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It Happened in Ghana. A Historical Romance 1824-1971


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It Happened in Ghana carries a positive message. Conceived as a literary work, it demonstrates that racial prejudice based on skin colour is not a pervasive and unalterable human condition. The principal characters who are both Black and White are embroiled in various encounters, notably wars, slave trade, colonialism and post colonial reconstruction. Regardless of their skin colour and cultural differences, they make friends or fall in love secretly during these encounters. When they are forced to part company by the cessation of hostilities or whatever brought them together, they serve in various capacities in new locations outside their original places of domicile. They are accepted or integrated into existing social structures because of the warmth oftheir personalities and the manner in which they are able to adjust themselves to the pressures and challenges of new environments. Changes in the circumstances of the principal characters or their descendants enable them not only to restore broken relationships but also to identify themselves with the cause of freedom and justice or to reconnect in various ways with the development aspirations of Ghana where it all started.



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Published 15 November 2007
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EAN13 9789988647865
Language English
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It happened in GA Hihstorical Romance 1824-1a971
Noel Smith
This edition published in 2007 by SUB-SAHARAN PUBLISHERS P.O. BOX LG358, LEGON, ACCRA, GHANA
© Noel Smith 2007
Originally published in 2005 in Germany by Noel Smith Publications.
ISBN: 978-9988-647-26-1
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in a form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, other than for reviews, without the permission of the copyright owner and the publishers.
Typesetting and Cover design by Kwabena Agyepong
Cover Photo: Elmina Castleby Kwabena Agyepong
Acknowledgements Foreword
Chapter 1 Afua Danso Chapter 2 Kwabena Opoku and Ben Berricombe Chapter 3 Akua BonsuAbenaa Francis Macdonald Alastair Campbell Chapter 4 Thelma Nancy Morrow Chapter 5 Nana Oduro Panyin and Tom McKenzie Chapter 6 The opening of the High School Chapter 7 Alastair Anderson Chapter 8 A political crisis Chapter 9 A great tree is uprooted Chapter 10 The celebration of the annual Festival Chapter 11 Thema and Tom visit the USA
Epilogue Historical Notes A Review Glossary
v vi
217 219 237 241
“We know in a fashion which was not possible years ago what Africa believes, and where is the meeting place between our christian faith and the faith of the animist. What once was condemned as evil may today be recognised as rational, and not necessarily opposed to the Spirit of Christ.” From a letter by Dr Ephraim Amu in 1933, quoted inAmu the Africanby Fred Agyemang, Accra, 1988, p.89.
Every writer is in debt to those whose books he read and to those who helped him to understand his theme better. In my case, the names of former colleagues at PTC Akropong always come to mind. Those whose books taught me much and those who, in conversation and discussion clarified my understanding of Akan life and belief. I mention only a few: L.S.G.Agyemfra, F.Agyemang, C.A.Akrofi, C.G.Baeta, H.T.Dako, H.Debrunner, R.O.Danso, S.T.Akunor, J.H. Nketia, F.A.Gyampo, O.A.Boateng, A.L.Kwansa. Half a century later I still appreciate their friendship and fellowship. My warmest thanks are due to Dr Margot Schantz for her constant encouragement and help as well as in preparing the book for the press. The responsibility for any errors or omissions, and for any expressions of opinion are mine.
