THE GOLD COAST (GHANA) IN THE NNETEENTH CENTURYRelations Between The Asante, Fante And The British
The central theme of the history of the Gold Coast (Ghana) for a considerable part of the nineteenth century was the hostilities between the Asante on one side and the Fante and their British allies on the other. After a lull in the wars betw3en the Fante and the Asante, the latter, under the leadership of Osei Bonsu (1801 - 1824) resumed their assault on the Fante in 1806 and repeated it in 1811, 1814 - 16, 1823 - 24. The two sides also fought in 1826, 1863, 1869 1873, 1874 and 1900. Perhaps what needs to be ascertained is: why these incessant wars which mostly ended with Asante emerging victorious?Causes of the Asante - Fante wars
By the beginning of the nineteenth century, nearly the entire area of modern Ghana, save the Fante Confederacy of states which occupied the stretch of land from the mouth of the Pra River to the Ga kingdom, was under Asante dominion (see map on page 55). The states of the Confederacy thus seemed to be the ’only stumbling block’ between Asante and the exercise of ’absolute jurisdiction’ over the entire country. The continued existence of these independent Fante states was therefore seen by the Asante not only as irritating but an affront to their expansionist and economic desires. Under the circumstance, these states became targets of Asante invasion. Another issue that continued to irritate Asante and thus became the cause for war was that, in the eighteenth and early decades of the nineteenth centuries, the Fante continued to deny the Asante direct access to the coastal trade, though appeals had come from both the British and the Dutch to ’that effect. Having already gained direct access to the coastal areas from Apollonia to the Pra and from Accra to the River Volta in the mid- eighteenth century, and in possession of ivory and gold (two important commodities needed by the Europeans), the Asante saw the stance taken by the Fante who were also bent on maintaining their middleman position in the trade between the Europeans and the inland people, as repugnant.
The Fante preferred to trade with the former at inland markets such as Fosu and Manso while the Asante wanted to be in Cape Coast and Anomabo, the most important trading centres on the coast. What even worsened the resentment of Asante was the fraudulent behaviour of the Fante traders. As related by the Asantehene, Osei Bonsu to Bowdich in 1817, the Fante traders bought pure gold from their Asante counterparts and mixed it with other base metals before selling them to the Europeans. They thus caused the impression among European traders that the fraud was being perpetrated by the Asante who were the main source of supply from the interior. Similar ’crimes’ were committed against the Asante as the Fante reduced the sizes of handkerchiefs and adulterated rum and gunpowder (commodities obtained from the Europeans) before selling them to the Asante. To worsen matters, the Fante developed the habit of plundering Asante traders, compelling them (Asante) to resort to the closure of their trade routes in’ retaliation. These developments stretched the Asante beyond tolerable limits and they felt obliged to invade the Fante as the best option to remove this menace.
Another politico-commercial reason for the wars was the desire of Asante to assure themselves of regular supplies of firearms through their ally-Elmina, whose close links with the Dutch allowed the Asante to have access to the Elmina castle where they obtained most of their supplies of European goods, especially arms and ammunition. The independence and security of Elmina was thus of prime concern to the Asante. On the other hand, the Fante saw the friendship between Elmina (which occasionally was sandwiched between two Fante allied states - Eguafo and Komenda) as a serious threat to their commercial interest and security, and therefore attempted to break the friendship and absorb her (Elmina) throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. As expected, the slightest sign of Fante threat to the survival of Elmina was going to attract counter action by the Asante. This was the exact situation that occurred when the Asante had to invade the coast in 1811 when Elmina and Accra came under siege from the Fantes for lending support to the Asante in 1807.
Yet another reason was the determination of Asante to jealously guard her empire which had been ’bequeathed’ to her by forebears like Osei Tutu and Opoku Ware I. They therefore had to ensure that all revolts were suppressed. Moreover, they had to establish law and order in the empire in the face of Fante intrigues against Asante overlordship. That apart, the Fante encouraged and offered assistance to Asante vassal states such as Wassa and Denkyira whenever I they’rebelled against Asante dominion. The Fante did provoke the anger of the Asante by refusing to hand over 1 fugitives from Asante justice. Assin, which was under Asante, was ruled by 1 three chiefs: Kwadwo Otibu and Kwaku Aputae ruled Assin Atandaso, - the I western section, and the eastern section, Assin Apemaniin, was under Amo I Adae. One of Amo Adae’s sub-Chiefs died and various gold ornaments were I buried with him as is customary. The funeral was attended by a relative of I Kwaku Aputae, who afterwards came secretly to loot the grave. Not satisfied with Kwaku Aputae and Kwadwo Otibu’s atiiiude when the crime was ueiecieu, Amo petitioned the Asantehene who gave judgement in his favour. Kwaku Aputae was therefore to pay compensation to the plaintiff*. Aputae, however , managed to escape from the court of the Asantehene. This angered Amo Adae who took matters in his own hands and invaded Assin Atandaso. Irie war was indecisive and another attempt was made by the Asantehene to settle the matter and thus ordered the two belligerents to cease fighting. This was complied with by the two warring factions, but as Amo Adae was returning to Assin from the Moinsi hills near Obuasi where he had withdrawn following the Asantehene’s intervention, Aputae treacherously attacked and completely defeated him. Moreover, in Aputae’s exultation of his victory, he executed the messengers of the Asantehene.
