GOLD COAST, that portion of the Guinea Coast (West Africa) which extends from Assini upon the west to the river Volta on the east. It derives its name from the quantities of grains of gold mixed with the sand of the rivers traversing the district. The term Gold Coast is now generally identified with the British Gold Coast colony. This extends from 3° 7' W. to 1 0 14' E., the length of the coast-line being about 370 m. It is bounded W. by the Ivory Coast colony (French), E. by Togoland (German). On the north the British possessions, including Ashanti and the Northern Territories, extend to the 11th degree of north latitude. The frontier separating the colony from Ashanti (fixed by order in council, 22nd of October 1906) is in general 130 m. from the coast, but in the central portion of the colony the southern limits of Ashanti project wedge-like to the confluence of the rivers Ofin and Prah, which point is but 60 m. from the sea at Cape Coast. The combined area of the Gold Coast, Ashanti and the Northern Territories, is about 80,000 sq. m., with a total population officially estimated in 1908 at 2,700,000; the Gold Coast colony alone has an area of 24,200 sq. m., with a population of over a million, of whom about 2000 are Europeans.
|Table of contents|
Though the lagoons common to the West African coast are found both at the western and eastern extremities of the colony (Assini in the west and Kwitta in the east) the greater part of the coast-line is of a different character. Cape Three Points (4 0 44' 40" N. 2° 5' 45" W.) juts boldly into the sea, forming the most southerly point of the colony. Thence the coast trends E. by N., and is but slightly indented. The usually low sandy beach is, however, diversified by bold, rocky headlands. The flat belt of country does not extend inland any considerable distance, the spurs of the great plateau which forms the major part of West Africa advancing in the east, in the Akwapim district, near to the coast. Here the hills reach an altitude of over 2000 ft. Out of the level plain rise many [isolated peaks, generally of conical formation. Numerous rivers descend from the hills, but bars of sand block their mouths, and the Gold Coast possesses no harbours. Great Atlantic rollers break unceasingly upon the shore. The chief rivers are the Volta (q.v.), the Ankobra and the Prah. The Ankobra or Snake river traverses auriferous country, and reaches the sea some 20 m. west of Cape Three Points. It has a course of about 150 m., and is navigable in steam launches for about 80 m. The Prah (" Busum Prah," sacred river) is regarded as a fetish stream by the Fanti and Ashanti. One of its sub-tributaries has its rise near Kumasi. The Prah rises in the N.E. of the colony and flows S.W. Some 60 m. from its mouth it is joined by the Ofin, which comes from the north-west. The united stream flows S. and reaches the sea in I° 35' W. As a waterway the river, which has a course of 400 m., is almost useless, owing to the many cataracts in its course. Another river is the Tano, which for some distance in its lower course forms the boundary between the colony and the Ivory Coast.
Cretaceous rocks occur at intervals along the coast belt, but are mostly hidden under an extensive development of superficial deposits. Basalt occurs at Axim. Inland is a broad belt of sandstone and marl with an occasional band of auriferous conglomerate, best known and most extensively worked for gold in the Wasaw district. Though the conglomerates bear some resemblance to the " Banket " of South Africa they are most probably of more recent date. The alluvial silts and gravels also carry gold.
The climate on the coast is hot, moist and unhealthy, especially for Europeans. The mean temperature in the shade in the coast towns is 78° to 80° F. Fevers and dysentery are the diseases most to be dreaded by the European. The native inhabitants, although they enjoy tolerable health and live to an average age, are subject in the rainy season to numerous chest complaints. There are two wet seasons. From April to August are the greater rains, whilst in October and November occur the " smalls " or second rains. From the end of December to March the dry harmattan wind blows from the Sahara. In consequence of the prevalence of the seabreeze from the south-west the western portion of the colony, up to the mouth of the Sekum river (a small stream to the west of Accra), is called the windward district, the eastward portion being known as the leeward. The rainfall at Accra, in the leeward district, averages 27 in. in the year, but at places in the windward district is much greater, averaging 79 in. at Axim.
