On Dec 19, 1870: Kobena Gyan, King of Elmina, formally protested the planned British takeover of Elmina Castle.

The British were putting pressure on the Dutch to expel the King of Ashanti’s envoy in an effort to rid Elmina of Ashanti influence and make it “Fanti territory.” Kofi Karikari challenged the British claim to Elmina on the basis of annual payments he received from the Dutch in the form of kostgeld. For the first time, an African leader was questioning the presumed right of Europeans to hand over and exchange African territory between themselves. Elmina stood to lose its independence to forthcoming British taxes, a new language, and a new culture. The Europeans wanted to ascribe this resistance simply to the presence of Akyeampon Yaw. For all the years that the Dutch had been in Elmina, the King of Elmina had kept a significant portion of the economy out of Dutch reach. These included the trade in palm oil, fishing, and cattle. No cases ruled on in the king’s palace could be appealed to the Dutch. In the British “protectorates,” the local chiefs had diminished authority in legal matters. British civil law prevailed. Elmina’s centuries-long careful diplomacy in the service of its independence as a state was coming to a frightening end. Kobena Gyan had been thrust into the limelight in 1869 after his father Kobena Condua had been deemed pro-British. He was more likely closely aligned with the Elmina elite of businessmen and freeburghers (Dutch descendants). The impending arrival of the British emerged as a serious class issue in Elmina. Politically, Kobena Gyan had no choice but to represent the popular sentiment in Elmina against the British after he succeeded his father. Elmina had become a political beehive of activity with many disparate parties playing for extremely high stakes. The Ashanti envoy, the Great Ensign of the King of Ashanti to Elmina, Akyeampon Yaw, had a garrison of over 400 troops in Elmina in support of the young king. The British were determined to eliminate the Ashanti presence in Elmina and the other grandes of Elmina, namely, the rich businessmen like George Emil Emisang, David Mills Graves, Hendrik Vroom; and the Asafo leaders were divided among themselves. They all recognized the great risk that resistance would bring on their people. By this time, the Dutch had been forced by English pressure to detain Akyeampon Yaw at the castle to pave the way for the transfer. The young King Kobena Gyan continued to take a very hard line, informing the newly installed Governor Ferguson on December 19, 1870, “that there was a rumour that the Dutch government intends to sell us to the English. We are not slaves and we do not want to see any other flag on the fort, not even on its ruins.” He showed his total displeasure that his deputation to Holland had not been acknowledged with an official response and added that Elmina would oppose the transfer with arms and that whites would be among the dead. He added that known British sympathizers in Elmina would be beheaded. Furthermore, he wanted to know how much the Dutch were being paid for the transfer of a castle, which did not belong to them.