This infuriated the Asantehene who decided to punish Aputae. Aputae managed to convinced Kwaku Otibu to lend his support and the two Chiefs advanced to meet the Asante army. At Kyikyiwere, they were completely defeated and their armies driven across the Pra- The two chiefs fled Assin and took refuge in Fanteland, first at Asikuma and later at Abora, the capital of the Fante Confederation. The Asantehene sent messengers demanding that the two Chiefs be given up. However, the Council of Fante Chiefs and their advisers decided to shelter the two Assin figitives to defy the Asantehene. This did not go down well with the Asante as they already had grounds to quarrel with the Fante for the assistance they had offered to the Assin against Osei Kojo. Moreover, the Fante killed the messengers who were sent by the Asantehene. War was thus declared and the Asante army defeated the main Fante army in May 1806 at Abora.
And in 1814-16, the Asante invaded the coastal region pushing as far as Cape Coast and Accra, to suppress the rebellion of the rulers of Akyem Abuakwa and Akuapem; because they had taken refuge among the Fante after being defeated by the Asante army. On the part of the Asante, they did exhibit their military might by defeating the British several times. At the Battle of Nsamankow (January 21, 1824), they defeated the British forces led by Governor Sir Charles MacCarthy who was killed and his head was severed and taken to Kumasi as war trophy. No fewer than 186 members of the militia were also killed. At another battle at Efutu, a combined force of Denkyira and British troops suffered defeat at the hands of the Asante. Then in 1863, the British West Indian Regiment was humiliated in the Asikuma and Bobikuma battles. The British in turn won victories over Asante who they humiliated on August 1, 1826 at the Battle of Akatamanso (near Dodowa). British response to the Asante invasion of the Coast in 1873 also led to the defeat of the latter in January i 874 by a combined force of British West Indian and African troops led by Major-General Sir Gamet Wolseley. Kumasi was burnt and a treaty - The Treaty of Fomena ’ was imposed on Asante on March 14, 1874. Then in January 1896, the vanguard of British forces took over Kumasi. Prempeh I was taken hostage together with the Queen Mother and a number of important Chiefs and sent to first, the Elmina castle, then Sierra Leone, and finally to the Seychelles Island in 1900. In 1902, Asante was annexed to the British Colony of the Gold Coast after being once again defeated in the Yaa Asantewaa War of 1900.Causes of the Anglo - Asante wars
The British became directly involved in the age-long hostilities between the Asante and the southern states for several reasons. Economic considerations seemed to be perhaps the major reason for the Anglo-Asante wars. The first of the economic reasons is that, should they (British) allow the Asante to control the whole of the coast, the Asante would be placed in a stronger position not only to dictate the terms of trade, but would in all certainty, continue to invade the coastal states on tlie slightest provocation. The British saw this situation as potentially disturbing and likely to affect all 1 commercial activities on the coast; they wanted to avoid this. It was because of this that in 1825 Governor Turner called upon the Asantehene to give up all claims to tribute and authority over the coastal states. Though the Asante were I prepared to give in to such claims provided the British could exercise some level of control over the coastal states and thereby allow them easy access to the coastal trade, the British seemed reluctant to otter any such guarantees due to the fact that, they could not afford the financial commitment involved in such an exercise. This created an ugly scene as the British were neither prepared to check the coastal states nor give room for the Asante to protect their own I interests. A volatile situation was thus created for the two sides to clash over their interests.
By the third decade of the nineteenth century, the British merchants on the coast had become convinced that Asante was the most formidable force disturbing trade on the coast. The total destruction of Asante power was thus seen as the surest way to ensure peaceful trade and more importantly, open up the interior where vast resources, including gold, could be exploited. The merchants therefore urged the Home Government to take action against the! Asante. Yet another issue was the Anglo-Dutch exchange of forts. On 5 ’ March, 1867, the British and Duicii arranged io exchange some of iiieir forts in order to divide the coastline into a Dutch and British stretch, and get rid of inconvenience of having Dutch and British forts mixed together. By a Convention which was to take effect from Isl January, 1868, (the two parties, using the Sweet River, lying east of Elmina as the line of demarcation), the British ceded to the Dutch tour forts - Beyin (Apollonia), Dixcove, Sekondi and Komenda (located west of the Sweet River) together with the ’protectorate’ over Denkyira and Wassa and received in exchange, the Dutch forts at Moree, Kormantse, Apam and Dutch Accra (located east of the Sweet River). This development called for the transfer of allegiance of all the affected tribes to another ’government’ for which, at least, they had no special preference. For Denkyira and Wassa, it placed them at the mercy of the Asante, against whom they had been in arms as British allies during the last war, and with whom no peace had yet been concluded. Komenda was also to come under Dutch jurisdiction after being long time ’allies’ of the British.