The greater part (probably three-fourths) of the colony is covered with primeval forest. Here the vegetation is so luxuriant that for great distances the sky is shut out from view. As a result of the struggle to reach the sunlight the forest growths are almost entirely vertical. The chief trees are silk cottons, especially the bombax, and gigantic hard-wood trees, such as the African mahogany, ebony, odum and camwood. The bombax rises for over 100 ft., a straight column-like shaft, 25 to 30 ft. in circumference, and then throws out horizontally a large number of branches. The lowest growth in the forest consists of ferns and herbaceous plants. Of the ferns some are climbers reaching 30 to 40 ft. up the stems of the trees they entwine. Flowering plants are comparatively rare; they include orchids and a beautiful white lily. The " bush " or intermediate growth is made up of smaller trees, the rubber vine and other creepers, some as thick as hawsers, bamboos and sensitive mimosa, and has a height of from 30 to 60 ft. The creepers are found not only in the bush, but on the ground and hanging from the branches of the highest trees. West of the Prah the forest comes down to the edge of the Atlantic. East of that river the coast land is covered with bushes 5 to 12 ft. high, occasional large trees and groves of oil palms. Still farther east, by Accra, are numerous arborescent Euphorbias, and immediately west of the lower Volta forests of oil palms and grassy plains with fan palms. Behind all these eastern regions is a belt of thin forest country before the denser forest is reached. In the north-east are stretches of orchard-like country with wild plum, shea-butter and kola trees, baobabs, dwarf date and fan palms. The cotton and tobacco plants grow wild. At the mouths of the rivers and along the lagoons the mangrove is the characteristic tree. There are numerous coco-nut palms along the coast. The fruit trees and plants also include the orange, pineapple, mango, papaw, banana and avocado or alligator pear.
The fauna includes leopards, panthers, hyenas, Potto lemurs, jackals, antelopes, buffaloes, wild-hogs and many kinds of monkey, including the chimpanzee and the Colobus vellerosus, whose skin, with long black silky hair, is much prized in Europe. The elephant has been almost exterminated by ivory hunters. The snakes include pythons, cobras, horned and puff adders and the venomous water snake. Among the lesser denizens of the forest are the squirrel and porcupine. Crocodiles and in fewer numbers manatees and otters frequent the rivers and lagoons and hippopotami are found in the Volta. Lizards of brilliant hue, tortoises and great snails are common. Birds, which are not very numerous, include parrots and hornbills, kingfishers, ospreys, herons, crossbills, curlews, woodpeckers, doves, pigeons, storks, pelicans, swallows, vultures and the spur plover (the last-named rare). Shoals of herrings frequent the coast, and the other fish include mackerel, sole, skate, mullet, bonito, flying fish, fighting fish and shynose. Sharks abound at the mouths of all the rivers, edible turtle are fairly common, as are the sword fish, dolphin and sting ray (with poisonous caudal spine). Oysters are numerous on rocks running into the sea and on the and exposed roots of mangrove trees. Insect life is multitudinous; beetles, spiders, ants, fireflies, butterflies and jiggers abound. The earthworm is rare. The mosquitos include the Culex or ordinary kind, the Anopheles, which carry malarial fever, and the Stegomyia, a striped white and black mosquito which carries yellow-fever.
The natives are all of the Negro race. The most important tribe is the Fanti (q.v.), and the Fanti language is generally understood throughout the colony. The Fanti and Ashanti are believed to have a common origin. It is certain that the Fanti came originally from the north and conquered many of the coast tribes, who anciently had owned the rule of the king of Benin. The districts in general are named after the tribes inhabiting them. Those in the western part of the colony are mainly of Fanti stock; the Accra and allied tribes inhabit the eastern portion and are believed to be the aboriginal inhabitants. The Akim (Akem), who occupy the northeast portion of the colony, have engaged in gold-digging from time immemorial. The capital of their country is Kibbi. The Akwapim (Aquapem), southern neighbours of the Akim, are extensively engaged in agriculture and in trade. The Accra, a clever race, are to be found in all the towns of the West African coast as artisans and sailors. They are employed by the interior tribes as middlemen and interpreters. On the right bank of the Volta occupying the low marshy land near the sea are the Adangme. The Krobos live in little villages in the midst of the palm tree woods which grow round about the Kroboberg, an eminence about moo ft. high. Their country lies between that of the Akim and the Adangme. In the west of the colony is the Ahanta country, formerly an independent kingdom. The inhabitants were noted for their skill in war. They are one of the finest and most intelligent of the tribes of Accra stock. The Apollonia, a kindred race, occupy the coast region nearest the Ivory Coast.
The Tshi, Tchwi or Chi language,' which is that spoken on the Gold Coast, belongs to the great prefix-pronominal group. It comprises many dialects, which may, however, be reduced to two classes or types. Akan dialects are spoken in. Assini, Amanahia (Apollonia), Awini, Ahanta, Wasaw, Tshuforo (Juffer or Tufel), and Denkyera in the west, and in Asen, Akim, and Akwapim in the east, as well as in the different parts of Ashanti. Fanti dialects are spoken, not only in Fanti proper, but in Afutu or the country round Cape Coast, in Abora, Agymako, Akomfi, Gomoa and Agona. The difference between the two types is not very great; a Fanti, for example, can converse without much difficulty with a native of Akwapim or Ashanti, his language being in fact a deteriorated form of the same original. Akim is considered the finest and purest of all the Akan dialects. The Akwapim, which is based on the Akim but has imbibed Fanti influences, has been made the book-language by the Basel missionaries. They had reduced it to writing before 1850. About a million people in all, it is estimated, speak dialects of the Tshi.
