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Brief History

Ghana is named after an earlier powerful kingdom in the sub-Sahara region around the 12th century. It is believed our ancestors mostly moved south from the north, joined at different eras by groups from the east and west of Ghana as we know it today. Recorded history shows that in 1471, the Portugees were the first Europeans who actively sought to settle in the coastal regions of West Africa in order to promote trading. In 1482 they built a castle at 'El mina' (the mine), near the beach of the present town Elmina.

The Danes were among the last Europeans to arrive in Ghana in 1650. They built one of the most imposing castles in Africa in 1661. They called the castle, Christianborg but it is now popularly called the Osu Castle, which contains the President's main offices.

Beyond this point is the sad tale of trade where the products were human beings. The vast continent of America was short of labourers for their cotton and cane farms. Where initially the Portugees had arrived in the Gold Coast for the sole purpose of trade in goods, it became clear that trading slaves was more profitable.

So for over 300 years the Portugees, British, French, Swedish, Germans saw the Gold Coast and the neighbouring African countries as bounty fields. In addition to the gold and mineral resources which were shipped, were human beings chained and packed like sardines for the long and torturous journeys to the Americas.

Today, in Ghana, one of the castles which serves as a good reminder of what went on is preserved in the Elmina castle. By the 1870s all european countries but Britain had left the Gold Coast after some bargaining arrangements with Britain. Most of of the Gold Coast was still under the control of native chiefs. The one area offering the stiffest resistance, was the Ashanti region.

But in 1874, Britain declared the Gold Coast as a crown colony even though there were still vast areas opposing their occupation. In the same year, however, Britain with the help of the southern part of the country attacked and took over the stronghold (Kumasi) of the Ashanti tribe.

Accra became the capital of Gold Coast in 1877 and between 1884-85, there was an European conference in Berlin to share chunks of Africa between themselves. As a result, most of Ghana, as we know it now, became British colony.

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