Komenda resented this as she saw it as a prelude to the occupation of the fort areas by ihe Asante, the traditional allies of the Dutch and Elmina. In their attempt to exact their acquiescence, the Dutch bombarded Komenda, to capture the town. Komenda however managed to repulse the attack, plundered the Elmina villages and carried guerilla warfare right up to the outskirts of Elmina. The Fante states, together with Denkyira and Wassa, then decided to come together in aid of Komenda against the Dutch and Elmina. The Fante army succeeded to blockade Elmina. By all considerations, this was a threat to Asante interests and therefore they decided to invade the coast between 1869 and 1873 to offer assistance to their allies, especially when the Governor-in-Chief, Sir Arthur Kennedy had in October 1868 informed the Fante Chiefs that they could do what they liked against Elmina for their refusal to give up their alliance with Asante.
The wars couid aiso be traced to the enmity created between the two due to Britain refusal to honour the castle ’Notes’ to the Asante. Actually, an agreement existed between the British and the Fante and their allies through what was referred to as castle ’Notes’.4 By reason of the defeat of Denkyira in 1700 and the subsequent acquisition of the ’Notes’ for Elmina castle and the three forts at Accra, Asante saw the payment of the rent as an obligation owed them by the British as they had now become the masters of the coastal states. This demand, as already indicated, was unacceptable to the British, creating animosity between the two Humanitarian considerations could also be assigned for the hostilities. Ihe British officials and missionaries had the conviction that their quest to have Christianity and Western education firmly planted among the people could only be achieved in iiie atmosphere of peace. They therefore had io bring pressure upon the Home Government to take the necessary steps to destroy the source of disturbances - in this case Asante, so that Christianity and Western education could be introduced and the slave trade finally destroyed in the interior of the country as the Asante were considered as a barbarous slave-trading people whose presence could lead to the revival of the trade. As observed by Governor Hill iri the 1840s, ’a contest with the Asante, and the destruction of that power would not only be a war of humanity and civilisation, but would open the interior of this country to mercantile enterprise, and under the yoke of that bloodthirsty people to enjoy the blessings of a mild government’.
British ignorance of or deliberate refusal to give recognition to Asante laws and customs, was another cause of conflict. For example, the Asante invasion of the coastal states in 1863, was the outcome of Governor Richard Pine’s refusal to hand over an Asante fugitive, Kwasi Gyani, who refused to send to the Asantehene, a gold nugget he had found.5 Kwasi Gyani’s behaviour was in clear violation of Asante laws and custom (which obliged him to do so); yet, Governor Pine did not appreciate the serious nature of this act because there was no sufficient proof of his guilt, especially when Gyani was wealthy and had denied the accusation. Moreover, he did not believe that Gyani would have a fair trial and would not be killed if found guilty. His attitude precipitated war when Asante marched to the coast in March 1863 to capture Gyani. Moreover, Sir Charles MacCarthy had contempt tor the Asantehene whom he consistently described as ’this barbarian chief, an utterance which under traditional law, carried very heavy punishment. Had the British appreciated and given due recognition to Asante laws and customs this war, for instance, would have been avoided.
The wars were also fought because of what Asante considered unjustified British interference in her political game-plan. The Asante had the feeiing that they had the right not oniy to execute their expansionist programme, but ensure their full participation in the coastal trade without any hindrance by any ’foreign’ power. Thus, when under Sir Charles MacCarthy the British fought them in the Battle of Nsamankow, they took the British action as having joined in their hostilities with the southern states and therefore now a belligerent which ought to be dealt with. Results of the wars
The wars led to the break up of the Asante empire. What held the Asante together, apart from the Golden Stool, was her military might. However, as a result of the crushing defeat at the hands of the British in 1826 and 1874, her military power became completely paralysed and consequently, it led to the disintegration of her empire. The southern states: Denkyira, Wassa, Akyem, and Accra reassserted their independence, which was given recognition by the Asante in the Treaty of Fomena. Similarly, the vassal states in the north, namely; Gonja, Dagomba, Gyaman and Krachi also regained their independence. Thus the great Asante empire had by 1874 been reduced into its original metropolitan Asante.