The south-eastern corner of the 'Gold Coast is occupied by another language known as the Ga or Accra, which comprises the Ga proper and the Adangme and Krobo dialects. Ga proper is spoken by about 40,000 people, including the inhabitants of Ga and Kinka (i.e. Accra, in Tshi, Nkran and Kankan), Osu (i.e. Christiansborg), La, Tessi, Ningua and numerous inland villages. It has been reduced to writing by the missionaries. The Adangme and Krobo dialects are spoken by about 80,000 people. They differ very considerably from Ga proper, but books printed in Ga can be used by both the Krobo and Adangme natives. Another language known as Guan is used in parts of Akwapim and in Anum beyond the Volta; but not much is known either about it or the Obutu tongue spoken in a few towns in Agona, Gomoa and Akomfi.
Fetishism is the prevailing religion of all the tribes. Belief in a God is universal, as also is a belief in a future state. Christi- Religion anity and Mahommedanism are both making progress.
R The natives professing Christianity number about 40,000.
A Moravian mission was started at Christiansborg about 1736; the Basel mission (Evangelical) was begun in 1828, the missionaries combining manual training and farm labour with purely religious work; the Wesleyans started a mission among the Fanti in 1835, and the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches are also represented, as well as the Bremen Missionary Society. Elementary education is chiefly in the hands of the Wesleyan, Basel, Bremen and Roman Catholic missions, who have schools at many towns along the coast and in the interior. There are also government and Mahommedan schools. The natives generally are extremely intelligent. They obtain easily the means of subsistence, and are disinclined to unaccustomed labour, such as working in mines. They are keen traders. The native custom of burying the dead under the floors of the houses prevailed until 1874, when it was prohibited by the British authorities.
Unlike the other British possessions on the west coast of Africa, the colony has many towns along the shore, this being due to the multiplicity of traders of rival nations who went thither in quest of gold. Beginning at the west, Newtown, on the Assini or Eyi lagoon, is just within the British frontier. The first place of im ' This name appears in a great variety of forms - Kwi, Ekwi, Okwi, Oji, Odschi, Otsui, Tyi, Twi, Tschi, Chwee or Chee.
portance reached is Axim (pop., 1901, 2189), the site of an old Dutch fort built near the mouth of the Axim river, and in the pre-railway days the port of the gold region. Rounding Cape Three Points, whose vicinity is marked by a line of breakers nearly 2 . 1 m. long, Dixcove is reached. Twenty miles farther east is Sekondi, (pop. about 5000), the starting-point of the railway to the gold-fields and Kumasi. Elmina, formerly one of the most important posts of European settlement, is reached some distance after passing the mouth of the Prah. Eight miles east of Elmina is Cape Coast (q.v.), pop. (1901) 28,948. Anamabo is 9 m. farther east. Here, in 1807, a handful of English soldiers made a heroic and successful defence of its fort against the whole Ashanti host. Saltpond, towards the end of the 19th century, diverted to itself the trade formerly done by Anamabo, from which it is distant 9 m. Saltpond is a well-built, flourishing town, and is singular in possessing no ancient fort. Between Anamabo and Saltpond is Kormantine(Cormantyne), noted as the place whence the English first exported slaves from this coast. Hence the general name Coromantynes given in the West Indies to slaves from the Gold Coast. Eighty miles from Cape Coast is Accra (q.v.) (pop. 17,892), capital of the colony. (Winnebah is passed 30 m. before Accra is reached. It is an old town noted for the manufacture of canoes.) There is no station of much importance in the 60 m. between Accra and the Volta, on the right bank of which river, near its mouth, is the town of Addah (pop. 13,240). Kwitta (pop. 3018) lies beyond the Volta not far from the German frontier. Of the inland towns Akropong, the residence of the king of Akwapim, is one of the best known. It is 39 m. N.E. of Accra, stands on a ridge 1400 ft. above sea-level, and is a healthy place for European residents. At Akropong are the headquarters of the Basel Missionary Society. Akuse is a large town on the banks of the Volta. Tarkwa is the centre of the gold mining industry in the Wasaw district. Its importance dates from the beginning of the zoth century. Accra, Cape Coast and Sekondi possess municipal government.
