Monday, February 8, 2010

3 More Historical Tales – Ga, Nzema, Dagomba

Nii Bonne III – the Ga Gandhi

January 1948. The Gold Coast is still a British Colony. In protest against racial discrimination, Nii Kwabena Bonne III organises a boycott of European goods. The boycotts spread across the nation. Riots follow. 1 month later, a deranged British policeman shoots three local WWII veterans, and kills them. European and Asian shops are looted. The rioters break into the central prison and release inmates (The Bastille, huh?) The “Big Six” nationalist leaders are imprisoned. In less than a decade, Ghana will emerge independent.

Anton Wilhelm Amo – 18th Centry Nzema Philosopher

Nzema land, the year 1707. A 4 year-old Nzema boy is shipped off to Amsterdam. Some accounts say he was a slave; others say he merely accompanied a missionary! Some say the Dutch wanted a native who could speak both “Native” and “Dutch” to facilitate trade. The boy is presented to a Dutch Duke who educates him. He masters English, French, Dutch, German, Latin and Greek. He obtains a degree by studying law, medicine, metaphysics, logic, physiology, history, astronomy...need I go on? He obtains a doctorate in philosophy and lectures at University of Halle. His “father”, the Duke, dies, and he is subjected to extreme racism. He is forced to go back to Africa – Ghana, where his Nzema father and sister (who he does not know) are still alive. Being “Dutch” he is prevented from “mixing” with the natives for fear that he may sow dissent. Therefore he is kept in a Dutch fort. He disappears from the eyes of history, and probably dies, aged 56, in 1759!

Tohadzie – the Red Hunter

A master of archery travels from Zamfara (present-day Northern Nigeria) to the Mali Empire. He settles in a small town which is dying from drought. Their only water source has been taken over by a wild beast. Tohadzie kills the beast and is a hero. He marries a Malian princess and they have a son, Kpogonumbo, who is the father of the great Dagomba people. Kpogonumbo grows up a great warrior, very much his father’s equal in exploits. He marries 2 women whose militant sons are always at war with one another. There is a migration from the initial family to Pusiga (present-day Upper East Ghana) and further downwards. More descendants break off to found the great kingdoms of Modern Dagbon, Mamprusi and Moshi.


  1. I saw a documentary in which the "deranged British policeman" was trying to justify his action. I could have yanked him from the reel and given him a good spanking.

  2. Hmm... where was i when the history madame was teaching? Eye asem oo... Nah i think she skipped some of the details. Thanks NY

  3. Thanks for hitting us up with more essential info.

  4. All these history has being kept from us how can we tell our stories.

    Thank you Nana for these info

  5. Nice one. The Ga Gandhi always interests me..all it it takes is one little spark. Damn the black man has been marginalised forever and when a few millions.....

  6. @ Kissi: Hopefully he's died with his demons plaguing him, by now. He he he.

    @ lucci: My pleasure, but I had to do some research, myself.

    @ Mike: Pleasure, man.

    @ Anon # 1: It's difficult for history to be kept from us now, with all the information. Some oral tradition has died, yes, but if we all put in some work, we can create a body of African history and "The African Story" out there for the whole world to see.

    @ Anon #2: Yes, one little spark, and great things happen after that.

  7. Kwame Mensa-Bonsu08 February, 2010

    He gained his doctorate in philosophy at Wittenberg in 1734; his thesis (published as On the Absence of Sensation in the Human Mind and its Presence in our Organic and Living Body) argued against Cartesian dualism in favour of a broadly materialist account of the person. He accepted that it is correct to talk of a mind or soul, but argued that it is the body rather than the mind which perceives and feels.
    Whatever feels, lives; whatever lives, depends on nourishment; whatever lives and depends on nourishment grows; whatever is of this nature is in the end resolved into its basic principles; whatever comes to be resolved into its basic principles is a complex; every complex has its constituent parts; whatever this is true of is a divisible body. If therefore the human mind feels, it follows that it is a divisible body.

  8. Kwame Mensa-Bonsu08 February, 2010

    From the foregoing Dr. Amo was so far ahead of his time, i doubt if he would have been able to connect with the "natives" to cause dissent! He should have been allowed to live free, such injustice, eh! I think we should celebrate our leaders like Nii Bonne to shame the present ones into action. NY, ready to organise it?

  9. Why is no one telling these stories. I only heard of the first one before now.

  10. @ Kwame: I see you have done your research. Good for you. But I detect unintended undertones of "accepted" bigotry when you say he was "far ahead of his time". His time was in the 1700s, and his place was in Africa, growing up with his African family, etc, etc. They had no business DHLing him to Amsterdam to become a 'better' person.

    @ Myne: We have to endeavour everyday to tell our own story. All of us!

  11. Kwame Mensa-Bonsu10 February, 2010

    hahaha. Not at all. What i really meant was the kind of things he was thinking of in terms of philosophy would have made reconnecting with his African relatives of 1700 very difficult.I'm sure the missionary found a brilliant person whom he decided to give the opportunity to fulfil his vast potential and Amo did that in spades. No harm there. Hmm. Hope i haven't dug a bigger hole.

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    - Norman


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