Furthermore, the wars led to the British gaining the upper hand in every sphere of life along the coast. This ensured peaceful and legitimate commercial activities. Asante was finally annexed and. incorporated into the British colony of the Gold Coast in 1902. With the defeat of Asante and the consequent long period of peace (between 1828 and 1860 and after 1874), Christian missionary activities, Western education and other social developments were pursued without hindrance as the ’trouble maker’ - Asante, was no more. Another effect of the wars was the exile; of Nana Prempeh I to the Seychelles Island in 1900. He was only brought back in 1924 due to die influence of Governor Guggisberg but without the coveted title (position) of Asantehene as he was now referred to only as Kumasihene. The effects on the Fante states was that they became more united to shove off the continued threats from Asante. This unity manifested itself in the formation of the Fante Confederation in 1868. Again, Britain gradually gained considerable influence over the Fante and other coastal stages which led to the annexation of the southern states in 1874 as the British colony of the Gold Coast. From the year of reference,’ the Colony was administered separately from the colony of Sierra Leone. Perhaps the last effect of the wars was that the name of Yaa Asantewaa came to be printed in letters of gold in the annals of the history of Ghana. Without any exaggeration, she is looked upon as a woman patriot- a heroine for that matter, who stood against British imperialism. THE ADMINISTRATION OF CAPTAIN GEORGE MACLEAN
Though the British defeated Asante in the Battle of Akatamanso (near Dodowa) in 1826, a decision was taken to withdraw from the Gold Coast in 1828. Really, with the numerous and costly Asante wars between 1807 and 1826, the failure to have peace restored between the Asante and Fante in spite of mediation trips of Bowdich and Dupius to Kumasi in 1817 and 1819 respectively, the declining trend in trade, high mortality rate among the garrisons at the forts and the increasing expenditure on the running of the forts6 the British had become disillusioned and were now convinced, in the words of one of the Governors, that, ’there never could be any adequate national recompense for the sacrifice, either as regard commerce, civilisation or religious instruction’, the best option thus was to withdraw. This however ran contrary to the views of the British merchants trading in Ghana who accepted the challenge to maintain the presence of the British in the country. According to Cruickshank, the merchants, "...had too much at stake ever to dream of abandoning their houses and their trade’. In the circumstances, the Crown accepted their plea and handed over British Settlements on the Gold Coast to the Committee of London Merchants who would be assisted in the administration of the forts by a Council of five members elected by British merchants who had been resident on the coast for a minimum of one year. The Council, which was to be based in Cape Coast was to limit its jurisdiction to the forts of Accra and Cape Coast and stay neutral in any local affair. It was to have a President as its head. The British government was to grant them a subsidy of £4000 per annum for the upkeep and defense of the forts.
Maclean was appointed President of the Council in October 1829, but took office on February 19, 1830, when he arrived in Cape Coast. He remained in this position till 1843, when he was made Judicial Assessor. He died in 1847. Though one of the ablest, he was nevertheless the most maligned British administrator that the country has ever had. Perhaps we could get a better impression" about him if we quote at length, an observation made on his character by Cruickshank who served under him. He wrote: "Calm and deliberate in forming a judgment, and carefully canvassing in his own mind all the bearings of every subject under review, his caution in coming to a conclusion appeared to a superficial observer to amount almost to timidity. He listened with attention to and courted the discussion of every argument, which could be adduced on both sides of a question; not with the intention of adopting the views of either disputant, but of quietly storing his mind with all its pros and cons, and of afterwards submitting them to the ordeal of private rumination. Opinions thus formed, became a portion of his faith, which it was next to impossible to shake. In proportion to the strength of his conviction, was the decision which he displayed in carrying out his resolutions. Once fully satisfied that the course which he was pursuing was morally correct, and that he was adopting measures most likely to lead eventually to beneficial results, he shrank from no difficulty in the path. Endowed with an extraordinary degree of moral courage, and with a persevering firmness which failures never daunted, he steadily prosecuted his schemes, convinced that sooner or later the result would answer his expectation; for he had a most abiding belief in the overruling direction of Providence. While enemies were maligning his conduct, blackening his fame, and attributing motives and actions to him which his heart had never conceived, strong in conscious rectitude, his constant reply to his anxious friends was: ’I assure you, this gives me no uneasiness at all; sooner or later the truth will appear, and God would never permit such wickedness to prosper’.Achievements
On his assumption to office, Maclean realised that before trade could be that a peace agreement should be signed between the Asante on one hand and the Fante and their allies on the other. He therefore turned his whole attention to the accomplishment of this objective and his efforts came to fruition when on April! 27, 1831, the Chiefs of the coastal states and Asante or their accredited representatives signed the Treaty of Peace (see details as foot note on page 74-75) at the Great Hall of Cape Coast Castle. The Treaty ensured the prevalence of peace among the signatories as Maclean made sure that all the parties observed its terms. He also saw to the peaceful co-existence among the chiefs of the southern states. This was achieved by arbitrating in cases between disputing states. For instance, he settled the disputes between Wassa and Denkyira and1 Akuapem and Krobo in 1833. Where he felt some amount offeree needed to be! applied to keep a Chief in check, he did not hesitate to resort to it. Thus when Kweku Ackah, the Chief of Apollonia at Nzema refused to end his slave trading and raiding activities (which captains of ships calling at the coast of Apollonia and the Chief of Wassa had cause to make a series of complaints abouty Maclean, using garrisons of the forts together with a detachment lent by Colonel Lans, die Dutch Governor and assisted by forces on board Her Majesty’s ship, Britomart, attacked Ackah and defeated him in 1835. Ackah was made to pay all the expenses of the expedition and to deposit a large sum in gold at the Castle as security for his future conduct. Maclean’s action increased the opinion of the people of his determination to punish evil doers at any cost and that he was a perfect friend of all.
