Ghana History Moments

October 18, 1895: Adansi sign on for British protection

The chief of Adansi Kobina Obeng in 1873 had sought to be independent of Ashanti by virtue of his geographic position close to the British protectorate, just north of River Pra. After Kumasi was sacked by Sir Garnett Wolseley, and Kofi Karikari had been dethroned, his successor, Mensah Bonsu after his enstoolment late in 1874, made every effort to regain lost Ashanti dependencies. He was able over a period of a few years to do so, except for Kwahu and Adansi.

During the Ashanti interregnum, the Adansis remained a divided state. Some continued to claim British protection under the Treaty of Fomena and others wanting to return to Ashanti. In this unsettled state, under the leadership of a compromise chief, Nkansa Brempong, a great deal of trouble occurred, including murdering, kidnapping and robbing Ashanti traders as they passed through their territory. In April 1886, over 150 Ashanti traders were murdered for the sake of their goods. The Ashantis, particularly from Bekwai, who had the majority of victims, retaliated, killing 60 Adansis and driving over 12,000 of them south across the Pra, into the protectorate. Fomena and all Adansi villages were set ablaze.

Mensa Bonsu favored a diplomatic solution to the Adansi problem but a war party under the leadership of Kobina Awua developed against the king’s wishes. This faction encouraged Kofi Karikari to attempt to regain the throne of Ashanti.

Eventually after years of chaos, Kwaku Dua III (Prempeh I) was enstooled as Asantehene in March 1888 with the Asante nation in a fragmented state. The Adansi’s and Kokofus broke out in open rebellion. Prempeh I, the 16 year old king, repelled the first onslaught and asked the British not to allow attacks on Ashanti from the protectorate, south of the River Pra. His weak political position made Ashanti now a target for the British. With the fall of Ashanti to the British all but signed off on paper, the Adansis finally signed to join the British Protectorate on October 18, 1895.

The treaty was largely based on previous treaties between Britain and African landowners from 1889. The primary signatory was Kweku Inkansa, King of Adansi. The key clause in the treaty was Article VII, which stated that the Crown would not prevent the Adansi leaders from collecting revenues and administering their territory. However, after the Ashanti Confederation was dissolved with the overthrow of King Prempeh I, the surrounding sovereign territories of Ashanti were also effectively annexed by the British, voiding treaties such as this one.

October 17, 1921: Yaa Asantewaa, Queenmother of Ejisu dies in the Seychelles

October 17, 1921: Yaa Asantewaa, Queenmother of Ejisu dies in the Seychelles

Yaa Asantewaa, who led the formidable but ultimately unsuccessful resistance to British colonial rule of the Asante Kingdom from April 1900 to March 1901 was born at Besease, a small town south of Ejisu about 12 miles from Kumasi the capital of the Asante Kingdom. She was a member of Asona royal clan and her brother Nana Kwesi Afrane Okpese was one of the two principal war leaders who supported the installment of Kwaku Dua III also known as Prempeh I against the rival faction led by Twereboana and his supporters from Mampong, Nsuta and Kokofu. Her brother was the protector of the Golden stool of the Asante nation. In 1887 when the female stool of Ejisu became vacant, Nana Kwesi Afrane Okpese, appointed his sister Yaa Asantewaa as the Queen Mother of Ejisu.

October 16, 1956: Conference on form of government deadlocked, with Asante and Northern Territories pushing for federal government

1956 was a banner year in Ghana's push to become the first sub-Saharan African country to break from European colonial rule. On October 16, 1956 a conference called to reconcile competing visions for the imminence of sovereignty for the Gold Coast, reached no agreement.  About a month later, the legislative asembly voted to resolve the question in favor of a constitution for a unitary government, with a margin of 70 to 25. The 1956 election saw Kwame Nkrumah's Convention People's Party win 71 of 104 seats in the Legislative Assembly and self-governance was imminent. On August 3 the assembly voted for independence from Great Britain.

