When the Portuguese first arrived in West Africa, like other European Adventurers in the New World they were interested in gold , ivory and other luxury products. They and the Dutch, British, French and others who followed quickly came to realise that there was only one very profitable commodity in Africa – Slaves. The islands of South and Central America and the North American mainland required large labour forces to exploit the silver mines and, more importantly, the tropical crops like sugar, coffee and cotton. From 1451 when the first cargo in this barbaric trade was shipped across the Atlantic until the early 1870’s when the slave trade came to an end, almost 10 million Africans arrived in the Americas. This was one of the largest migrations, albeit forced, of people in history. The peak of the trade was the 50 years from 1760 to 1810 by which time most of the European Nations had abolished the slave trade. During these years almost 4 million Africans were taken away from their homelands.
Many of the African slaves came from the inland regions – from Senegal right round the bulge of West Africa to the Angolan region of West-central Africa. The African middlemen who sold the slaves to the European traders on the coast prospered from the trade as did powerful raiding states such as Asante and Dahomey
There is no doubt that the slave trade increased the level of violence among many African peoples. This is especially true of the Niger Delta region. In a number of instances the resulting breakdown of social order led to increased interference and subsequent colonisation, by the Europeans who were responsible for the violence in the first place.
The map below shows the central coastal region of Ghana between Accra and Sekondi and indicates the approximate positions of the Forts (Factories), dates of building and “ownership” although subsequent wars would mean that these would often change hands.
Fort Lijdzaamheid (‘Patience’) is a Dutch-built fort located in the township of Apam, in the Central Region of Ghana.
Commenced as a stone trading lodge in 1697, the lodge was later fortified to secure the Dutch state of Acorn, which was tenuously held between the two British-held territories of Fante & Agona in the modern-day Central Region of Ghana.
By 1721, the lodge had been converted into a defensive fortification, which sat on a craggy peninsula which juts out from the township to the south, offering a commanding view of Apam’s harbour to the north, and the Gulf Of Guinea coast to the south, east, and west.
Early in 1782, Captain Thomas Shirley in the 50-gun ship Leander and the sloop-of-war Alligator sailed to the Dutch Gold Coast. Britain was at war with The Netherlands and Shirley captured the small Dutch forts at Mouri (Fort Nassau – 20 guns), Kormantin (Courmantyne or Fort Amsterdam – 32 guns), Apam (Fort Lijdzaamheid or Fort Patience – 22 guns), Senya Beraku (Berku or Fort Barracco – 18 guns), and Accra (Fort Creve Cour – 32 guns).
Other forts in Ghana are:
* Fort Saint Antony, Axim
* English Fort (Fort Vrendenburg), Komenda
* Fort Metal Cross, Dixcove
* Fort San Sebastian, Shama
* Fort Batenstein, Butri
* Fort St. Jago (Fort Conraadsburg), Elmina
* Fort Amsterdam, Abandze
* Fort Good Hope (Fort Goedehoop), Senya Beraku