Monday, 18 December 2017
Queen Margarethe II visits Akwamufie

Queen Margarethe II visits Akwamufie

The queen of Denmark, Margarethe II, has paid a courtesy call on the chiefs and people of Akwamu at Akwamufie in the Eastern Region as part of her three-day state visit to the country.

The visit to Akwamufie was the climax of the queen’s visitation to various cultural and historic sites that formed the itinerary of her first-time trip to Ghana.
Prior to the visit to the Akwamu Palace, Queen Margarethe had visited the Odumase/Agomanya Market, which is well known for the sale of beads, to interact with the producers and dealers and have a feel of a true Ghanaian marketplace.
The queen also visited the Cedi Bead Factory, a popular bead manufacturing centre at Agomanya, where Nomoda Ebenezer Djaba, the Chief Executive Officer of the factory, briefed her on the process of beads making.
At Akwamufie, Odeneho Kwafo Akoto III, the paramount chief of Akwamu, on behalf of the people, welcomed Queen Margarethe and her entourage amidst drumming and singing of traditional songs.
An elder at the palace recounted the history of the Danes, who shared the dark story of the Slave Trade, and the interesting story related to shifting alliances and conflicts between the Danes and the Akwamu people.
The Christiansburg Castle, now called Osu Castle, originally built by the Danes in the 17th Century, has changed ownership several times.
He said in 1693, the Akwamu people took over the castle disguised as tradesmen, adding that a prince of Akwamu, by name Assameni, who went to the castle to study Dutch that same year, hatched a plan to overtake the Danes and later took the keys to the castle to Akwamufie.
Later, when the then King Assameni sold the castle back to the Danes for 12 kilograms of gold, he kept the keys and it had since been kept by the Akwamus as a trophy and a proud symbol of the resistance by the Akwamus from the Danes.
Odeneho Akoto recounted the longstanding historic relationship between the Danes and the Akwamus, and Ghana as a whole.
He said the memories were both bitter and sweet, but presently, the relationship had continued to be a healthy one, with the Akwamus having good interactions with the Danish Embassy.
The embassy officials had been assisting the Akwamu community with so many infrastructure projects, including schools, Odeneho Akoto said.
“Today, you are going to have the opportunity to look at some of the beautiful things that exist between the two nations, that is Ghana and Denmark, and for that matter Akwamu, representing Ghana now with those artefacts,” he said.
Queen Margarethe, on her part, said she was happy to be there “to listen to some of the fascinating stories about the connection between Denmark and this part of Ghana a long time ago.”
“But I’m touched to know that you still cherish the memory of those times and that you keep up the story. And that is something I should take back with me to Denmark, in particular, the memory of this part of Ghana,” she said.
The queen was later taken to a room where the keys were being kept to have a look.
Ms Catherine Afeku, the Minister of Tourism and Creative Arts, Eric Kwakye Darfour, the Eastern Regional Minister, and Thomas Ampem Nyarko, Member of Parliament for Asuagyaman, were at the palace to welcome the queen.
The queen of Denmark also wanted to connect to history by looking at the original Osu Christianborg Castle keys, which were retained as a trophy by the Akwamuhene in 1694 when he returned the castle to the Danes.
It was a historic and colourful occasion. God bless Ghana, God bless Akwamuman and Denmark.
History behind the over 300-years-old original Osu Christianborg Castle keys:
One person whose life and career present many interesting facets was Asomani (Asemmani) of Akwamu, said to have been first employed as a cook in the English forts at Accra; after learning the 'white man's ways' he established himself as a trader at Accra and acted as a broker for Akwamu traders who came there to trade with the Danes in Christiansburg. Later on, Asomani was chosen to carry out Akwamu's revenge on the Danes.
After successfully executing his orders, he became the Akwamu Governor of the castle in 1693. Akwamu-Danish estrangement had started at the end of the 1670s when the latter assisted Accra to foil an Akwamu attack on them.
The Danes were never forgiven by the Akwamu; and in 1693, Asomani, who was familiar with their strength and weakness, led a group of 80 Akwamu men into the castle.
The Akwamu deceived the Danes into believing that they had come to purchase firearms.
By a clever ruse, they were able to load the guns with bullets which had been "concealed in the folds of their cloths”.