Simon Diedong Dombo was the leader of the Northern People's Party, who were advocating for a system of government recognizing his region's distinct identity

Simon Diedong Dombo was the leader of the Northern People's Party, who were advocating for a system of government recognizing his region's distinct identity

On October 16 a conference was held between leaders from different regions of the emerging country to decide on a path toward governance. While Nkrumah's CPP proposed a Parliamentary form of government with all regions of the country operating under a unitary constitution, the leaders from Ashanti Region and the Northern Territories were in favor of a federal system of rule that would recognize each region's distinct identities, allowing them to continue with a degree of sovereignty.

September Ghana History Moments in Review

On September 25, 1901, the Ashanti Empire was formally annexed by Britain

Following the intermittent, century-long conflict between the British and the Ashanti Empire, the fifth Ashanti war culminated in the annexation of the Ashanti Empire into the British Gold Coast colony. After the exile of Asantehene Prempeh I to Seychelles, the Ashanti army succumbed to the British forces. The Queen Mother, Yaa Asantewaa, led the last stand of the Ashanti against the British troops and their Hausa allies, ultimately surrendering on July 17, 1900. Asantewaa and other Ashanti leaders were exiled to Seychelles to join Prempeh I.

The Ashanti crown colony was administered by a chief commissioner who reported to the governor of the Gold Goast. In 1935 the Ashanti Kingdom returned to self-rule and eventually joined the rest of the former territories of the Gold Coast which formed the independent nation of Ghana in 1957.

The Ashanti Royal Court upon the return of the Golden Stool and self rule in 1935.

The Ashanti Royal Court upon the return of the Golden Stool and self rule in 1935.

September 7, 1962: National Assembly proclaims Nkrumah president for life

Following the attempt on his life at Kulungulu in August, 1962 and fierce opposition from his adversaries, Kwame Nkrumah became increasingly paranoid 5 years into his regime as Ghana's head of state. Nkrumah and the CPP-led National Assembly introduced a series of reforms including declaring Ghana a one-party state, increasing the enforcement power of Preventive Detention, and declaring Nkrumah "president for life."

September 7, 1817: Anglo-Ashanti Treaty signed between Osei Bonsu and African Company of Merchants

By the early 19th century, the British had by gold and gunpowder occupied the majority of the forts along the shore of the future Gold Coast colony. Led by King Osei Bonsu, the Ashanti charged southward and began to conquer lands towards to the coast. This campaign decimated the land of the Fante and other indigenous groups and won forts from other European powers, such as the Dutch at Kormantse, which had been a Dutch stronghold fort and one of the last strongholds of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The British, in their interest to increase their holdings and promote commerce, sent a mission from Cape Coast to Osei Bonsu's palace in Kumasi to negotiate a treaty of friendship which recognized Ashanti sovereignty over much of the coast. This mission was chronicled by Thomas Edward Bowdich in Mission from Cape Coast Castle to Ashantee in 1819. The crown's interests in this treaty were brokered by the African Company of Merchants.

Thomas Edward Bowdich

Thomas Edward Bowdich

Due to the enforcement of the 1807 slave trade abolition, the company folded and the treaty was dissolved. This chaos culminated in the First Anglo-Ashanti War--a bloody event precipitating eighty years of conflict between the two powers.

September 4, 1887: Arrival of John Mensah Sarbah, first Ghanaian called to the English Bar

September 4, 1887: Arrival of John Mensah Sarbah, first Ghanaian called to the English Bar

[Sarbah] attended Cape Coast Wesleyan School (later to be renamed Mfantsipim) and completed his secondary education at the Taunton School in Somerset, England. From Taunton he matriculated to Lincoln's Inn to train as a barrister. In 1887 he was called to the bar and qualified as a barrister. He became the first native-born Ghanaian to accomplish the feat.

After qualifying in his profession, Sarbah returned to the Gold Coast and founded his own private legal practice. He became disillusioned with what he deemed to be injustice in governance from the British Crown toward the Ghanaian people and felt that the actions of the colonial system should be checked.