To maintain law and order, Maclean used members of the local militia] who numbered about sixty men as policemen. They were stationed in each of the principal towns throughout the coastal states and the interior.. And to ensure social justice among the populace, Maclean set up courts at Dixcove, Anomabo and Accra where cases of all kinds - civil and criminal, were handled. At the courts, justice was cheaply and impartially administered, either in strict accordance with Akan customary law, or in cases which called for the application of severe penalties, a compromise between the customary law and British law was adopted. The popularity in the administration of justice ’ manifested by the number of appeals from the Chiefs’ courts to Maclean who retried the cases and imposed sentences on Chiefs who proved guilty of misconduct. The courts’ credibility was enhanced through visits by Maclean who most often, sat through their proceedings. Apart from the administration of impartial and temperate justice, the courts enabled Maclean to contribute towards the eradication of many superstitions, such as the belief in witchcraft and inhuman treatment like panyarring and human sacrifice by appealing to the conscience of the people and his expression of contemptuous ridicule of these beliefs and practices. The courts, too, were frequently attended by the Chiefs of the outlying districts with their retinues, so that in course of time, Maclean’s ideas of justice was well known and widely disseminated throughout the country. Maclean took advantage of the peace and security in the country to promote legitimate trade and missionary activities. The manufacture of palm oil was encouraged and by the end of his term of office, had become the leading export of the Gold Coast. He also introduced cowrie shells for the first time as a medium of exchange for small quantities of oil and other articles of trifling value which had hitherto been paid for, either in gold-dust or trade goods. Many British, satisfied with the new conditions, returned to the Gold Coast to engage in lucrative commercial activities. Fante traders also benefited by opening new trade outlets in the interior. Maclean’s success in this sphere could well be appreciated by looking at imports through the British forts which rose from the 831 figure of £130,851 3,s 11 V2 d. (approximately £131, 000) to £423,170 in 1840, while exports increased from £90,282 9s. 6d. (approximately £90,300) to £9,325,508 within the same period.
It was during Maclean’s administration that the first serious attempt7 was made to introduce Christianity among the people of the Gold Coast. He had the opinion that there was a favourable opening among the people for missionary work. As a Governor, he provided accommodation (pending finding a suitable residence) at the Cape Coast castle for the first missionary of the Wesleyan Mission, Rev. Joseph Dunwell, when he arrived in the Gold Coast in 1834. Also, Thomas Birch Freeman of the Wesleyan Mission received all the needed encouragement from him and by 1841, the Mission had succeeded in setting up thirteen stations, including one in Asante and started schools at Anomabo and Accra. The Basel Mission which was operating in the eastern districts made similar strides in the period under reference.
There is little doubt that Maclean’s work was a tremendous success; for , by 1840 he had not only succeeded in commanding the respect and love of the people, but more importantly, he restored and preserved peace, good order, and the establishment of general security and prosperity throughout the whole country, to an extent which had never been experienced before. Yet, he was The Gold coast (Ghana) in the nineteenth century criticised for alleged connivance with slave traders and exercising illegal jurisdiction over ihe coasiai dwellers. Following ihese reporis and continued agitation against Maclean, the Home Government commissioned Dr. R. R. Madden to enquire into and report on the state of the British Settlements on the West Coast. He arrived on February 19, 1841 and left on March 26, 1841. Though Dr. Madden’s report, ( Maclean accused him of using only one day to arrive at its conclusions), was very critical of him, the Select Committee of the House of Commons produced a report (after Dr. Madden had submitted his) which fully endorsed Maclean’s administration. Having assured themselves of the existence of basic structures for effective governance, the Crown ’regularised’ the ’irregular jurisdiction exercised by Maclean by appointing Commander Hill as Lieutenant Governor in 1843.RESUMPTION OF CONTROL BY THE CROWN:1843
Acting upon the recommendations by the Select Committee, the British Government resumed direct administration of British forts on the Gold Coast in 1843. The Settlements were placed under the control of the Governor of Sierra Leone and a company of the West Indian Regiment was sent from Sierra Leone to garrison the forts. Commander Hill was appointed Lieutenant Governor and Captain Maclean was made Judicial Assessor, whose powers were to be derived from the Foreign Jurisdiction Act of 1843.The Bond of 1844
The British government now committed itself to regularising its jurisdiction over the coastal states. To this end, Commander Hill, assisted by Maclean, signed a bond in 1844 with a number of Chiefs. This became known as the ’Bond’ of 1844. The chiefs who signed the document on its inception were: Kwadwo Tibu of Denkyira, Kwesi Otu of Abora, Tibo Kuma and Gyambra (both of Assin), Kwesi Anka of Domadze, Awusi of Dominase, Amoonu of Anomabo and Joseph Aggrey of Cape Coast. Between March and December, 1844, ten more Chiefs signed the document. They were those of Twifo, Ekumfi, Ajumako, Gomoa, Asikuma, Nsaba, Wassa Amenfi, Wassa Fiase, Dixcove and James Town. Commander Hill signed on behalf of the Crown. The convention in its full, contained three clauses. They were:
- Whereas power and jurisdiction have been exercised for and on behalf or Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, within diverse countries and places adjacent to her Majesty’s forts and settlements on the Gold Coast, we, chiefs of countries and places so referred to ... do hereby acknowledge that power and jurisdiction, and declare that the first objects of law are the protection of individuals and of property.
- Human sacrifices, and other barbarous customs, such as panyarring are abominations and contrary to law.
- Murders, robberies, and other crimes and offences, will be tried and inquired of before the Queen’s judicial officers and the chiefs of the districts, moulding the customs of the country to the general principles of British law.
- Done at Cape Coast Castle, before his Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor on the 6* day of March, in the year of our Lord, 1844.
