mothers’ name was Essowa. His father’s name is poorly readable in the army records: something like ‘Dinaba’. With his new Dutch name of Jan Kooi, he enlisted at the recruiting station in Elmina for the duration of 12 years, receiving a considerable bounty of 200 guilders. On 30 May 1870 he left Elmina on the ship Ternate, arriving in Batavia (Jakarta) on 14 August 1870. With the other new arrivals, he was sent for training with the 1st infantry bataillion. Almost a year later, training was completed, and Kooi was sent to Atjeh with the 2nd infantry bataillion. From 1874 to 1879 he was engaged in numerous military expeditions in Atjeh, earning himself a range of distinctions: the Atjeh medal 1873-1874; the distinction for extraordinary efforts in Atjeh 1873-1874; twice he is mentioned with distinction in the campaign records; in 1881 he is awarded the bronze medal. On top of these decorations, Jan Kooi was the first African soldier to be awarded the highest military honours in the Dutch army:the Militaire Willemsorde (4th class) No wonder that he was a famous man during his brief stay in the Netherlands in 1882, on the way back to his native Elmina. Newspapers reported how he had saved the life of his commander by killing two Atjeh fighters, while himself suffering ten bullet wounds under enemy fire. Later that year he earned a reward of 100 guilders for saving the life of lieutenant Bijleveld by killing a heavily armed Atjeher. The article in the Overveluwsch Weekblad noted that Kooi spoke perfect Dutch, but also spoke warmly about his family and homeland. During his stay in Harderwijk, the garrison town with the recruiting station for the colonial army, he had twice his portrait painted. Two very different portraits: the highly formal soldier’s posture on the portrait by J.C. Leich; and the impressionistic portrait by Isaac Israels, one of the most famous Dutch painters in the 19th century. After army service, Jan Kooi settled in his native Elmina, which meanwhile had been handed over to the British. Here we encounter him once more in the baptismal records of the church of St. Joseph: on 30 May 1886, Joannes Kooi is mentioned as the godfather to Grace Maria Plange, daughter of Jacob Plange and Arala Yaniba.
    Canoe building yard, Elmina. Courtesy http://georgequaenoo.com/

Kingship in Elmina before 1869: A Study in Feedback and the Traditional Idealization of the Past
                                        By  DAVID P HENIGE
Traditional accounts of the remote past tend to simplify and idealize the evolution of the society they describe. For instance whole epochs are personified by single archetypal figure and the existence of political
strife is minimized or ignored. At the same time many of the details in these accounts are not inherent to the tradition but are products of the age of literacy barnacles on the ship of tradition. This feedback from external printed sources reflects both dearth of knowledge of the remoter past and propensity to overvalue the printed word.
   Current Elmina Omanhen, Nana Kojo Konduah dancing during Bakatue festival procession of chiefs. Courtesy http://georgequaenoo.com/

The origin growth and role of kingship in Elmina coastal town in southern Ghana illustrates these points. The duration continuity and detail of the written contemporaneous documentation for Elmina is unrivalled in sub-Saharan Africa. Records in the Dutch British and Ghanaian archives provide details on traditional politics in Elmina from the middle of the seventeenth century to the present. While these often lack the circumstantial detail and sympathetic understanding that the historian would prefer they can provide in broad outline the development of several traditional political offices in Elmina. These data are supplemented by the voluminous materials for Elmina traditional politics in the twentieth century In sum this near embarrassment of riches provides rare opportunity to study both the nature of kingship in early Elmina and the development of traditions concerning it. The contrast between the pictures painted by these two varieties of sources
illuminates both the nature of and stimuli for the growth of much oral tradition.

This paper will focus on the origins of the office of omanhen or para mount chief in Elmina and on the role the occupants of this office played in Elmina traditional politics before 1869. It is intended primarily as study in source analysis and emphasizes only one aspect of these traditional accounts the fashion in which they treat the concept of omanhen.
Elmina or Edina stool traditions as recorded in the twentieth century trace the origin of the paramount stool to the migrations of one Kwa Amankwa also called Edina in some traditions. Kwa Amankwa is alleged to have migrated from the north and to have founded both the paramount stool of Elmina and the town itself. Earlier traditional accounts cited either Eguafo town few miles northwest of Elmina or an unspecified area north of Elmina as the original abode of Kwa Amankwa but in the 1930`s with the return of the Asantehene from
exile and the restoration of the Asante Confederacy most Elmina traditions began to identify Kwa Amankwa as of royal Asante stock who had fled southward after succession dispute. This account is a myth.
Elmina accounts are nearly unanimous in crediting Kwa Amankwa with founding the town`s paramount stool The traditional dating of this event ranges from during the latter period B.C. to prior to the twelfth century to 1300. All such conjecture is based on single chronological linchpin the reign of Kwamina Ansa who all Elmina traditions now claim was ruling in 1482 when the Portuguese arrived and built their fort. As can be seen from Table I Kwamina Ansa is identified in tradition as successor of Kwa Amankwa sometimes as his
immediate successor sometimes as late as his fifth successor. Table I includes five traditional lists of the amanhin of Elmina. Wartemnberg`s list is used as the baseline since by its appearance in print it has superseded all previous lists and informants in Elmina today will almost invariably refer to it when asked for information about the early rulers of the town.
                                                               TABLE I
                                                                                    List of J.J.C      List of Apram      
    Dates         Wartemberg`s             List of 1899         Smith 1934       Esson 1934           Meyerowitz
1300-1335  Kwaa Amankwaa   Kwaa Amankwaa   Amp)n Dziedur Kwaa Amankwaa    Kob Amankwaa
1355-1390  Kwegya Ansah I         Edina                  Asilfie Conduah   Amp)n Dziedur      Kwaagya I
1390-1426  Amp)n Kuma           Yankum                Kwagya Ansah  Kwagya Ansah        Kwaagya II
1426-1450  Ebu I                        Dziedur                 Interkudzi           Ampra Kuma     Kwamina K Ansah
1450-1475  Amankwaa II          Ntakudzi                 Ahin                   Ohinba Edu
1475-1510  Kwamina Ansah      Kobina Ahin          Ebu                 Kwaa Amankwaa II
1510-1545  Kwegya Ansah II     Ebu                       Anowi              Kwamina Ansah
1545-1572  Kofi Ahin                 Anowi                  Diawu               Kwegya Ansah II
1572-1605  Esilfie Konduah        Diawu               Kobina Condua    Kofi Ahin
1605-1660  Ntakudzi I               Condua              Kobina Ghan        Esilfie Conduah
1660-1680  Amp)n Dziedur                                                              Ntakudzi
1680-1720  Ohenba Ebu II                                                                  Edu
1720-1760   Anowi                                                                            Anowi
1760-1820   Di Ewu                                                                           Diawu
1820-1868   K)bena Condua                                                              Kobina Condua
The implications of the various Elmina kinglists will be discussed at greater length later At this point however it is necessary to determine how Kwamina Ansa came to be included in Elmina traditions Kwamina
Ansa was not included in the list of Elmina rulers collected in 1899 but he appeared in each of the later lists There is substantial evidence that Kwamina Ansa and concomitantly the whole fabric of Elmina traditional chronology was the product of an increasing awareness by Elminans of body of European historiography dealing with the arrival of the Portuguese on the Gold Coast Indeed until the great era of stool disputes in Elmina in the 1920 to the 1940 there is little evidence that Elminans thought much about their origins and early history or indeed that they cared much about them In 1853 for instance the inhabitants of the town fearful of falling under British rule memorialized the Dutch king regarding their long-standing loyalty. In this petition the Elminans began their history only with the Dutch capture of the Portuguese fort there in 1637 despite the fact that it would have been an ideal opportunity for stressing the great antiquity of Elmina
royal institutions particularly if these were seen as antedating the arrival of the predecessors of the Dutch
The omission of Kwamina Ansa from the 1899 kinglist reflected the fact that few printed accounts of "Caramansa" the chief who had permitted the Portuguese to build Elmina Castle had yet reached Elmina. (ELLIS History of the Gold Coast of West Africa London 1893 spoke of Caramansa and speculated that the name might be the equivalent of Kwamina Ansa In 1895 the first edition of  C C Reindorf`s History of the Gold Coast and Asante appeared Reindorf mentioned Karamansa the native chief of Fetu and suggested that this name might have been corruption of Okoromansa. When the second edition of Reindorf appeared in 1951 this ruler was called Kwamena Ansa thus reflecting the new history)
More importantly English had not yet replaced Dutch as the European language spoken in Elmina. In fact, as late as 1918 one of the destoolment charges against omanhen Condua III was that he insisted on using foreign i.e English language unremittingly during the daily sessions of the Native Tribunal and that only few Elminans could understand him.

              Elmina sub-chief in palanquin

After 1900 references to Caramansa began to proliferate in works on Gold Coast history The first of these
was John Mensah Sarbah`s Fanti National Constitution published in 1906 Sarbah discussed the arrival of the Portuguese and spoke of Ansa the King without any further details. (In 1903 Rhule member of mulatto family of longstanding prominence in Elmina wrote long letter to the Society of African Missions in which he discussed inter alia the early history of Elmina He stated that according to traditions Elmina was originally subject to Eguafo In the thirteenth century the Portuguese came and soon after the Dutch also arrived Rhule made no mention whatever of Kwamina Ansa when discussing the arrival of the Portuguese Letter of Rhule 31 August 1903 entry 19722 of 1903 Società delle Misioni Africane Rome.)
Nine years later  after Sarbah`s work, W W Claridge published History of the A History of Gold Coast and Ashanti and repeated Sarbah`s account at greater length and with few new twists. Claridge`s work seems to have had  a greater impact on the development of Elmina traditions than any other publication and it is necessary to discuss at some length his sources and the way he used them. necessary to discuss at some length his sources and the way he used them. Claridge`s source for the Caramansa account was like Sarbah`s James Clarke`s The Progress of Maritime Discovery which appeared in 1805 and from which Claridge quoted liberally Clarke nowhere referred to Caramansa as anything but the Negro chief or the African. Clarke`s own account was drawn in turn from Joao de Barros Da Asia published in Lisbon in
several volumes between 1777 and 1788 and from Manuel de Faria Sousa Asia Portuguesa an English edition of which had been published in 1695. Faria Sousa wrote his history of Portuguese expansion during the first half of the seventeenth century. The English translation of his work in 1695 called Caramansa the Prince of proto-Elmina. Barros called Caramansa Senhor daquella aldea or Lord of that village. Senhor can mean any number of things but never king in the sense of an independent ruler Faria Sousa referred to Caramansa as senhor of the people who had met the Portuguese and was therefore even more vague than Barros had been. Rui de Pina writing about thirty-five years before Barros referred to Caramansa as `a que os negros chamavam Rey "he who the blacks called the king. But king of what? The evidence of the sources on this point is extremely vague and even contradictory Eustachê de La Fosse,  Flemish mariner who visited the area in 1479 spoke of the manse et caramanse qui sont le roy et viceroy but he too failed to specify the realms over which the caramanse ruled as viceroy and the manse as king.
It has been suggested that Caramansa was title which reflected Mande influence in the area since mansa is the Mande word for ruler. This is plausible but we need not concern ourselves with the meaning or derivation of the name or whether Caramansa represented proper name or title. What is noteworthy is that none of the sources known to or used by Claridge referred to Caramansa as the king of Elmina. Indeed the most common feature of these sources is their ambiguity on this very point Other evidence about Portuguese activities at Elmina after 1482 suggests like La Fosse that the town on the site of Elmina was not an independent polity but was either part of the State of Eguafo or of the State of Fetu or was divided between these two States by the Benya river. Claridge following Ellis argued that Caramansa was probably
corruption of Kwamina  Ansah but when he further stated that this Caramansa/Kwamina Ansa was the Chief of Elmina he clearly went beyond any of his sources.
Thus through  a long and tortuous process Caramansa who on the basis of the evidence of known contemporaneous accounts can be described as no more than prominent personage in the area of Elmina became Kwamina Ansa independent ruler of Elmina.  In due course Claridge`s  Kwamina Ansa was incorporated into Elmina traditions as an important omannen of the town so important in fact that he had been mentioned in the many works on the early history of the Gold Coast. During the half century since the appearance of  Claridge`s History Kwamina Ansa has become entrenched in Elmina traditions before 1915 he seems never to have appeared at all.

Kwamina  Ansah`s historiographical evolution illustrates the propensity of oral tradition to subsume printed facts uncritically and exemplifies the validity of the Chinese proverb that a strong memory is weaker than
the palest. The reasons for this propensity in Elmina will be discussed in the conclusion of this paper. In many cases of course this kind of feedback can have important chronological implications as it has for Elmina chronology. With the aid of the Portuguese and Dutch records and of seventeenth and eighteenth century travelers accounts however it is possible to trace with some confidence the development of Elmina political institutions and the office of omanhen.
A Portuguese regimento royal ordinance granted to Jorge da Mina i.e Elmina in 1529 specified the relationship of the Portuguese authorities there with the indigenous population. This regimento mentioned no office of paramount ruler in the town and strongly implied that the inhabitants were under the direct control of the Portuguese capitao-mor. Any other detailed records that may have existed for the period of Portuguese rule in Elmina were destroyed in the earthquake of 1755 and no further information is available for the town until the seventeenth century. The Dutch map of 1629 described Elmina as being divided into three parts each under a captain. The Dutch director-general Arent Jacobzen van Amersfoort declared ten years later that the people of Elmina were accustomed to communicate all occurrences to the Director- General because they have no king. In 1659 the director-general recorded that the Caboceers of Elmina came to
consult with him regarding a campaign against Asebu. Olfert Dapper writing in the 1660`s, but relying on earlier sources repeated that Elmina was divided into three quarters each ruled by its own Braffo, the
equivalent of captain. Willem Bosman writing c.1700 described what he termed the tyrannical Government of some of their Elminans. Correspondence from the director-general and entries in the Elmina Journal (dagregister) for the period from 1700 to 1720 contain many similar references to Elminan Captains, Caboceers, Chiefs. and Vaandriges. These accounts probably reflect the developnment of an inchoate asafo system in Elmina where the number of asafo eventually reached ten.

In short not single available source for the period before 1732 intimated that the office of king or indeed any form of centralized government existed in Elmina. While it is often ill-advised to argue from negative evidence the volume and consistency of such evidence in this case seems overwhelming. While the Dutch may not have under stood or been interested in the subtleties of Elmina traditional politics they could hardly have failed in their daily intercourse with the inhabitants of the town for nearly a century to have become aware of any paramount ruler with whom they could have conducted their business conveniently.
In 1732 one Codja Comma signed a Pen and Contract with the Dutch authorities as Upper  King. A few months later the Elmina Journal recorded that one of the so-called kings of this Crom (African town
was buried). These are the first references in the Dutch records to the title of king The tenor of the entry in the Journal suggests that the Dutch authorities had only recently become aware of this office and still regarded it as novelty.
During the eighteenth century there was usually a First or Upper King  a Second or Under King and  a Third King. The origin of this hierarchy is not at all clear it may be related to the old tripartite division of the town but any speculation would necessarily be somewhat idle since there is no direct evidence bearing on the subject.

    Hugh Quarshie, British veteran actor is a native of Elmina with Dutch ancsetry

As Table II indicates Elmina kings appeared in the Dutch records with frequency and regularity after 1732. They most often made their appearance as signatories of the Pen and Contracts Few of these agreements are available for the period before 1732. This absence may simply reflect an accident in their preservation. On the other hand the institution of the Pen and Contract mechanism may have developed or at least flowered with the development of an official with whom the Dutch felt that they could conveniently make these arrangements. In any event the sharp contrast between the periods before and after 1732 suggests that the office of )manhen had crystallized into recognizable form only shortly before that date. Doubtless the appearance of this paramount office was more in the nature of another step in the evolution of Elminan political institutions than an instant innovation. This development is reflected in the growth of the three original quarters of the town to seven by this time and the more frequent appearance of titles like Vaandrig in the Dutch records. It is not unlikely that the office of omanhen may have crystallized as result of the exigencies
accompanying Elminan participation in the expedition against John Conny in 1724. Certainly this venture was the largest military under taking by the Dutch and their allies in the eighteenth century.
Table II lists the amanhen of Elmina that were recorded in the Dutch records before 1869. The vagaries of Dutch orthography make it difficult to distinguish in every case one )manhen from another, but by conservative estimate there were at least fourteen amanhin and seventeen reigns between 1732 and 1869. This compares rather closely with the number of rulers given in several of the traditional lists shown in Table I except that by traditional chronology the reigns of these rulers spanned over period three or four centuries longer. It is not impossible of course that this correspondence in number reflects accurate recollections which went aground on the shoals of an European-based chronology. The difference between the earlier names in the two Tables would present no difficulties to the acceptance of such hypothesis since traditional modes of nomenclature have often escaped alien observation and understanding.
Nonetheless other evidence militates against the acceptance based on an adventitious agreement in number alone of the reliability even in broadest outline of Elmina traditions in this regard. The growth of Elmina kinglists between 1899 and 1950 paralleled the growth of Elminan knowledge of printed information on the early history of the town It suggests that more went into these lists than undiluted traditional evidence. The evolution of the Elmina kinglists was more likely response to the need to accommodate new information particularly the appearance of Caramansa.
                                        TABLE II
   Names                             Year
1. Coedja Comma                ruling in May 1732 in November 1732. One of the so-called Kings of Elmina                                                 died.    (Coedja Kuma is corruption of Kodwo Kuma)
2. Andue Annuwe (Amnuwe)*  ruling in 1735 and 1743 (note Andue is corruption of  "Andoh)
3. Aussie*                              ruling in 1746 destooled in 1748
4. Andue again                      re-enstooled in 1748 died in 1749
5. Aussie again                      ruling in 1750 died in 1760
6. Ahin Atjin                         enstooled in 1760 still ruling in 1772
7. Quetja*                            ruling in 1776 destooled for six months in 1777 (Quetja is Kwegya)        
8. Ahin*                               signed as king in 1781
9. Quetja                             ruling in 1787 probably same as
10. ?                                    unnamed ruler died in 1794
11. Quamin Ahin                  enstooled in 1794
12. Quouw Etja Quetja*      ruling in 1795 provisionally destooled in 1803
13. Quetja Coema               enstooled in 1804 died in 1811          
14. Andowee                       enstooled in February 1811 died in November of the same year
15 Cobbina Ahin                 ruling in 1816 died in 1824
16 Kwamena Anowi*         enstooled in 1826 destooled in 1831
17 Diawu                           enstooled in 1831 died in 1863
18 Kobbina Condua*         enstooled in 1863 destooled in 1869
19 Kobina Gyan                 enstooled in 1869 deported by the British in 1873                   
   Note: * destooled amanhin a*(?) denotes that destoolment is inferred.
The random sequence of the earlier names in the lists may also reflect their extemporaneous and artificial character. In fact several lists recorded during this period showed Anowi 1826-1831 as the immediate successor of Amp)n Dziedur or at least characterized the period between them as one in which nothing noticeable happened. In fact the earlier names in many of the lists seem to be potpourri of repetitions and patronyms which is more or less what might be expected when a kinglist is expanded at a late date.
On the other hand it is significant that all of the traditional lists agree with the Dutch records regarding the names and sequence of the last three amanhin before 1869. If Ebu/Edu whose inclusion in some of the lists is not surprising in view of the notoriety he achieved in his own time and the fact that he served as Second King for at least ten years (before 1816 to 1825), is omitted, the 1899 list and the Smith list of 1934 are correct back to the reign of Cobbina Ahin who died in 1824. Any further attempt to identify names in the two Tables would be gratuitous but the recurrence of Kwegya in the traditional lists and Quetja and its variants in the Dutch records suggests that the expansion of the traditional lists may perhaps have been based in part on the lingering memory of prominent names from earlier times.
The traditional accounts of Elmina history have also been correct in attributing long reign to Diawu 1831-1863. Diawu`s reign was easily the longest of all the Elmina amanhen, although traditional accounts
exaggerated its duration by assigning him from over forty years to sixty years in office.
Bakatue Festival4

