A. B. (Alfred Burdon) Ellis.

A history of the Gold Coast of West Africa online

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remove the Adansis and Inkwantas from the frontier, and it
was not until the necessity of this course was urged by
Inspector Dudley that it seems to have been thought of; but
even then it was not acted upon. Inspector Dudley found
that the whole of the people of Upper Denkera were implicated
in the raids, and that the King of Lower Denkera had
accepted bribes to assist the Adansis against Bekweh. He
was unable to recover any of the Bekvvehs who had been
carried off by Karsang, most of them having been
slaughtered, and the survivors, a few women and children,
sold as slaves in Sefwhi to any chance purchaser.

The unsettled condition of affairs that had so long
prevailed in Ashanti, and the persistent attacks made or
native traders, were naturally detrimental to commerce ; anc
the imports of British cottons, which in 1884 amounted t(
^591,000, fell in 1885 to ^388,000, and in 1886 to ^"318,000
The revenue of the Colony had been fully maintained durin|
this period, but this was due to the large duties levie(
on spirits, which, being chiefly of foreign manufacture, an<
the trade in them in foreign hands, benefited in no wa;
British manufactures. In February, 1887, this seriou
diminution was brought to the notice of the Secretary c "
State for the Colonies by the Manchester Chamber c *
Commerce, which complained of the apathy shown by th \
Gold Coast Government in regard to the commercial interes'
of the Colony. More especially it pointed out the negle< tt
shown to the affairs of the interior, calling attention to tl i j


fact that a letter from the Secretary of State to the Governor,
written in July, 1885, asking for information as to the
condition of Ashanti, and on the future policy of the Govern-
ment in regard to that country, was not acknowledged and
answered till April, 1886, and even then no opinion as to the
future policy was given.

The Chamber of Commerce was undoubtedly right in
its contention that the affairs of the interior had been
neglected, and that the decrease in the value of British
imports was due to that neglect. The great falling-off was
in 1885. Kwaku Dua II. had, as we have seen, died in June,
1884, and, on the i6th of October of that year, Mr. Young
had received messengers from the queen-mother asking that
a European officer might be sent to Kumassi, to meet the
provincial chiefs, and assist at the election of a new King.
As we have also seen, no officer was sent up till August,
1886, and then only a native ; and, at the commencement
of the year 1887, tne election of a King seemed as far off
as ever. Had a European officer been sent up when first
asked for, a King would have been elected ; the presence
of an officer of the Government at his installation would
have given him a prestige which would have enabled him
to reduce to obedience any provincial chiefs who might
show a disposition to be unruly, and peace and quietness
would have been restored to the country.

In January, 1887, no settlement having been arrived at,
the ill-feeling between the rival factions in Ashanti broke
out into hostilities. The supporters of Prempeh were the
Kumassi chiefs, the chief of Bekweh, and the King of
Djuabin, while Archiriboanda was supported by the chiefs
of Kokofu, Mampon, and Nsuta. The leader, and most
active member of the latter party, was Atjiempon, whose
support was said to have been purchased by the promise
that he should not be asked to restore 3,200 .ounces of
gold that had been entrusted to him for safe keeping by
the late King Mensa, payment of which the Princess Yah
Kia had demanded on behalf of her son Prempeh. Towards
the end of January the chiefs of the two factions had a



conference at Siwah, at which it was agreed that
candidate who secured the most votes should be elected;
but as the various representatives were returning to their
homes, the chief of Bekweh attacked and killed Atjiempon
and the head linguist of the chief of Kokofu. The Bekwehs
then attacked the Kokofus near the town of Kokofu, which
they burned, driving their opponents back to the village
of Tupraitu.

About the same time the Bekwehs were engaged on
their south-western frontier with the Inkwanta refugees,
who, aided by the Denkeras, openly invaded Bekweh
territory in large bodies ; and, Inspector Dudley having
returned to Elmina from Upper Denkera in February,
Captain Lonsdale, the Commissioner of Native Affairs, was
sent there to restrain them. He found that . the Denkeras
had assisted the Inkwantas with men and guns, that the
Denkera chiefs had received gold and pawns in return
for the assistance lent, and that some Kumassi messengers
had been put to death in the village of Akwabosu,* in the
Protectorate. He also learned that a battle had taken place
on the 27th of January, in which the Bekwehs had been
worsted, and, like Inspector Dudley, he recommended that
Karsang and the other Adansi chiefs should, with their
followers, be removed to the coast, or to any district where
they could not foment border troubles. Mr. Griffith had
by this time proceeded to England, and Colonel F. B. P.
White, who had been appointed Acting Governor of the
Colony, at once made arrangements for the removal of
the Adansis, who were finally located near Insabang, in the
Aguna district.