The significance of the Bond was that it formally gave legal backing to the illegal jurisdiction that had already been in place and supervised by Maclean. In effect, it sigiiified the first official moves by Britain to assure herself of control over the Gold Coast. It also lajd down the foundation for the /official adoption of the British legal system in the coastal states. As observed by Dr. J. B. Danquah, with the signing of the Bond, the Chiefs accepted for themselves a more advanced system of state management to meet the expectations of a complex and growing society made possible by their contact with people from a differently organised state set up, with its own values. All went well with the presence of Maclean as Judicial Assessor. However, on his death in 1847, he was replaced by a Chief Justice who began to try cases according to British law only and to the exclusion of chiefs. There were therefore a series of protests in the late 1850s.
The Bond also forged a closer relationship between the British and the coastal states. This made it possible for the people to request for modern amenities such as schools, roads, and hospitals. There was therefore the need to find some means to generate revenue to cater for the expected projects. It must however be stressed that, the Bond never transferred the sovereignty of the coastal states to the British Crown as suggested by some historians.The Poll Tax Ordinance (1850-1861)
As already pointed out, the Bond of 1844 led to the growth of British influence on the coastal people who began to demand amenities from the former. This entailed more expenditure by the British. Moreover, by Letters Patent of 24th of January i 850, the Gold Coasi was separated from Sierra Leone and ihus came to have a separate government, with a Governor, Executive Council and a nominated Legislative Council to manage its affairs. This called for extra money. Yet, the financial grant from the Home Government was only £4000 and therefore the need to raise more money to match increasing government commitments from local resources became unavoidable. The government would have wished to raise customs duties on imports. This could however not be done because the Danes who also operated on the coast had to give their consent (they had refused to co-operate in levying a duty on imported spirits). To raise the duties unilaterally might result in the diversion of trade to Danish ports.
To the relief of the Crown, the Danes who had since .1849 expressed their desire to dispose of their possessions on the Gold Coast (it was costing them £4000 per annum to maintain them) finally sold them to the British for £10,000 in 1850.9 This Was a favourable opportunity for the British to impose uniform customs duties. Though the Danes had left, the Dutch still remained, and, by their refusal to co-operate,10 rendered the collection of revenue by this means quite hopeless. Their settlements were too scattered along the coast and so intermixed with those of the British that, it would have been impossible to prevent wholesale smuggling. The hope of raising revenue through customs duties was not realised until 1872 when the Dutch also sold their forts to the British." Unfortunately, trading did not witness any appreciable growth and so customs duties could not meet the expected revenue target. In fact, so poor was the revenue level that the Governor reported that there were no funds available to pay the salaries of the Commanders at Anomabo, Winneba, Keta, Dixcove and the Collector of Customs, some of whom were "in real want". The situation called for urgent action and as the anxiety over the issue continued to grow, Lord Grey, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, suggested the financial contribution of the people, at least, as a gesture for the ’protection’ given them by the British. Consequently, the new Governor, Major Stephen J. Hill called a meeting of ’the more powerful and important Chiefs’ at Cape Coast on April 19, 1852 to consult with the Governor and resolved itself into a ’Legislative Assembly’ with full powers to enact such laws as it shall deem fit for effective governance. The Assembly was to be legally recognised by the British Government, and the Governor as President, had the power to assemble, prorogue or adjourn it. All its enactments, once approved by the Governor and given the Royal Assent, were to become immediately the law of the territory, which bound the whole population under British control.
The meeting then declared that in consideration of the advantages derived from "the protection afforded them by Her Majesty’s Government" ii was within reason to suggest the payment of taxes; and it voted a poll tax of one shilling per head, for every man, woman and child living within the area under British jurisdiction. The Chiefs agreed, in return for stipends, to assist the collectors, both in taking a census of the population and in the collection of the tax. Soon after the Cape Coast meeting, the Governor held another meeting with the Kings of Accra, Christiansborg, Akyem, Akuapem and Krepi and other Chiefs of the eastern districts at Christiansborg. James Bannerman - die Civil Commandment, explained the Ordinance to the Chiefs, who agreed to its provisions. The Poll Tax Ordinance was subsequently passed in April 1852. Out of the expected annual revenue of £20,000 the amount collected in 1853 was £7,567,6^ Id. This steadily declined from the 1853 figure to only £1,552 3.s 4’/2 d. in 1861 after which it was stopped. The total amount collected between 1853 and 1861, was £30,286 10s M.
The question to ask is how can one explain the people’s unwillingness to pay the tax? After all, apart from administrative expenses and the Chiefs’ stipends, whatever the people paid was to ’... be devoted to the public good in the education of the people, in the general improvement and extension of the judicial system, in affording greater facilities of internal communication, increased medical aid , and such other measures of improvement and utility as the state of the social progress may render necessary ..." - in a nutshell, to improve upon their own lives; yet, the people refused to honour the tax. To start with, the Chiefs erred by not consulting their subjects on such an important issue as the payment of tax. Customary law demands that the people must be part of die decision-making process on issues which have direct bearing on them and therefore the agreement between the Chiefs and the British was not only in contravention of the basic customary iaw, but more seriously, a betrayal of the trust die people had reposed in diem as leaders, Uius their refusal to honour the tax
The collection was also not entrusted to representatives or agents of die Chiefs as demanded by custom. Instead, it was done by officials, appointed by the government. The Governor even proposed Brodie Cruickshank as Chief Collector on a salary or £600 per annum to supervise the sub-collectors who headed the twelve districts of the ’Protectorate’. There was no proper way of monitoring the tax collectors. In the end, corrupt tax officials enriched diemselves from the revenue collected. The people therefore did not see the essence of paying tax only for it to find its way into individual pockets. Again, as the projected revenue was not realised, the in the nineteenth century government could not carry out projects it was meant to finance and as the people did noi see the development of any physical siruciure (though their action of refusing payment was directly responsible for it) they began to have doubts as to the object of the Ordinance and consequently developed a lukewarm attitude towards it.