The soil is everywhere very fertile and the needs of the people being few there is little incentive to work. The forests alone supply an inexhaustible source of wealth, notably in the oil palm. Among vegetable products cultivated are cocoa, cotton, Indian corn, yams, cassava, peas, peppers, onions, tomatoes, groundnuts (Arachis hypogaea), Guinea corn (Sorghum vulgare) and Guinea grains (Amomum grana-paradisi). The most common article of cultivation is, however, the kola nut (Sterculia acuminata), the favourite substitute in West Africa for the betel nut. In 1890 efforts were made by the establishment of a government botanical station at Aburi in the Accra district to induce the natives to improve their methods of cultivation and to enlarge the number of their crops. This resulted in the formation of hundreds of cocoa plantations, chiefly in the district immediately north of Accra. Subsequently the cultivation of the plant extended to every district of the colony. The industry had been founded in 1879 by a native of Accra, but it was not until 1901, as the result of the government's fostering care, that the export became of importance. In that year the quantity exported slightly exceeded 2,000,000 lb and fetched £42,000. In 1907 the quantity exported was nearly 21,000,000 lb and in value exceeded £515,000. In 1904 efforts were begun by the government and the British Cotton Growing Association in co-operation to foster the growing of cotton for export and by 1907 the cotton industry had become firmly established. Tobacco and coffee are grown at some of the Basel missionary stations.
The chief exports are gold, palm oil and palm kernels, cocoa, rubber, timber (including mahogany) and kola nuts. Of these articles the gold and rubber are shipped chiefly to England, whilst Germany, France and America, take the palm products and groundnuts. The rubber comes chiefly from Ashanti. The imports consist of cotton goods, rum, gin and other spirits, rice, sugar, tobacco, beads, machinery, building materials and European goods generally.
The value of the trade increased from £1,628,309 in 1896 to £ 4, 0 55,35 1 in 1906. In the last named year the imports were valued at £2,058,839 and the exports at £1,996,412. While the value of imports had remained nearly stationary since 1902 the value of exports had nearly trebled in that period. In the five years 1903-1907 the total trade increased from £3,063,486 to £5,007,869. Great Britain and British colonies take 66% of the exports and supply over 60% of the imports. In both import and export trade Germany is second, followed by France and the United States. Specie is included in these totals, over a quarter of a million being imported in 1904.
Fishing is carried on extensively along the coast, and salted and sun-dried fish from Addah and Kwitta districts find a ready sale inland. Cloths are woven by the natives from homegrown and imported yarn; the making of canoes, from the silk-cotton trees, is a flourishing industry, and salt from the lagoons near Addah is roughly prepared. There are also native artificers in gold and other metals, the workmanship in some cases being of conspicuous merit. Odum wood is largely used in building and for cabinet work.
Gold is found in almost every part of the colony, but only in a few districts in paying quantities. Although since the discovery of the coast gold had been continuously exported to Europe from its ports, it was not until the last twenty years of the 19th century that efforts were made to extract gold according to modern methods. The richness of the Tarkwa main reef was first discovered by a French trader, M. J. Bennat, about 1880. During the period 1880 to 1900 the value of the gold exported varied from a minimum of £32,000 to a maximum (1889) of £103,000. The increased interest shown in the industry led to the construction of a railway (see below) to the chief gold-fields, whereby the difficulties of transport were largely overcome. Consequent upon the taking up of a number of concessions, a concessions ordinance was issued in August 1900. This was followed in 1901 by the grant of 2825 concessions, and a " boom " in the West African market on the London stock exchange. Many concessions were speedily abandoned, and in 1901 the export of gold dropped to its lowest point, 6162 oz., worth £22,186, but in 1902 a large company began crushing ore and the output of gold rose to 26,911 oz., valued at £96,880. In 1907 the export was 292,125 oz., wotht £1,164,676. It should be noted that one of the principal gold mines is not in the colony proper, but at Obuassi in Ashanti. Underground labour is performed mainly by Basas and Krumen from Liberia. Of native tribes the Apollonia have proved the best for underground work, as they have mining traditions dating from Portuguese times. A good deal of alluvial gold is obtained by dredging apparatus. The use of dredging apparatus is modern, but the natives have worked the alluvial soil and the sand of the seashore for generations to get the gold they contain.
The colony possesses a railway, built and owned by the government, which serves the gold mines, and has its sea terminus at Sekondi. Work was begun in August 1898, but owing to the disturbance caused by the Ashanti rising of 1900 the rails only reached Tarkwa (39 m.) in May 1901. Thence the line is carried to Kumasi, the distance to Obuassi (124 m.) being completed by December 1902, whilst the first train entered the Ashanti capital on the 1st of October 1903. The total length of the line is 168 m. The cost of construction was £1,820,000. The line has a gauge 3 ft. 6 in. There is a branch line, 20 m. long, from Tarkwa N.W. to Prestea on the Ankobra river. Another railway, built 1907-10, 35 m. in length, runs from Accra to Mongoose, in the centre of the chief cocoa plantations. An extension to Kumasi has been surveyed.