It is important to emphasize this aspect of Elmina traditions their ability to recall with some precision events which occurred as much as century earlier. This pattern accords with the pattern of stool traditions in several other Fante coastal towns and of the Asante sub-stools. It may not be unreasonable to argue that this length of time delimits more accurately the expected parameters for which this kind of abstract detail will be recalled with any degree of accuracy. Where no formal mnemo-technics are employed the breakdown of tradition beyond this limited period is due both to the limits of human memory and to the function of many traditions In order to validate the present traditions areoften seen as necessarily encompassing the entire past. When Elminans became aware that settlement existed there at least as early as the fifteenth century and when they could quantify this span of time it became necessary for traditional historical accounts to grapple with
this new information and to react to it by expanding the Elmina kinglist compensatingly. The mechanisms by which this was done were not dissimilar from those employed throughout historical time and space by other cultures faced with the same type of problem.
Passion Play with Caroline as Mary

The nature of kingship in early Elmina despite the almost constant upheaval and factional strife of the twentieth century is regarded by the traditions as having been very different. Wartemberg claimed that the person of the Omanhen is considered sacred by virtue of his office. Wartemberg may have meant to imply here that the sacredness of the office was reflected by the stool-holder but transcended his tenure since
this was common Akan concept. Even so the conception of the power and authority of early Elmina amanhin has been idealized beyond recognition in most traditional accounts This is most clearly demonstrated in their accounts of the omanhen Amp)n Dziedur. Although circumstantial details for most of the early amanhin are very meager in traditional accounts Amp)n Dziedur along with Kwa Amankwa and Kwamina Ansa has become one of the cynosures of Elmina traditions.
Succession to the paramount stool in Elmina is patrilineal. This contrasts with the usual Akan custom by which offices and wealth descend in the female line. Today only succession to the paramount stools of
Elmina and of Shama coastal town west of Elmina remains patrilineal although succession both in Oguaa (Cape Coast) and Winneba seems to have been in the male line before the 1850`s. This is a reflection that they were originally Guan settlements. The origins of patrilineal succession in Elmina are not known. It may be relic of pre-Fante times this explanation would also account for the practice in the other three stools since all existed prior to the growth of Fante power in the eighteenth century and were not and except for Cape Coast are not predominately Fante in character. The peculiar multi-ethnic nature of the Elmina population might also account for this custom. The Dutch often imported Africans from along the coast as far as the Niger delta to serve as laborers and soldiers. Consequently Elmina assumed more cosmopolitan aspect than its neighboring stools and patrilineal succession to the paramount stool may have been one result of this intermingling.

Whatever the genesis of patrilineal succession in Elmina may have been however the Elmina traditions have simple explanation to account for this anomaly. In accordance with the claim that Kwa Amankwa
immigrated from the north they generally insist that succession had originally been matrilineal. However, the story goes Amp)n Dziedur had dispute with the )man (people) in which he was supported by his sons but not by those of his sister who were his natural heirs. As a result he unilaterally changed the succession to the stool in order to exclude his disloyal nephews Amp)n Dziedur was then succeeded by his sons and they by their sons and descendants in the direct male line.
A sustained and nearly-successful effort was made in the to change "back" to matrilineal succession to the Elmina paramount stool in 1940`s. The story of Amp)n Dziedur suited the advocates of this change well because it acknowledged the priority of matrilineal succession and at the same time emphasized the extemporaneous and arbitrary aspects of Amp)n Dziedur`s actions The original change itself was explained by pointing out that "In those days {of Amp)n Dziedur} the )manhen`s simple word was law and no one dared to question it or to venture to oppose it without incurring severe punishment to himself and his whole family. At the same time it was maintained that succession from the time of Amp)n Dziedur was exclusively through the sons and grandsons of reigning amanhin. It is to this traditional characterization of the early kingship in Elmina that we now turn our attention.
It is possible from the Dutch records to infer broadly patrilineal succession patterns in eighteenth and nineteenth century Elmina. That succession was confined to sons and grandsons of amanhm however
seems extremely unlikely However attention to this aspect of kingship in Elmina will be deferred to later in the paper.
The Dutch records contain much information on the vicissitudes of Elmina rulers between 1732 and 1869. In sum, their evidence provides sharp and interesting contrast with the role of the early kingship found
in traditional accounts. Annuwe or Andoe the king in 1735 and 1743 was destooled and replaced by Aussie some time before 1746.  In 1748 the chief men of the town asked the Dutch authorities to recognize anew as their king Andocie {sic], the old king destooled by them. A year later Andoe died and apparently was succeeded once again by Aussie who was ruling in 1750 and died in 1760. Ahin succeeded and if  reference to Atjin referred to him was still ruling in 1772. By 1776 one Quetja was described as king On New Year`s Day of 1777 Quetja solicited the support of the Dutch garrison to quell disturbance in the town. Eventually grapeshot was used and  8 to 10 of the disputants were killed. The Elminans unable to retaliate effectively against the Dutch conspired to drive the King out of the Crom and kick him from the stool which they unexpectedly carried into effect. Not satisfied with this, they dragged him with extreme cruelty out of his
dwelling and threw him into small canoe stripped him as naked as an Ape and brought him to the beach where they accompanied him as far as the Sweet River about three miles east of Elmina which they
compelled him to cross. Quetja then fled to Apam coastal town forty miles east of Elmina where his mother was from and where the Dutch had small trading post. Eventually after repeated representations by the Dutch authorities the Elminans agreed to invite Quetja back and agreed that they were disposed to accept him again if he promised to treat them well and pacified them with presents. Quetja complied with these demands and was reinstated. In July 1781 certain Ahin signed Pen and Contract as king but in December of that year and again in July 1783 Quetja signed as king. This suggests either that one Quetja had been replaced by another with Ahin intervening or that the Quetja of the 1777 incident had once again had difficulties with his oman and had been temporarily displaced. Either of these suggestions is reinforced by an enigmatic, but suggestive comment by the director-general Pieter Volkmar in 1783 that "It is very important that the Elmina King be native of the town since the strangers who have been promoted to that post have not been loved." Volkmar was almost certainly referring to the recent past and his remark suggests the possibility that succession to the office of paramount ruler in Elmina may not have been clearly defined at that time.
In 1794 Quamin Ahin succeeded but less than six months later Quouw Etja signed as king. References to Elmina kings in the Dutch records during the following fifteen years are confusing Quetja is mentioned in 1796 and 1801 and was probably the same individual as the Quouw Etja of 1795. In 1801 another Quetja is mentioned as Under King. In 1803 the Elmina ruler unnamed in the sources was accused of scheming with fetish priest to poison his enemies and was provisionally removed from his post. The following year Quetja Coema signed as king and there was no Under King. In 1810 Quetja Coema signed as king and Annowie as Under King. The same year the director-general observed that no death customs had been paid to the Elminans since 1794 because no effectively functioning King had died in that quality since that time. This suggests that the provisional destoolment of 1803 had become effective and that two different Quetjas ruled
during the period. In March of 1811 the Under King Andoe or Annowie became king as the closest to the stool but he died eight months later. Cobbina Ahin evidently succeeded Annowie since he signed Pen and
Contract dated 15 October 1816.
From 1816 to 1818 Herman Willem Daendels served as governor of the Dutch possessions on the Gold Coast. Daendels who had served as governor-general of the East Indies from 1808 to 1811 had been exiled
to the Gold Coast for his anti-Orangist tendencies. During his tenure Daendels kept detailed diary and as result we have particularly detailed account of activities in Elmina during this period. At the time, the most powerful individual in Elmina was not the king but Jan Nieser mulatto trader. The Elmina king was described as subservient to Nieser while the Under King Aboe was Nieser`slave. In consequence Daendels refused to recognize the office of Under King and to allow its occupant kostgeld (food stipend). Daendels claimed that the position of Under King was recent innovation which had not existed of old and was only an abuse. A measure of the importance of the king in Elmina before this time at least in  the view of the Dutch was the fact that the kostgeld granted to him was only one-half that granted to the Great Vaandrig and the Makelaar (broker). Daendels abolished the post of Makelaar which was Dutch creation and not traditional office and
raised the king`s kostgeld to parity with the Great Vaandrig who was probably the tufohen or head of the combined asafo Companies.
Cobbina Ahin died in 1824 and an interregnum ensued. Aboe still Under King despite the efforts of Daendels assumed the reins of government. In due course he probably would have been elected to the
paramount stool if previous patterns had been followed but the Dutch authorities long hostile to him caused his arrest for murder. If later tradition is correct Adoe or Edu was subsequently transported to the East Indies presumably as a result of the murder charge.
In 1826, certain Quamena Annowie was presented to the Dutch authorities as the new king. The townspeople claimed that according to their laws he must now be king. The basis of  Annowie`s eligibility
and the circumstances of his enstoolment become clear from his own testimony five years later when he was defending himself against destoolment charges. These proceedings which are very reminiscent of similar proceedings held in many Fante stools in the twentieth century were copiously recorded in the Elmina Journal. It is the most revealing and at the same time poignant description available for the position of the
omanhen in early Elmina. As such it is worth quoting in extenso.
In August of 1831 the Dutch commandant new title replacing that of director-general heard that the Elmina people were meeting daily and had come to the decision to depose their king, but were trying to keep news of their activities from the Dutch. On investigating he found that the Elminans were alleging that Annowie had behaved as tyrant over them and that they had presented six specifications supporting this charge. These included misappropriation of powder, keeping a slave, intimating to the people that the Dutch were his own
and behaving toward the women of the town in a scandalous manner. The charges were signed by the Great Vaand-rig, the Vaandrigs of the seven quarters and numerous other officials.
Annowie defended himself vigorously against these charges. He claimed that his unpopularity was the result of his efforts at checking some of the most influential elders and getting the Commander`s [sic] orders carried out. The Elminans remained adamant, however, and insisted that they would not have the King anymore. On 4th September the king presented his case. He stated that prior to his election he had been washerman of the American. (note: Elmina Journal September 1831 American vessels maintained brisk trade with Elmina during this period. One American captain regarded the town as the greatest place for wholesale trade on the Gold while British merchants at Accra and Cape Coast lamented that it was factory for the disposal of American and Portuguese produce. Captain George voyage to West Africa 1822-1823 quoted in Norman BENNETT George BROOKS jr.). Still on Annowie, when he was approached to assume the post of king he refused for long time on the grounds that he was slave child and Creole and that consequently free natives
and Caboceers would with difficulty submit themselves to him. When asked to what he ascribed the hostility toward him he replied that:
"It is the only treatment that the Kings experience. When his father
had to succeed he was servant of the Commandant of Shama and preferred his
service in that to the kingly office which he gave to one of his brothers. He
the latter being a Grenadier in the service of the Chief [Dutch] Establishment
[at Elmina] likewise refused the hazardous post. By both these brothers the
right was given as present to the father of the present terragent (Elder) Emizang
named Kwou Kwedja." see Elmina Journal 4 September 1831.
Annowie went on to relate that Kwou Kwedja had been destooled during the administration of director-general Gerhardus Hubertus van Hamel (1796-1798) for seeking the Fort`s help in quelling a riot. Some
of the rioters were killed and the townspeople held the king liable and chased him away. Eventually after "two or three years," he was recalled but survived his ordeal only year. This relation bears more than
superficial resemblance to the events of 1777 described above. Annowie`s attribution of these events to the time of van Hamel may simply have been the result of faulty temporal perception, there is no evidence that Annowie himself witnessed them. Certainly the Dutch records of van Hamel`s administration fail to record this incident. On the other hand given the insecure position of Elmina kings during this period it is not impossible that Annowie was recalling second destoolment which had been very similar to the earlier one. Perhaps the forms of destoolment had become institutionalized.
Annowie concluded his testimony by reiterating that he had been persuaded against his best judgment to accept the position of king The Elmina chiefs resented his efforts to perform his duty because they preferred ruler with whom they could do as they liked.

The Dutch authorities were not pleased with the destoolment of Annowie The commandant reported that the king by his strict compliance with orders and his competence for the post certainly was of the highest utility to the Dutch Government on the Coast. Nevertheless he felt compelled to accept the destoolment in order to
maintain the internal and external quiet of Elmina and its environs.
Later in 1831, Kojo Diawu was chosen to be omanhen after two other candidates had been rejected by the Dutch for unspecified reasons. When asked for gunpowder to conduct the enstoolment ceremonies the
Dutch commandant refused saying that he would not incur expenses today for the installation of the King and again tomorrow for his deposition.
Diawu enjoyed an unprecedentedly long tenure of thirty-two years length of tenure which is reflected in traditional accounts of him. When he died in 1863 he was succeeded by Cobina Condua who had probably been his Under King. Condua in turn suffered what seems to have been the occupational disease of Elmina amanhin. In 1869 he was destooled by the people of Elmina for various reasons and replaced six months later by Kobina Gyan who had served as his Under King. Kobina Gyan was the last omanhen of Elmina during the period of Dutch occupation. The Dutch possessions on the Gold Coast were sold to the British in 1871 and the actual transfer took place the following year. The first Gold Coaster lawyer of  from Elmina Emile Ammisang handled the deal.  For reasons that escape analysis but doubtless at least partly because of Elmina hostility to the Fante the Elminans seemed to have been devoted to the Dutch government. In any event they vehemently protested the imposition of British authority. The fear of Fante control if the Dutch possessions were sold to the British was expressed by Elmina and Shama leaders in meeting held in Elmina 19 December 1870 ( see: Ussher to Kennedy 21 December 1870 Correspondence relating to the Cession of the Dutch Settlements on the West Coast of Africa 14-6 House of Commons Parliamentary Papers 670] 1872 Session Vol LXX.) A series of untoward events culminating in the appearance of an Asante army in the neighborhood led to the bombardment and total destruction of the town by British naval forces and the Castle guns. Even before this occurred however Kobina Gyan had been arrested and eventually was transported to Sierra Leone. He only was allowed to return over twenty years later and died soon after In sense his travails encapsulated century and half of vicissitudes for successive amanhin of Elmina.
In the twentieth century the amanhin of Elmina have been chosen from No.7 (Enyampa) asafo Company and it was claimed that this had always been so. As a result the members of No.7 Company have come to be regarded as the descendants of Kwa Amankwa. However the evidence for the succession of amanhin in the eighteenth and nine teenth centuries suggests that the role of No.7 Company as the providers and electors of amanhin developed from an earlier quite different succession system It was only 1811 that No Company was described as the first in rank which had to place the newly elected King on the stool. Enyampa Company certainly existed in 1724 and it might have been one of the three original quarters of Elmina. It may also
have begun to provide amanhin from that time. Still the patterns of succession which are discernible from the Dutch records do not support the notion of single dynastic unit from which amanhin were chosen.
The mention of strangers and the promotional system which was part of the Elmina political structure at that time imply less restricted modes of succession.
Over one-half of the known successions to the Elmina paramount stool between 1732 and 1869 involved the promotion of the Under King. The Under King apparently represented a sort of heir apparent  during this time and perhaps even into this century. The genetic relationship of the Under King to the omanhen if any is not clear but it seems extremely unlikely that it was very often father/son as some of the traditions claim. The Chief Captain probably the tufohen i.e the old Great Vaandrig was described as Under King in 1873 and any close biological relationship between this individual and the omanhen seems very unlikely from what we know of asafo organization.
All of the available contemporaneous evidence suggests that succession to the paramount stool in early times was haphazard. Perhaps during the eighteenth century the No.7 Company managed to acquire for itself the prerogative of providing the paramount ruler. Such suggestion would not be unreasonable although unsupported by the present evidence. It would argue that the terms of succession to the kingship like the development of the institution itself evolved from uncertain beginnings and continued to develop and respond to new exigencies. In this sense the kaleidoscopic patterns of twentieth-century traditional politics in Elmina may be seen as an extension of earlier norms rather than sharp departure from earlier more halcyon times.
Several questions can be asked about the development of kingship in Elmina and about the traditional recollection of early amanhin. These concern the representativeness of the Elmina experience and of the later
traditions concerning it. Elmina was in close and continuous contact with actually more or less under the control of Europeans for nearly 400 years. What effect did this circumstance have on the political life of the town. In its social and ethnic composition Elmina differed from its neighboring stools inland and the course of its political development no doubt differed as well It is impossible to do more than speculate about what these differences might have been because we have no solid evidence for the inland stools. Certainly the impact of the presence of the Dutch fort and garrison needs some comment.
Generally the Dutch seem to have avoided intervening directly in Elmina stool affairs.100 But even in passivity they influenced the tenor of traditional politics in the town. In at least one instance as we have seen the omanhen served as surrogate target for the anger of the populace against the Dutch and this may not have been uncommon for the amanhin of this period inevitably found themselves in the unenviable position of trying to navigate between the Scylla of the Dutch fort and the Charybdis of their own people. In this difficult task
they were handicapped by the loss of some of their judicial authority to the Dutch.
On the other hand the Dutch would seldom if ever have provoked the kind of riot that resulted in the destoolment of 1777. Such disturbances were the result of enmities among the various asafo Companies and
were prominent feature of Elmina life. Under these circumstances it is not unlikely that the results in 1777 would have been similar even if the Dutch had chosen to do nothing. Furthermore on several occasions the Dutch authorities successfully supported the position of the omanhen. That the Dutch presence had an impact on Elmina political life is undeniable. But the differing aspects of this impact at least as far as the position of the omanhen is concerned may have served to cancel each other out.

