A. B. (Alfred Burdon) Ellis.

A history of the Gold Coast of West Africa online

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Kwanta, the Ashanti general, was slain by Prince Buakji
Asu, who seized this opportunity for gratifying his private
malice ; and the aged general, furious at the murder, took up
arms, and raised a formidable insurrection which threatened
to destroy Kumassi. For some months it seemed as if the
Ashanti kingdom was about to be torn to pieces by a civil war,
but after a variety of negotiations Asamoa Kwanta consented
to lay down his arms, on condition that Buakji Asu and
two of his sisters were handed over to him to be sacrificed ;
and these conditions being complied with, the insurrection
came to an end, but henceforth Asamoa Kwanta kept aloof
from the palace. This serious affair had delayed the election of
the new King, Kwoffi Kari-kari, and, after he had been elected,
the latent disaffection of the general's party rendered a policy
of adventure inadvisable. According to custom, Kwoffi
Kari-kari sent a messenger to each ally and tributary to
inform them of the death of his predecessor and his own
accession ; and these messengers, on arriving at their destina-
tions, were, as is the rule, at once put to death. Amongst
others a messenger was sent to Elmina, and was there
publicly sacrificed without the Dutch authorities taking any
notice of the act The King of Elmina sent in return one of
his chiefs, named Andor, to Kumassi, with a considerable
retinue, to convey his expressions of condolence and to assist
at the funeral obsequies of the late King.

The Ashantis, who were kept thoroughly well informed
of all that took place on the seaboard by the Elminas, had
received with delight the news of the transfer of territory
between the British and Dutch, by which their old foes, the
Wassaws, Denkeras, and Kommendas, were brought under
the rule of the Dutch ; and the news of the investment of
Elmina by the confederated chiefs so roused them to action
that, though affairs in Ashanti were still in a tentative con-
dition, the King sent messengers to the Dutch Governor,
offering to send an army to his assistance. This offer Colonel
Boers was obliged to decline, and so for the moment an
invasion was postponed ; but the Ashantis were firmly re-
solved again to try conclusions with the protected tribes as


soon as a favourable opportunity offered. It is worthy of
note that at the time of his death Kwaku Dua was projecting
a second invasion of the Protectorate to revenge the refusal
to surrender Djanin, which matter was still unforgotten and
unforgiven. The chiefs even asserted that he had died of
grief because he was unavenged, and when they assembled
round his body they declared that he should not be buried
till the insult was wiped out. The young King, Kwoffi
Kari-kari, however, would not consent to this ; but he
promised that Djanin's affair should not be forgotten, and
when he was placed on the stool he swore : " My business
shall be war."

Matters were in this condition when, on October 27th,
1868, Sir Arthur Kennedy, the Governor-in-Chief, arrived at
Cape Coast on a tour of inspection. He was much moved
by the deplorable condition of the country, and shocked at
the dreadful atrocities which took place almost daily ; and
shortly after arrival proceeded to Elmina, where, with Colonel
Boers, he met the Elmina chiefs to endeavour to arrange
a peace. He pointed out that the exchange of territory
between the British and Dutch had changed the relative
political position of Ashanti, and endeavoured to show the
advantages which were to be derived from a combination of all
the people on the sea-coast for mutual support. The Elmina
chiefs seem to have been convinced by his arguments ; at
all events, when they retired to consult together, the majority
had made up their minds to follow his advice ; but to the
surprise of every one, when they returned to the Palaver Hall,
they emphatically refused to enter into any alliance with the
Fantis, Wassaws, or Denkeras, and declared that they
intended to continue the payment of tribute to Ashanti,
whose friendship they greatly preferred. This unexpected
change of opinion is said to have been effected by Colonel
Boers, who, having observed the effect of Sir Arthur
Kennedy's appeal, secretly sent one of his officers to join
the chiefs in their consultation, and remonstrate against any
renunciation of Ashanti. The fact was that for years the
Dutch Government had been in the habit of purchasing