September 1, 1987: The Junior Secondary School (JSS) system commenced

Ghanaian JSS students completing an examination

Ghanaian JSS students completing an examination

Free and compulsory primary education was introduced to Ghana with the Education Act of 1961. This led to a surge in school enrollment and challenged the nation to overcome a scarcity of qualified teachers. From the enactment of the 1961 policy until 1987, primary school consisted of 10 years of education in Ghana. The 1987 act reduced this to nine years with the years of "junior secondary school" (JSS) designated as grades 7 through 9. This was implemented due to findings in the Dzobo Committee report of 1973, which stated that intermediate education in Ghana should consist of more vocational, science, agricultural, and technical courses to align with national development goals. Upon completion of JSS, students receive a Basic Education Certificate (BECE) signifying satisfactory grade-level mastery of subjects including English language, Ghanaian language and culture, social studies, integrated science, mathematics, design and technology, information and communication technology, French (optional), religious and moral education. Typically students matriculate to secondary school at the age of 15.

The Dzobo Committee found that junior secondary level students required improved technical curriculum options to align with national development goals

The Dzobo Committee found that junior secondary level students required improved technical curriculum options to align with national development goals

August 31, 1973: Kojo Botsio and other CPP members arrested for attempting to overthrow NRC

There was great unrest in the country following an unpopular decision by Busia to devalue the cedi by 44% in 1971. This was done in an effort to keep imports within the country's spending capacity. Colonel Ignatius Kutu Acheampong formed the National Redemption Council (NRC) and took control of the country, forcing Busia into exile. The NRC abolished the Supreme Court in 1972. The following year, on August 31, 1973, Dr. Botsio was extra-judiciously charged with plotting to overthrow the government and sentenced to death.

August 29, 1962: Tawia Adamafio, Ebenezer Ako Adjei and H. H. Coffie-Crabbe arrested and charged with Kulungugu assassination attempt

On August 29, 1962, almost a month after the attempt on Nkrumah’s life at Kulungugu, Mr. Tawia Adamafio, Minister of Information and Presidential Affairs, Mr. Ako-Adjei, Foreign Minister and Mr. H.H. Coffie-Crabbe Executive Secretary of the Convention People’s Party were arrested and detained under the Preventative Detention Act. They were however found not guilty by a panel of judges when they were tried and the Supreme Court judges involved including Chief Justice Arku Korsah were fired by Nkrumah as a result. Below is the only publication we have found claiming to have excerpts of that judgement:

August 29, 1637: Dutch successfully captured Elmina Castle from the Portuguese

St. George’s Castle was built in 1482 by the Portuguese and being the largest European structure in Sub-Saharan Africa in its day. It was of great strategic military and commercial importance. The Dutch first attempted to seize the Castle in 1625 but failed. In July 1637, they mounted a second serious offensive. The account follows:

The Battle of Elmina in 1637, was a military engagement between the Portuguese and the Dutch, that culminated with the capture of the historical St. George of Elmina Fort by the latter.

In 1637 the Dutch West India Company detached 9 ships from the forces attacking the Portuguese in Brazil and sent them against the Portuguese in Fort Elmina. They appointed Colonel Hans Coine to command the fleet, which consisted of a total of 1,300 men. They landed on July 24 a short distance away from Cape Coast, and proceeded by canoe down the Sweet River towards the Portuguese fort, bringing 800 soldiers and three days’ worth of provisions.

A hill named St. Jago dominated the fort on the north side, which Coine determined needed be taken if they were to take the fort. However, 1,000 Elminians allied to the Portuguese were at the base of it, preventing the Dutch from seizing it. Coine sent four companies of Fusiliers after it, but they were annihilated. A second Dutch detachment that attacked the other side fared better, routing the Elminians. The Portuguese and their native allies made two attempts to take back the position, but both failed. After the second failed attack, the Portuguese fell back into their redoubt at the summit of the hill.

The redoubt was protected by a wooden wall on one side, and a river on the other. Coine decided to ford the river to allow a mortar and two cannon to fire upon the fort. After bombarding the fort for two more days, he demanded the surrender of the garrison. The Portuguese governor requested a three-day truce, but Coine refused as he only had provisions for one more day. He brought more of his forces to St. Jago and continued to bombard the fort. The bombardment was ineffective, and by the next morning Coine realized that he would either have to attack the fort that very day or abandon the attempt. He dispatched a group of Grenadiers up the hill, but before they could attack a chamade was sounded and two messengers were sent out by the Portuguese to negotiate a surrender.