Of particular interest however is the fact that however aberrant the Elmina historical experience may have been the traditional accounts of it are stereotypical in their tendency to distort the past through idealization or to fabricate it with the aid of materials from available printed sources. The traditional history of the Elmina paramount stool is essentially similar in content and character to the traditional histories of the other stools of southern Ghana even though few of these shared Elmina`s unusual historical development. We cannot know how accurate these other stool traditions reflect their past because independent evidence is not available. We have seen though that the Elmina traditions distort aspects of their own past to the point of caricature The fact that traditions are similar where the pasts have been different suggests that common influences on the development of these traditional accounts helped to make them homogeneous.
Among the Fante-ized States of southern Ghana the paramount influence on the development of stool traditions was the imposition of indirect rule and the availability of printed information on the early history of the Gold Coast. The incessant succession and land disputes among these stools may or may not have been twentieth-century phenomenon But they unquestionably influenced the course and rapidity with which stool traditions developed and changed.
Elmina native turned Spanish moor, black navigator Pedro Alonso Niño) who sailed with Christopher Columbus across the blue ocean in 1492

African (mostly Elminan)  Soldiers' Mutinies In Netherland
African Mutinies In The Netherlands East Indies Between 1831 and 1872, the Dutch government recruited some 3,000 Africans from the Gold Coast and Ashanti for service in the colonial army in the Netherlands East Indies. The vast majority of African recruits were ex-slaves but were promised that their conditions of service would be the same as those of Europeans. With the ‘equal treatment’ clause, the Dutch government defended itself against British accusations that the recruitment operation amounted to a covert form of slave trading. While this policy made sense in the context of the pre-colonial relations prevailing in the Gold Coast at the time, its merits were less obvious in the context of the East Indies. During the 19th century, the colonial army here became the instrument of a massive exercise in empire building but a series of mutinies among African troops stationed on Java and Sumatra caused it to rethink its policy concerning African soldiers. This chapter explores the background to these rebellions: their causes, the Africans’ grievances, and the way the commanding officers responded to the mutinies.‘Wherever the Negro soldiers served together in a company, they have banded together in mutiny, under the pretext that infringements had been made on the promise of equal treatment with the European soldier.’ (Major-General Cochius to the Department of Colonies in The Hague, 8 August 1840)
The case of 2nd Lieutenant Pieter Hermans 2nd Lieutenant Pieter Hermans was one of the first 44 volunteers for service in the East Indies. He was born in 1812 in Axim, Ghana. He was the only African to make it to the officer ranks. His insistence on being treated as his contract indicated led to a frustrating career.
Ghana's Buffalo Soldiers The 19th Century Colonial Paradox of African Soldiers in an Imperial Army had its unique issues.
  INTRODUCTION:Revolts and resistance by Africans occurred not only on the African continent but also among Africans in the diaspora. The best-known examples are the slave rebellions in the western hemisphere, where historians have also explored and described patterns of accommodation and acquiescence among slave populations. However, very little is known about instances of resistance and patterns of accommodation among other groups of Africans in the diaspora. This chapter deals with a series of mutinies by West Africans recruited in the 19th century as soldiers in the Dutch colonial army in the Netherlands East Indies, present-day Indonesia.The vast majority of the 3,000 Africans who were shipped to Java between 1831 and 1872 had previously been of slave status. Their freedom had been purchased with an advance on their army pay. Although they entered army service as free men, there is reason to doubt the voluntary nature of their enlistment. But the Africans in the East Indies did not rise in protest against their conscription into the Dutch army. On the contrary, they fully identified with their prescribed role. They had been recruited with the promise of equal treatment with the European soldiers, and they insisted that the promise be kept in every detail. The series of mutinies erupted in protest against repeated infringements on their status as European soldiers. With their newly acquired corporate identity as 'African soldiers' or 'Negro soldiers', these men of disparate ethnic origins and largely of slave descent banded together in solidarity to demand that their European status be respected to the letter.Enlisting Africans in colonial armies was of course common practice during the 19th and 20th centuries. Like the Africans in the Dutch East Indies army, the famous Tirailleurs Sénégalais, established in 1857, were also largely of servile descent. As Myron Echenberg pointed out, the roots of the African Tirailleurs are much older and can be traced back to the era of company rule in Senegambia in the 17th century. African soldiers were not only instrumental in wars of conquest and in the consolidation of empire in Africa but were also used for military expeditions overseas. In 1827, the French sent 200 Wolof soldiers to Madagascar, followed in 1831 by the despatching of 220 troops to Guyana. In Sierra Leone, the British recruited among freed slaves to swell the ranks of the British West Indies regiments. In the 20th century, the King's African Rifles played a vital role in the consolidation of British rule in East Africa. The rationale for African recruitment was remarkably similar in all cases: a shortage of European recruits and high mortality rates among European soldiers who, voluntarily or involuntarily, were despatched to the tropics. The lower cost of local personnel could also have been a compelling argument, although there were obvious limitations to cost cutting. The loyalty of African troops was generally ensured by granting them special benefits and privileges. Thus, even when they were of servile origins, African soldiers used their newly acquired corporate identity as military men to enhance their status vis-à-vis civilian society. It fitted the purposes of colonial rulers to instil their African soldiers with a sense of superiority over their civilian colonial subjects. In his history of the King's African Rifles, Timothy Parsons pointed out that African servicemen both consciously and unconsciously exploited the contradictions of the colonial state to seek greater rights and status. He aptly quotes Ann Laura Stoler and Frederick Cooper who remind us that: ‘One of the most basic forms of colonial control (...) depended on soldiers who were simultaneously coerced and coercing, who enforced the will of the elite yet made demands themselves’.
  Certainly in the phase of conquest and early consolidation, imperial rulers generally deemed it advisable to use foreign-born Africans rather than locals. But even foreign-born African soldiers were not always reliable tools of imperial expansion. It is noteworthy that, in the phase of conquest, the British preferred to strengthen their colonial forces in East Africa with Indian troops. As the Inspector-General of the King's African Rifles put it bluntly in 1912: ‘The Indian contingents were introduced in order than we might have a body of troops with no religious or local sympathies, and therefore no incentive for throwing in their lot with the native inhabitants’. The same rationale underpinned the Dutch decision to recruit African soldiers for the East Indies rather than expand local recruitment in the Indies. Yet, the story of African recruitment for the Dutch East Indies is somewhat different from the British and the French experiences. Unlike the British and the French, the Dutch exercised no territorial control on the Gold Coast and fostered no colonial ambitions in West Africa. The African soldiers for the East Indies army were not despatched as an expeditionary force to be repatriated after the campaign was over. If the experience with African recruits proved satisfactory, the African presence was envisaged as a permanent feature of the East Indies army. After the expiry of their long-term contracts (on average 12 to 15 years), they could opt for re-enlistment, repatriation to the Gold Coast, or permanent residence on Java. While the Netherlands had no colonial ambitions in West Africa, the East Indies was the mainstay of its overseas empire. By 1830, the Dutch had re-established colonial control over Java. During the Napoleonic wars the island had been under British rule. Subsequently Dutch rule was undermined by a major uprising, known as the Java War or the Diponegoro War, after its princely instigator. As many rebels found a refuge on the southern and western parts of Sumatra, this became the scene of future military campaigns. In the 1820s, three Islamic leaders from these parts of Sumatra went on a pilgrimage to Mecca, from where they returned full of zeal to launch an orthodox reform movement in their home areas. The hadjis engaged the infidel Dutch intruders in a series of armed conflicts, known as the Padri Wars, which, with some interruptions, would last for about 20 years. The mutinies to be explored in this chapter took place both on Sumatra and on Java. But before turning to the 1840-1841 mutinies, I will first make some remarks on the information sources and the historical context. Since the African recruitment was launched as an experiment, the colonial army documented in considerable detail both the positive and the negative experiences they encountered with the Africans as soldiers. The abundance of army records allows us today to describe the rebellions in some detail. What were the grievances of the Africans? How did the Africans view their predicament? What was the response of their commanding officers? Apart from its inherent interest, the story of the mutinies provides an intriguing insight into colonial ambiguities with regard to race and social status. The military archives offer a mine of information on the army careers of the African soldiers: it is unusual to have such a wealth of information on individuals of low social status in a 19th century colonial setting. By their very nature, army sources have their obvious limitations since the army was interested in the Africans as soldiers and paid little attention to other dimensions of their experience. As for the Africans' own interpretations of their predicament, we have unfortunately no direct sources. The vast majority were illiterate.
  . A handful of soldiers of mixed Dutch-African parentage, recruited in the experimental phase in the early 1830s, were literate in Dutch but unfortunately their writings have not survived, to my knowledge. An additional source of information is to be found in the memoirs published by Dutch army officers who served in the East Indies. Some were prolific writers who recorded military campaigns and daily life in great detail. African soldiers indeed figure in some of these accounts but usually only on the margins: officers tend to elaborate on their own feats and those of fellow officers, not on the exploits of soldiers and NCOs. In these memoirs, we again see the Africans through the eyes of Dutch officers. From some of these accounts, it clearly transpires that at least some of the Dutch officers did not accept the rigid racial stratification of the colonial army as a natural order with a self-evident logic. The professional publications by and for the military are a third important source of information but they only came into existence in the last quarter of the 19th century. A final word of caution: the present chapter very much represents ‘work in progress’ as I am still delving my way through vast amounts of archival records. In order to capture the atmosphere of the time and the place, I have used extensive quotations from these 19th century sources, although some of the racial qualifications are out of tune with present codes of correctness.The military records allow a fairly detailed reconstruction of the story of the 1840-1841 mutinies on Java and Sumatra within the colonial setting of the mid 19th century, a period of rapid Dutch expansion in the vast Indonesian archipelago. The consolidation of Dutch rule also meant that the Dutch East Indies were shaped as a colonial society with a rigid social and racial stratification, with the inherent racial stereotypes underpinning white domination. By contrast, the Gold Coast presented a radically different picture in the mid-19th century. In the pre-colonial balance of power, the Europeans on the Gold Coast were heavily dependent on the cooperation of local rulers and middlemen. In spite of the grand name of the ‘Dutch possessions on the Guinea Coast’, the Dutch ‘possessed’ only a tenuous foothold in a few coastal settlements, symbolized by a string of derelict and partly deserted forts, remnants of the days of the now-defunct Dutch West India Company. Trade had almost come to a standstill and attempts to revitalize these ‘possessions’ by the introduction of plantations and the exploitation of goldmines – mining had always been fully controlled by local rulers – failed miserably. For any endeavour, including the recruitment of soldiers, the Dutch were heavily dependent on the cooperation of local rulers. Under these conditions, it makes sense that race relations on the Gold Coast were still far more fluid than in the East Indies. In Dutch-African relations, social status was a more important category than pigmentation. In the Netherlands itself, soldiers were a social category held in very low esteem, and this was even more true for the soldiers who entered colonial service. The colonial recruiting depot in Harderwijk, the assembly point for ‘volunteers’ from many European nations, was known as ‘the sinkhole of Europe’.Colonial domination could only be maintained with the cooperation and collaboration of the subject population. Throughout most of the 19th century, half of the Dutch colonial army in the East Indies consisted of native soldiers. It was considered too risky to increase the native component beyond this 50% mark because the native soldiers might be tempted to use their weapons and their training against their colonial masters, as some of them did in the Java War (1825-1830). Therefore, the other half needed to be European soldiers, who were unlikely to make common cause with the natives.
  As an instrument of colonial domination, the army itself was organized on racial and ethnic principles: Europeans were at the top of this racial hierarchy and the natives at the bottom, with an intermediate category of Amboinese, soldiers of privileged status from the Moluccan islands. As Christians, the Amboinese were unlikely to fraternize with the largely Moslem Javanese and Sumatrans. By allocating European status to the Africans, the colonial power minimized any danger of the Africans being tempted to fraternize with the native population. But when the Africans took their European status seriously, they undermined the colonial logic, which held that people of colour ought to fear and respect the superiority of the white man.In this respect, there are certain parallels between the African mutinies in the East Indies and African protest movements in colonial Africa. In many instances of so-called anti-colonial protest, Africans did not challenge colonial rule as such but demanded their rightful place in the colonial order. The demand for equality, for equal rights and privileges as enjoyed by the Europeans, was often a more pervasive theme than the desire to undo the process of colonization. Nevertheless, acceding to these demands undermined the logic of the colonial state and inevitably led to the demise of the colonial order. The African soldiers in the East Indies did not challenge colonial rule or the racial hierarchy of a colonial state. They insisted on their rightful place in this racial hierarchy: as African soldiers they were entitled to 'European status'. Before turning to the mutinies, we need to explore the preceding decade, which marked the beginning of the experiment with African recruitment.. African Recruitment: An ExperimentThe idea of recruiting Africans to compensate for the lack of European army volunteers came from Dutch army officers who had served in Surinam and the Dutch West Indies. They had been impressed with the performance of the blacks in the British West Indies regiments and suggested to the government in The Hague that the Dutch footholds on the Guinea coast be used to recruit blacks for the East Indies army. After several years of discussion about the manpower problem in the East Indies army, the Department of Colonies decided to experiment with a detachment of 150 volunteers from the Guinea Coast. If all went well, recruitment would be stepped up to achieve a target number of 1,800 Africans. In 1831 and 1832, three ships were contracted to collect the volunteers in Elmina, the headquarters of the Dutch on the Guinea Coast, and take them to Java. However, as Governor Last in Elmina had already warned, young African men were less than enthusiastic about a military career in a foreign army in unknown lands. His instructions specified that recruitment be limited to free men, without the use of force or coercion. The three ships collected no more than 44 volunteers. The low numbers resulted in astronomical costs. Governor-General Van den Bosch in the East Indies calculated that the 44 African volunteers had cost the enormous amount of Dfl 1,232 per head, while European soldiers were shipped to Batavia for Dfl 120 per head. Initial reports on the military qualities of the recruits were highly favourable but the governor suggested stopping the experiment because of the excessive costs.Recruitment at the Guinea Coast proceeded nevertheless but with meagre results. At the request of the Dutch governor in Elmina, the king of Ashanti promised to send some slaves as ‘army volunteers’ but these recruits never materialized. To comply with his instructions from The Hague, the new governor, Lans, therefore decided to purchase some slaves himself, who were then shipped off to Batavia as ‘army volunteers’.
  In 1836, the Dutch government decided to send a high-level mission, headed by Major-General Jan Verveer, to the Ashanti king in Kumasi to obtain 2,000 recruits in exchange for 6,000 to 8,000 guns and 2,000 tons of gunpowder. As a first step, Verveer opened a recruiting station in Elmina but subsequently had to report that coastal Negroes would not volunteer for army service and that therefore the only option was the recruitment of slaves. His mission to Kumasi seemed successful: the Asantehene Kwaku Dua did indeed sign a treaty promising to deliver 1,000 recruits within a year and permitting the Dutch to open a recruitment station in the Ashanti capital. As proof of good faith between the contracting partners, the Asantehene trusted his son and nephew into the care of Verveer, with the request that they be given a European education. The story of Kwame Poku and Kwasi Boakye has acquired deserved fame with the publication of Arthur Japin's historical novel on the life of these two Ashanti princes. Verveer's initial hope of recruiting Ashanti men, reputed for their warrior qualities, proved unrealistic. Ashanti warriors were not available as mercenary forces for foreign armies. The recruiting process was, therefore, limited to slaves, known as Donkos. The king delivered a number of Donkos, while individual Ashanti could also bring their slaves to the Dutch recruiting station. Their freedom was purchased with an advance on their army pay. With a document of manumission, they went to the Indies as free men, although it is not clear to what extent their army career was a voluntary choice. The promised large numbers of slaves did not materialize, possibly because the amount of money offered by the Dutch – about 100 Dutch Guilders (Dfl) a head – was less than could be obtained for healthy young males in the illegal slave trade. Another possibility is that the supply of marketable slaves in Kumasi was less bountiful than the Dutch had imagined, or that the Northern trade had overtaken the coastal trade in importance.Nevertheless, between 1837 and 1841, over 2,000 African recruits were shipped from Elmina to Batavia. This was not only a quantitative but also a qualitative shift in the African recruitment operation. Initially, the army in the Indies absorbed dozens of African recruits without many problems. As these men were recruited on the coast, they were familiar with Europeans. Some spoke Dutch – more or less fluently – and could be used as interpreters and mediators in cases of misunderstanding. A few had had previous military experience serving in the Elmina garrison. All of them probably understood Fante and/or Twi and a few of the coastal mulattos were even literate in Dutch.The massive numbers enlisted from the interior were not familiar with ships, the world of Europeans or European concepts of armies and soldiers. Many of them, originating from north of the Akan-speaking region, probably did not understand Fante or Twi. None could serve as interpreter or mediator and communication problems caused numerous misunderstandings as the lingua franca in the East Indies army was Dutch or Malay. The annual troop supplements shipped from the Netherlands were now to a large extent replaced by Africans. Training the African troops took up more time and involved more communication problems than with European or native troops. The massive replacement of the regular troop supplements from Europe by Africans must have overwhelmed the European officers in the Indies, who were totally unprepared for this new development. From the perspective of Dutch army officers, it made little sense that these untested newcomers were entitled to better pay and better treatment than the loyal Amboinese who were reputed to make good soldiers and NCOs.
  The instructions flowing from Verveer's treaty with the Ashanti king were quite clear: the African soldiers were to be treated as Europeans with regard to pay, promotion, clothing, food and in all other respects. This policy made sense in the conditions of the Gold Coast and Europe, where the Dutch were very concerned to counter British allegations that the recruitment operation amounted to a covert form of slave trading. The situation in the East Indies was more ambivalent. On the one hand, it made sense to treat the Africans as Europeans because as Europeans they were unlikely to fraternize with the natives. On the other hand, treating people of colour as equals undermined the logic of the colonial state. In later years, the Ashanti prince Kwasi Boakye fell victim to the same colonial contradiction. While pursuing a classical education in the Netherlands, Boakye and his cousin may have aroused curiosity because of their unusual appearance but their status was first and foremost determined by their royal lineage. They were welcome visitors at the Dutch royal court. After graduating in Delft as a mining engineer, Boakye opted for a career in the Netherlands East Indies. The Governor-General in Batavia objected. In a letter to the Minister of Colonies, he argued that: ‘The principle of la noblesse de peau and of the moral and intellectual superiority of the white race above the brown, upon which our domination in the Indies rests, would receive a severe blow by this [appointment]’. His objections were overruled and Boakye was given his appointment but with the title of ‘extraordinary engineer'. Secret instructions from the Minister of Colonies ensured that Boakye was never promoted to a position in which he would exercise authority over Dutch officials. MUD AND MATTRESSES:A series of incidents that culminated in the armed mutinies had in fact begun with some economizing measures that initially affected the Amboinese but were later extended to the Africans. From 1835, the Amboinese were no longer issued with straw mattresses (bultzakken) as the Europeans were, but with native sleeping mats and leather pillows. The measure was of course advertised as being in the best interests of the health of the Amboinese. The argument was that the Amboinese, not being used to straw mattresses anyway, did not know how to keep their sleeping quarters clean. Unlike the native soldiers, the Amboinese were entitled to wear shoes. As this privilege was equated with European status, the Amboinese would never leave their barracks without this important attribute. While shoes were an important status attribute, they were not necessarily comfortable. Inside military quarters, the Amboinese thus often walked barefoot, muddying their mattresses. When the army decided that they had to change their mattresses for sleeping mats, the Amboinese accepted this ruling without protest.In 1838 this measure was extended to the African soldiers. Like the Amboinese, the Africans took off their shoes inside their army quarters and, according to documents from army headquarters in Batavia, ‘were known to be of an uncleanly nature, to have a greasy skin, greasy hair and a peculiarly strong and unpleasant smell’. Thus, the army reasoned that native sleeping mats would make more suitable bedding for the Africans too.The Sumatra revolt was sparked off by the replacement of mattresses with native mats, while the issue of bedding is also mentioned among the grievances of the mutineers in Kedong Kebo, in central Java. Discontent had, however, apparently been brewing for some years. On 16 March 1838, the commander of the 1st battalion had already reported a ‘spirit of discontent’. He advised against having more than one company of Africans per battalion, as the Africans were ‘choleric, quick-tempered and extremely insolent’ and could easily band together to cause mischief.
  Army organization prescribed that ten battalions would each have one African company, with the other companies consisting of natives, Europeans and perhaps Amboinese. Two battalions would each have three African companies, while the other half of these battalions would then consist of three companies with only Europeans.Courageous but Ill-DisciplinedIn 1838, seven years after the start of African recruitment, the commander of the colonial army started to receive regular reports of disturbances in the African companies and several cases of desertion and protest. Army headquarters reported to the colonial government the difficulties they had when dealing with the Africans and warned that it would require much patience and caution to obtain the desired results. But in spite of the manifold difficulties, the overall opinion of the Africans as soldiers was still largely positive, as is evident from reports sent in 1838 by battalion commanders with Africans under their command. As this is a combined report covering various regions and battalions, it is worth summarizing extensively. According to their commanders: The Africans had adjusted well to the military way of life, but they had little notion of subordination and showed little respect for non-commissioned officers and corporals. Yet they were rarely punished, as the army command had given instructions for lenient treatment. Much patience was required to make capable and orderly soldiers out of the African recruits, with communication problems being the main obstacle. The Africans spoke and understood neither Dutch nor Malay, the languages of instruction in the army. They spoke a variety of African languages, so that even among themselves communication problems persisted. As a consequence of the communication problem, it was not yet possible to submit the Africans fully to the rules of army discipline.Their cleanliness left much to be desired, they did not know very well how to handle their clothes, but demonstrated more interest in cleaning and maintaining their weapons. Initially diseases were widespread, notably stomach problems, skin infections (due to laziness resulting in uncleanliness), syphilis, and worms in their legs. But most of these problems had been overcome.The Africans kept their distance from both Europeans and natives. They were very distrustful and always worried that they were being cheated (with good reason, as will be shown later). Some spoke a bit of broken Dutch and a little Malay, just enough for shopping in the bazaar. The Donkos from the interior were less intelligent than coastal Negroes. In the third battalion, Lieutenant De Villepois had organized a daily language class with the Eurafrican Corporal Ruhle, while the 4th battalion had admitted eight of the most ambitious Africans to the garrison school. Arms instruction took a lot of time, due to language problems.According to their commanding officers, the nature of these Africans was hot-tempered, irascible and often very insolent. Used to having one master only, they could not understand that so many were giving them orders. They were of a rough nature, jealous, distrustful and greedy. On the other hand, they were honest men; no traces of thievery had been reported. They were mostly strong, muscled, indefatigable and very adapted to the tropical climate. During military expeditions they demonstrated bravery and fearlessness, even more so than the Europeans. In combat their ardour needed to be tempered, otherwise they ignored the orders of their officers. Some reports mention a substantial use of alcohol, but less so than with the European soldiers. Much friction was reported between the various tribes, notably between coastal Africans and those recruited from the interior, known as Donkos. It was repeatedly emphasized that the Africans looked down on the native population.Their main vice was laziness. Their greatest pleasure was doing nothing, or lying down to smoke tobacco.
  Therefore it required constant attention to make them attend to cleanliness, but otherwise their conduct was deemed satisfactory. The reports advised strongly against plans for the formation of a separate African corps in the East Indies Army. This proposal was put forward by the Department of Colonies in The Hague, but in the Indies it was feared that then the Africans would develop a too dominant esprit de corps, which would go against military subordination. With too many Negroes in one corps, they might become ungovernable and as they were already inclined to mutinies, they would then cause great mischief. Summing up, the conclusion of the battalion commanders was overwhelmingly positive: the Africans were to be preferred even above Europeans, and it was therefore deemed desirable that African recruitment be maintained.Yet, only three years later, African recruitment was reduced to 200 new recruits annually, and shortly afterwards, in December 1841, recruitment in West Africa was stopped altogether. Then the Minister of Colonies in The Hague even proposed schemes to rid the army of the Africans as far as possible and as soon as possible, by assigning them coolie duties or employing them as rowers and crew on navy or transport ships in the Indies. These proposals were never implemented but are indicative of the drastic change in perception in official Dutch minds. What had happened to cause this startling reversal of judgment?A SERIES OF MUTINIES 1838-1841:In June 1841, 37 fully armed African soldiers of the 10th infantry battalion walked out of the Dutch fortress of Van der Capellen on the west coast of Sumatra after repeated refusals to obey orders. A detachment of soldiers was sent in pursuit and met the deserters near Fort Kayoetanam on the way to Padang. Attempts to persuade the Africans to return to their duties were futile. They were obviously prepared to resist attempts to escort them back. When the pursuing party attempted to take them by force, a fight ensued, leaving two Africans dead and four badly wounded. The remainder were taken prisoner. A year before, in April 1840, African soldiers of the 4th infantry battalion in the garrison town of Kedong Kebo (Purworejo) in central Java had staged an armed revolt after a row regarding their pay. This 4th battalion was unusual in that it had three African companies, numbers 3, 4 and 5. Discontent had been brewing among them because of infringements on promises made to them in Elmina of equal treatment with Europeans. With regard to pay, clothing (underpants) and bedding, these promises had not been kept. With the formation of a third African company, the Africans apparently gained confidence and began to protest openly. It had been reported to the commander of this battalion that the Africans had gathered in the moonlight and had sworn an oath that on 16 April they would insist on receiving equal pay with the Europeans or otherwise would go on strike. On this day, the Africans of the 3rd and 5th companies disobeyed their officers, stormed into the kitchen and returned armed with wooden sticks. Shouting rebellious slogans, they returned to the barracks to get hold of guns. Meanwhile, the 4th company had already armed itself. As the commander had had prior warning, the European troops had already occupied the barracks to prevent the Africans from taking the guns. The mutineers were dispersed and armed patrols were sent out in pursuit. They succeeded in apprehending 85 Africans, while three men managed to escape. The African NCOs and corporals did not take part in the rebellion but it was assumed that they were not totally innocent of this conspiracy. The commander of the 2nd military department on Java, Colonel Le Bron de Vexala, had now had enough. He sent the battalion commander’s report to army headquarters and recommended imposing an exemplary punishment as the only way to clip the mutinous instincts of the Africans.
.....He asked government permission to shoot the instigators of the mutiny. If the instigators could not be identified, a certain number of the Africans who had participated in the uprising would be shot as an example to the others. Thus far, insubordination had been punished by disciplinary measures (i.e. caning), but Colonel Le Bron de Vexala believed that this had led the Africans to the wrong conclusion. They no longer behaved with the usual respect towards their officers and were getting out of control. COURT MARTIAL:The commander-in-chief chose to ignore this hotheaded recommendation and asked the military prosecutor to start an investigation. The prosecutor agreed that vigorous action was necessary but pointed out that if the accused Africans were not familiar with the army's disciplinary code, the judge might decide that the Africans could not be held responsible. An investigation by army headquarters brought to light the fact that there was no uniform procedure to make Africans familiar with the disciplinary code that dealt with offences such as desertion, treason, insubordination and theft. In the 4th battalion, the scene of the Kedong Kebo Mutiny, the articles of the code were read monthly in the Malay language, as the Africans were more familiar with Malay than with Dutch, as a result of their contacts with native women. Elsewhere, a translation of the disciplinary code in the Ashanti language was read to the troops every month, while the 1st battalion on Sumatra’s west coast used a translation ‘in the African language’. No procedure existed to acquaint the Africans who had been assigned to artillery and cavalry battalions with the rules. The various translations were now circulated through the different battalions to find out whether the Africans understood the contents.For the first time, insubordination by Africans was now referred to the military courts. The Supreme Military Tribunal in Semarang passed sentence in the Kedong Kebo case on 18 December 1840. The sentences read as follows: the five ringleaders were sentenced to 25 lashes (klingslagen) and two years in prison; six were sentenced to 25 strokes and one year in prison; four to 25 lashes and 6 months in prison; 18 mutineers received a sentence of one month in prison; 50 Africans were sentenced to 14 days in prison and one African was acquitted. On 29 November 1841, the ringleaders of the 1841 mutiny on Sumatra were tried by the military court in Padang. The Supreme Military Court confirmed the sentences on 8 April 1842. Two suspects, Coffie Prins and Kudjo Serroe, were identified as the instigators and leaders of the mutiny. They were sentenced to death but the Governor-General exercised his prerogative to change the verdict to ten years in prison. After serving their prison sentences, Coffie Prins and Kudjo Serroe were discharged from the army and shipped back to Elmina. Three ringleaders were sentenced to 6 months detention and 25 strokes each, while six convicted mutineers got off only with 25 lashes. In army terms, these were remarkably lenient sentences.Who were the mutineers? Coffie Prins, Kudjo Serroe and their associates were former slaves but they had been recruited in coastal settlements such as Elmina and Accra and were therefore probably quite accustomed to the world of Europeans and unlikely to have been overawed by their white commanders. If the ringleaders were indeed correctly identified, we can discern much the same pattern in the sentences passed both in the Sumatra case and the Kedong Kebo case. The ringleaders – those who were sentenced to prison sentences of six months or more – were all slaves from coastal towns. Their followers – those who got off with 25 strokes and perhaps a few weeks in prison – were a mixed bunch of former slaves from the coast and from the interior, including Ashanti. Only one of the mutineers was of free descent: Kobbena Esson from Elmina enlisted as a free man who needed the advance on his army pay to pay off his debts. With a sentence of two years and 25 lashes for his part in the Kedong Kebo Mutiny, he was obviously among the perceived ringleaders.
The mutiny in Kedong Kebo was the final straw for the commander-in-chief of the East Indies Army, General Cochius. He concluded that the experiment had failed. Experience had shown that the ‘Negro race’ was not as suitable for the army as had initially been thought. Moreover, he believed that the promise of equal treatment had been a serious psychological error and that the immediate and total emancipation of former slaves inevitably caused problems, even with those who had previously been exposed to the civilizing influences of European masters. Even more so would this apply to slaves who had recently been liberated from the most abject state of slavery where they had been treated as cattle waiting to be slaughtered at the whims of their Ashanti masters. This psychological misjudgement, he believed, was the cause of all the uprisings and mutinies. In any case, Cochius deemed equal treatment nearly impossible because of the ‘uncleanliness and the peculiar stinking exhalations’ of the Negro race, which made them most unfit to use the European type of bedding. In his opinion, the Africans had no need of mattresses in view of their previous life style. The army had not dared to take their shoes from them even though their performance as soldiers was hampered by this novelty to which they were not accustomed. The commander stated that their ‘childish conceit’ and ‘stupid pride’ should not be encouraged but suppressed.Cochius concluded that experience had shown that the Negro soldiers would never be a substitute for Europeans in the army: ‘Wherever the Negro soldiers served together in a company, they have banded together in mutiny, under the pretext that infringements had been made on the promise of equal treatment with the European soldier.’ In support of this conclusion, he cited Colonel Michiels, who had commanded the expeditionary force on Sumatra: ‘They should not send us any more Negroes, as they are only fit to be used as beasts of burden, ruled by the whip. Even in combat they are not useful: they shout more than they have courage, are dirty and will never act in a disciplined manner.’ Cochius proposed halting the recruitment of Africans, or at the very least reducing their numbers and sending out more Europeans. For army officers in the East Indies, it was difficult to understand why the Africans ought to be treated better than the tried and tested Amboinese soldiers. The privileged position of the Africans must have been puzzling to many Dutch, Amboinese and native soldiers alike. From the point of view of the Africans, the distinction between Amboinese and natives most likely made no sense. They had been promised equal treatment with the Europeans and vociferously objected to being treated as 'natives'. They were probably unimpressed when their commanders retorted that they were not being treated like natives at all but as Amboinese, and therefore as Christians. From the memoirs and sketches by W.A. van Rees, a retired army captain who later became a prolific writer, it is obvious that even contemporaries did not universally endorse the racial hierarchy of the army as the natural order of things. In one of his volumes, he presented a sketch of the tragic dilemma of native Lieutenant Saridin, a fictitious character who figures in the non-fictitious story of the African mutiny in Kedong Kebo. As a reward for his bravery and model behaviour, Saridin had made it to the rank of sergeant. Yet, as he now had ‘set foot.