In April the Kokofus took the field to revenge the death,
of Atjiempon, and, on the 26th of the month, a battle was
fought at Ehuren, near the town of Bekweh, in which the
Kokofus were completely routed. Six days later th(
Bekwehs were equally successful in the south-west, anc
repulsed an inroad of the Inkwantas, whom they drew intc

Akwabo-su " Welcome water."


an ambush, and caused to lose some three hundred men.
After this event, Captain Lonsdale, who was still in Upper
Denkera, arrested the King and ex-King of Inkwanta, who
were chiefly responsible for the raid, and had them removed
to the coast. On the I4th of May a second battle took
place between the Bekwehs and Kokofus, in which the
former were driven from the camps they had formed on
the main road, and forced to retire towards Kumassi; but
being joined by the Ashanti general, Awua, chief of
Bantama, with a large number of men from the south-west
of Kumassi, were able to take the field again almost at once.
The Prempeh party had at this time in their hands the
opposing claimant, Archiriboanda, but dared not kill him
because he was of the royal blood.

So far the struggle for the supremacy had been confined
to Bekweh and Kokofu, neither Kumassi or Djuabin on the
one side, nor Mampon or Nsuta on the other, having taken
any part in it. The reinforcement of the Bekwehs by the
chief of Bantama again equalised the opposing forces, and as
each side appeared to be doubtful of the result of a further
appeal to arms, Colonel White determined to make an effort
to put an end to the hostilities and to establish a central
government for the country. He accordingly instructed
Captain Lonsdale to proceed to Ashanti, and on August roth
that officer, who had been joined by a party of Houssa Con-
stabulary under Assistant-Inspector Barnett, crossed the Prah.

Between the Prah and the village of Adjaman, three
days' journey from the river, no sign of human life was.
seen, every town and village having been completely
destroyed, and the very trees growing in them cut
down. The chief of Kokofu was encamped at Adjaman
with some 6,000 Kokofus, Dadiassis, and Adansis, and he
endeavoured to persuade the embassy to stop there, but
Captain Lonsdale continued his journey to Adwabin, four
hours south of Kumassi, passing numbers of dead, and
several deserted villages, on the road. The Bekwehs, like
the Kokofus, were encamped and ready to recommence
hostilities. Some skirmishing had taken place on the 8th of


August, and a general engagement had been expected on
the 1 5th, but this Captain Lonsdale was able to prevent, as
well as an attempt of the Bekweh party on the 1 8th to march
through the Kokofu camp at Adjaman on the pretence of
coming to see him, which would certainly have caused a
conflict. The first thing to be done towards the restoration
of peace was to persuade the hostile chiefs to return to their
own districts, and on 24th August Captain Lonsdale visited
the Bekweh camp and requested Awua, and some Kumassi
chiefs who were with him, to return to their homes, as he
could not discuss Ashanti questions in the Bekweh camp.
They objected to do this, but finally promised compliance if
Captain Lonsdale would dethrone the chief of Kokofu, whom
they declared to be the cause of there being no King of
Ashanti ; and this proposition being refused, the meeting
terminated without anything being settled. Next day, how-
ever, Awua and the Kumassis left the Bekweh camp for the
capital, and shortly afterwards the Kokofus were persuaded
to withdraw from their camps ; which disbandment restored
confidence to such an extent that the women and children at
once commenced returning to and rebuilding their villages.

On 28th August, having heard that the opposing factions
in the districts to the north of Kumassi, who had hitherto
remained quiet, had now taken the field, Captain Lonsdale
sent Mr. Barnett to persuade them to disperse and return to
their homes. That officer found Mampon and Nsuta arrayed
against the people of the Offin River district (Offinsu), but
managed affairs so well that when he returned to Adwabin
on the 1 8th of October, he was able to report that the armies
had been disbanded and peace restored. In the interim,
after overcoming great difficulties, Captain Lonsdale had
succeeded in making the chiefs of Bekweh and Kokofu " drink
fetish " together by proxy, in the persons of their respective
princesses, and swear to keep the peace. It afterwards be-
came known that, immediately after this ceremony, the chief
of Kokofu put to death all the Bekweh prisoners who were in
his hands ; but, fortunately, this murder did not transpire
at the time, or the war would at once have been renewed.


