Gold Coast, West Africa

Ft. William at Anomabo, Ghana

Perhaps the most transformative experience to shape the settlement, economic, religious and cultural growth of the Atlantic World has been the use of African bondage based uniquely in world history on race and the inheritable condition of enslavement for life. Of the approximately 12.5 million persons who crossed the Atlantic to settle in the Western Hemisphere between 1500 and 1820, some 10 million were enslaved Africans largely from West Africa. Once sugar and other cash crops began to be cultivated in the Americas, nearly every Western European country participated in the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade.

To secure full cargoes, European traders built castles or factories at ports along the West African coast where they could collect people and goods for transport and sale to places like Jamaica.  These slave castles along the Gold and Guinea Coasts had names in history including Gorée, Cape Coast Castle, Elmina Castle and Anomabo.

Today, scholars of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade recognize Anomabo as a leader of the British Slave Trading along the West African Gold Coast and one of the largest exporters of enslaved Africans to the West Indies and North America.

African burial marker, God’s Little Acre, Newport, Rhode Island

It is important to recognize that Africa’s history did not start with slavery.  Well before European arrival on the African continent, African societies were civilized, organized and contained technologically advanced peoples. Major empires would emerge in West Africa, most notably the Ghana Empire, Mali, Kingdom of Nri, Yoruba and Akan Empire of Ashanti. Gold, Rice Cultivation and Salt were all major trade products. The people along the African West Coast have traditionally been among the most skilled and productive craftsmen of Africa. Craftsmanship has a long history in West Africa. Iron working dates back to the 4th century and blacksmiths, weavers, leather workers, sliver and goldsmiths  were active long before European colonization. These craft skills would be transported along with the enslaved to the Americas and help build the massive wealth found in the cash crop commodities of sugar, coffee, tobacco and rice cultivation.

The Gold Coast and Jamaica share particularly strong historical links through the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade that forced the immigration of thousands upon thousands of Africans, with many representing the Ashanti and Fante tribal people to the Caribbean country.