          Elmina Bakatue festival. Courtesy bill-ghanaventure

Elmina Castle
Elmina Castle was erected by Portugal in 1482 as São Jorge da Mina (St. George of the Mine) Castle, also known simply as Mina or Feitoria da Mina) in present-day Elmina, Ghana (formerly the Gold Coast). It was the first trading post built on the Gulf of Guinea, so is the oldest European building in existence below the Sahara. First established as a trade settlement, the castle later became one of the most important stops on the route of the Atlantic slave trade. The Dutch seized the fort from the Portuguese in 1637, and took over all the Portuguese Gold Coast in 1642. The slave trade continued under the Dutch until 1814; in 1872 the Dutch Gold Coast, including the fort, became a possession of the British Empire.

Britain granted the Gold Coast its independence in 1957, and control of the castle was transferred to the nation formed out of the colony, present-day Ghana. Today Elmina Castle is a popular historical site, and was a major filming location for Werner Herzog's 1987 drama film Cobra Verde. The castle is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The Portuguese first reached what became known as the Gold Coast in 1471. Prince Henry the Navigator first sent ships to explore the African coast in 1418. The Portuguese had several motives for voyaging south. They were attracted by rumors of fertile African lands that were rich in gold and ivory. They also sought a southern route to India so as to circumvent Arab traders and establish direct trade with Asia. In line with the strong religious sentiments of the time, another focus of the Portuguese was Christian proselitism. They also sought to form an alliance with the legendary Prester John, who was believed to be the leader of a great Christian nation somewhere in Africa.

These motives prompted the Portuguese to develop the Guinea trade. They made gradual progress down the African coast, each voyage reaching a point further along than the last. After fifty years of coastal exploration, the Portuguese finally reached Elmina in 1471, during the reign of King Afonso V. However, because Portuguese royalty had lost interest in African exploration as a result of meager returns, the Guinea trade was put under the oversight of the Portuguese trader, Fernão Gomes. Upon reaching present day Elmina, Gomes discovered a thriving gold trade already established among the natives and visiting Arab and Berber traders. He established his own trading post, and it became known to the Portuguese as “A Mina” (the Mine) because of the gold that could be found there.

Trade between Elmina and Portugal grew throughout the decade following the establishment of the trading post under Gomes. In 1481, the recently crowned João II decided to build a fort on the coast in order to ensure the protection of this trade, which was once again held as a royal monopoly. King João sent all of the materials needed to build the fort on ten caravels and two transport ships. The supplies, which included everything from heavy foundation stones to roof tiles, were sent, in pre-fitted form, along with provisions for six hundred men. Under the command of Diogo de Azambuja, the fleet set sail on 12 December 1481 and arrived at Elmina, in a village called Of Two Parts[1] a little over a month later, on 19 January 1482. Some historians note that Christopher Columbus was among those to make the voyage to the Gold Coast with this fleet.

Upon arrival, Azambuja contracted a Portuguese trader, who had lived at Elmina for some time, to arrange and interpret an official meeting with the local chief, Kwamin Ansah (interpreted from the Portuguese, "Caramansa"). Concealing his self-interest with elegant manners and friendliness, Azambuja told the chief of the great advantages in building a fort, including protection from the very powerful king of Portugal. During the meeting, Azambuja and Chief Kwamin Ansah both participated in a massive peace ritual that included a feast, live musicians, and many participants, both Portuguese and native. Chief Kwamin Ansah, while accepting Azambuja, as he had any other Portuguese trader who arrived on his coast, was wary of a permanent settlement. However, with firm plans already in place, the Portuguese would not be deterred. After offering gifts, making promises, and hinting at the consequences of noncompliance, the Portuguese finally received Kwamin Ansah's reluctant agreement.

When construction began the next morning, the chief’s reluctance was proved to be well-founded. In order to build the fort in the most defensible position on the peninsula, the Portuguese had to demolish the homes of some of the villagers, who consented only after they had been compensated. The Portuguese also tried to quarry a nearby rock that the people of Elmina, who were animists, believed to be the home of the god of the nearby River Benya. Prior to the demolition of the quarry and homes, Azambuja sent a Portuguese crew member, João Bernaldes with gifts to deliver to Chief Kwamin Ansah and the villagers. Azambuja sent brass basins, shawls, and other gifts in hopes of winning the goodwill of the villagers, so they would not be upset during the demolition of their homes and sacred rocks. However, João Bernaldes did not deliver the gifts until after construction began, by which time the villagers became upset upon witnessing the demolition without forewarning or compensation.In response to this, the local people forged an attack that resulted in several Portuguese deaths. Finally, an understanding was reached, but continued opposition led the Portuguese to burn the local village in retaliation. Even in this tense atmosphere, the first story of the tower was completed after only twenty days; this was the result of having brought so much prefabricated building materials. The remainder of the fort and an accompanying church were completed soon afterward, despite resistance.

The fort was the first pre-cast building to have been planned and executed in Sub-Saharan Africa. Upon its completion, Elmina was established as a proper city. Azambuja was named governor, and King João added the title "Lord of Guinea" to his noble titles. São Jorge da Mina took on the military and economic importance that had previously been held by the Portuguese factory at Arguim Island on the southern edge of the Moorish world. At the height of the gold trade in the early sixteenth century, 24,000 ounces of gold were exported annually from the Gold Coast, accounting for one-tenth of the world’s supply.

The new fort, signifying the permanent involvement of Europeans in West Africa, had a considerable effect on Africans living on the coast. At the urging of the Portuguese, Elmina declared itself an independent state whose Governor then took control of the town’s affairs. The people of Elmina were offered Portuguese protection against attacks from neighboring coastal tribes, with whom the Portuguese had much less genial relations (even though they were friendly with the powerful trading nations in the African interior.) If any tribe attempted to trade with a nation other than Portugal, the Portuguese reacted with aggressive force, often by forming alliances with the betraying nation’s enemies. Hostility between tribes increased, and the traditional organization of tribal societies suffered, especially after the Portuguese introduced them to fire-arms, which made the dominance of the stronger tribes easier.