slaves from the King of Ashanti, whom they then sent to
Java to serve as soldiers; and as this was a very economical
way of obtaining recruits (for now that there was no export
trade, slaves were exceedingly cheap), the Dutch local
authorities, who no doubt profited personally by it, did not
at all wish it to be brought to an end by a cessation of inter-
course with Ashanti. Sir Arthur Kennedy was much dis-
appointed at this unexpected frustration of his hopes, and on
returning to Cape Coast, informed the confederated chiefs
that they were now at liberty to undertake any expedition
they pleased against the Dutch natives ; so that in November
it became lawful to do that for which in April Kwasi Attah
had been outlawed and his property confiscated and destroyed.
The people of Elmina, being of opinion that Colonel
Boers had not afforded them proper assistance during the
attack on the town in 1868, had, shortly after the dis-
persion of the confederated natives, sent a deputation to
Holland to petition for his removal ; and early in May, 1869,
Colonel Nagtglas, who had previously served many years on
the Gold Coast in a military capacity, was sent out as a
Royal Commissioner, with extensive powers, to replace him.
Immediately after his arrival an unfortunate occurrence took
place which much embittered the already sufficiently hostile
feeling between the Dutch and those British-protected natives
who had been transferred to them. A Dutch man-of-war,
the Amstel, when off Kommenda, sent a boat manned by two
officers and nine seamen, to take soundings near the shore,
and to endeavour to discover the mouth of a river that was
shown in an old chart in the possession of the captain ; but
through some mismanagement the boat got into the
surf and was capsized, one officer and five of the crew
being drowned, and the remainder being able to reach
the shore only with great difficulty. The Kommendas
who, since the arrival of the Amstel, had been lying in
wait in the bush ready to repel any attempt to land
a force, rushed down upon the survivors as they struggled
ashore to make them prisoners, and in the scuffle
that ensued one of the sailors was killed. The prisoners


were taken into the bush, where one of them died, and
the others were not surrendered until a ransom of three
hundred ounces of gold-dust had been paid by the Dutch

About the middle of June, 1869, the Dutch bombarded
Dixcove, the inhabitants of which had made no secret of
their antipathy to Dutch rule, and had foolishly exulted
over the boat disaster at Kommenda. To render their de-
struction complete, the Dutch Commandant, Captain Alvarez,
supplied the hereditary foes of the Dixcove people at Butri with
ammunition, and instructed them to attack the town from the
land side, while the fort bombarded it. But though driven
from the town by the fire of the fort, the Dixcoves completely
defeated the Butris, and then retired to their bush villages,
where the Commandant was unable to reach them. The chief
sufferers by this affair were the European traders, whose shops
were plundered by the Dutch garrison, and who were never
able to obtain any compensation.


! 868 1869.

An Ashanti force sent to Elmina Bloody march of Atjiempon Affai
at Elmina Treaty with the Awunas Ashanti invasion of Krepi
Mr. Simpson's adventure Capture of German missionaries by th
Ashantis Hostages sent for their safety Policy of the Govern

THE funeral customs for Osai Kwaku Dua were prolongec
in Kumassi till the end of 1868, and at their conclusior
chief Andor and the deputation from Elmina requestec
permission to return home. The internal affairs of the
kingdom had now recovered from the effect of Asamoa
Kwanta's insurrection, and the occasion being a suitable
one for introducing a force to the coast, the King, in dis-
missing the Elminas, sent with them his uncle, Atjiempon,
accompanied by several hundred armed men. The roads
through Fanti, Denkera, and Wassaw being still closed by
the Fanti Confederation, this force was obliged to proceed
through Awuin and Assini to reach the Dutch seaboard.
The King of Awuin, who was on the most friendly terms
with Ashanti, freely permitted its passage through his
territory ; but one of the chiefs of the Amantifu territory
detained Atjiempon at Kinjabo for nearly four months, and
it was only after the exchange of several messages with
Kumassi that he and his following were allowed to proceed.
The French authorities at Assini offered no obstacle to the
passage of the force, which crossed the Assini River, and,
traversing Appollonia, arrived at Axim.