Tortuous bush tracks are the usual means of internal communication. These are kept in fair order in the neighbourhood of government stations. There is a well-constructed road 141 m. long from Cape Coast to Kumasi, and roads connecting neighbouring towns are maintained by the government. Systematic attempts to make use of the upper Volta as a means of conveying goods to the interior were first tried in 1900. The rapids about 60 m. from the mouth of the river effectually prevent boats of large size passing up the stream. Where railways or canoes are not available goods are generally carried on the heads of porters, 60 lb being a full load. Telegraphs, introduced in 1882, connect all the important towns in the colony, and a line starting at Cape Coast stretches far inland, via Kumasi to Wa in the Northern Territories. Accra and Sekondi are in telegraphic communication with Europe, the Ivory Coast, Lagos and the Cape of Good Hope. There is regular and frequent steamship communication with Europe by British, Belgian and German lines.
Administration, Revenue, &c. - The country is governed as a crown colony, the governor being assisted by a legislative council composed of officials and nominated unofficial members. Laws, called ordinances, are enacted by the governor with the advice and consent of this council. The law of the colony is the common law and statutes of general application in force in England in 1874, modified by local ordinances passed since that date. The governor is also governor of Ashanti and the Northern Territories, but in those dependencies the legislative council has no authority.
Native laws and customs - which are extremely elaborate and complicated - are not interfered with " except when repugnant to natural justice." Those relating to land tenure and succession may be thus summarized. Individual tenure is not unknown, but most land is held by the tribe or by the family in common, each member having the right to select a part of the common land for his own use. Permanent alienation can only take place with the unanimous consent of the family and is uncommon, but long leases are granted. Succession is through the female, i.e. when a man dies his property goes to his sister's children. The government of the tribes is by their own kings and chiefs under the supervision of district commissioners. Slavery has been abolished in the colony. In the Northern Territories the dealing in slaves is unlawful, neither can any person be put in pawn for debt; nor will any court give effect to the relations between master and slave except in so far as those relations may be in accordance with the English laws relating to master and servant.
For administrative purposes the colony is divided into three provinces under provincial commissioners, and each province is subdivided into districts presided over by commissioners, who exercise judicial as well as executive functions. The supreme court consists of a chief justice and three puisne judges. The defence of the colony is entrusted to the Gold Coast regiment of the West African Frontier Force, a force of natives controlled by the Colonial Office but officered from the British army. There is also a corps of volunteers (formed 1892).
The chief source of revenue is the customs and (since 1902) railway receipts, whilst the heaviest items of expenditure are transport (including railways) and mine surveys, medical and sanitary services, and maintenance of the military force. The revenue, which in the period 1894-1898 averaged £244,559 yearly, rose in 1898-1903 to an average of £556,316 a year. For the five years 1903-1907 the average annual revenue was £647,557 and the average annual expenditure £615,696. Save for municipal purposes there is no direct taxation in the colony and no poor-houses exist. There is a public debt of (December 1907) £2,206,964. It should be noted that the expenditure on Ashanti and the Northern Territories is included in the Gold Coast budget.
It is a debated question whether the Gold Coast was discovered by French or by Portuguese sailors. The evidence available is insufficient to prove the assertion, of which there is no contemporary record, that a company of Norman merchants established themselves about 1364 at a place they named La Mina (Elmina), and that they traded with the natives for nearly fifty years, when the enterprise was abandoned. It is well established that a Portuguese expedition under Diogo d'Azambuja, accompanied probably by Christopher Columbus, took possession of (or founded) Elmina in 1481-1482. By the Portuguese it was called variously Sao Jorge da Mina or Ora del Mina - the mouth of the (gold) mines. That besides alluvial washings they also worked the gold mines was proved by discoveries in the latter part of the 19th century. The Portuguese remained undisturbed in their trade until the Reformation, when the papal bull which had given the country, with many others, to Portugal ceased to have a binding power. English ships in 1553 brought back from Guinea gold to the weight of 150 lb. The fame of the Gold Coast thereafter attracted to it adventurers from almost every European nation. The English were followed by French, Danes, Brandenburgers, Dutch and Swedes. The most aggressive were the Dutch, who from the end of the 16th century sought to oust the Portuguese from the Gold Coast, and in whose favour the Portuguese did finally withdraw in 1642, in return for the withdrawal on the part of the Dutch of their claims to Brazil. The Dutch henceforth made Elmina their headquarters on the coast. Traces of the Portuguese occupation, which lasted 160 years, are still to be found, notably in the language of the natives. Such familiar words as palaver, fetish, caboceer and dash (i.e. a gift) have all a Portuguese origin.