The surrender allowed the Governor, the Garrison, and all Portuguese citizens to leave, without swords or any other weapons, on a boat to the island of St. Thomas. The Dutch would be allowed take all that was left including gold, silver and slaves. The Dutch later built a fort on the Hill to prevent others from taking the Castle from land.

August 28, 1978: Prime Minister of 2nd Republic Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia Dies in London

Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia was Prime Minister of the 2nd Republic of Ghana.  In 1951 he was elected by the Ashanti Confederacy to the Legislative Council. In 1952, he was Leader of Ghana Congress Party, which later merged with the other opposition parties to form the United Party (UP).

As leader of the opposition against Kwame Nkrumah, he fled the country on the grounds that his life was under threat. 

By late 1958 Nkrumah was prepared to detain their leading members, and by the next year he had passed a law unseating any Council member absent for more than 20 sessions. The law was supposedly aimed directly at Busia, whose scholarly commitments took him all over the world. Threatened by immediate detention, Busia left Ghana, in circumstances that have never been adequately explained.

The next seven years were spent in exile, with Leiden and then St. Antony's College, Oxford, as Busia's academic base. If Busia had been an unlikely opposition leader in Ghana, he was even more so in exile. But he was now too committed to the struggle against Nkrumah to settle easily into the scholarly life, although he published one book, The Challenge of Africa, and some articles during these years. His testimony to the U.S. Congress against American aid to Ghana caused some resentment. Except perhaps in French circles, it was felt everywhere that if Nkrumah were overthrown it would not be by forces that Busia could hope to command. What was underestimated was the extent to which a revulsion had spread in Ghana against everything Nkrumah symbolized, which would rebound to Busia's benefit.

He returned to Ghana in March 1966 after Nkrumah's government was overthrown by the military to serve on the National Liberation Council of General Joseph Ankrah, the military head of state and was appointed as the Chairman of the National Advisory Committee of the NLC. In 1967/68, he served as the Chairman of the Centre for Civic Education. He used this opportunity and sold himself as the next Leader. He also was a Member of the Constitutional Review Committee. When the NLC lifted the ban on politics, Busia, together with associates in the defunct UP, formed the Progress Party (PP).

In 1969, the PP won the parliamentary elections with 105 of the 140 seats contested. This paved the way for him to become the next Prime Minister. Busia continued with NLC's anti-Nkrumaist stance and adopted a liberalised economic system. There was a mass deportation of half a million Nigerian citizens from Ghana, and a 44 percent devaluation of the cedi in 1971, which met with a lot of resistance from the public.

Once in office, Busia wielded strong executive powers. He instituted a stringent austerity program. The chief question that was posed by the election and Busia's years in power was whether this once reluctant politician was sufficiently in control of his own party, increasingly dominated by little-known but strong-willed younger men, and whether he was sufficiently farsighted to lead Ghana out of its economic troubles and its increasing ethnic and political bitterness. Although his commitment to a parliamentary system was nowhere in question, he authorized some actions and tolerated others that gave rise to the old doubts and some new ones as well. The defeated opposition was further enfeebled by the successful barring of Gbedemah even from membership in the new Assembly, a seat he had overwhelmingly won in his district.

Widespread discontent led to a second military coup on January 13, 1972. The presidency was abolished and the National Assembly dissolved under the regime of Lieutenant Colonel Ignatius Kutu Acheampong.

Busia spent his final years as a lecturer in sociology at Oxford University. Of the colonial period, Busia wrote that "physical enslavement is tragic enough; but the mental and spiritual bondage that makes people despise their own culture is much worse, for it makes them lose self-respect and, with it, faith in themselves." Part of the intellectual liberation in Africa has come through the systematic analysis of African institutions by Africans; Busia's major study, The Position of the Chief in the Modern Political System of the Ashanti (1951), was a ground breaker in this regard. Moreover, Busia personalized the commitment to freedom of the African intellectual, and his writings on the relevance of democratic institutions to modern Africa found a wide audience. He died in London on August 28, 1978.

