Gold Coast Under Colonial Rule 1902-1951

Gold Coast Under Colonial Rule 1902-1951
Yaa Asantewaa
Partly as a result of the several administrative, judicial, financial and social measures taken by the British to consolidate their presence in the Gold Coast and also the pressure put on her by the Scramble for Africa and the Berlin Conference of 1884-85 to check possible French incursions into the northern parts of the Gold Coast,Her Majesty’s Government annexed Asante and the Northern Territories to the British Crown by two Orders-in-Council of 1st January 1902.
The former was the result of conquest in the Yaa Asantewa War of 1900-01 and the latter being the conclusion of Treaties with the help of the Fante Surveyor George Ekem Ferguson. Trans-Volta Togoland seized from Germany at the end of World War I became an adjunct of the Gold Coast Colony with the approval of the League of Nations in July 1921. This completed the territorial definition of modern Ghana and also the beginning of colonial rule property defined.
British colonialism in the Gold Coast was all embracing; it involved economic, social and political infrastructural development. Economically, cash crop farming and the mining boom of the last decade of the 19th century promised great economic opportunities. In 1890 and 1901 palm oil and palm kernels constituted 44% and 48% respectively of export revenue. From a modest export of 80 lbs. of cocoa beans worth £4 in 1891, the Gold Coast became the world’s number one producer of cocoa in 1911 with an output of 88.9 million lbs. worth £6 million. In that year, cocoa accounted for 46% of Gold Coast’s total value of exports.
The country also experienced a “gold rush” in 1901 with an estimated 3,000 concessions taken up. The promise of prosperity held out by cocoa and minerals underscored the need for a good infrastructure of railways and roads. Between 1898 and 1901 the mining town of Tarkwa was linked by a 41-mile railroad to Sekondi. In 1902 the line was extended 124 miles to Obuasi and in 1903 it was further extended 168 miles to Kumasi. Construction of Accra-Kumasi railway, begun in 1905, was completed in 1923. The third railway a branch linking Kade, a diamond mining centre, to Huni Valley was completed in 1926.
The Arrival Of Europeans
Cape Coast Castle
The advent of Portuguese explorers on the Fanti coast in 1471 marked the beginning of European contact with the Gold Coast. Initially Europeans were attracted to the coast of today’s Ghana because of her enormous mineral wealth, which earned it the name of the “Gold Coast”.
Within ten years of arrival, the Portuguese had built a castle in Elmina and by 1500 they were already exporting at least 567 kilograms (over half tonne) of gold through Elmina annually. This increased to between 900 and 1400 kilograms, roughly equivalent to 10% of total world supply, by 1600.
The French, the English, the Dutch, the Swedes, the Danes and the Brandenburghers of the Prussians soon followed the Portuguese. All of these European nations built forts, lodges and castles along the Gold Coast littoral to establish their presence and to participate in the lucrative gold trade. One such fort, with an interesting history not least because it had a Gold Coast governor in the 17th century, was the Swedish headquarters in Osu. Now known as Christainborg Castle, it was taken over by the Danes in 1657 when they drove out the Swedes; it was then enlarged and re-named Christianborg. Thirty-six years later, in 1693, the Akwamu trader and confidant of the Akwamuhene, Asameni, seized it in the name of Akwamuhene from the Danes, and remained there as governor and trader until the Danes were constrained to pay a fee of about 50 gold marks (£1.600) for its return.
The 17th century saw a shift of emphasis from the gold trade to the slave trade, as a result of the high demand for labour for the plantations of the New World. The large-scale importation of firearms from the mid 17th century and the resultant increase in the incidence of wars in the Gold Coast hinterland produced millions of captives for transportation to the West Indies and the Americas. The consequences were far reaching gold production virtually ceased leading to a reverse demand from the New World; famine occured in areas before food had been plentiful; while the pace of political centralization increased in those states that benefited from the slave trade. By the turn of the 18th century there already existed in the interior powerful states like Denkyra, Adansi Akyem and Akwamu which was later joined by Asante, and other Akan states and the Ewe and Ga-Adamgbe states. In Northern Ghana the Mole-Dagbani states and Gonja had also attained a high level of centralization.
Between 1600 and 1874 when the British converted their forts and settlements along the Gold Coast littoral into a Crown Colony there was further intensification of state building activities in the Gold Coast resulting in the establishment and consolidation of the Ga, the Akwamu, the Akyem, the Asante, the Ewe, the Dagomba and the Gonja. These states and many others were to play prominent roles in the history of the Gold Coast.