An English company built a fort at Kormantine previously to 1651, and some ten years later Cape Coast Castle was built. The settlements made by the English provoked the hostility - of the Dutch and led to war between England and Holland, during which Admiral de Ruyter destroyed (1664-1665) all the English forts save Cape Coast castle. The treaty of Breda in 1667 confirmed the Dutch in the possession of their conquests, but the English speedily opened other trading stations. Charles II. in 1672 granted a charter to the Royal African Company, which built forts at Dixcove, Sekondi, Accra, Whydah and other places; besides repairing Cape Coast Castle. At this time the trade both in slaves and gold was very great, and at the beginning of the 18th century the value of the gold exported annually was estimated by Willem Bosman, the chief Dutch factor at Elmina, to be over X 200,000. The various European traders were constantly quarrelling among themselves and exercised scarcely any control over thenatives. Piracy was rife along the coast, and was not indeed finally stamped out until the middle of the 9th century. The Royal African Company, which lost its monopoly of trade with England in 1700, was succeeded by another, the African Company of Merchants, which was constituted in 1750 by act of parliament and received an annual subsidy from government. The slave trade was then at its height and some ro,000 negroes were exported yearly. Many of the slaves were prisoners of war sold to the merchants by the Ashanti, who had become the chief native power. The abolition of the slave trade (1807) crippled the company, which was dissolved in 1821, when the crown took possession of the forts.
Since the beginning of the 19th century the British had begun to exercise territorial rights in the towns where they held forts, and in 1817 the right of the British to control the natives living in the coast towns was recognized by Ashanti. In 1824 the first step towards the extension of British authority beyond the coast region was taken by Governor Sir Charles M`Carthy, who incited the Fanti to rise against their oppressors, the Ashanti. (The Fanti's country had been conquered by the Ashanti in 1807.) Sir Charles and the Fanti army were defeated, the governor losing his life, but in 1826 the English gained a victory over the Ashanti at Dodowah. At this period, however, the home government, disgusted with the Gold Coast by reason of the perpetual disturbances in the protectorate and the trouble it occasioned, determined to abandon the settlements, and sent instructions for the forts to be destroyed and the Europeans brought home. The merchants, backed by Major Rickets, 2nd West India regiments, the administrator, protested, and as a compromise the forts were handed over to a committee of merchants (Sept. 1828), who were given a subsidy of £4000 a year. The merchants secured (1830) as their administrator Mr George Maclean - a gentleman with military experience on the Gold Coast and not engaged in trade. To Maclean is due the consolidation of British interests in the interior. He concluded, 1831, a treaty!withtheAshantiadvantageous to the Fanti, whilst with very inadequate means he contrived to extend British influence over the whole region of the present colony. In the words of a Fanti trader Maclean understood the people, " he settled things quietly with them and the people also loved him." 1 Complaints that Maclean encouraged slavery reached England, but these were completely disproved, the governor being highly commended on his administration by the House of Commons Committee. It was decided, nevertheless, that the Colonial Office should resume direct control of the forts, which was done in 1843, Maclean continuing to direct native affairs until his death in 1847. The jurisdiction of England on the Gold Coast was defined by the bond of the 6th of March 1844, an agreement with the native chiefs by which the crown received the right of trying criminals, repressing human sacrifice, &c. The limits of the protectorate forts inland were not defined. The purchase of the Danish purchased. forts in 1850, and of the Dutch forts and territory in 1871, led to the consolidation of the British power along the coast; and the Ashanti war of 18 73-74 resulted in the extension of the area of British influence. Since that time the colony has been chiefly engaged in the development of its material resources, a development accompanied by a slow but substantial advance in civilization among the native population. (For further historical information see Ashanti.) For a time the Gold Coast formed officially a limb of the " West African Settlements " and was virtually a dependency of Sierra Leone. In 1874 the settlements on the Gold Coast and Lagos were created a separate crown colony, this arrangement lasting until 1886 when Lagos was cut off from the Gold Coast administration.
Northern Territories. The Northern Territories of the Gold Coast form a British protectorate to the north of Ashanti. They are bounded W. and N. - where 11 ° N. is the frontier line except at the eastern extremity - by the French colonies of the Ivory Coast and Upper Senegal and Niger, E. by the German colony of Togoland. The southern frontier, separating the protectorate from Ashanti, is the Black Volta to a point a little above its junction with the White Volta. Thence the frontier turns south and afterwards east so as to include the Brumasi district in the protectorate, the frontier gaining the main Volta below Yeji. The Territories include nearly all the country from the meridian of Greenwich to 3° W. and between 8° and 11° N., and cover an area of about 33,000 sq. M.