Captain Lonsdale remained at Advvabin till the i8th of
November, when, as everything was quiet, and the different
chiefs were preparing for the forthcoming election, he returned
to the coast to confer with the Governor as to the policy to
be followed in the future, leaving Mr. Barnett in charge at
Adwabin. On arriving at Accra, however, his health broke
down, and in January he had to be invalided to England,
where he died on the 28th of the month, immediately after
his arrival at Liverpool.

Shortly after Captain Lonsdale's departure from Adwabin,
Archiriboanda escaped from the custody of the Prempeh
party and fled to the chief of Kokofu, who then ordered all
his people to join him in the camp he had formerly occupied.
Next, the chief of Kokofu " drank fetish " with the King of
Inkwanta, who, without any intimation to Captain Lonsdale
or Mr. Barnett, had been sent by Mr. Griffith to reoccupy
with his people the territory from which he had been driven
by the Bekwehs. As a police sergeant had been sent with
the King, this resumption of territory by the Inkwantas was
considered by the surrounding tribes to have the official
sanction of the Government. By great exertions Mr. Barnett
succeeded in preventing the Inkwantas from taking any active
part with the Kokofus, whose chief was now the only obstacle
to a settlement. He had gathered all the unruly members
of the different Ashanti tribes into his camp, every criminal
being sure of an asylum with him, and he had between
six and seven thousand men under arms, with whom he
threatened to renew the war with Bekweh.

On the 1 8th of January, 1888, all the representatives of
the Ashanti tribes, except Kokofu, sent to Mr. Barnett to
know when steps would be taken to place a King on the
stool; saying that nearly three months had elapsed since they
" drank fetish " together, and nothing had yet been done. Mr.
Barnett had been waiting for the return of Captain Lonsdale,
who was the person charged with this business, but when on
the 23rd of January he learned that that officer had been
invalided to England, he sent to urge the chiefs not to delay.
The election of a King, however, was still hindered by the



supporters of Archiriboanda, in the hope that time woul<
give them some advantage over the other party, for their
candidate had recently greatly damaged his cause, while in
the Kokofu camp, by his notorious intrigues with married
women. It was, however, acknowledged by all that Prempeh,
as the brother of the late King, was the legitimate successor,
the order of succession being from brother to brother, and
then to sister's son.

At last, in March, Awua of Bantama and the Kuma<
chiefs, impatient of further delay, placed Prempeh on th(
Odum stool, a ceremony of nomination preliminary to being
placed on the golden stool ; and the chief of Mampon, afraid
that the King would be installed without any Europear
officer being present, sent to ask Mr. Barnett to come at once
to Kumassi, which he did, arriving there on March I5th. Or
the i/th he sent to all the provincial chiefs, asking them tc
come to Kumassi and hold the election on the 2/th, whicl:
was the only day suitable for an occasion of such importance
before the Great Adae* of April 27th ; and all promised t<
attend, except the King of Inkwanta, who declared that he wa
now no longer subject to Ashanti, but to the British Govern
ment. Everything was now prepared for the ceremony, bu
on the 26th of March the chief of Kokofu sent to say he coul<
not come to Kumassi unless pardon was promised to all wh -
had committed the crimes of rebellion, murder, rape, adulter) ,
and theft, a stipulation which showed clearly of whc :
kind of men his following was composed. After a Ion
conference, these terms were agreed to, and the Princess Ya u
Kia, with Awua, chief of Bantama, and Asafu Buak :
principal chief of Kumassi, agreed to meet the chief c ft
Kokofu outside Kumassi, and " drink fetish " with him to th;
effect. The Kokofu messengers thereupon departed, a]
parently highly pleased, but in the afternoon others returne
together with messengers from Mampon, saying that the n
respective chiefs could not arrive in time, and asking th
the election might be postponed till the next Great Adc

* The Ashantis usually reckon time by periods of forty or forty-fr
days, every fortieth or forty-second day being a festival, termed t
Great Adae ; eighteen or twenty days after which is the Little Adae.