At Axim Atjiempon commenced a series of atrocious
acts which marked his march along the coast to Elmina with
a trail of blood. At the instigation of chief Andor, he cut
out the tongue and then struck off the head of a Fanti
who had been living at Axim for some time ; and this,
although done in the market-place openly, and within three
hundred yards of Fort St. Anthony, provoked no remonstrance
from the Dutch Commandant. This murder was committed
early in November, 1869, anc ^ on ^ Q T 4th f tnat month,
encouraged by the apathy of the Dutch Commandant,
Atjiempon seized two Englishmen, Mr. Cleaver, agent of
Messrs. F. & A. Swanzy, and the master of the brig Alligator,
who had both landed at Axim in the usual course of their
business ; and declared his intention of putting these two
to death also, giving as a reason that he had taken an
oath before he left Kumassi to kill every Englishman he
met. In this instance, however, the Commandant, alarmed
at what might be the consequences to himself if he quietly
allowed two Englishmen to be murdered in a town under
Dutch rule, interfered, and after considerable difficulty and
delay succeeded in persuading Atjiempon to release his

From Axim Atjiempon next marched along the coast
to the east, killing every Fanti, Wassaw, and Denkera he
happened to meet. Two men were murdered at Takoradi,
and at Sekondi he seized some Fantis who had claimed the
protection of the Dutch flag, and put them to death in
front of the fort. From Sekondi Atjiempon continued his
bloody progress through Shamah and Kommenda to Elmina,
where he was received with a perfect ovation, and several
Fantis, who had thought themselves secure from molestation
under the guns of the Castle, were beaten to death by the
assembled mob. The day before entering Elmina he had
beaten a woman to death and beheaded a man at Adua-
pehnin, a small village to the west of Elmina, and the head
he now carried in front of his triumphal procession.

Complaints of all these atrocities were made to the
Administrator, Mr. Ussher, who forwarded the declarations



to Colonel Nagtglas, with a letter expressing the hope that
he would inflict upon Atjiempon such a punishment as
would prevent the recurrence of such barbarities. But
Colonel Nagtglas was not in a position to inflict punishment;
he was really powerless, and though he might have destroyed
the town from the Castle and forts, yet he was hardly
likely to do so, considering that his predecessor had been
removed by the Netherlands Government for not affording
proper protection to the Elminas. Personally he felt the
greatest detestation for Atjiempon, but he was the servant of
his Government, and the most he was able to do was to
refuse for some days, as a mark of displeasure, to give
Atjiempon an audience.

In March, 1870, when Atjiempon was still at Elmina, an
occurrence took place which so well illustrates the license
enjoyed by natives under Dutch control that it is given in
detail. On the I2th of the month Mr. Finlason, an English
man who was engaged in trade at Cape Coast, landed at
Elmina, and went to stay at a house in the town, where in
the course of the evening he received a message that the
King of Elmina wished to see him. To this he replied that
he' would come presently, and the messengers retired, but
soon returned, saying that the King ordered him to come at
once or take the consequences. Mr. Finlason thereupon
said that he had intended going to see the King, as a matter
of politeness ; but now that the King sent him an order, he
would have him to know that he was a British subject, and
would only obey orders given by the Dutch officers, who
were the only authorities he could recognise in Elmina. The
messengers retired, vowing vengeance, and half an hour latei
the King of Elmina and Atjiempon, with a body of armed men
forced their way into the house, charged Mr. Finlason with
being the secretary to the Fanti Confederation and therefore
an enemy, and declared that he should be put to death
Atjiempon's death-drum was beaten, the executioner enterec
the room brandishing his knife, and all hope seemed gone
when a Dutch officer suddenly appeared on the scene witl
a strong body of soldiers from the Castle, and rescued th<


prey, who next day had to be escorted on board his vessel
by a guard of two hundred men to protect him from the mob.

While these events had been taking place in the western
districts of the Gold Coast, the eastern districts had, owing
chiefly to the machinations of Geraldo de Lema, remained in a
disordered condition ever since Governor Blackall's proclama-
tion of peace ; raids being so frequently made upon unpro-
tected villages that some of the most fertile districts were
rapidly becoming depopulated, and trade had almost ceased.
Sir Arthur Kennedy, after his Elmina meeting, had proceeded
to Accra, and he now, with Captain Glover, the Adminis-
trator of Lagos, concerted measures for the pacification of
the countries bordering on the Volta. Rightly supposing
that no permanent settlement could be effected as long as
Geraldo de Lema was at large, he went to Kittah and offered
two hundred pounds for his apprehension, and being unable
to secure him, caused his house at Voji to be bombarded by
H.M.S. Pert, and destroyed, after which he returned to the
Volta. The dangerous bar which closes the mouth of that
river had never been crossed, but Captain Glover thought
that a channel for small vessels might be discovered ; and as
the presence of a steamer on the Volta would show the
Awunas that they were liable to be attacked in the interior,
it was decided to attempt the passage with the Colonial
.steamer Eyo. This was effected with great difficulty, but
without accident, and the Awunas were so much alarmed by
the appearance of this vessel in a stream hitherto supposed
to be unnavigable, that they at once sent representatives to
the Governor to make peace, and a treaty was finally con-
cluded on November 3Oth, 1868. It stipulated that the
Volta should be kept open for all lawful trade, and that all
disputes should be referred to the Governor-in- Chief, whose
decision should be final. The contending parties were at
once to lay down their arms.