Lying north of the great belt of primeval forest which extends parallel to the Guinea coast, the greater part of the protectorate consists of open country,well timbered, and much of it presenting a park-like appearance. There are also large stretches of grassy plains, and in the south-east an area of treeless steppe. The flora and fauna resemble those of Ashanti. The country is well watered, the Black Volta forming the west and southern frontier for some distance, while the White Volta traverses its central regions. Both rivers, and also the united stream, contain rapids which impede but do not prevent navigation (see Volta). The climate is much healthier than that of the coast districts, and the 1 Blue Book on Africa (Western Coast) (1865), p. 233.
fever experienced is of a milder type. The rainfall is less than on the coast; the dry season lasts from November (when the harmattan begins to blow) to March. The mean temperature at Gambaga is 80° F., the mean annual rainfall 43 in. The inhabitants were officially estimated in 1907 to number " at least 1 ,000,000." The Dagomba, Dagarti, Grunshi, Kangarga, Moshi and Zebarima, Negro or Negroid tribes, constitute the bulk of the people, and Fula, Hausa and Yoruba have settled as traders or cattle raisers. A large number of the natives are Moslems, the rest are fetish worshippers. The tribal organization is maintained by the British authorities, who found comparatively little difficulty in putting an end to slave-raiding and gaining the confidence of the chiefs. Trained by British officers, the natives make excellent soldiers.
The chief crops are maize, guinea-corn, millet, yams, rice, beans, groundnuts, tobacco and cotton. Cotton is grown in most parts of the protectorate, the soil and climate in many districts being very suitable for its cultivation. Rubber is found in the north-western regions. When the protectorate was assumed by Great Britain the Territories were singularly destitute of fruit trees. The British have introduced the orange, citron, lime, guava, mango and soursop, and among plants the banana, pine-apple and papaw. A large number of vegetables and flowers have also been introduced by the administration.
Stock-raising is carried on extensively, and besides oxen and sheep there are large numbers of horses and donkeys in the Territories. The chief exports are cattle, dawa-dawa (a favourite flavouring matter for soup among the Ashanti and other tribes) and sheabutter - the latter used in cooking and as an illuminant. The principal imports are kola-nuts, salt and cotton goods. A large proportion of the European goods imported is German and comes through Togoland. The administration levies a tax on traders' caravans, and in return ensures the safety of the roads. This tax is the chief local source of revenue. The revenue and expenditure of the Territories, as well as statistics of trade, are included in those of the Gold Coast.
Gold exists in quartz formation, chiefly in the valley of the Black Volta, and is found equally on the British and French sides of the frontier.
The headquarters of the administration are at Tamale (or Tamari), a town in the centre of the Dagomba country east of the White Volta and Zoo m. N.E. of Kumasi. Its inhabitants are keen traders, and it forms a distributing centre for the whole protectorate. Gambaga, an important commercial centre and from 1897 to 1907 the seat of government, is in Mamprusi, the north-east corner of the protectorate and is 85 m. N.N.E. of Tamale. A hundred and forty miles due south of Gambaga is Salaga. This town is situated on the caravan route from the Hausa states to Ashanti, and has a considerable trade in kola-nuts, shea-butter and salt. On the White Volta, midway between Gambaga and Salaga, is the thriving town of Daboya. On the western frontier are Bole (Baule) and Wa. They carry on an extensive trade with Bontuku, the capital of Jaman, and other places in the Ivory Coast colony. In all the towns the population largely consists of aliens - Hausa, Ashanti, Mandingos, &c. Communications. - Lack of easy communication with the sea hinders the development of the country. The ancient caravan routes have been, however, supplemented by roads built by the British, who have further organized a service of boats on the Volta. Large cargo boats, chiefly laden with salt, ascend that river from Addah to Yeji and Daboya. From Yeji, the port of Salaga, a good road, 150 m. long, has been made to Gambaga. There is also a river service from Yeji to Longoro on the Black Volta, the port of Kintampo, in northern Ashanti. There is a complete telegraphic system connecting the towns of the protectorate with Kumasi and the Gold Coast ports.
It was not until the last quarter of the 19th century that the country immediately north of Ashanti became known to Europeans. The first step forward was made by Monsieur M. J. Bonnat (one of the Kumasi captives, see Ashanti) who, ascending the Volta, reached Salaga (1875-1876). In 1882 Captain R. La Trobe Lonsdale, an officer in British colonial service, went farther, visiting Yendi in the north and Bontuku in the west. Two years later Captain Brandon Kirby made his way to Kintampo. In 1887-1889 Captain L. G. Binger, a French officer, traversed the country from north to south. Thereafter the whole region was visited by British, French and German political missions. Prominent among the British agents was Mr George E. Ferguson, a native of West Africa, who had previously explored northern Ashanti. Between 1892 and 1897 Ferguson concluded several treaties guarding British interests. In 1897 Lieutenant Henderson and Ferguson occupied Wa, where they were attacked by the sofas of Samory (see Senegal, § 3).