Nationalism and Independence
Dr. Du Bois
The roots of Ghanaian nationalism go back to the early decades of the 20th century. It owed much to the influences of the Pan African Movement of W.W.B. Du Bois, Sylvester Williams, Edward Blyden and Marcus Garvey among others and the West African Students Union based in the United Kingdom. Dr Du Bois’ first Pan-African Congress was held in Paris in 1919; and within a year of that meeting,
Casely Hayford convened the inaugural meeting of the National Congress of British West Africa, (NCBWA), in Accra. The NCBWA was intended as a platform for the intelligentsia of British West Africa to bring “before the Government the wants and aspirations of the people” for attention. In the longer term, the Congress aimed at the attainment of self-government for British West Africans by constitutional means. Among the specific demands of NCBWA were the election of African representation to both the Legislative and Municipal Councils; cessation of the exercise of judicial functions by untrained pubic servants; the opening up of the Civil Service to Africans; establishment of a British West African University and compulsory education.
Following the death of Casely Hayford in 1930 the NCBWA became moribund; and in the mid 1930s national politics became radicalized as a result of the activities of the Sierra Leonean, Isaac Wallace Johnson, then based in the Gold Coast, and his West African Youth League. The colonial Government and the chiefs, who were seen as their collaborators came under increasing pressure as a result.
Nationalist agitation was suspended during the Second World War years of 1939 to 1945 but was resumed after 1945. Indeed, the peoples of the Gold Coast actively supported the British war effort, contributing troops and funds to purchase a helicopter. The 5th Pan African Congress held in Manchester in October 1945 inspired Nkrumah returned home at the invitation of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) formed on 4 August 1947 to help free the Gold Coast from colonial rule “within the shortest possible time.
British Colonial Rule and the Spread of Western Influence

George Maclean
Even though the British colonial rule, in the strict sense, was not established until after the Berlin Conference of 1884 - 1885, British power and jurisdiction in the Gold Coast began to take firm roots from the beginning of the 19th century when George Maclean laid the foundations for expansion of British influence. In 1830 Maclean arrived in Cape Coast and his instructions were explicit. He was not to interfere in the affairs of the states of the Gold Coast; he was only to ensure
that British interests were adequately protected. Maclean was, however, a practical man who realised that British trade and missionary activities would only thrive in an atmostphere of peace and order. Thus contrary to his remit he actually engaged the British, Fante and Asante in engendering harmonious relations that won him the admiration and confidence of all and ensured that trade between the coast and the interior flourished. Maclean’s term of office ended in 1843 and in that year he became the Judicial Assessor of British Forts on the coast until he died in 1847.
Commander Hill, who was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of British Forts and Castles in the Gold Coast, succeded Maclean. He recognised that the success of his predecessor derived in part from the harmonious relations that he established in the Gold Coast; he therefore proceeded to formalize the relations in a short document of three paragraphs signed initially by seven coastal chiefs on 6th March 1844 and subsequently by ten other chiefs. The document, which has be come to be known as the Bond of 1844, represented the first major imperial assault on the rights and powers of Gold Coasters to administer their own affairs. It outlawed certain customary practices and provided that criminal cases were to be tried by British officials in conjunction with the chiefs.
On 6 March 1957, the British colony of Gold Coast became independent and assumed the name Ghana. Until 1957, the Gold Coast consisted of the Gold Coast colony which comprised British processions on the Gold Coast littoral and extended less than one hundred miles inland up to the Pra; Ashanti,
which included today’s Ashanti, Brong Ahafo and parts of Easter Region. A name Ghana was assumed at independence for three reasons. First, some of the founding fathers of Ghana argued that the Akan of the Gold Coast, who constituted 45% of the population were descendants of the ancient Ghana Empire that flourished from the 9th to the 13th Centuries between the Sahara and head waters of the Senegal and Niger rivers. Second, the spectacular example of ancient Ghana in building a great African empire that endured for three centuries was emulating by the emergent nation. Finally, the name was not ethnically specific to any of the countries numerous ethnic groups, it will therefore engender the spirit of national coercion and consciousness.
The total land area of Ghana is 238,538 square kilometres (92,100 square miles); the southern coast line being 554 kilometres (334 miles) wide and the distance from the south to the north being 840 kilometres (522 miles). Ghana is located on the Gulf of Guinea and boarded on north by Burkina Faso on the east by the Republic of Togo and on the West by Cote d’Ivoire.
Today, the population of Ghana is about 20 million with the highest population densities on the urban areas. The principal ethnic groups are the Akans who constitute about 45% of the population is made up of the Ashanti, the Fanti, the Ahanta, the Guan, the Bonu, the Akyem, the Akwamu, the Kwahu, the Akwapim, the Sefwi and the Nzema; the Mole, Dagbani, 16% is made up of Nanumba, Dagbani, Mamprusi, Wala, Bruilsa, Frafra, Talensi and Kusasi; the Ewe, 13% made up of the Anlo, the Some, the Tongu and the Ewedome; the Ga-Adangbe, 9% made up of the Ga, the Shai or Adamgbe, the Ada and the Krobo or the Kloli; the Gurma, 4% and the Grusi, 2% made up of the Mo, the Sisala, the Kasena, the Vagala and the Tampolene,. Living among the Ewe are non-Ewe speaking groups such as the Akpafu, the Lolobi, the Likpe, the Santrokofi, the Nkonya, the Avatime, the Logba and the Tafii.
The peoples of Ghana are composed of two principal linguistic groups: the Gur and the Kwa group of languages, which are respectively spoken to the north and south of the Gurma and the Grusi and the speakers of Kwa are the Akan, the Guan, the Ewe and the Ga-Adamgbe.