The people were also not happy when it was realised that part of the money was used to pay administrative cost and as stipend for chiefs. What this meant to die people was that, the overhead cost of collection was likely to eat away a substantial part of the sum collected leaving little for the execution of the intended projects. The nature (apportioning) of the tax put a lot of people off. This stemmed from the fact that, people with large-families bore a bigger tax burden and, as expected, it led to opposition against the tax. It is also known that the Chiefs themselves organised people to oppose the Ordinance because of what they regarded as the inability of the British to give them adequate protection against the Asante. It could also be argued that the poll tax was a novelty, and the people had not been given enough opportunity to discuss the proposal in their villages and to present their opinion on it. It is possible that if several months had been allowed for discussion, the people would have seen the need for their support. In the face of the countrywide refusal (starting with violence from the eastern part of the coast spreading to Akuapem, Akyem and Krobo) to honour the tax, it died a natural death in 1861.THE SELECT COMMITTEE OF 1865
As a result of continued hostilities between the Asante and die British and the dismal military performance by the latter in their quest to dish out a ’final blow’ to Asante at Praso in 1864,12 the British administration sent out Colonel Henry Ord in October 1864 to conduct investigations and submit a report on.the political developments in the four British Settlements in West Africa. In 1865, a Select Committee of the House of Commons was commissioned to study Colonel Ord’s reports (which recommended that the settlements should be maintained and federated under a Gpvernor-in-Chief who should reside in Sierra Leone) and submit its recommendations for consideration by die British government. The Committee recommended that the British should not only withdraw form all her West African Settlements with the exception of Sierra Leone, but the people should be groomed for self-determination. It was also suggested that there should be no further extension of territory and that the withdrawal should be gradually carried out so that it would not seriously undermine the government’s obligation to British traders, missionaries and the protected people. The outcome of these recommendations were that the Gold Coast was once again placed under the ’supervision’ of Sierra Leone. And instead of winding up its activities as contained in the recommendations, the British rather strengthened their hold on the Gold Coast by reorganizing and consolidating their activities.
Moreover, due to the perceived ’withdrawal’ of the British, probably sooner than later, the educated elite together with their Chiefs came together to form the Fante Confederation (will be discussed fully in the next chapter) with the express will to take over the administration of their states in case the British finally left the scene as was contemplated.BRITAIN AND THE GOLD COAST: 1874-1902
Between 1874 and 1902 the British established their control over the whole of Ghana. The process by which she assumed such a position would be examined from two angles; namely, the annexation of the southern states in 1874 and the conquest and annexation of Asante between 1896 and 1902.The Annexation of the Southern States: 1874
The British decision to exercise control over the southern states came as a result of several factors. Trade was greatly hampered whilst Christianity and Western education came under constant threat due to the activities of Asante. It was therefore telt that the best means of controlling the situation was to do away with the half¬hearted approach to the issue of defence and governance of the southern states and fully incorporate them into the mainstream of British administration. Closely linked to the above was the Anlgo-Asante war of 1874 in which the British were the victors. The victory really boosted the image of Britain and she felt the only guarantee against further Asante hostilities against the southern states was to put them under firm British protection. Consequently, the British government issued a Charter in July 1874, formally annexing these states as the British Crown Colony of the Gold Coast.
Moreover, with the take-over of Dutch possessions in the Gold Coast by the British in 1872, revenue from customs duties was expected to -increase as they now held the monopoly power and could thus dictate their rates which would, no doubt, raise the revenue base - the lack of which had been the main hindrance to the expansion of British influence beyond the coast. It is significant tu noie ihai after the take-over, revenue from customs duties alone rose io £90,000.00 between 1875 and 1880 while total expenditure was £83,000. Imperialistic instincts also made the British annex the southern states. From the 1870s, it dawned on Britain that the growing’demand for overseas markets (colonies) where industrial goods could be sold and moreover serve as sources of raw material and ’investment zones’ had to receive prime attention. Britain therefore regarded her position on the coast as very ideal to act promptly on this ’unfolding order’, more especially, as the Germans and French were already stationed in the east (Togo) and west (Ivory Coast) respectively.The Conquest and Annexation of Asante: 1896 - 1902
As already indicated, the British captured and sacked Kumasi in January 1874 and imposed the Treaty of Fomena ( die same year). The Treaty was seen as the agreement that would put the final seal on insecurity in the Gold Coast. Britain therefore left the Asante, taking them into confidence as far as the provisions in the Treaty were concerned. However, by the 1890s certain developments convinced the British that the ’Asante problem’ was far form solved and dierefore needed to be settled once and for all with "annexation" as the best option. Asante seemed to have sufficiently recovered from the Sagrenti War as she started to reconquer some of the break-away states which had asserted men-independence after the 1874 war. King Prempeh I and his predecessor Osei Bonsu, were thus in the process of making the moves to revive the Asante empire. Having come to terms with the might of Asante in their earlier dealings, Britain was fully convinced that the revival of Asante power had the potential of presenting an even more difficult problem and therefore had to be nibbed in the bud before it could cause any havoc.