Trade with the Europeans helped make certain goods, such as cloth and beads, more available to the coastal people, but European involvement also disrupted traditional trade routes between coastal people and northern tribes by cutting out the African middlemen. The population of Elmina swelled with traders from other towns hoping to trade with the Portuguese, who gradually established a west-African monopoly.
By the seventeenth century, most trade in West Africa concentrated on the sale of slaves. São Jorge da Mina played a significant part in the Atlantic Slave Trade. The castle acted as a depot where slaves were bought in bartering fashion from local African chiefs and kings. The slaves, often captured in the African interior by the slave-catchers of coastal tribes, were sold to Portuguese traders in exchange for goods such as textiles and horses. The slaves were held captive in the castle before exiting through the castle’s infamous “Door of No Return” to be transported and resold in newly colonized Brazil and other Portuguese colonies.
In 1637 the fort was taken over by the Dutch, who made it the capital of the Dutch Gold Coast. During the period of Dutch control, they built a new, smaller fortress on a nearby hill to protect St. George Castle from inland attacks. This fort was called Fort Coenraadsburg. The Dutch continued the triangular Atlantic slave route until 1814, when they abolished the slave trade, pursuant to the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814. In 1872 the British took over the Dutch territory pursuant to the Anglo-Dutch Sumatra treaties of 1871.
The castle was extensively restored by the Ghanaian government in the 1990s. Renovation of the castle continues. The bridge leading into the castle is one of the highest priority tasks in the project. As of August 2006, the bridge renovation has been completed and construction on the upper terraces continues.


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  • Anquandah, J, Castles and Forts of Ghana, Ghana Museums & Monuments Board/Atalante, undated: 2000? ( with fine photographs by Thierry Secretan)
    • 59    (of Elmina Castle, quoting Jean Barbot, 1682):    This castle has justly become famous for beauty and strength, having no equal on all the coasts of Guinea.  Built square with very high walls of dark brown stone so very firm that it may be said to be cannon-proof.  On the land side it has two canals always furnished with rain or fresh water sufficient for the use of the garrison and the ships - canals cut in the rock by the Portuguese (by blowing up the rock little by little with gunpowder. The warehouses either for goods or provisions are very largely and stately always well furnished."
  • Arhin, Kwame (ed.) The Cape Coast and Elmina Handbook: Past, present and future, Inst. of African Studies, University of Ghana, 1995.Chapter One CAPE COAST AND ELMINA IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE, Kwame Arhin
    • 7    Early European accounts of the village describe the occupations of the inhabitants as . . . agriculture, cattle rearing and poultry; palmwine tapping; salt making; trading; brokerage between the forts and inland traders. . . Some of the traders were major entrepreneurs who bought slaves purveyed by the Portuguese traders from other parts of West Africa and used them for porterage in the trade in gold and ivory in the forest and forest-savanna fringe areas. . . In the eighteenth century, the expansionist Asante kingdom used Elmina as their main trading centre. . . . The special relations with Elmina began with the Asante capture of the note for "Kostgeld", rent or goodwill money, from Denkyera in 1700-01, and were reflected in the Asante-Dutch alliance which lasted from 1699-1872 . . . To the Asante and other peoples trading at Elmina, the trading centre was both an outlet for their gold, ivory and slaves and a source of foreign items of material culture and techniques that could advance their own technologies.

      10    The Dutch paid rents or goodwill money on the Castle land successively to the local authorities, to Denkyera and Asante. . . The Dutch also had recourse to local women, produced children and built human bridges between the stranger and host races. . .  they supported their hosts, though only with ammunition, in their wars with their neighbours. . . .In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the Dutch cemented their alliance with Asante; not only through payment of "kostgeld," but also through the periodic exchange of presents which enriched Asante material culture. . . the basic indigenous economies of the trading centres were overlaid with occupations relating to the establishment of the European trading-fort.  The basic elements of the indigenous economy were cultivation, fishing and salt-making.  In due course traders from the north and overseas did business in the market-place and at the houses in the village, and cultivation and fishing advanced beyond subsistence: Cape Coast and Elmina were among the earliest centres of money economy in the territories now embraced by modern Ghana.

      11    . . . The traditional socio-political organization of Elmina was strongly modified by its frontier and trading status.  The basis structure was one of matrilineage localized in wards, whose heads, united in a constituted council, and led by one of them, acted as the supreme authority of the town and its subordinate or satellite villages.  Headship of the Council was custom-determined in favour of the male descendants of the founder of the town who, among the Akan, are known as the aristocrats/royals, adehyee. Headships of wards and villages are similarly determined, while such offices as those of spokesmen, akyeame, are vested in certain matrilineages.
    • 13    St. Georges Castle, Elmina

      This is the oldest surviving European building in the tropics . . . the castle which the Portuguese began to build in 1482 was substantially complete, to its original plan, by 1486 . . . several years before Columbus crossed the Atlantic . . . or Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope and opened up the sea route to India.

      14    . . . In 1637, the Dutch made their final attack on Elmina. . .  Finally on the August 28 or 29, 1637, the Portuguese surrendered and handed over the castle to the Dutch, who were to remain masters of Elmina for over 200 years. . .  As soon as the Dutch were established in Elmina, they set about improving the defences . . . and  . . . repairing the considerable damage caused by the bombardment.

      15     . . . the hill of St. Jago was fortified . . . Named Coenraadsburg by the Dutch, the Fort was completed by 1666 . . .

      16    Elmina was the first town on the Gold Coast of any architectural pretension; still situated on the narrow peninsula between the Benya Lagoon and the sea, the older part of the town, characterized by its steeply pitched thatched roof houses, . .  remained there until it was razed to the ground by the British in 1873.  During the eighteenth century, the town was still very dependent on the Castle . . . In the early years of the century . . . the main block fronting the Great Court was remodelled; and later in the century, the Governor's dwelling in the south tower was extended by building a wing above the main entrance of the Castle.

      17    (A) map of 1799 shows Elmina as it was during the early years of Governor Bartels' administration, at which time Elmina reached the apogee of its prestige and prosperity.  Carl Ludwig Bartels, who was governor from 1789-1804, had been in Dutch government service in Elmina for many years previously, and had built a substantial house in the old town, close to the river, for his wife and family in 1786.
  • Astley, Thomas (ed) A New General Collection of Voyages and Travels Vol II London 1745

    • pl 59        Views of Dixcove and English and Dutch Forts at Sakkundi.  Forts are solid in appearance with battered coursed walls.  All on hills.  Slopes are cultivated with plots laid out neatly in lines.  Palm trees mark corners at Sekondi.  At Dixcove, small rectangular huts along the coast, pitched roofs, one door, no windows.  All castles have canons facing (at least) out to sea and a large flag above.

      398        Captain Thomas Phillips 1693.  Fort of Mina.  They took a walk before dinner about the Castle which is old and built upon a rock after the Portuguese fashion, from whom the Dutch plundered it.   It had four flankers and about 18 guns in all, those towards the sea good and long and some of them brass; the walls are pretty high and the Gate strong which faces the continent.  In the midst of the fort is their warehouse, kitchen and lodgings of the soldiers, over which there are three or four small rooms for the Factors.  A great part of the roof and wall of that wherein they dined was fallen down.  For dinner they had some muscovy duck, kid, fish and store of other provision.  What Phillips liked best was a Yam pudding which eat very gratefully, managed by the French Doctor, with sugar and orange juice. They had plenty of Punch and Stummed Rhenish wine; but a drink called Kokoro, looking like thin whey, and is a sort of palm wine, he preferred to any other.  He thought it drank like mead or rather Verdy, or white Florence wine, as they call it at Livorno. Dinner being over and the King's health, the African Company's and theirs being drank, each with a salvo of screw? guns, they were invited to take a walk, where the Negroes used to dance, about a quarter of a mile from the fort under two or three very large Cotton trees, of which their canoes are made.  Seats and liquor being brought, soon after came the musick, being three black fellows with the like number of hollow elephant teeth, through which they made a hideous bellowing and were accompanied by another who beat a hollow piece of brass with a stick.  Then came Mr. Rawlisson (Dutch factor from Axim) the factor's wife, a pretty young Mulatto, with a rich silk cloth about her middle and a silk cap upon her head, flowered with gold and silver, under which her hair was combed out at length.  For the mulattos covet to wear it so in imitation of the whites, never curling it up or letting it friz as the blacks do. She was attended by the Second's and Doctor's wives, young blacks about thirteen. After the English had saluted them they went to dance by turns, in a ridiculous manner, making antic gestures with their arms, shoulders and heads, their feet having the least share in the action.   They began moderately, but quickened their motions by degrees, till at the latter end they appeared perfecftly furious and distracted. . . The Town is on the East side, containing about an hundred houses or huts, straight along the banks of a river which empties itself into the sea near the castle, at the mouth of which is a landing place.  The Author saw above an hundred men and women with pails on the side of the river, who they told him were washing of sand and dirt in search of gold dust.

      399         Sukkandi: went ashore at the English  castle where found Mr. Johnson in his bed raving mad, through resentment of an affront put on him by one Van Hukeline, the Copeman or merchant of the Mina Castle. . . One Taguba, a noted Negro wench in Cape Coast town, gotten with child by some of the soldiers of the castle, was brought to bed of a mulatto girl, who growing about eleven years old, this Johnson, then a factor at Cape Coast, had a great fancy for her and purposed to take her for his wife (as they take wives in Guinea. . . note, That is, during Pleasure)  and being about that time removed to be chief Factor at Sekondi, in order to make sure of the girl, he took her there to live with him, till she was of age fit for conjugal embraces, using her with much tenderness and taking great satisfaction in her company for two or three years. But when she was grown up, being a pretty girl, Vanhukeline, by bribes and presents corrupted her mother Taguba. . .  girl kidnapped. Johnson later murdered on orders of Vanhukeline (who soon cracked the nut Johnson had been so long cooking to his own tooth). When Phillips dined with the Dutch General at the Mina, he saw her there, being brought to dance before them, very fine, bearing the title Madam Vanhukeline.  This and some other old differences with the Dutchman, had quite turned his brain.

      400        Cape Coast castle.  Before their departure, Captain Shirley and he entertained the Agents, Factors and other officers at  Dinner in a square summerhouse which stands in the middle of the Castle grounds.

      401        Bought Indian corn for  provision of the slaves to Barbados.  The allowance being a chest which contains about four bushes for every Negro.  Palm Oil.

      401        . . . both dined with him aboard, with their wives, who were Mulattos.  This he says is a pleasant way of marrying, for they can turn their wives off, and take other at Pleasure, which makes them very careful to humour their husbands in washing their linen, cleaning their chambers etc and the charge of keeping them is little or nothing.

      402        Winneba.    Filled some water and cut good store of firewood by the Queen's permission.  Their Queen is about fifty years old, black as jet, but very corpulent.  They went to pay their respects to her under a great tree where she sat.  She received them very kindly and made her attendants dance after their manner before them.  She was free of his kisses to Mr. . . whom she seemed much to esteem.  They presented her with an anchor of brandy each and some hands of tobacco.   She was so extremely civil before they parted as to offer each of them a bedfellow of her young Maids of Honour while they continued there, but they  modestly declined her majesty's offer.
      Bakatue Festival3
      Here the author saw many guinea hens and various other fowl but was pleased most with the herd of wild deer ranging the plains.  He saw at least five hundred at once, but so wild, that they could shoot none.   Here are likewise large baboons, some as big as great mastiffs.  They go fifty or an hundred together.  They are dangerous to be met with, especially by women, whom (as the Author was credibly assured) they often seize and ravish to death by lying with them one after the other.

      402        Akra.  Phillips bought a five hand canoe of the Black General who had seized the Danes fort there.  (1693) It seems it was surprised by a parcel of negros, privately armed, who got in under the pretence of trade,  and having stabbed his second while he was showing them the goods dispersed to secure all the other in the castle, a party lying concealed without to assist them upon signal given.  The General hearing the tumult came out of his chamber sword in hand to see what was the matter and was immediately assaulted by two blacks against whom he made good his ground for some time, calling out for assistance.  But no more coming and more blacks pressing on he flung himself out of a window and fled to the Dutch after he had received several wounds one of which had disabled his left arm.

      This Black General (now become governor) sent two of his servants to invite Mr B1 and Mr. B2 and the Captain to dine.  While they accepting, were carried in hammocks he had sent to attend them.  The guard at the castle demanded their swords, which all delivered but Phillips who refused.  The General having been acquainted with it, came and told him it was his custom.  The other replied, that might be, but it was never the custom of English commanders to part with their swords upon any account whatsoever.  In which finding him resolute the General seeming satisfied led them in showing them the way into the Dining Room which was by climbing a ladder and entering through a hole or scuttle.   When they were ascended, he drank to them and all the guns in the fort were discharged.  After they had walked about a quarter of an hour in the castle, Phillips pulled off his sword of his own accord, which, he perceived the King took very kindly.

      They were treated with plenty punch and victuals, which were pretty well dressed.  For the governor had been cook to one of the English factories and now went very often into the kitchen to give the necessary orders.  Though at dinner he was in great state, having a negro boy with a pistol at each side of him for a guard.   He drank the King of England's the African company's and his guests' healths frequently with volleys of cannon of which he fired about 200 during their stay there.  The flag he was flying was white with a black man painted in the middle brandishing a scimitar. . . In their way back to the English castle (4 miles to the west) they killed 4 hares with clubs.  This vermin frequents in vast number the sedge and furzes which are hereabouts very thick.  Phillips  thought them very insipid meat.  Next day arrived two Danish ships with 26 guns each sent on purpose from Denmark to treat with the Black General about surrendering the fort. . . which he delivered up (after bargaining) upon signing of an instrument to quit all pretension of reparation or satisfaction from the Black General or his Accomplices, for seizing the castle, as also the merchandizes and goods, and fifty marks of gold that were in it and to pay down 50 more at the delivery.

      Chap III Rev Fr. Godfrey Lovyer, a Jacobine.  Abstract of a voyage to Iffini on the Gold Coast.   (This must be the Nzima coast.)
    • The next day 7.6.21 they came to Cape Tres Puntas  ...story of Kaboshir, John Conny, who broke the heads of some of the crew regarding payment for water in casks.

      On an adjacent hill stood the Danish (or as some say the Brandenburgers') fort which some few years since having been relinquished by them and thereby fallen in John Conny's possession, has occasioned some contests between him and the Dutch.  These last, pretending a title of purchase, in 1720 sent a bomb-vessel, and two or three frigates to demand a surrendering; but John being a bold and subtil fellow, weighing their strength, answered, that he expected some instrument should be shown him to confirm the Brandenburgers' sale; and even with that, says he, I can seen no pretence but to the ground was not theirs to dispose of.  They have paid me rent for it (continues he) and since they have thought fit to remove, I do not design to tenant it out to any other white men while I live.  This sort of Palaver nettled the British;  who threw in some bombs and shot;  then more inflamed with rage and brandy, rashly landed forty of their men, under command of their lieutenant, to attack the Town.  They fired once without any damage and then John at the head of his men, rushing from under the cover of the houses with greater force, cut them in pieces , paving the entrance of his place soon after with their skulls.  This advantage made him very exact  with everybody about what he called his dues, though just in Trade. When the English had returned to a good understanding (about the water MIH) the author (Atkins) with some other  officers paid him a visit.  The southerly winds made so great a surf, that their landing was dangerous not to be performed by their own boats, but by the canoes of his sending, for which they paid an akki.  The Negro count the seas and know when to paddle safely on or off.  John himself stood on the shore to receive them attended by a guard of 20 or 30 men under bright arms, who conducted him to his house. This was a pretty large building raised from the materials of the fort.  It ascended with a double stone staircase without, of 12 steps. On that floor are 3 good rooms, one his armoury, another his chamber, with a standing bed in it, and the third for entertainment of guests, furnished with tables, chairs, etc.

      450        The way to it lay through two courtyards, the outer had houses for officers and servants belonging to him. The inner (a spacious square) had a ground room and good armoury past the entrance , with piazzas to accommodate his guard, and imitate in some measure the grandeur of the Prussian governors with whom John had been a servant for some years.  From them he had taken in his punctilio, and knew how to put on a significant countenance.  He was a strong made man, about fifty, of a sullen look, and commanded the respect of being bare headed from all the Negroes about him that were with caps.

      565     plate LX A map of the Gold Coast, M D'Anville 1729

      King of Asiante (very powerful) -> country of Akanni  (formerly very powerful and rich in gold -> Abrambo/Kabesterra, Fetu kingdom -> St. George de Mina H.  Conraedsburgh H.  Ekki tekki or little Kommendo C.H.

      Cape Coast shown as Oegwa

      Gt. Kommendo shown inland north of Elmina.

      589    Plate 61 Prospect of the coast from El Mina to Mourri from Barbot and Smith.

      6 ships off Elmina.  4 more off Fort Royal at Manfrow (between Cape Coast and Mouri) Ships have three tall masts with long thin flags flying at their heads. Inclined mast at each end.  Large national flag above the deck at the stern.  Picture of the sun inscribed on the stern.  Two rows of square windows with two horizontal and two vertical bars.  A. Negro canoas carrying slaves aboard at Manfrow.  Three slaves in front, four paddlers at rear, one steering.  All stripped to the waist.

      Prospect of St. Georges Castle at El Mina from Barbot and Dapper.  View from the east, offshore.  Castle has high walls, small beach below.  Huge flag (three horizontal stripes) flying from post on top of steeple.  Crossed on ridges of all the roofs.  Village seen behind (to west of castle)  Rectangular single storey buildings with ridged roofs.  Bridge on many piles wit draw bridge in Dutch style.  Tall mast seen upstream in the the lagoon.  Only one building North of the bridge except for Conraedsburg on St. Jago.

      636    Gold trinkets worn as spells.  Gold horn.  Gold hat band.  Necklace.  Arm rings.  Large wooden stools. Scales for gold. Krakra gold, pea weight, iron pin, money.   Piece of gold (like coral)  Hair combs, 3 or 4 teeth.

      669    Gold Coast music from Barbot.  Snappers or castagnets.  Blowing horns or trumpets.  Musical tongs  two pronged form with striking rod.  Brass kettle hand bells.  Brass Bafon?  Flutes.  Drum. Royal drum. Small drum.  Sort of Cittern  4 stringed instrument, board with calabash? behind.
  • Bech,  Niels & Hyland, A D C.  Elmina a Conservation Study UST Occasional report 17 1978 (notes)
    • Bartels house, Mount Pleasant 1786.

      Fort on St. Jago Hill called Coenraadsburg

      Elmina town situated on narrow peninsula between Benya lagoon and the sea until 1873 when it was razed to the ground.