Pre Independence
Nkrumah's Dream Project, Akosombo Dam
In the six years that elapsed between the first General Elections in 1951 and Ghana's attainment of independence in 1957, the government of the CPP took bold initiatives to advance the development of the country economically, socially and politically. In the economic sphere, it launched a 5-year Development Plan for the country.
Its achievements included the sealing of many of the country’s existing roads and the construction of new ones; the construction of a bridge over the Volta at Adomi, to facilitate travel between what is now the Volta Region and the rest of the country; the construction of a new and modern harbour at Tema; the extension of Huni valley to kade railway line to Accra and tema; support for the cocoa industry and formulation of plans for the building of a hydro-electricity plant at Akosombo.
In the social field, the CPP Government launched, in 1952, the free compulsory primary education programme for children aged between 6 and 12 years. It increased Government expenditure on primary education from £207,500 in 1950-51 to over £900,000 in 1952. As a result, the number of registered pupils in elementary schools increased from 212,000 in 1950 to 270,000 in 1952. Sixteen new Teacher Training Colleges were established to increase the output of teachers while the number of Government-assisted Secondary Schools increased from 13 in 1951 to 31 in 1955. In 1952 the CPP Government established the Kumasi College of Arts Science and Technology and co-operated with Nigeria, the Gambia and Sierra Leone to establish the West African Examinations Council to organize and administer examinations in the four countries. University education was free and textbooks were supplied to all pupils in primary, middles and secondary schools.
Politically, the CPP Government accelerated the pace of Africanisation of the civil and public service, resulting in the rise in the number of Africans in the so-called “European posts” from 171 in 1949 to 916 in 1954 and to 3,000 in 1957. It also introduced a new system of Local Government with an elected majority in 1952. But the biggest political challenge to the Government during the period was the threat to the cohesion of the state.

Post-Independence Ghana
The First Cabinent
Under the Independence Constitution, Nkrumah as leader of the majority party in parliament, became the Prime Minister of Independent Ghana. He was a Member of Parliament, head of the Cabinet and exercised executive powers. The Constitution also provided that all Ministers
should be appointed from among Members of Parliament. A Governor General who would represent the monarch of the United Kingdom as ceremonial head of state and a leader of Opposition appointed form the largest minority party in parliament. The first Governor General was Sir Charles Arden-Clarke who, as Governor of the Gold Coast helped steer the country to independence. The Earl of Listowell, in 1957, placed Arden-Clarke as the last Governor General of Ghana.
The deterioration of relations between Government and the Opposition in the run up to independence was not helped by the passing of the Preventive Detention Act (PDA), in July 1958, to empower the Governor-General upon being satisfied that it was in the interest of the state so to do, to cause the detention of a citizen. Under the PDA, the Opposition was hounded for suspected acts of subversion.
On 1 July 1960 Ghana became a republic and the Republican Constitution that provided that the monarch of United Kingdom ceased to be Ghana’s head of state and there should be an elected president who was at once the head of state, executive head of government and a Member of Parliament. Nkrumah won the election for the first executive president of the Republic of Ghana with 1,016,076 votes representing 89.1% of. The total votes with Danquah of the United Party as the other contestant polling 124,623 votes representing 10.9%


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