With the occupation of Togo and the Ivory Cost by the Germans and the French respectively, the British feared that the ’interior’ could fall to any of the rival Powers and dierefore Asarite had to be annexed to forestall the advance of these two Powers to this part of West Africa. The opportunity presented itself when in 1895, the Asante were charged with the breach of the Fomena Treaty. Britain demanded mat Asante accept her protection. This was in 1896. Though the Asantehene Prempeh surrendered peacefully, he was nevertheless taken, together with the Queen Mother and some members of the Royal House, first to Elmina and later to the Seychelles Island. The Asante Union was consequently dissolved and a British Resident stationed in Kumasi. The other reason for the British action was the Asante revolt of 1900 - the Yaa Asantewaa War. The first cause of the war was Asante anger over the exile of Nana Prempeh I and other royals. The second was Governor Sir Frederic Hodgson’s demand for the surrender of the Golden Stool - the soul of the Asante nation. This demand was to say the least an insult to the Asante nation and therefore they prepared themselves for war. In fact, but for the superiority of British arms, Asante would have opened another page in the political history of Ghana by defeating the British. As the victors in the nine month hostilities, Britain annexed Asante as a British Colony on 1st January, 1902. This brought down the curtain on the great empire.THE DECLINE AND COLLAPSE OF ASANTE Causes of the decline and collapse of Asante
What could reasonably be taken as the remote cause of the disintegration of the Asante kingdom was the loose sort of federation it was composed of i.e. the structure of the empire. The empire’s survival depende^Njeavily on the strict adherence of the autonomous states (that were brought together by military and economic factors) to the federation. With time, Asante managed to expand her empire and brought under her overlordship, non-Asante states such as Akyem, Gyaman, Banda and Denkyira. These conquered states (with their own cultures and traditions), as expected , resented their subservient position and therefore did not accept to be an extension or part of the Asante Union and most often, rebelled without success, due to Asante military might. The continued^ existence of the empire therefore came to depend on the pov\ sr of the Asante army. Any sign of weakness was bound to cause its break up. This was the exact situation when the military might of Asante was busted when the British defeated her in 1826 and 1874. Moreover, Asante was not able to assimilate the non-Asante states through diplomacy.
Really, if Asante had convinced the conquered state and managed them under a strong system of provincial administration, accepting
total allegiance to the Golden Stool, there was every possibility that the empire would have survived eyen after her military defeat. Rather, she came to depend on her military power and so the empire was bound to break up if that force (i.e. military support base) was not sustained. One could also make reference to the geographical position of Asante as a possible cause of her disintegration. Being an inland siale, she had to depend on access to trade with the Europeans on the coast for the supply of the most sought after commodities - guns and gunpowder. However, the frequent supply of these commodities was no doubt dependent on the preparedness of the Fante states to abandon their middleman position which would then give the Asante direct access to the coast. This, the Fante were not prepared to do. So, Asante ended up always fighting to achieve this goal; a situation which did not augur well for stability and development.
There was also the lack of diplomacy, tact and statesmanship among some of the rulers of Asante during this period of her history. The first of this chain of rulers, Osei Yaw Akoto, was not only rash and tactless, but a drunkard who had no ’reverence’ for the laws of the land. His tactlessness became manifest when he plunged the Asante into an ill prepared war at Dodowa (the Battle of Akatamanso) and his declaration of war on Dwaben ii. 1832 (the most powerful of the Oyoko states in the confederacy since the time of Osei Tutu). The war with the Dwaben led to their migration into Akyem Abuakwa tor several years. Asante therefore lost the services of a very important member of the kingdom. His successor, Kwaku Dua (1834 - 1867) turn out to be a pacifist at a time war was needed to win back the lost provinces in the south. Kofi Karikari who succeeded Kwaku Dua I, who, though a warrior, not only lost the 1874, war but was a spendthrift. Really, these were not the sort of leaders who could lead their nation forward. The immediate cause of the disintegration of the Asante Empire was her defeat at the hands of the British in 1874. This defeat served as the signal for many of the subject-states: Dwaben, Kwahu, Mampong, Agona, Nsuta, Bekwai and others to break away. From this time on Asante could.not enjoy the cohesion and unity that had characterised the peak of her empire building.The Northern Territories
Prior to the annexation of the Asante by the British, the latter had extended their sphere of influence to the territories north of Asante to open up direct trade links with that part of the country. Asante had before this time played the middleman position. Following the signing of the treaties with the chiefs of these territories, through the agency of George Ekem Ferguson, Britain entered into an agreement with the French in 1898 and a year later, an Anglo-German convention was signed. These secured Ghana for Britain.