      In 18th century the area around St. Jago hill was covered by the castle's vegetable and fruit gardens serving also as a place of relaxation

      By the end of the 18th century plantations, market gardens, pavilions, small buildings. Well defined road layout (w of lagoon)

      Map of 1799.   Bridge existed. Map by J. Berseman - General State Archives The Hague.
  • DeCorse, Christopher R. AN ARCHAEOLOGY OF ELMINA: Africans and Europeans on the Gold Coast, 1400-1900
    • Examines a complex African settlement on the coast of present-day Ghana from the fifteenth through the nineteenth centuries. Explores developments there in the light of European expansion and illustrates remarkable cultural continuity in the midst of technological change. BNS, 73 b/w illus, 14 maps, 5 tables, 288pp, USA . SMITHSONIAN INSTITUT, 1560989718 2001 HB GBP34.50
  • Everts, Natalie, Cherchez la femme : gender-related issues in eighteenth-century Elmina, Itinerario: (1996), vol. 20, no. 1, p. 45-57.
    • Summary : In 1637 Dutch seafarers took Elmina castle (Gold Coast, now Ghana) by force and turned it into the West India Company headquarters in Africa. There was a great deal of  everyday interaction between the European traders and Elmina society and the majority of European men had relationships with African or Euro-African women. European travellers and ministers of the Dutch Reformed Church paint a picture of the Euro-African children who were born from these liaisons moving automatically into the African world of their Akan mothers. Apart from some vague reproaches towards European fathers, mostly from ministers who accused them of indifference, none of the sources contain a clear causal explanation for the limited European influence in Euro-African children's upbringing. This paper assumes that the lack of power of a European with regard to his Euro-African children is related to the power of his African Akan partner and the fact that she is inextricably bound to her blood relations, her 'abusua' (matrilineal descent group). Her interests and wishes are dictated by this collective and in most cases, the dominance of the host culture means that the parent who represents cultural continuity prevails over the one who is at best only a temporary resident. Notes, ref.
  • Feinberg, H.M. Elmina, Ghana : a history of its development and relationship with the Dutch in the eighteenth century  Boston : Boston University, 1969. - XX, 260 p. ; Thesis Boston University, 1969.
    • Summary : Studies Elmina's political development, growth and daily life. The relationship of Elmina with the Dutch is analyzed from the standpoint of the meeting of two cultures to determine the degree of impingement of the Dutch on the Elminan way of life and the legacy of this culture contact.
Feinberg, H. M., Who are the Elminans? Ghana Notes and Queries No 11 June 1970
  • Feinberg,  H.M., An incident in Elmina-Dutch relations, the Gold Coast (Ghana), 1739-1740  African Historical Studies: (1970), vol. 3, no. 2, p. 359-372..
    • Summary : The relationship between the Elminans and the Dutch is generally considered to have been peaceful and mutually cooperative. In 1739 however, a serious conflict arose between the Elminans and the Dutch. On May 26 or 27, 1739, Director General de Bordes forbade Elminan canoes to leave the Benya River to fish in the sea. He also ordered his subordinates to seize any food coming to Elmina by sea and on the morning of the 27th a number of boats loaded with corn were seized by West India Company slaves. The Elminans sought an explanation from de Bordes but received no satisfaction. They were ordered to leave the castle; the castle gates were closed, and in a short while fighting commenced. This conflict is discussed according to the following outline: 1. a listing of events from May 27, 1739 to about March 21, 1740, 2. the points of view on causes; 3. the costs to the Dutch; 4. the effect of the conflict on the Elminans. Notes.
  • Feinberg,  H.M., Palaver on the Gold Coast : Elmina-Dutch cooperation during the eighteenth century   African Perspectives: (1979), no. 2, p. 11-20.
    • Summary : Only rarely are outsiders invited to join in the judicial process of dispute settlement. One example, however, of where outsiders and the local leadership did cooperate in dispute settlement can be found on the Gold Coast of West Africa, where the leadership of Elmina town and main officials of the Netherlands West India Company cooperated in attempting to settle conflicts and in the judgment of certain civil court, cases. The present article describes this cooperation and discusses examples of civil cases settled during the eighteenth century. An outstanding characteristic of the cases in question is that the Elmina leadership and the Dutch Director General usually acted to uphold the Akan system in support of the customary law. The preservation of peace and order was an important motive for local authorities on the coast to present these cases to the Dutch, and it was undoubtedly a similar aim which motivated the Dutch to participate. Notes.
  • Feinberg,  H.M., Elmina Town in the eighteenth century  - Los Angeles : African studies association, 1984. ASA, Los Angeles, 25-28 October, 1984.
    • Summary : The Dutch remained in control of the Castle St. George d'Elmina from 1637 until 1872. The author draws a picture of Elmina as a community mainly with data from letters and papers belonging to the Second Netherlands West India Company.
Feinberg, H M, Africans and Europeans in West Africa: Elminans and Dutchmen on the Gold Coast during the eighteenth century Am Phil Soc 1989 186 pp Trans of Am Phil Soc Vol 79 Pt 7
  •  Hutton, William, A voyage to Africa, London, 1821
    • 53         The next settlement to the eastward of Commenda is Elmina, where the Dutch have a fine fortification, and which is the only one on the coast that is protected by a deep ditch. It is also further strengthened by a small fort, called St. Jago, which is built on a hill that commands both the town and the castle, and is called the key to the latter. The Dutch are so jealous regarding St. Jago, that, even in time of peace, they will not allow the English to be admitted into it.

      Great credit is due to the Dutch for the improvements which they have carried on here. Besides a harbour for small vessels, there are piers, wharfs, and cranes, for landing goods. The country also is also better cultivated than at any other part of the coast; nearly two miles at the back of' the town, are well laid out in beds of ground-nuts and Mr. Neiser has made a fine plantation with 35,000 cotton trees, about two miles from the castle, and cut a road to it, at least thirty feet broad, at his own expence. I rode into the country with this gentleman, when I was last at Elmina, and was astonished at the improvements he had made. He then informed me that he had eighty men employed in making a coffee plantation; and it is to be hoped many others in Africa will follow Mr. Neiser's example, which is the most effectual way to cultivate the country, and civilize the natives. The gardens at Elmina, containing oranges, pineapples, sour soups, and other tropical fruits, besides vegetables of all descriptions, do great credit to the Dutch and the English at our head-quarters are frequently obliged to them for a supply of these articles. Mr. Neiser's hospitality deserves to be particularly mentioned.

      The town of Elmina is the only one on the coast which is built with stone, and also the only one that is paved. There is one broad street before the fort, but the town is badly laid out, the houses being all built close together, without more than sufficient space to walk between them.

      The number of inhabitants may amount to eight thousand; and, like most of the natives residing on the coast, they fish with the cast-net regularly every morning, excepting on their fetish days.

      Although Elmina belongs to Warsaw, the king does not prevent the inhabitants from exercising municipal authority. These people were guilty of an act some years ago, which can never be forgotten. The governor, Hoogenboom, having given them some cause of offence, they beset him one evening at the billiard-table and murdered him in the most inhuman manner. Elmina is the easternmost maritime town in the kingdom of Warsaw, and Chama the most western. I have already stated that this country is tributary to Ashantee, and have described the various towns on the coast which I have been at; but never having been in the interior of this kingdom, I will not attempt a description of it.

      The Warsaws carry on a considerable trade with Europeans, in gold and ivory and are more remarkable for honesty than their neighbours the Fantees.

      If they have any palaver (dispute), the Pynins and Cabboceers  (Pynins and Cabboceers signify the magistrates or head men of the town, the chiefs) assemble to hear the parties, which sometimes occupies them a whole day, as they are extremely clever in argument, and will frequently speak for hours together. When the Pynins cannot decide to the satisfaction of the parties in town, they assemble in the fort and submit the case to the decision of the governor .
Hyland, A. D. C., An Introduction to the Traditional and Historical Architecture of Ghana (In Maggie Dodds (ed) History of Ghana, American Womens Association, Accra 1974)
  • Lawrence, A. W. Trade Castles and Forts of West Africa, Jonathan Cape, London, 1963 (quotations and notes) See also Lawrence, A. W. Fortified Trade Posts: The English in West Africa 1645-1822, Jonathan Cape, London, 1968 (recast in a shortened form and retitled)  Copyright material is used here with the permission of the owners, the Trustees of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom Trust.
    • 29    European salad plants, cabbages and cauliflowers from imported seed, fruit trees from tropical Asia and America.  Newly introduced: lemon, sugar cane, melons, orange, tamarind, banana, coconut, pineapple, pawpaw, guava.  (mango - origin in Indo-Burmese region, and avocado - native of Central America - were then evidently unknown MH) sweet potato, yam, maize (?) cassava.

    • 32    Dutch maintained a cotton plantation near Axim and Shama 1765-83

      49    Senior and junior officers, free artisans, soldiers, slaves for indoor and outdoor work.   Paid (sometimes live-in) free Africans or mulattoes.   If necessary Governor might even get supplies from a foreign fort in the neighbourhood.  In 1778 Cape Coast borrowed cartridge paper from Elmina.  In 1780 Elmina sold 55 fathoms of new 5" cable, weight 274 lbs. at 1 oz of gold per 100 lbs. for a schooner of the English company.

      Loneliness:  mutual business usually arranged by letter.

      Only Members of Council or Company's seamen made regular journeys. Officers jumped at the chance of going visiting, several hours by canoe or in a hammock carried by 1 or 2 couples of men.

      Different companies entertained one another, relations superficially amicable, business rivalry, spies, plots.

      1779. 'The indefatigable pains and perseverance, peculiar to the Dutch, with which they by degrees endeavour in future to bring about their beloved and political but diabolical plan to force the English town of Komenda into uniting with their own protectorate across the river.

    • Tedium, strains, isolation, conditions of physical and mental distress, grumbling, bad temper.  Open dissensions and quarreling at the Governor's table.  Maudlin and assertive recollections of elderly governor. Senior officers might arrange for Africans to drum and dance in the garden for their entertainment. Main feature of conviviality was drinking.   Dutch favoured neat brandy or rum.  English mixed their brandy with lime juice, sugar and water.  Drank to excess.

      English allowed men to spend the night in the town and to bring women into the fort.  Dutch inflicted heavy penalties for both offences.  Dutch allowed men outside forts only in daylight.  Gates unbolted at day break, slaves living in huts outside reported for duty.  Africans from elsewhere might come in to buy and sell. Lengthy process, values reckoned in weight of gold.  Slaves brought firewood - large amounts required.  Arrival of ships interrupted everyone's routine.  When the fort's lookout sighted approaching sails, the flag was hoisted and preparations made to receive the vessel. Canon made ready (is it a pirate?) Friendly man-o-war or ship with VIP entitled to a salute of so many guns. Cargo brought ashore by canoes or small boats belonging to the fort.  Canoemen organized by a bumboy, free African employed by the fort.  Transport of goods from the beach to storerooms done by slaves, on their heads.  Clerical staff hard worked, inventory of incomings, calculating prices.  Ship's master in a hurry - scared of disease affecting his crew.  Medical precautions.  Men not to drink palmwine.  Unsuitable living quarters, poor diet, habitual drunkenness, savage punishments. Malaria, yellow fever, waterborne diseases.  Dutch began with the intention of keeping chaplain's post filled - provided a small library of devotional books (1645). Soon resorted to unordained preachers.  Dutch company's board in Amsterdam always prohibited concubinage with local women;  practice flourished none the less, though in secret.  Dutch governor's table had (1722) ten dishes of victuals, variety of beer and wine, attendance of 6 negro servants, each a gold chain round his neck.  Wheat imported, issued out against pay in the form of biscuit.  Stocks ran out.  Guinea corn or maize used instead.  Fresh meat seldom obtained even by officers, vegetables grown for commander's table.  Unprivileged Europeans relied on salted or smoked meat, flour, cheese, butter.  Ignored the abundance of fresh fish.  Every underground cistern was walled, floored and vaulted in brick. Rectangular box-like brick conducted water from roofs to channels which ran beneath the paving of the courtyard.
      Elmina - Adam and Eve

    • 122    Re Elmina.  Rationalization by the Dutch 1637-82.  Layout in 1637 was in general as today.  Buildings contained doorways and windows lined with Dutch brick on upper floors.  Dutch rarely used the word bastion.  Majority of Dutch work undertaken for improvement - to obtain weatherproof store rooms (ground floor); to increase living accommodation (above).  Upper storeys are floored with wood and covered with flat or gabled roofs according to the width of span.

      123    In places the Dutch added two or more storeys.  By 1774 the reconstruction had been virtually completed.  Enormous mass of paper accumulated from 1675-1791 by 2nd Dutch company and as yet uncalendered.

      124     Based on report by Michael Hemmersham, Nuremberg goldsmith, 1639 -1645 at Elmina.  When you come inside the castle there is a large open space  on which is a church that nowadays is used as a buying and trading house.  East bastion  . . .  there a bell on the walls is pulled by the soldiers and struck as often as the hours are struck among us on our towers.  If  you climb up some steps there you come to a tower (north round tower) in which lived the Treasurer and above him the Crew Master (Commodore) who is in command of the ships.  If you go up another stair, on your left is a gallery inside the castle to the outward (an enclosed passage behind the outer wall of the rectangular block)  But on your right is a well-built breastwork, from which you go down three or four steps and on your right hand come to the battery on which lie 9 cannon cast in brass.  This is called the Governor's battery since his dwelling is close by (in the rectangular block) through which you can go and come down again to the courtyard. . .

      In my time a passage was built around the N Tower where the Treasurer has his dwelling and a bell was brought from Sao Tome and hung there on the walls so as to strike the hours both by day and by night.  Riverine  yard called the cat yard, where many civet cats are kept.  The perfume industry - an important one in those times of little washing - relied greatly on the odorous secretions of civets, which, in captivity could be deprived of their scent twice weekly.  Dutch hold the castle garrisoned with people of German and low countries race.  Whatever a man's religion might be, we held our Sundays with prayer, reading and singing in the Governor's quarters in the great hall, which was hung with pikes, muskets and similar weapons.

      129    1645  Governor had a kitchen built outside the church between the pillars, 11' long by 5'6" wide. Castle armed with 21 large brass guns including one 48-pounder mortar, 6 - 24 pounders 1 - 14 pounder canon, 5 - 12 pounders,  3000 canon balls of iron, 153 of stone, 53 - 12 lb  130 - 8 lb mortar bombs  53 spare muskets, 20 anchors, 200 - 1000 lb (for sale), canvas for sails, salted or dried food, 41 barrels of meat = 8 tons, 500 lbs of salt fish, 85 Europeans, 184 slaves (ate African food) Garrison of 69 officers and men, Governor, 4 Europeans concerned solely with trade, 9 in charge of handicrafts, a lay preacher (or comforter) who at this time conducted religious services on Thursday and Sunday, acted as a medical dispenser in the absence of a chaplain and doctor.

      From time to time a chaplain had been appointed but invariably resigned and went back to Holland.  Small collection of pious books, 72 copies of the Psalms.  Medical stores: 147 varieties of ointments, plasters, drugs, etc.

      No one was allowed out in the evenings and so the occupants of the castle might have escaped malaria and yellow fever, because the wind off the sea keeps mosquitoes away. . .  Fort St. Iago enjoys no such immunity. System of guarding it by roster exposed the entire garrison to infection.

      On slopes around the fort and in valley beyond grew fruit, salads and green vegetables - preventatives of scurvy.  Soldiers' lodgings backed against the curtain wall of the great courtyard
      : admitted air on one side only and rain frequently came through the roof.  Roofs generally tiled.  Wood of roofs and floors constantly needed replacement.  Timber was cut at Shama or Axim and shipped along the coast on the ketches built there by the Dutch, sawn up by castle slaves.  Company vaulted all storage space since tiled roofs leaked.  Bricks from Holland came out as ballast, thin, cream to greyish yellow.

      132    1682  Castle is built square, with very high walls of a dark brown stone.  Garrison 100 white men and perhaps as many black soldiers, all in the Company's pay.  Drawbridge is defended by a redoubt (the W bastion) with 8 iron guns and a ditch in the rock 20ft. deep and 18ft broad with an iron portcullis and 4 brass pattereroes within the gate and a large guardroom next to it.  On the land side the castle has two canals always furnished with rain or fresh water for the use of garrison and ships.

      Besides 3 very fine cisterns within the place, each holding several hundred tuns to save the rain, so that garrison is in no great danger of wanting water.  . .  There is room in the castle for a garrison of 200 men and several officers.  The general's (governor's) lodgings are above in the castle, the ascent to which is up a large white and black stone staircase, defended at the top by two brass guns and 4 pattereroes of the same metal. . . and a guard room, pretty large, next to which is a great hall full of small arms of several sorts, as an arsenal, through which and by a by-passage you enter a fine long gallery, all wainscoted, at each end of which there are large glass windows, and through it is the way to the general's lodgings, containing several good chambers and offices along the ramparts.

      133    The compting houses particularly, are large, finely fitted for the factory accomtants bookkeepers and servants, in all 60 persons.

      142    Governor's kitchen, near W corner of the second floor, contains a fireplace and a chimney; all the officers ate at the governor's table, hence the enormous size.

  • Lever, J.T., Mulatto influence on the Gold Coast in the early nineteenth century : Jan Nieser of Elmina / . In: African Historical Studies: (1970), vol. 3, no. 2, p. 253-261.
    • Summary : The mulattoes of the Gold Coast never constituted a distinctive social class. Nevertheless men and women of Euro-African descent through their contact with both the foreign traders and the local African communities were able to take advantage of the perennial need for mediators and brokers between the two groups. Some mulattoes were among those most favourably placed to assimilate European modes and techniques and to adapt these in the light of conditions on the Coast. They did so in increasing numbers from about the second half of the 18th century. Perhaps the moat influential Gold Coast mulatto during the period of the Ashanti invasions of 1807 and after was Jan Nieser, a man with many ties to the Dutch, the coastal African communities, and Ashanti. Of his life some aspects are examined. Notes.
  • Van Dantzig, Albert, Castles and Forts of Ghana as a Collective Historical Monument, in Maggie Dodds (ed.), History of Ghana, American Women's Association, Accra, 1974.
    • In order to tell you something, though not everything, about the forts and castles in Ghana, I'll try to be short, but it is a subject about which one can write little books and tell a lot in much more than an hour. This evening I'll tell you briefly something about what are trade forts; why they were built here in Ghana; what is their historical importance. I would like to tell something about their common characteristics; then, I cannot avoid it, of course, as an historian, to tell you something which you could call a brief history. And finally I would like to tell you something about what life was like in the forts and around the forts. So, here we go . . .