Their guns were quickly turned on the Danes, who soon surrendered; the Danish Governor escaped, but his less fortunate countrymen were led captives to Akwamu.
Having received no information about the drama at Christiansburg, two Danish ships had set sail towards the Gold Coast in December 1693.
After a lengthy voyage, they finally arrived in June 1694. Onboard one of the ships was Hartwig Meyer, serving as the ship's merchant. His story goes on: "Unknowingly, we came to the coast, where we were immediately informed and hurried to the place. Instead of the Royal Danish flag, we saw a blue flag, upon which figured a Black Moore brandishing his sword.”
Meyer and the other ship's merchant, Johan Trane, decided to make an attempt to get back the castle. Being unable to re-conquer it by force, they had to negotiate with the king of Akwamu.
Asomani, now Governor of Christiansburg Castle, did all he could to induce European traders to accept the change of ownership by extending his friendship to all traders, not excluding interlopers.
He saluted all ships which approached his castle with his cannon. Captain Phillip, who dined with him in 1693, seems to have been much impressed by his comportment and his hospitality.
Although his attempts to behave like the Danish Governor lent a ludicrous impression to his behaviour, he did what, in the circumstances of the time, he considered best.
At dinner, instead of dressing as an Akwamu representative, Asomani is said to have donned the full dress of a Danish Governor.
But while the new governor was immensely enjoying the duties and rights of his new role, negotiations which were going on between the Akwamu capital and the Dutch were soon to deprive him of his position of honour.
In August 1693, the Dutch at Elmina asked the agents at Accra to investigate the possibilities of the sale of Christiansburg Castle by Akwamu, and promised to fulfill all the former obligations of the Danes; namely, to pay the requisite rent. But the Akwamu king, Basua, would not part with his new acquisition; the furthest he would go was to allow the Danish captives in Akwamu to be ransomed, and to promise not to sell the castle to any European nation other than the Danes and the Dutch.
At least, however, Basua allowed himself to be persuaded into returning the castle to the Danes. In addition to the booty of goods and gold valued at about £1,600, the ransom price of the captives, the Akwamu capture of the castle brought over 100 marks of gold into the national treasury.
However, the Osu Christianborg Castle keys were never officially returned to the Danish; Akwamuhene kept the keys as a trophy for posterity and remain in the possession of the Akwamu even till today.
Although the successful negotiation for the return of the castle ended Asomani's career as the Akwamu Governor, it was by no means the end of his active life on the coast.
Relying on the friendship and the contacts he had forged during the period of his public life, he set up his private business some years later at Labadi, a few miles from the castle he had commanded, and was able to divert Akwamu traders to himself, and thus to develop a lucrative trade with interlopers.
In 1700, the Danes made an unsuccessful attempt to force him out of Labadi, but later representations to Ado, the new ruler, bore fruits.
Pressure from the Akwamu court forced Asomani to move his business further east to Great Ningbo.
It is uncertain whether it was further pressure from Akwamu that made him eventually wind up his business.
What is known is that in 1703, he was the chief of Uma, a town on the road to the Akwamu capital. His prosperity as a trader is reflected in the manner in which he lived.
Asomani built himself a palace on which he mounted a few cannon, and when the occasion offered itself, he appears to have indulged in his favourite pastime, as when he was the Akwamu Governor.
On occasions, he saluted prominent foreign visitors with a few cannon shots, as he did in 1703 to a visiting Dutch delegation on its way to the Akwamu king.
After 1704, Asomani disappeared from the European records. It is certain that he remained influential and respected in his state throughout his life.
Asomani's life and career were a mixture public-spiritedness and private enterprise. Although he would have gained much from continuing with his trade, he was prepared to do as his ruler advised in order to bring about the greater good of his state.
He sacrificed his private interest for the benefit of the lasting glory and influence of Akwamu.
Akwamuman art exhibition
There is an ongoing exhibition at the Bogyawe Palace, Akwamufie.
The over 300-years-old Osu Christianborg Castle keys, King Federick's sword that was awarded to Akwamuhene for his bravery during Katamanso war, and more will be on exhibition for the public from Nov 26 to Dec 3, 2017 for the first time.