As Mr. Barnett had just received orders from the Governor to
leave Ashanti on the loth of April, whether a King was elected
or not, this was impossible, and Prempeh was placed on the
stool of Ashanti at midnight on the 26th of March, without
the chiefs of Mampon and Kokofu being present ; but
representatives of these chiefs, who were present, said they
had no objection to offer to Prempeh, and that there would
be no further trouble. Thus, at last, through the exertions of
Captain Lonsdale and Mr. Barnett, who had shown great tact
and unwearied patience, there was a prospect of a termination
being put to the state of anarchy that had prevailed in
Ashanti since 1885. The new King, on being placed on the
stool, took the name of Kwaku Dua III.

In April, 1887, a quarrel broke out between Kwabina
Archiri, chief of Wanki, in Eastern Akim, and Attah Fua,
King of Western Akim, the former claiming the ferry over
the River Birrim* at Insuaim,f and also that town itself, which
was the capital of Western Akim ; and affairs looked so
threatening that Assistant-Inspector Brennan was sent with
a party of Houssa Constabulary to the scene of disturbance.
In the same month, Kwadjo Deh, King of Krepi, sent
down to inform the Governor that the Tavievis, between
whom and the Krepis there had been a long-standing
quarrel, had attacked the Krepi town of Zavi, and killed
seventeen of its inhabitants. The King of Krepi likewise
announced that he was about to attack the Tavievis, and as
such a step would probably entail very serious consequences,
Assistant-Inspector Dalrymple was sent with sixty-three
men of the Houssa Constabulary to restrain the King, and
settle the quarrel peaceably. On arriving at Zavi he found
Kwadjo Deh with about 3,000 men under arms, and pre-
paring to attack the Tavievis, who were ambuscading the
roads, and murdering all passers-by indiscriminately. It was
with great difficulty that Mr. Dalrymple stopped the projected,
attack, for the Krepis were greatly excited by the shocking
atrocities committed by the Tavievis, who, after capturing a
number of Krepi children, had pounded some to death in the
wooden mortars used for pounding yams, had dashed out the
* Birrim Dark, or black. t Water-place.


brains of others against trees, and had lopped off the hands
of the remainder, whom they had then sent back to their
friends. The native War, however, was prevented, and then
in accordance with later instructions received from the
Governor, Mr. Dalrymple went to Tavievi, to arrest and bring
to trial those who had been most prominent in the attack on
Zavi, and in the committal of the atrocities. Mr. Bennett
the District Commissioner of the Volta district, accompanied
the party.

Mr. Dalrymple discovered that Belli Kwabina, the chief of
Tavievi, had himself been present with several of his captains
at the attack of Zavi, and he accordingly told them that they
would have to accompany him to Accra. To this they made
no open objection, but they secretly instructed their men
to form an ambuscade on the road, and to fire upon the
Constabulary if they should be in their custody. At a
meeting on the nth of May, Mr. Dalrymple formally arrested
Belli Kwabina and his captains, and, after having sent on Mr.
Bennett in advance with the carriers and baggage, left
Tavievi for Ho at two p.m. with his men and his prisoners
About two miles out of Tavievi the Houssas discovered the
ambush that had been prepared, and warned their officer
but he, thinking that the natives would not dare to fire
ordered his men to push on. Suddenly a man sprang out of th<
bush, and pointed his musket at Mr. Dalrymple, who wavec
him off; but Belli Kwabina called to him to shoot, saying
the white man was taking him away, and he thereupon firec
idlling Mr. Dalrymple on the spot. A general discharge o
musketry from the ambushed natives then followed, and th
Houssas, who behaved exceedingly well, fought their wa
through them to Ho, carrying with them the body of the
officer, and losing six of their number killed, and tw >
wounded. Belli Kwabina escaped .during the confusion, bi L
the Houssas killed ten of their prisoners who endeavoured 1 >
break away, and brought five with them to Ho.

The death of Mr. Dalrymple created a profound sensatic i
on the Gold Coast, for never before, as far as was know ,
had a European been killed except in open warfare ; ar I
the life of a white man had always been respected, eve .r


in the most troublous times. Unless this immunity was
now to be at an end, a severe example would have to be
made of the Tavievis, and, with this object, Assistant-
Inspector Brennan was ordered to march from Insuaim,
with the Constabulary he had with him there, to Kpong,
on the Volta; to which place Assistant-Inspector Akers
was directed to proceed without delay from Kittah, with
all the Houssas that could be spared from that district.