      Now forts and castles of course we find in many parts of the world. Most of the forts and castles we know outside Ghana are either military forts or left over from the Middle Ages, the Feudal era, and in that case they are often grown out into palaces. An example of the extreme form of palaces growing out of forts is the Versailles Palace near Paris. But the forts and castles outside Europe took mostly the character, particularly if they were built by Europeans, of outposts or strongholds like you have in the United States - like Fort Worth, Fort Duquesne; here in Africa too, such as Fort Lamy, an example of military outpost. What we have in Ghana is rather unique, this whole series of trade forts. The really interesting thing of all the forts and castles of Ghana is not so much the individual buildings which really are, let's face it, less impressive than Versailles or the chateaux along the Loire in France, but rather the forts and castles as a collective historical monument. Because what is really most surprising and interesting is that over less than 300 miles of coastline, in a relatively short period of about three centuries, not less than 60 fortified trade posts of various kinds were built. (The original text has a simple map of the coast showing the following forts and castles listed from east to west:

      Keta (Fort Prindesten),

      Ada (Fort Kongesten),

      Ningo (Fort Fredensborg),

      Prampram (Fort Vernon),



      Teshie (Fort Augustaborg),

      Accra (Christiansborg/Osu Castle,

      Fort Crevecoeur/Ussher Fort, James Fort),

      Senya Bereku (Fort de Goede Hoop/Good Hope),

      Apam (Fort Leydsaamheyd),



      Kormantin (Fort Amsterdam),

      Anomabu (Fort William),
      Mori (Fort Nassau),

      Cape Coast (Cape Coast Castle),

      Elmina (St. George d'Elmina,
       Fort Conraadsburg),
      Komenda (Fort Vrendenbourgh),

      British Komenda,

      Shama (St. Sebastian),

      English Secondi,

      Dutch Secondi (Fort Orange),

      Takoradi (Fort Witsen),

      Butri (Fort Batenstein),

       kwidi (Fort Dorethea),
      Fort Duma,
       Takrama (Fort Louise),
      Princes Town (Gross Frederichsburg/Fort Hollandia),

      Fort Ruychaver,
       Axim (Fort St. Anthony),
      Ankobra (Elise Carthago),


      We could in a way see the whole set of forts and castles and trade lodges in Ghana as a kind of huge shopping street - shopping street of a few government-sponsored trading companies which did not sell for money so much as for trade goods from Africa - a kind of barter trade therefore. Although we should not forget that we did have here on the coast a currency in the form of gold dust.

      The various establishments of the European companies, the chartered companies, vary greatly in importance, ranging from the big castles - in fact there are only three castles in Ghana; Elmina, which was the headquarters of the Portuguese, later the Dutch; Cape Coast Castle, built by the British; Christiansborg Castle here in Accra, built by the Danes. Those big castles had several hundred big guns, large garrisons, commercial officials and government officials and at a. later stage, the real craftsmen. There was a considerable number of castle slaves also - often craftsmen themselves. In many respects these big castles can be seen as mini-cities really but low in the scale we have the ordinary forts. And even the Prussian headquarters at Gross Frederichsburg, at Princes Town, was never called anything other than a fort. Of course it was much smaller than the other three castles. These forts often had up to about fifty guns, a commercial and military commander united in one person, with a few soldiers and few officials for commerce. Then finally there was a large number of so-called lodges which were mostly manned only by civil assistants not by real fighters. Often they were only occupied when ships came to anchor for
       trade and they mostly had only rudimentary forms of defence with one bastion, two or three guns, or the rather peculiar case of the Dutch lodge at Mount Congh, now called Queen Ann's Point, near Cape Coast, about which it was reported at the end of the 17th century: �We have here one man with an axe.�

      Why did the forts and castles spring up here in Ghana in such great density, one may ask. There are several reasons for this and one of the more important is perhaps simply of geography. Both east and west of Ghana - the Ivory Coast and into Togo, Dahomey and Nigeria area - we have only low sandy coasts backed by a system of lagoons with generally rather dangerous surf; no natural harbours; whereas only in this area from the Volta to roughly Cape Three Points we have this quite different type of coast with many natural harbours - little bays and coves with promontories very useful for building forts which were aiming at defending the sea-roads in front of a certain area which was developed as a trading area. Then another advantage of the Gold Coast was that gold was found and mined at fairly close distance from the coast, which we don't find either east or west. Furthermore, in the period in which the forts were built - between the 15th and 18th centuries - Europe had an insatiable demand for gold. Finally, perhaps one of the most important reasons that so many forts were built, is that so many companies could settle here yet none of these European nations colonized the Gold Coast as they did other parts of the world. This can partially be explained by the fact that African society here was simply too well organized already before the arrival of the Europeans to allow simply the taking into possession, as happened for instance in many parts of America. In fact the African chiefs, coastal chiefs, and the traders from the interior to the coast, were very quick to recognize the advantages of this competition between the various European companies.

      So Ghana has indeed a fairly unique history if you look at the general colonial history of the world, because this is one of the rarer areas where for 300 years European and non-Europeans had been trading basically on a foot of equality. And even afterwards, in the 19th century, in the great era of imperialism, there was really no room in Ghana for the type of colonial exploitation that we find in such areas as the Congo. The famous Fante Bond of 1844 is indeed one of the earliest types in Africa of a modern independence movement. These forts and castles did in fact give a sense of security to both Europeans and Africans. To the African they gave the security that the Europeans were not likely to �break out� from their forts. But on the other hand, by treaty also, Europeans were compelled to come to the defence of the coastal states in which they established these forts in case these states were attacked from the interior. I must of course call your attention to the fact that the Europeans did not always come to their aid, particularly here in Accra at the time of Akwamu invasions, Akim invasions, Asante invasions, against which Europeans, in spite of all these beautiful treaties didn't do anything. Perhaps the forts and castles also, to a considerable extent satisfied the �Territorial Imperative�, to speak with the words of Ardrey of the Europeans themselves. They did feel a certain kind of safety within those walls of forts and castles which were really built on territory they only rented from the local chiefs. Finally, the local chiefs also brought of their own free will many of their so-called palavers to the castles and forts, known in Fante as Aban. The Aban became the basis of later politics in Ghana and there is still, in Fante the word Aban, used to describe �government.� Such informal jurisdiction developed particularly in the early stages in Elmina; later in and around Axim; and of course there is the famous case of the 1830s of Governor Maclean who did the same thing around Cape Coast and then into the interior.

      So to summarize my introduction I think it is a bit shortsighted to say about the forts and castles - �Well it may be a tourist attraction of Ghana but let's not stress it too much because they are just European leftovers of colonial days.� The forts and castles can with sufficient reason, to some extent, be regarded not only as monuments to the slave trade because they were used for slave trade, but also to a long history, a long tradition of Ghanaian independence. Surprisingly and paradoxically as it may sound, they could be regarded to some extent even as monuments of freedom - monuments at least, of equality. (If you disagree please let me know in the question hour!)

      Something about the common characteristics we find in the various forts and castles which of course individually are quite different yet we can recognize some basic features. Generally the basic pattern is a square surrounded by curtain walls which end in pointed bastions. Within this square of curtain walls and bastions are built one or sometimes more than one, generally two storied buildings; in the bigger forts sometimes three stories or a tower. Also in virtually all the forts we find, below the central square, the cisterns, or in smaller courts, one cistern. The ground floor of the forts and castles is generally used for storerooms - there is no ventilation on the outside, only on the inside - or for rooms for the garrison for the lower officials. The top floor is for residence for high officials, for officers, and for the �palaver halls� which we find in most forts and castles. The bastions are sometimes solid, like the curtain wall, but also often we find hollow bastions which were used for instance as powder magazines, or in the days of the slave trade - and I need not tell you that slave trade was developed rather late here compared to other parts of Africa - these hollow bastions were often used for slave prisons or slave holds.

      Now most of the forts were greatly expanded, particularly in the 18th century. At a later stage they developed so-called spurs. These were outer walls forming a kind of triangle in front of the main gate. Sometimes they became virtually a part of the fort as they did at Cape Coast or Dixcove. Other times they were simply thin walls surrounding service areas which in case of war were also used to provide shelter for the towns-people against invading enemies. Sometimes these spurs became very big, bigger than the fort itself, as we have for instance in Apam and in small forts where trade did not develop very well and where the Europeans decided to use these forts more as service forts rather than trade forts. So we find a big carpentry shop, a cat yard, as we have at Elmina and other Dutch forts, yards where civet cats were reared who produced a kind of liquid which was very important for the perfume industry. The cisterns played a very important role not only for the supply of drinking water to the inhabitants of the fort but particularly for supply of drinking water to passing ships, because these forts were not only trade forts but were also supply forts. They were stations midway in the long voyage that the ships made. Ships were often serviced near the ports themselves where there was a kind of natural harbour. And castle gardens supplied fresh vegetables and fruits for the crews of the ships. Again in the days of slave trade large quantities of millet and corn, as well as palm oil, were also bought locally.

      Then I shall try to be as brief as possible on this most complicated subject - �a brief history� of the forts and castles, where I may refer to books and booklets on the subject. Of course the first fort was Elmina, built in 1482 by the Portuguese. The Portuguese and Spanish had a tradition of fighting Islam since, in fact, the 8th Century A.D. By the middle of the 15th century the success of the Portuguese and the Spanish against Islam in the Iberian Peninsula was quite great. By the middle of the 15th century an important event took place when, in the last Christian outpost in the east, the city of Constantinople was taken by the Turks. It is really from that date that we see particularly the Portuguese getting keen on discovering a sea route to the Indies around the coast of Africa - the work of Prince Henry the Navigator.

      So in 1471 the first Europeans arrived here on the Guinea Coast, an event, which in fact, two years ago was celebrated with a special historical conference. Hardly ten years later, 1481, Diogo d'Azambuja negotiated with the local chief at Elmina for the construction of a fort - San Jorge d'Elmina. The name of the chief with whom Diogo d'Azambuja negotiated is Caraman�a. This Caraman�a is often said to have been one of the first chiefs of Elmina, by name of Kwamena Ansah. Very nice, but modern historians more or less agree that by 1482 there were not yet any Fante on this coast. So how come that in 1482 the �chief of Elmina� had a Fante name? Somehow it doesn't fit! Now in a 17th century booklet written for Louis XIV to support some claims he thought to have on the Gold Coast, we find the description of these earliest contracts of d'Azambuja with not only Caraman�a but also �another Mansa�. This is quite interesting because mansa is also a sort of Mande or Arab title for traders. So developed this more modern idea that actually the spelling of Caraman�a in Portuguese was perhaps a bit misleading, that it was really Kara Mansa - a mansa named Kara - who negotiated with Diogo d'Azambuja. This would make the early history of Elmina much clearer and much more understandable because there is also this confusion about the origin of the word �Elmina�. El is a particle, but in Spanish, not in Portuguese, and the Spanish had never had anything to do here. Elmina people would say, �the mine�. But that would be A Mina. In Arabic, on the other hand, we have Mina meaning �the port� and that does make sense. When the Portuguese arrived here they found one mansa called Kara and when they asked him �what is the name of this place?� he replied, �the port - El Mina�. And that is why the Portuguese named the place Elmina and not A Mina. Moreover there were gold mines but at a considerable distance from Elmina, not at Elmina itself. It also explains perhaps why the Portuguese went out straightaway to build such a big castle. Of course the original castle was not as big as the present one but even the original one, which we find in that part which is around the old courtyard - the small courtyard - was of considerable size. The architects when they look at it have often been struck by the fact that it looks so much like a crusaders' castle - �krak�- in the Middle East. And it is very well possible that the Portuguese, arriving here for the first time, meeting Muslim traders, thought that in fact the great Islamic Empire of northern Africa extended as far as this part of the coast. They therefore decided to build a crusaders' castle to establish themselves firmly and to christianize the people around them. For which purpose indeed they set out straightaway.
      Elmina - hawking by the soccer pitch
      Only later on they discovered they had built rather too big a castle for the simple purpose of trade. Indeed the following two forts they built at Axim and at Shama, at natural outlets of the gold trade of the Ankobra River and the Pra River, were much more modest in size. Also in 1482 it was only 30 years after the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and it is known that by that time the western European Christians were deeply impressed by the heavy cannon the Turks had used to breach the walls of Constantinople. Again we recognize something of this at Elmina Castle where still we have, on the land side, the northwest bastion which is indeed quite formidable. The Portuguese probably did expect at any time after the construction of the fort that the Turks would march up with their great field-cannon.

      During the 16th century we find the first signs of competition coming from the French and English traders who tried to penetrate in this official monopoly area of the Portuguese and at that time it became necessary for the Portuguese to build defences to the seaward rather than to the landward. It appeared soon that the feared Muslims would not march up to drive them out and as a matter of fact relationships with the Africans became quite friendly. Elmina itself even, shortly after the establishment of the castle, got Portuguese city rights. But the greatest problem soon seemed to be the competition on the sea - how to keep away these competitors from other parts of Europe. And then we see Elmina castle extending toward the sea with a whole new courtyard and with heavy guns covering the Elmina Roads. We find the same thing in Axim now, a bastion pointing toward the sea, and in Shama. The competition of the English and the French was not as dangerous as that of the Dutch in the later 16th century because the Dutch decided to revolt against their overlords Philip II of Spain, and that when the Dutch were the main suppliers of trade goods to the Portuguese. They traditionally were redistributors of trade-goods coming from Asia and Africa to Lisbon from where they redistributed them all over the rest of Europe. But they sold at the same time to the Portuguese traders in order to sell again overseas their manufactured products such as cloth, which played a very important role in the overseas trade. All that sort of broke up in a few years, at the end of the 16th century - the Portuguese monopoly on the Gold Coast. Not only did the Dutch revolt against their overlord, the king of Spain, in 1580 Spain and Portugal were also united under one crown with the result that Portugal also became officially the enemy of the Dutch.
      Elmina - On an errand
      After 1580 we see Dutch shipping on the Gold Coast increase enormously. The Dutch were able to supply goods at a lower price than the Portuguese and by 1612 finally one of the local chiefs, the one of Asebu; broke the spell by openly inviting the Dutch, sending in fact two ambassadors to Holland to ask the Dutch to build a fort at Mori. This fort unfortunately has nearly completely disappeared although we can still see some ruins of which the most striking feature perhaps is the great quantity of Dutch bricks we find in the walls. Because traditionally the Dutch built in bricks, and moreover this was the first time they had built outside of Holland in fact they thought it safer to bring the building material from Holland rather than to rely on the local people who as yet were not fully dependable to the Dutch - as officially they had treaties with the Portuguese. Soon they began to extend their influence. In 1624, shortly after the establishment of the Dutch West Indian Company they made a treaty with a chief of a then newly arrived group of Fantes - a treaty which did not very much impress, apparently, this chief, Ambro-Braffo, of the Borbor-Fante; in 1631 they made a similar treaty with the English who had established themselves at Kormantin. With the growing Dutch and also the English competition the Portuguese were finding it very difficult to get their gold and made some attempts to mine gold themselves in a hill near Komenda - Abrobi Hill - an attempt which ended in total disaster. The mine collapsed and shortly afterwards they tried again in the interior, in the Ankobra Valley at the confluence of the Duma and Ankobra Rivers where again it is said they were surprised by an earthquake which I believe is an erroneous interpretation because from some research I conducted, perhaps they did find gold but also some silver or electrum, which was a sign in traditional Akan mining that the spirits were against them and that is probably the reason why they suddenly interrupted the rest of their activities. In 1637 the Dutch made, from Brazil, their final great assault, after a few failures of earlier days, on the Portuguese chief castle at Elmina, putting their guns on Saint Iago Hill which they later fortified with Coenraadsburg Fort. Very shortly afterwards, in 1642, the Portuguese were completely expelled from the whole Gold Coast. However the Dutch had never had as much a monopoly as the Portuguese had had because already we have seen the English had established themselves at Kormantin and very soon the Dutch found the problem of competition from other nations often in the form of so-called �interloper companies� the Dutch sailors who united foreign flags and tried to compete in that way with those who were involved in the official charter company -the West India Company.
      Elmina - footballers canoe
      In the years between 1648-1659 we see particularly the activities of the notorious renegade official of the Dutch West India Company, a Pole by birth called Caerlof. Caerlof who first under Swedish flag established a large number of trade lodges and forts, next door as you can say, to the existing Dutch forts, then returned to Europe, made use of the fact the King of Sweden got himself involved in a war with the Kingdom of Denmark, and returned to the Gold Coast a second time under Danish flag and promptly �conquered� his own establishments! In the end the Dutch inherited back from the Danes most of these trade posts. One of the major results of this episode was the proliferation of new forts. Caerlof built a foundation for Cape Coast Castle - Carolusburg - originally named after Charles X, then King of Sweden; also a fort at Takoradi, Butri, Anomabu and at Osu, the foundation of modern Christiansborg Castle. The episode of Caerlof also led to that extraordinary episode of the Dutch Fort Ruychaver (excuse me for pronunciation) when the Dutch built very far inland, in fact about 40 miles from the coast, a small fort on the right bank of the Ankobra in the middle of the richest gold producing area known then, near modern Prestea, still an important mining town, where they did for sometime a profitable trade. But soon it appeared the trade post was much too isolated. The commander of the fort got into a palaver with some of the chiefs and in the end saw no other solution, since he could not communicate quickly with the coast, than to blow his attackers, together with himself, up! Which was the untimely end of Fort Ruychaver!

      Again after the episode of Caerlof quietness did not last for a long time; soon the Dutch had to face another competition That was when the English decided to set up shop in a bigger way after the Restoration when the new King of England, Charles II, with his friends, decided to dabble a bit in overseas expansion. The early English companies had not been very successful but now they had full financial support and of course, full political support. The result of this was that in 1664 having been annoyed on several occasions by the Dutch, the English decided to send a surprise fleet not only to the Gold Coast but also to the Dutch possessions in America, under one Admiral Holmes. Indeed they were taken by surprise and many of the forts were taken with the exception of Elmina Castle of course. But the Dutch too had their surprise in store for the English because before the English could prepare themselves properly to ward off a counter-attack - all this took place in official peace time! - the Dutch sent Admiral De Ruyter who quickly recovered most of the lost forts and also conquered the original English headquarters at Kormantin, leaving however to the English the former Swedish fort of Carolusburg at Cape Coast.
      Elmina - Angry Fisherman
      It's a very essential episode that happened in 1664-1665 and that affected also you Americans. Because it was in that same naval war that the Dutch also lost New Amsterdam which was named after the Duke of York, brother of Charles II, later James II, who played an important role in overseas expansion as I've said. So New Amsterdam became New York and in revenge the Dutch named the former English fort at Kormantin after Amsterdam - perhaps to make up for the loss of �New Amsterdam�! The Duke of York indeed continued to interest himself in the African enterprise. It was he also who first encouraged the striking of the famous Guineas, the gold coins made of Guinea gold, which were so pure that in fact they became worth more than the official pound sterling. Until quite recently the English used the term �Guinea� to denote the equivalent of 21 shillings.

      In 1672 the Africa trade was put on a new and sounder footing in England with the foundation of the Royal African Company which became the great competitor of the Dutch West Indian Company in this part of the world.  It was this Royal Africa Company which also built here in Accra, James Fort.