August 28, 1970: Edward Akuffo-Addo is named President of the 2nd Republic

Akufo-Addo was born at Dodowa on June 26, 1906. . He had his basic education at Presbyterian Primary and Middle Schools at Akropong. In 1929, he entered Achimota College, from where he won a scholarship to St Peter's College, Oxford, where he studied Mathematics, Politics and Philosophy.He went on to graduate with honors in philosophy and politics in 1933. He was called to the Bar at Middle Temple Bar, UK in 1940 and returned to what was then the Gold Coast to start a private legal practice a year later.

In 1947, he became a founding member of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) and was one of the "Big Six" detained after disturbances in Accra. From 1949–1950, he was a member of the Gold Coast Legislative Council and the Coussey Constitutional Commission.

After independence (1962–1964), Akufo-Addo was a Supreme Court Judge. He was one of three Judges before whom Tawia Adamafio, Ako Adjei and H.H. Coffie Crabbe were tried after the Kulungugu bomb attack on President Kwame Nkrumah and for doing so was dismissed with fellow judges for their not guilty ruling. From 1966–1970, he was appointed Chief Justice by the National Liberation Council (NLC) regime as well as Chairman of the Constitutional Commission (Commission that drafted the 1969 Second Republican Constitution). He was also head of the NLC Political Commission during this same time period. He was a ceremonial President of the 2nd Republic and Ghana's 4th Head of State until the coup d'état on 13 January 1972. He had no executive powers, as the Prime Minister, Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia was the head of government. On 17 July 1979, Akufo-Addo died of natural causes. His son, Nana Akufo-Addo is Ghana's current president.

August 20, 1943: Income Tax Ordinance is passed by Legislative Council

Taxation was introduced to the colonial Gold Coast in 1850 with the ratification of an Executive Council which was given the authority to recommend laws subject to the Governor's approval. In 1943 the first colony wide income tax was levied with the introduction of the Income Tax Ordinance. The ordinance was later rolled into the National Investment Bank Act of 1963 and repealed and replaced with provisions in a 1985 amendment.

August 19, 1863: The Royal African Gold Coast artillery Force was disbanded

The Gold Coast Regiment originated in security units formed in the 1850s in what is now Ghana. The 'Gold Coast Corps' had been recruited in the early 1830s for the defence of settlements in the colony. By the 1850s it consisted of a number of small units, which were mainly used in a policing role. These were amalgamated in 1879 and renamed the 'Gold Coast Constabulary', which had a military role and in 1893-1894, took part in a campaign against the Ashanti kingdom,

The Gold Coast Artillery Corps was formed in 1850 and from the late 1850s wore a uniform similar to that of the West India Regiment. It was disbanded in 1863 however, after its soldiers had mutinied. It has been difficult to find documentary evidence of the causes of the mutiny. Many of its former members joined local forces which later became part of the Gold Coast Constabulary.

In 1901 the Gold Coast Constabulary was renamed the 'Gold Coast Regiment' as it became part of the newly organized West African Frontier Force under the direction of the Colonial Office. It was organized into one battalion of infantry and one battery of artillery. The artillery possessed only small field guns which could be moved by hand through the thick jungle found in much of the country

On the outbreak of the First World War, the Gold Coast Regiment was the main British force used to capture the neighbouring German colony of Togoland (modern Togo) and destroy its powerful radio masts. This action occurred before the war really got started in Europe and the first bullets fired by a British solder against the Germans in the war were fired by a Gold Coast Regiment soldier named Alhaji Grunshi (seen in the picture) more than a week before the first engagement in Europe.

The regiment then took part in the invasion of the German colony of Cameroon and spent the end of 1914 and most of 1915 fighting in the campaign to gain control of the colony and destroy its ability to relay radio messages to German warships. In 1916, the Gold Coast Regiment entered the campaign against the Germans in East Africa (modern Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania), which had been ongoing since August 1914. It fought through most of the East African campaign, engaging German forces in many places in what are now Tanzania and Mozambique. In mid-1918, the regiment returned to barracks in the Gold Coast and took no further part in the remainder of the campaign.