Unfortunately the allies of Awuna, the Ashantis and
Akwamus, were not represented at this meeting, so that
the treaty really accomplished no more than the detaching
of the Awunas from the alliance ; and only a few days after

S 2


it had been signed the Akwamus and Ashantis invaded
Krepi, and again put a stop to the navigation of the Volta,
The Ashanti army, thirty thousand strong, was commanded
by Adu Boffo, the old general, Asamoa Kwanta, being still
in retirement ; and the invasion was prosecuted with vigour,
for it was imagined in Kumassi that the Government would
not pay any serious attention to matters beyond the frontier,,
and the Ashanti plan was to acquire territory on the east,
so that with increased prestige and increased strength they
might eventually invade the Protectorate from all sides. It
was at this time that Atjiempon was sent to Elmina, partly
in accordance with long-established custom to protect that
town from the Fantis, and partly to watch for a favourable
opportunity and prepare the way for an attack on the
British ; for it was intended that at the right moment the
Protectorate should be attacked by Atjiempon and the
Elminas on the west, and by Adu Boffo on the east, while
the King himself crossed the Prah.

The Ashantis and Akwamus met with a most unexpected
and obstinate resistance at the hands of the Krepis, who,
led by a brave and skilful leader named Dompreh, returned
again and again to the struggle as if invigorated by defeat.
The war was characterised by all the worst horrors of such
a conflict, and thousands of men, women, and children were
slaughtered or driven into captivity. The Krepis, outnum-
bered but still struggling gallantly, sent appeal after appea
to the Kings of Akim, Akwapim, Krobo, and Accra to come
to their assistance against the common enemy ; and the
excitement became so intense in the eastern districts of the
Protectorate, that the Acting-Administrator, Mr. W. H. Simp-
son, being apprehensive that if something were not done
to allay the general irritation he would find himself involved
in a war, determined, towards the end of February, 1869,
to visit the interior and ascertain the real state of affairs.
On March 5th Mr. Simpson arrived at Odumassi,* in
Krobo, from which place he sent an order to the King oi

* Odum-assi Under the odum tree.


Akwamu to come to him ; but the King owed no allegiance
to the British and declined to obey, upon which Mr. Simpson
determined to visit him in his own territory. The object
of the Administrator in undertaking this journey was to
detach Akwamu from the alliance with Ashanti, and after
several palavers had been held, he apparently succeeded, for
the King and chiefs, converted by his arguments or moved
by his eloquence, signed a treaty of peace that was drawn up
on the spot. Almost immediately afterwards, however, they
were persuaded by the Ashanti general, Adu Boffo, who, as
soon as heard of the transaction, came to the spot, to re-
consider their decision to abandon the Ashanti alliance ;
with the result that when Mr. Simpson, a few days after the
signing of the treaty, declared his intention of returning to
Accra, the King of Akwamu informed him that he was a
prisoner. One can imagine the dismay of Mr. Simpson,
who had been congratulating himself upon having brought a
delicate mission to a successful termination, and now found
himself in a position of great danger ; for though some of the
chiefs wished merely to detain him, others were in favour of
sending him to Kumassi as a present to Kwoffi Kari-kari, and
others again demanded his immediate death ; and it was the
arguments of these last that prevailed. Fortunately it was
contrary to Ashanti policy at this time to take any action
which might precipitate a quarrel with the English, they
having not yet succeeded in crushing the Krepis, and the
arrangements for the simultaneous invasion of the Protectorate
from three sides not being yet perfected ; consequently Adu
BofTo strongly opposed and finally overruled the decision of
the Akwamus. The Ashantis, he said, had at present no
quarrel with the white men, and did not wish to create
one. The time had not yet come, consequently Mr. Simpson
must be allowed to depart, or the Akwamus be prepared to
withstand the anger of Kwoffi Kari-kari. This argument,
backed by the presence of five thousand men, had the
desired effect, and Mr. Simpson was allowed to return to the