The Tavfevi district was a difficult one to operate in,
it being an oval-shaped valley, about eight miles long
from north to south, and two miles broad at its widest
part, shut in on the east and west by densely forested
mountain ranges, 2,000 feet high. Ho, the town from
which an attacking force would advance, was situated
about a mile and a half to the east of the eastern range
of mountains, and from it two roads led into the Tavievi
valley, one, which was very steep and difficult, over the
mountains, and the other through a gorge at the southern
end of the valley, near which the town of Zavi was situated.
There were known to be other paths by which the valley
could be reached, but their exact position was kept secret
by the Tavievis, who only used them in time of war, to
take an enemy unexpectedly in flank or rear. The chief
of Ho was friendly. He had, indeed, on the nth of May,
when the news of Mr. Dalrymple's death reached him,
called out his men to go and attack the Tavievis, but
had been persuaded by Mr. Bennett to await instructions
from the Government.

On the 2oth of May Assistant-Inspector Akers, with
one hundred and twenty-two Houssas from Kittah, arrived
at Kpong, where he found twenty-seven more who had been
sent up from Accra, and, Assistant-Inspector Brennan not
having arrived, he pushed on to Ho, where he was joined
by the men who had been with Mr. Dalrymple. In the
meantime, in consequence of the alarming reports sent from
Insuaim by Mr. Brennan, who declared that war was
imminent and that he required immediate reinforcement,
orders were sent to Mr. Akers on 24th of May to leave
fifty Houssas at Ho with Mr. Bennett, and proceed with


the remainder to Insuaim, via Accra, it being intended to
defer the punishment of the Tavievis until Akim had been
pacified. Before these orders reached him, however, Mr.
Akers marched out of Ho at one in the morning of the 29th
of May, crossed the summit of the mountains at three a.m.,
and arrived within two miles of the town of Tavievi before
his approach was discovered. At this point his advance
guard was fired upon, and a little further on fire was again
opened from the bush, and a Houssa killed; after which the
Tavievis kept up a desultory fire till the town was taken, but
without inflicting any further loss. The supplies and the
remainder of the Constabulary were now ordered up from
Ho, and with them came 1,500 men under the chief of Ho,
who were set to work to clear the bush surrounding the town.
On the night of the 3ist Mr. Akers received the order
to return to Accra, so, leaving the Krepis from Ho
and fifty Houssas to hold Tavievi, he quitted that place
on the morning of the 2nd of June, and, proceeding by
forced marches, reached Aburi, which was in telegraphic
communication with Accra, on the 5th. By this time it was
known that there was no probability of an outbreak at
Insuaim, where the state of affairs had been much
exaggerated, and the force with Mr. Akers was consequently
halted at Aburi, and was still there when, on the night of
the loth of June, news was received that the Krepis and
Houssas left in Tavievi had been driven out of the valley.
The return march was commenced next day, and on the I7th
Mr. Akers reached Zavi, where he found the party he had
left in charge. It appeared that the chief of Ho, instead
of remaining quietly in Tavievi and acting only on the
defensive, as he had been told to do, had marched out
on the 6th of June and attacked the Tavievis in the moun-
tains. Almost at the outset of the engagement ten of his
men were killed and several wounded, whereupon a panic
seized the remainder, and they fled in haste through Tavievi
to Zavi, sweeping along with them a few of the Houssas,
all of whom had remained quietly in the town. Mr. Bennett,
upon hearing of this, ordered the remainder of the Houssas
to evacuate the valley and retreat to Ho, with the intention


of retiring still further to Kpong, and they had reached Zavi
in compliance with these orders when they were stopped by
Mr. Akers. On the morning of the i8th the force left Zavi,
advancing by the road which led up the Tavievi valley ;
and a camp which the enemy had formed on the hillside
above the town was attacked and carried, with a loss to
the natives of about one hundred killed and wounded, and
all their state umbrellas and paraphernalia. From this date
the Tavievis -were harassed daily by parties sent up and
down the valley, till on the 23rd they hoisted a white flag on
a hill, and sued for peace. They surrendered Belli Kwabina
and their principal war-chief, Bochukeri, and a fine of ^300
was imposed on the tribe.

In Ashanti it was soon evident that the chief of Kokofu
did not intend to recognise Kwaku Dua III. as King, for
before Mr. Barnett had crossed the Prah on his way back
to the coast, he commenced raiding the villages and planta-

Online LibraryA. B. (Alfred Burdon) EllisA history of the Gold Coast of West Africa → online text (page 33 of 34)