Henderson, who had gone to the sofa camp to parley, was held prisoner for some time, while Ferguson was killed. Meantime negotiations were opened in Europe to settle the spheres of influence of the respective countries. (The Anglo-French agreement of 1889 had fixed the boundaries of the hinterlands of the French colony of the Ivory Coast and the British colony of the Gold Coast as far as 9° N. only.) A period of considerable tension, arising from the proximity of British and French troops in the disputed territory, was ended by the signature of a convention in Paris (14th of June 1898), in which the western and northern boundaries were defined. The British abandoned their claim to the important town and district of Wagadugu in the north. In the following year (14th of November 1899) an agreement defining the eastern frontier was concluded with Germany. Previously a square block of territory to the north of 8° N. had been regarded as neutral, both by Britain and Germany. This was in virtue of an arrangement made in 1888. By the 1899 convention the neutral zone was parcelled out between the two powers. The delimitation of the frontiers agreed upon took place during 1900-1904.
In 1897 the Northern Territories were constituted a separate district of the Gold Coast hinterland, and were placed in charge of a chief commissioner. Colonel H. P. Northcott (killed in the Boer War, 1899-1902) was the first commissioner and commandant of the troops. He was succeeded by Col. A. H. Morris. In 1901 the Territories were made a distinct administration, under the jurisdiction of the governor of the Gold Coast colony. The government was at first of a semi-military character, but in 1907 a civilian staff was appointed to carry on the administration, and a force of armed constabulary replaced the troops which had been stationed in the protectorate and which were then disbanded. The prosperity of the country under British administration has been marked.
- A good summary of the condition and history of the colony to the close of the 19th century will be found in vol. 3, " West Africa," of the Historical Geography of the British Empire by C. P. Lucas (2nd ed., Oxford, 1900). For current information see the Gold Coast Civil Service List (London, yearly), the annual Blue Books published in the colony, and the annual Report issued by the Colonial Office, London. For fuller information consult the Report from the Select Committee on Africa (Western Coast) (London, 1865), a mine of valuable information; The Gold Coast, Past and Present, by G. Macdonald (London, 1898); History of the Gold Coast and Ashanti, by C. C. Reindorf, a native pastor (Basel, 1895); A History of the Gold Coast, by Col. A. B. Ellis (London, 1893); Wanderings in West Africa (London, 1863) and To the Gold Coast for Gold (London, 1883), both by Sir Richard Burton. Of the earlier books the most notable are The Golden Coast or a Description of Guinney together with a relation of such persons as got wonderful estates by their trade thither (London, 1665), and A New and Accurate Description of the Coast of Guinea written (in Dutch) by Willem Bosman, chief factor for the Dutch at Elmina (Eng. trans., 2nd ed., 1721). For a complete survey of the Gold Coast under Dutch control see " Die Niederldndisch West-Indische Compagnie an der Gold-Kiiste " by J. G. Doorman in Tijds Indische Taal-, Landen Volkenk, vol. 40 (1898). For ethnography, religion, law, &c., consult The Land of Fetish (London, 1883) and The Tshi-speaking Peoples of the West Coast of Africa (London, 1887), both by Col. A. B. Ellis; Fanti Customary Law (2nd ed., London, 1904) and Fanti Law Report (London, 1904), both by J. M. Sarbah. The Sketch of the Forestry of West Africa by Sir Alfred Moloney (London, 1887) contains a comprehensive list of economic plants. See also Report on Economic Agriculture on the Gold Coast (Colonial Office Reports, No. 110, 1890), and Papers relating to the Construction of Railways in. .. the Gold Coast (London, 1904). The best map is that of Major F. G. Guggisberg, over 70 sheets, scale I: 125,000 (London, 1907-1909). There is a War Office map on the scale I: 1,000,000 in one sheet. See also the works quoted under Ashanti.
For the Northern Territories see L. G. Binger, Du Niger au Golfe de Guinee (Paris, 1892), a standard authority; H. P. Northcott, Report on the Northern Territories of the Gold Coast (War Office, London, 1899), a valuable compilation summarizing the then available information. Annual Reports on the protectorate are issued by the British Colonial Office. A map on the scale of I: 1,000,000 is issued by the War Office. (F. R. C.)
- Please bookmark this page (add it to your favorites)
- If you wish to link to this page, you can do so by referring to the URL address below.
This page was last modified 29-SEP-18
Copyright © 2021 ITA all rights reserved.