The invasion of Krepi was now continued with renewed


vigour by the Ashantis, and in June, 1869, the Germar
mission stations at Anum* and Hof were destroyed. The
inhabitants of the latter were warned in time and effectec
their escape ; but at Anum, which is situated on some higl
ground about eight miles to the east of the Volta, the
Ashantis captured four Europeans, namely, the missionary
Mr. F. A. Ramseyer, his wife and infant son, and Mr. J
Kiihne, who managed the mercantile affairs of the mission
On the Qth. of June, early in the morning, these peaceable
people were taken away from their home by the Ashant
leader of the party which had captured Anum, and roughl)
driven on all day under a burning sun, and past blazing
villages whose heat increased their terrible sufferings, unti
sunset, when they were confined in a village for the night
Next day they were again driven onward, without food o
water; and, after passing the scene of an engagement ii
which the Ashantis had evidently suffered heavily, for th
ground was cumbered with mangled corpses, were finall}
halted at an encampment full of armed men, where they wen
placed in irons by order of Adu Boffo, and exposed to the
taunts and insults of the whole camp. They remained here
for three days, expecting instant death, which, indeed, they
would have regarded as a happy release from their incon
ceivable sufferings ; but on the I4th they were driven on
to another village, and again fettered. They stayed at this
place, subjected to every privation and indignity, till the
24th, when the Ashanti general decided to send his white
prisoners to Kumassi, and on that day they started on their
long journey. An escort of soldiers accompanied them ;
under the command of a brutal confidential slave of Adu
Boffo, named Ageana, who did much to increase theii
miseries, for he drove them on pitilessly day after daj
under a blazing sun, with scarcely sufficient food to sup-
port life. Mrs. Ramseyer was nearly barefooted ; al
were footsore, weary, and starving ; and the poor child

* Anum five or fifth; proper name of a fifth son, who probabb
founded the town.
t Ho Saturday.


deprived of its proper food and exposed to the sun by day
and to the rain and cold by night, was dying by inches
under the very eyes of its agonised parents. On July 3Oth
they halted at the village of Totorassi, in Ashanti proper,
where they remained for ten days, and buried the child,
who here succumbed to its barbarous treatment. From
Totorassi they were taken onward through the town of
Djuabin to the village of Abankoro,* where they were de-
tained for the remainder of the year. Here they were joined
by Monsieur Bonnat, a French trader from Ho, who, confident
that the Ashantis would not molest him, had foolishly re-
mained there while the missionaries made their escape. He
also had been treated with the greatest brutality by his

The Local Government was much exercised as to what
steps should be taken to obtain the release of these European
prisoners, but while they were considering what they should
do, the missionaries at Odumassi in Krobo acted, and per-
suaded the King of Krobo to intervene in their behalf. He
was at first put off with excuses ; but the tide of battle un-
expectedly turned against the Ashantis, upon whom the inde-
fatigable Dompreh in October inflicted a serious defeat ; and
this, and a rumour that the eastern tribes of the Protectorate
were preparing to assist the Krepis, seriously alarmed the
King of Akwamu. He dared not break with the Ashantis,
who were his too near neighbours, and on the other hand he
did not wish to find himself embroiled with the tribes of the
Protectorate, whom he must pacify at any cost. Adu Boffo also
found himself in a difficult position ; for with Dompreh and
the Krepis in front, an attack in flank by an army of Krobos,
Akwapims, and Akims would have utterly destroyed him.
Hence he, too, thought it advisable to do something to calm
the tribes within the Protectorate ; and as both he and the
King of Akwamu believed that the excitement was due to
their fears for the safety of the white captives, they sent
to the King of Krobo hostages who would answer for

* Aban-koro One fine house.


their lives, among them being a son of the Ashanti
general himself. A report of the difficult position of
Adu Boffo also reached Kumassi, and to keep the pro-
tected tribes from rising, Kwofn Kari-kari sent messengers
to the Government to express his readiness to exchange
the missionaries for Ashanti prisoners. These messengers

Online LibraryA. B. (Alfred Burdon) EllisA history of the Gold Coast of West Africa → online text (page 22 of 34)