The Mfantsefo or Fante are an ethnic group mainly gathered in the south-western coastal region of Ghana, with some also in the Côte d’Ivoire. Their main city is Cape Coast, Ghana. They are one of the Akan peoples, along with the “‘Asantefo'” or Ashantis, the Akuapem, the Akyem, the Guam, and others. Despite the rapid growth of the Ashanti Empire in historic times, the Fanti have always retained their state to this day. Currently, they number about 2.5 million. Inheritance and succession to public office among the Fanti are determined mostly by matrilineal descent, as is common amongst most Akan peoples.
When the Portuguese arrived in the 15th century, the Fante prevented them from venturing inland and leased properties for Portuguese trading missions. But when the Portuguese objected to Fante rules and regulations the Fante expelled them. Thenceforth the Dutch arrived followed by the English, soon to be British. The Fante served as middlemen in the commerce between the interior and British and Dutch traders on the coast.
In the early 18th century, the Fante Confederacy was formed, with the aim of establishing themselves as a nation to be taken seriously by their European counterparts. So in 1844 a bond was written between the Fante, on behalf of the Gold Coast, and the British, allowing the Gold Coast to gain independence without war one hundred years later. Several Ashanti-Fante wars followed. On one occasion, the Fante were aided by the British, who, however, destroyed the strong Fante confederation established between 1868 and 1872, believing it a threat to their hegemony on the coast.
The Fante have produced numerous illustrious & prominent people notable amongst whom are Kofi Annan [former UN Secretary General], Sir Sam Jonah (ex-CEO of Anglogold Ashanti), John Atta Mills (Ghana’s current president) and a good number of the advocates of independence not only in Ghana but also in the West African sub-region e.g. John Mensah Sarbah, James Kwegyir Aggrey.
The coastal Akan (Fanti) were the first to have relations with Europeans during the “Scramble for Africa”. As a result of long association, these groups absorbed aspects of British culture and language. For example, it became customary among these peoples to accept British surnames.
The language is Fanti