For Cornelia and Frithjof
Half a century ago when, as a young expatriate member of the teaching staff of the Presbyterian Training College, Akropong, Ghana, I experienced the kindness and the friendship of my colleagues and the people, it became abundantly clear to me, as never before, that skin colour had nothing to do with personality and character. Africans have no prejudice towards palefaces, as the American Indians called Europeans. I often felt ashamed, however, that my forbears, on the contrary, possessed a racial bias against people of another skin pigmentation. During the last four centuries the merchants of the sea-going nations of Europe, the Portuguese, the Spaniards, the British, the Dutch, the Danes and the Brandenburgers had engaged in the slave trade; they had bought Africans, shackled them in chains in their forts, transported them to the West Indian islands and the the Americas in the miserable holds of their ships, to sell those who survived the voyage in the slave markets to planta-tion owners. The survivors, for the rest of their lives, had to grow and harvest the cotton, the tobacco, the coffee and the sugar that Europeans had grown so fond of ! This fate was not that of a small number. In the centuries from 1450 to 1900, slave exports amounted to more than eleven million human beings; an enforced out-sourcing and globalisation on the largest possible scale! I often felt distressed to think that for so long a period this sordid business had continued and that even today, long after the abolition of slavery many of the palefaces of the world still consider those members of the human race whose
skin hue is darker, to be inferior in every way to themselves, although we all belong to the same specieshomo sapiensand possess the same genetic structure. The enforced migration of this huge number of human beings to the so-called New World mainly from western Africa was a global catastrophe whose effects are still being felt. I began to read widely about Ghana’s history and the religion and philosophy of its people. Dr. J.B.Danquah’s Akan doctrine of God led me to realise that the incorpora-tion of certain major Akan insights into the Christian scheme had not yet taken place. I was struck by Dr. K.Aggrey’s succinct analogy of the keys of the piano to illus-trate the fact that, inevitably, blacks and whites must learn to live and work together: “You can play a tune on the white keys alone and on the black keys alone but for proper melody you need both.” My colleague, Dr. C.A.Akrofi taught me the Twi of Akuapem and introduced me into the deeply interest-ing world of the Akan language with its proverbs and nuances. The first detailedHistory of the Gold Coast and AshantiC. Reindorf in 1889!had come from the pen of Professor K.A.Busia had written his social survey of Sekondi-Takoradi andThe position of in Ashantithe Chief . The Basel missionary J.G.Christaller had completed his monumentalthe Asante and Fante LanguageDictionary of while R.S.Rattray had published his famous books on Ashanti, its Law and its Art and Religion. I thought often about the relationship of Akan religion to Christianity and of the advice given to those who preached to the Anglo-Saxons in Britain over a thousand years ago “that they should tell their tidings of hope and salvation simply, to insist only on the essentials of faith and baptism,
and to avoid anything that might needlessly offend the tradi-tions of the people they had come to save. Christianity should be presented as the correction rather than the denial of their beliefs.” It seemed to me to be the reason why, when Akans accept Christianity they do not completely abandon their cherished, long-lived traditional customs and convictions. Out of this background, after a long interval, emerged my story,It Happened in Ghana. Of course, most of the characters I have written about, apart from those who belong to the history books, never existed in real life; some of the names of towns and villages have been invented, they are a product of my imagination, But the advantage of a historical romance is that these ficti-tious characters lived and worked in a particular real and factual period in Gold Coast/Ghana history and this period gave me a framework for the story. During this period, many events, with far-reaching consequences, took place; every-where people were trying to adjust to a rapidly-changing world; economic changes affected the lives of everyone. The historical facts are indisputable; how personal lives were lived at the time is the realm of the story-teller!
Noel Smith, Koenigstein Ts. Germany, Dec.2005.
1 Chapter
Afua Danso
The Asantehene remarked: “The white men who go to Council with your master, and pray to the great God for him, do not undertand my country, or they would not say the slave trade is bad. But if they think it bad now, why did they think it good before?” British Consul and Envoy, Joseph Dupuis in hisa Residence inJournal of Ashantee, London, 1824. t was in the middle of January 1824 that the news I reached Sir Charles McCarthy at Cape Coast Castle that an Ashanti army of 10,000 men was advancing south to punish the Denkyira tribe, whose chief, KojoTsibu, had proposed leaving the Ashanti Confederation. The army also planned to deal with the English who had raised and trained a small local defence militia. They had halted to re-group at the river Bonsa which flows into the Ankobra after passing through Wasaw and Denkyira territory. Sir Charles doubted that the enemy had advanced so near. Although he had read