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British Colony

This section is a follow on from the Introduction to Ghana brief history. After the European countries had divided and settled African boundaries between themselves, the Gold Coast became a British crown colony. At this time, the British had not yet achieved full control of the Ashante kingdom. But they were determined to acquire it because of the natural wealth of the area, especially in gold. The British once again attacked and burned down almost all the capital of Kumasi. The king's palace was found empty to the disappointment of the British. Accra became the capital of the colony in 1877.

Around 1885, at the the Berlin Conference, initiated by King Leopold of Belgium, there was new agreement among the European countries on new borders for Africa. By 1900, the Gold Coast boundaries were as they are now except that the eastern part belonging to Togoland which was German teritory. The Ashante region, though taken, still resented the British. So when Nana Agyeman Prempeh the first, became king in 1896, in a gesture to show who was in control, Nana Agyeman Prempeh was exiled to Seychelles islands.

In further humiliation, the British demanded the Golden stool, the most revered symbol of power and authority, to be handed over in 1900 when Frederick Hodgson was the colonial governor. But the Asante had foreseen this demand and created a fake stool to be given to the British. The provocations led to uprising among the Asante and one such attack on the British fort in Kumasi, was led by the legendary woman Yaa Asantewaa.

Kwame Nkrumah was born in 1909, in the village Nkroful. He later graduated from Achimota College and continued his studies in USA and England.

After World War I in 1918, the German areas in the eastern part of the then Gold Coast colony, came under British control. Nationalist movements began to rise in the colony and people began asking questions why they couldn't govern themselves. The simmering unrest led to one of the most famous or infamous utterances of that time: "One of the greatest mistakes of the education in the past has been this, that it has taught the African to become European instead of remaining African. This is entirely wrong and the Government recognizes it. In future, our education will aim at making an African remain an African and taking interest in his own country." Sir Gordon Guggisberg, governor of the Gold Coast in 1920. Quoted from "Africa, A biography of the continent" by John Reader. Perhaps, this underlines why at the time of independence in 1957, there were only about 10 secondary schools and one university in the whole of Ghana. As an attempt to buy some quiet or peace, the hitherto exiled king, Nana Agyeman Prempeh, was allowed to return from his exile in the Seychelles in 1924.

The first legislative elections were carried out in the Gold Coast in 1925 and the Asantes allowed to have restricted "autonomy" through the Ashanti Confederacy Council in 1935. But after the World War 2, the US and USSR piled on pressure on Britain to initiate steps to give her territories independence. In 1946 the Gold Coast's Legislative Council had a majority of black Africans, when the British little by little gave in to the pressure for African political representation. The rule of the colony was still entirely in the hands of the British.

Kwame Nkrumah returned from the US and became the secretary of United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) in 1947. Around this time there were many new political parties striding for independence. On February 28, 1948, riots broke out in Accra when Police fired at an anti-colonial demonstration. 29 were killed and hundreds were wounded. Meanwhile in 1949, Nkrumah became dissatisfied with the efforts of UGCC, and therefore left to found the Convention People's Party (CPP). CPP quickly became the major player on the nationalist political scene. In 1950, Nkrumah called for national strike and was jailed for his demands for independence. He was released the following year and he and his party, CPP, won the first election for the Legislative Assembly in 1951 and in 1952 Nkrumah became the first African prime minister and government leader, but still shared power with the British governor Sir Charles Arden-Clarke. Nkrumah was re-elected prime minister in 1954 and 1956 and Ghana won her independence in 1957.

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