      Again there are few Americans who realize that James Fort and New York are actually named after the same person. As if the situation wasn't complicated enough, in the 1680s we get again a new nation establishing itself - the Brandenburg African Company, in fact, another Dutch interloper company, which established a fairly large fort at Princes Town and a few minor stations in Ahanta; highly annoying for the Dutch who up to that time thought the Ahanta area, closest to the gold producing area, was entirely theirs. All this competition was bound to lead to turmoil, also within the interior of the Gold Coast and this we see happen indeed after 1690 when particularly the English and the Dutch got involved in their endlessly complicated series of wars known as the Komenda wars, centered around Komenda where both Dutch and English built a fort within shooting range of each other. Komenda was also described in a famous book by William Bosman which shows how this cut-throat competition not only led to a general involvement of the English and the Dutch in the politics of the immediate interior but also led to a gradual decline in the supply of gold. So that by 1700 in fact the gold trade was so much in decline that Europe had to look also to the Gold Coast for that other great �commodity� from Africa - commodity in quotation marks - slaves. It was only after 1700 that the slave trade became important on the Gold Coast, which, by the Portuguese and also for a long time by the Dutch, was always regarded as unfit for the slave trade. For slave trade you needed war and with war trade paths from the gold mines to the coast could not remain open. We recognize this episode, the chapter of the slave trade, also the construction of the forts with the relatively new extensions in the form of hollow bastions, slave prisons, of which we still find this notorious example in Cape Coast Castle - the dungeons. Around 1700 also, although their competition continued to be unsuccessful, we've seen attempts of the French to penetrate - much feared by the English and Dutch and the Danes and Brandenburgers. Though planned with great grandeur nothing comes out of it but a small wooden fort which lasted only two years. In the late 18th century we find still a number of forts built at the extremes of the Gold Coast - the English at Beyin in Nzima area, the Danes at Keta, Ada, and also a small British fort at Prampram. But the great age of fort building was really over by that time.

      In the 19th century we see again an entirely new development which in a way is back to �square one�! The Portuguese started by building defences mainly on the landside. We see that it again became necessary to build defences on the landside, this time against the invading Asante or, in the case of Elmina, against the Fante, who were the great enemies of Elminas. So around Cape Coast and Elmina we see in the 19th century the construction of a number of fortifications which are really not meant for trade but purely for protection. In fact Coenraadsburg Fort, built in 1665, in the days of Holmes and De Ruyter, is the only fort which was built for defence purposes and not for trade among the forts of Ghana. In the 19th century also we find some attempts for the foundation of plantations. But on the other hand the African trading elite became independent and we see established centers in such places as Axim or Cape Coast or Sekondi of the grand houses of the first independent African traders. The smaller forts began to fall into decay. The castles themselves became now mainly government offices - very little trade is really done there - or army barracks. Cape Coast first was actually, after the departure of the Dutch in 1872, the capital of the Gold Coast. But in 1876 the English moved their capital to Accra and made Christiansborg the seat of government which is what it is up to this very day. Other forts are turned into post offices or rest houses but it's only in around 1950 the state begins again to become officially interested in these buildings and monuments. Now in the 1970s we are getting to the stage where all these forts are being restored. In Cape Coast Castle a museum is going to open very soon, Elmina Castle will be turned into a tourist hostel and most of the other forts will serve as rest houses.

      I think it is nearly time that I stop. But still I would like to say a few words . . . �Stop looking at your watch!� . . . a few words about life in and around the forts because that is something which people visiting these places don't always realize - what was life really like in these forts.

      They are sometimes called ships permanently at anchor in the days of the companies. The whole organization of social life in the forts was very much like that on a ship. Very important, central for the fort, was the flag - very essential that the flag was hoisted very early in the morning and lowered late at night. And also, if you were a trader, to make sure that you went to the right place. Between Cape Coast and Anomabu you had five forts of two or three different nations. If you were just half a mile wrong you could expect to be shot at by the enemy. So it was indeed essential that you clearly showed yourself by your colours. That is also why you find on those old engravings those unbelievable big pieces of textile hanging over these forts.

      Life in the fort was furthermore like on ship - regulated by bells and the hour glass. Bells one may find only in a few places still extant but many of these forts still have bell towers that are now empty - for instance the round tower of Elmina Castle on the northeast side. Then very important like on ships was the firing of salutes. Every time a ship arrived salutes were fired. It is interesting to know that some forts in fact had such excellent natural defences or were so unimportant that they have never fired anything but salutes. Places like Butri had something like twenty cannon but those cannon had never been used for anything other than firing salutes. The commercial and political hierarchy in the forts was parallel to and sometimes coincided with the military hierarchy. Of the companies the West Indian Company was the most permanent - and personally I can tell you more and I feel more confident on that subject rather than on that of the Danish, German or English companies. For the day-to-day government at Elmina the Director-General was assisted by a Council consisting the chief merchant, the fiscal bookkeeper-general, some chief factors; and then he was assisted outside Elmina by factors and sub factors who commanded the minor forts. The council, consisting of the aforementioned, decided on policy of trade and general politics also, as much as it involved making treaties with local chiefs. In fact the director-general and council did constitute a kind of real government and had considerable power, much greater power than any modern trading company acting in this country. Scribes of course had extremely hard work before the days of the typewriter. All important letters had to be made at least in triplo, one copy for the local file, one copy for the directors in Amsterdam - the so-called assembly of 10; and one copy for one of the various chapters of the West Indian Company concerned. The Company was sub-divided in 5 chambers representing the major trading cities in the Netherlands. Also the communications with the Netherlands were extremely slow, particularly the outwards mail from the Gold Coast to Europe which sometimes took more than 1� years because ships could not sail but from the upper coast to the lower coast with the current and the prevailing winds. All of you have been swimming sometimes in the sea here and know that the current is always from the west to the east. When you are looking at the airport all the planes are always taking off against the nearly permanent western winds. So letters from Gold Coast to the Netherlands had to go all the way to the West Indies and sometimes to North America before they reached home.

      And so for instance I sometimes found references to well-known events - for instance to the death of Queen Ann which I believe was in 1714, which was commemorated in a letter written in 1718 because that was the first time they had heard she died - after more than three years! Another incident which is interesting to note how essential it was indeed to sail from the west to the east not the east to the west - in 1641 when the Dutch tried to conquer Axim, where, the Portuguese were still holding out after the Dutch had captured Elmina they sent a small fleet - unwisely in the rainy season when the winds and the current are strongest - in order to capture Axim. But after 4� weeks the commander of this fleet decided to return because he had reached only Takoradi!
      Furthermore social life at the forts must have been extremely dull really. The only way of amusing oneself was drinking and that is probably what has also given the Guinea Coast the name �white man's grave�! - not that the climate was so unhealthy but that people drank themselves to death! Life was extremely, severely regulated. The gates of the castle closed at night at seven; the drawbridges, if they were there, were drawn up. And yet all these preventive measures, did not prevent the rise of a mulatto class. Of course one should not be too hard on the men of those days because there were very few European women around and those that did come either died or were indeed hardly attractive as I understand from descriptions. These women sometimes occupied their free time, and they had lots of free time, with the distribution of large quantities of bibles which I'm afraid were not very much read! There were of course attempts to establish schools in the castles, particularly at Cape Coast and Elmina but again it was not very successful and to my surprise, even in modern works on Ghanaian education, this is stressed far more, these early failures of the early castle schools, than the much more important training which was given in the courtyards - these workshops where many Africans were trained in such useful crafts as carpentry, ship repairing, and gardening. Gardening again was mainly done for the inhabitants of the forts or for the supply for the ships. But at least they had the effect in this country that many new crops were introduced, such as tomatoes, maize, some people even say the better qualities of yam. And these must have originally come from these castle gardens.

      Well I've tried to stay within the limit of time. I'm not sure how clear I've been but at least I hope I've been clear enough to arouse some questions in you.

Van Dantzig, A, Het Nederlandse Aandeel in de Slawenhandel Fibula 1968 (in Dutch)

Elmina and fort Coenraadsburg about the middle of the eighteenth century. From Barbot, Description of the North and South Coast of Guinea, London 1746

credit: Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Den Haag, 61 B 25

Van Danzig, A, (transl), The Dutch and the Guinea Coast, 1674-1742 A collection of Documents from the General State Archives at the Hague. Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences Accra 1978

Van Dantzig, A, Het Nederlandse Aandeel in de Slawenhandel Fibula 1968 (in Dutch)

Jan Pranger, "governor of the Gold Coast." In the background, an African servant. Through the window, in the distance, fort Coenraadsburgh is visible. Painting by Frans van der Mijn, 1742

credit Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Wartemberg, J, Sao Jorge d'El Mina, Premier West African European Settlement: Its traditions and customs (Ilfracombe no date)

  • van Kessel, I (ed.) Merchants, Missionaries & Migrants: 300 years of Dutch-Ghanaian relations. Kit Publishers & Sub-Saharan Publishers, 2002.
    • Authors: E. Kusruri, D. Kpobi, D.K. Arhinful, H. van der Zee, A. Pakosie, J.J. Vrij, N. Everts, V.K. Nyanteng, H. den Heijer, R. van Dijk, A. Perbi, E. Akyeampong, M. Doortmont and I. van Kessel
    • In November 1701, David van Nyendael, an envoy of the Dutch West India Company (WIC) was the first European to visit the royal court in Kumasi, capital of the emerging Ashanti empire in the hinterland of the Gold Coast. Three hundred years of Dutch-Ghanaian relations have passed since then.
    • Merchants, Missionaries and Migrants � 300 years of Dutch � Ghanaian Relations focuses on various aspects of the long-standing and intricate economic, political, cultural and human ties - past and present- between Ghanaians and Dutchmen.

    • Experts from Ghana, the Netherlands, Surinam and Indonesia present their research findings on these issues. These fascinating histories deserve a wide audience. They describe a wide range of topics from Dutch-Ghanaian history: from the trade in gold, ivory and slaves to the cocoa trade; from liaisons between European men and African women in previous centuries to present-day Ghanaian migration to the Netherlands; from the involuntary migration of ten of thousands of slaves to the plantations in Surinam to the little known history of the African soldiers who sailed from Elmina to serve in the Dutch army in the East Indies; and from the role of Dutch genever in Ghanaian ritual to the dramatic life story of Jacobus Capitein, the first black Christian minister to be ordained in the Netherlands.
  • Yarak, Larry W, Asante and the Dutch 1744-1873 Clarendon Press Oxford 1990 (quotations and notes)
    • 15        Introduction of maize at beginning of 19th century 

      9        sika sene, biribi nsen bio: Wealth surpasses everything   sika ne ohene: money is king

      44        Elmina to Kumasi 10 -12 days

      95        In addition to an overriding concern to continue Dutch domination of the Akan trade in exported gold, a major incentive for the Dutch to expand their commercial and military presence in West Africa was the desire to facilitate the procurement of slaves for the sugar plantations of the New World.  In 1734 the West Indian Company lost its monopoly to free Dutch traders in the slave trade as access to the forts was opened to free Dutch traders.  The company's direct participation in the slave trade ended soon thereafter as private trading companies such as the Middelburgsche Commercie Compagne assumed the task of supplying the Dutch plantations in the Caribbean.

      100    From 1735 until its dissolution in 1791 the West Indian company's activities on the Gold Coast were limited to those of an officially sanctioned administration body overseeing the staffing and physical maintenance of the Dutch forts.  However, it remained the responsibility of their personnel at the coast to see to it that sufficient slaves were available for purchase by the free Dutch traders in exchange for licensing fees and a duty on each slave purchased at the forts.  Moreover, from 1754 company employees were allowed to engage in private trade while carrying out their official duties in the forts, a practice that would continue well into the 19th century.  

      100    Dutch slave exports peaked in the 1760s when a total of some 70000 slaves were loaded onto Dutch ships.  In October 1771 -- during previous 12 months 1500-1600 slaves were exported from Elmina. Annual average for 1770s 4900
      Elmina - Fish Basins
    Yarak, L.W. , Murder and theft in early nineteenth century Elmina, Symposium on rebellion and social protest in Africa: (1981), 27 p..
    • Summary : This study is based on the records of the Dutch coastal administration's Council of Senior Officials, covering the period between 1815-1830. They provide fascinating and often vivid glimpses into otherwise obscure conditions of life. At a more analytical level, however, these records document significant aspects of social tension within Elmina's class structure. The cases dealt with involve theft, and murder, attempted murder of conspiracy to commit murder. Notes.


Ancient Dutch forts and castles in Ghana http://www.ambaccra.nl/pages/c_forts.html
300 years diplomatic relations Netherlands - Ghana http://www.ambaccra.nl/pages/c_history.html
Michel Doortmont's website

Ancient Dutch and Portuguese Forts

Boxer, C. R, The Dutch in Brazil
Boxer, Q The Dutch Seaborne Empire 1600-1800 London 1965
Brukum, N. J. K., African European Relations on the Gold Coast 1791-1844 (thesis)
Doortmont,  Michel R. and Natalie Everts, 'Vrouwen, familie en eigendom op de Goudkust. Afrikaanse en Europese systemen van erfrecht in Elmina, 1760-1860' in: Geld & Goed.
Jaarboek voor Vrouwengeschiedenis 17 (Amsterdam: Stichting beheer IISG 1997), pp.114-130
. ['Women, family, and property on the Gold Coast. African women and European systems of inheritance in Elmina, 1760-1860']
Doortmont, Michel R., Th. van Bakergem, and A.E.M. Landheer-Roelants, 'Van Bakergem -St. George d'Elmina (Goudkust, West Afrika)' in: Nederlandse Genealogie�n 12 (1998), in press. [Genealogical study of the Ghanaian-Dutch Van Bakergem family.]
Doortmont, Michel R., Natalie Everts and Jean-Jacques Vrij, 'Tussen de Goudkust, Nederland en Suriname. De Euro-Afrikaanse families Van Bakergem, Woortman, Ruhle en Huydecoper', forthcoming. ['Between the Gold Coast, the Netherlands and Surinam: The Euro-African families Van Bakergem, Woortman, Ruhle, and Huydecoper'; a family history and genealogy of four Dutch-Ghanaian families from the 18th and 19th centuries.]
Emmer, P, The History of the Dutch Slave Trade: A Bibliographical Survey. Journal of Economic History 32/3 (1972)
Lawrence, A.W. Trade Castles and Forts of West Africa (London: Jonathan Cape 1963)
Lever, JT, The Dutch in Guinea 1792-1816 MA Thesis
Postma, Johannes. The Dutch in the Atlantic slave trade, 1600-1815. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
van Dantzig, Albert , Forts and Castles of Ghana (Accra: Sedco Publishing Ltd 1980).
Van Danzig, A, (transl), The Dutch and the Guinea Coast, 1674-1742 A collection of Documents from the General State Archives at the Hague. Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences Accra 1978
Van Dantzig, A, Het Nederlandse Aandeel in de Slawenhandel Fibula 1968 (in Dutch)
Van Dantzig, A, The Dutch Military Recruitment Agency in Kumasi Ghana Notes and Queries 8 214 1966
Yarak, Larry W, Asante and the Dutch 1744-1873 Clarendon Press Oxford 1990
Weijtingh, D.P.H.J. 'Achttien jaren aan de Goudkust, door Brodie Cruickshank; uit het Engels vertaald en met eene inleiding vermeerderd' (Amsterdam 1855). [This book is a translation in Dutch of the book by the British official Brodie Cruickshank, Eighteen Years on the Gold Coast, first published in 1853. Weijtingh's new introduction to the book deals with the history and organization of the Dutch possessions.]

Who Do You Think You Are: Hugh Quarshie

Tonight BBC 1 broadcast the Hugh Quarshie episode of the Who Do You Think You Are series 7. It was my privilege to contribute to the programme in several ways, advising the team, as well as providing materials and contacts. For me the story was not new. Already in 1995, as part of a research project into the Dutch historical presence in Ghana, I visited the Kamerling House in Elmina and Abii village. I met several of the family members and was impressed by their knowledge of their family history. 

On my return home,I contacted Eric Kamerling, whom I had known for many years as a fellow genealogist. He showed me the photos and papers from Ghana and told me the story of his great-grand-uncle Pieter Martinus Johannes Kamerling, who went to Africa and had a family there. It is a thrilling story and it was very nice to relive and re-tell it with Hugh and the Wall-to-Wall production team. 
Hugh Quarshie's grandparents, William Reginald Phillips and Beatrice, at their wedding.

Obviously, as is the case with all television documentaries, the story is bigger than the small screen allows for. Additional info on some of the stars from the programme is available in the Gold Coast Data Base. Work on a more complete publication is in progress but requires additional research, both in The Netherlands and Ghana.

One issue brought up in the programme can be addressed here already.

In the episode one of the mysteries is the name of Pieter Kamerling's wife. In family tradition she is called Efua Yenkye (pronounced 'Yentshee'; mis-spelled on the family tree as 'Jensch'). In the Dutch documents she is called Ellen van der Spek, and even signs a document with that name. On screen I say that in my opinion the two ladies are one and the same. It now turns out from new evidence that Efua Yenkye (aka Janet van der Spek) was Pieter's first wife in Ghana. He fell out with her over money and other matters and Janet took Pieter to court over the dispute. It meant the end of that relationship. About a year later he was married to Ellen, in all probability Janet's sister, with whom - as the programme showed so vividly - he had a loving relationship that survived their separation. 

Photo's courtesy of Eric Kamerling, Vorden (NL)

                                     Mrs Yvonne Nduom

   Kat Tachie menson and Doris selling fish

              Nana Yaa, Candace and Doris in Elmina

Elmina - The Parrot Clan


  1. Dear Sir, I am looking for some information of a grand grand father who died there 23 march 1895, was an english officier called Cecil Ridley Mallaby, have you ever heard about him? I can share info, can you send me email to corrado.beldi@leca.it, please? thanks. Corrado

  2. Edina people are pure Fanti the founder kwa Amankwa has an akan name so it is clear he was an Akan name.

  3. Mr Mo Brown, with all due respect, I must emphatically state, by virtue of the example of my own maternal family history, that the author is absolutely correct about the origins of the people of Elmina. You offered no proof otherwise, and your argument about the name Kwa Amankwaa being of Akan origin and thus indicating the Akan origin of the Edinafo is flawed. There are even Ga chiefs with Akan names and there are also Eveh ("Ewe") people with Akan names. Even the people of Cape Coast / Oguaa are not originally Mfantsefo! The people of Sekondi-Takoradi are Ahanta but you'd never know unless you ventured into the surrounding villages where Ahanta is still spoken! The author's assertion is spot on and has helped me be better informed and understand my own matrilineal genealogy better. My maternal family, while having resided at Elmina for centuries, originally came from the Winneba area - according to family lore - when the Portuguese Castle was being built. There are still family ties to the Winneba area where relatives still speak Efutu! And there are ties between us all in Ghana and the West African sub-region.What seems like totally distinct and disparate groups is often betrayed by linguistic similarities. How do you explain the similarity between the royal titles of the many different groups in Ghana: Nana, Nene, Na (as in e.g. Tolon-na), Naba, Wura (Lord in Akan, Overlord in Gonja e.g. Yagbon-wura)...? In Wolof (Senegal) lion is "Djata". In Akan (Ghana) Djata is tiger!!! Does the ancient Ghana Empire ring a bell?


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