The Gold Coast Regiment remained part of the West Africa Frontier Force (later renamed the Royal West Africa Frontier Force) until shortly after the Gold Coast gained independence in 1957, when it was withdrawn from the RWAFF and renamed the Ghana Army. It is the forerunner of the First Infantry Brigade of the Ghana Army.

August 18, 1661: King Okai Koi of the Gas signs a treaty with Denmark for a permanent trading post- Fort Christiansborg

The area around present day Osu, came under the control of Sweden in the 1650s, led by the a Dutch trader Henry Caerlof. In 1652, he was given permission to build a small fortified lodge by the King of Accra, with whom he had previously done business. In 1660, control passed to the Netherlands but it was soon lost to Denmark-Norway. In 1657, Caerlof had again traveled to West Africa, this time representing Denmark-Norway.  On August 18 1661, Jost Cramer, Danish governor of Fredericksborg, near Cape Coast, acquired land from Chief Okai Koi for 3,200 gold florins. The Danes built a stone fort to replace the earthen lodge and named it Christiansborg (Christian’s fortress) after the former King of Denmark, Christian IV who had died in 1648. In its early years it was a seat of trade in gold and ivory but by the 17th century slave trading had become the core business as it was, all over the coast of West Africa.

The fort was controlled at different times by the Danes, the Akwamus and later the British, who purchased all the Danish possessions for £10,000 in 1850. It later became the seat of the British Colonial government when the capital was moved from Cape Coast to Accra.

August 16, 1969: The constituent assembly approves the constitution for the 2nd Republic

On this day, August 16, 1969 the constituent assembly approved the draft constitution setting the stage for elections for the return to constitutional governance in Ghana. This was to end the 3 years of military rule from February 1966, when the Nkrumah government was overthrown.

The Constitution of the second Republic, a voluminous documents comprising 177 articles, divided the executive power between the president and the cabinet headed by the Prime Minister. The powers of the president were however far less important than under the 1960 Constitution, while the prime minister wielded the real executive power. Another reaction to the later despotism of the First Republic, was the firm guarantees of human rights and freedoms embodied in the fourth chapter of the 1969 Constitution. The elections following this Constitution, were won by the progress party led by Dr. K.A. Busia, with an overwhelming majority, which may have been one of the causes of his downfall, making it too easy to be insensitive to criticism and to ignore the opposition in and outside of Parliament.

August 16, 1896: Submission of Prempeh I after 4th Anglo-Ashanti War

The 4th Anglo-Ashanti War spanned from December 1895 to February 1896. The war started on the pretext of failure to pay the fines levied on the Ashanti monarch by the Treaty of Fomena after the 1874 war. Sir Francis Scott left Cape Coast with the main expeditionary force of British and West Indian troops in December 1895, and arrived in Kumasi in January 1896.

The Asantehene directed the Ashanti not to resist, but casualties from sickness among the British troops were high. Among the dead was Queen Victoria's son-in-law, Prince Henry of Battenberg. Robert Baden-Powell led a native levy of several local allies in the campaign. Soon, Governor William Maxwell arrived in Kumasi as well. The Ashanti confederation was dissolved, and the protectorate secured. However, the British did not fully occupy the area. One estimate of the casualties suggests losses of 6000.

Baden-Powell published a diary of life giving the reasons, as he saw them, for the war: To put an end to human sacrifice. To put a stop to slave-trading and raiding. To ensure peace and security for the neighbouring tribes. To settle the country and protect the development of trade. To get paid up the balance of the war indemnity. He also believed that if a smaller force had been sent, there would have been bloodshed. The urgency for the British in instigating the conflict, was based on a fear of losing out to the French from the west and the Germans from the east, in the rush for Ashanti gold and other resources.

 Asantehene Prempeh I, was arrested and deposed. He was forced to sign a treaty of protection, and with other Ashanti leaders was sent into exile in the Seychelles. He was held at Elmina Castle for 4 years, deported first to Sierra Leone and then to the Seychelles.  As the King was being taken away, he is reported to have said to Hendrik Vroom the African British Administrator, “Nnaba Gyeme” but the anguished Mr. Vroom was powerless to assist the King of Ashanti.