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About Ghana
History of Ghana Gold Coast Era
GOLD COAST UNDER COLONIAL RULE 1902-1951
 
Partly as a result of the several administrative, judicial, financial and social measures taken by the British to  consolidate their presence in the Gold Coast and also the pressure put on her by the Scramble for Africa and the Berlin Conference of 1884-85 to check possible French incursions into the northern parts of the Gold Coast,Her Majesty’s Government annexed Asante and the Northern Territories to the British Crown by two Orders-in-Council of 1st January 1902.

The former was the result of conquest in the Yaa Asantewa War of 1900-01 and the latter being the conclusion of Treaties with the help of the Fante Surveyor George Ekem Ferguson. Trans-Volta Togoland seized from Germany at the end of World War I became an adjunct of the Gold Coast Colony with the approval of the League of Nations in July 1921. This completed the territorial definition of modern Ghana and also the beginning of colonial rule property defined.

British colonialism in the Gold Coast was all embracing; it involved economic, social and political infrastructural development.  Economically, cash crop farming  and the mining boom of the last decade of the 19th century promised great economic opportunities.  In 1890 and 1901 palm oil and palm kernels constituted 44% and 48% respectively of export revenue.  From a modest export of 80 lbs. of cocoa beans worth £4 in 1891, the Gold Coast became the world’s number one producer of cocoa in 1911 with an output of 88.9 million lbs. worth £6 million.  In that year, cocoa accounted for 46% of Gold Coast’s total value of exports. 

The country also experienced a “gold rush” in 1901 with an estimated 3,000 concessions taken up.  The promise of prosperity held out by cocoa and minerals underscored the need for a good infrastructure of railways and roads.  Between 1898 and 1901 the mining town of Tarkwa was linked by a 41-mile railroad to Sekondi.  In 1902 the line was extended 124 miles to Obuasi and in 1903 it was further extended 168 miles to Kumasi.  Construction of Accra-Kumasi railway, begun in 1905, was completed in 1923.  The third railway a branch linking Kade, a diamond mining centre, to Huni Valley was completed in 1926.

Between 1895 when the Public Works Department was established and 1927 when Governor Frederick Gordon Guggisberg left Gold Coast, a total of 3,338 miles of motorable roads were constructed of which 260 (21.8%) miles were targeted.  By then it was possible to travel from Kumasi to Tamale a distance of 240miles in twelve hours, and to do a circuit of the Northern Territories in a week.  Breakwaters were constructed in Sekondi and Accra between 1908 and 1910.  Construction of an artificial deep-sea harbour was begun at Takoradi in 1926 and completed in 1928. Until the construction of Tema Harbour in 1964, Takoradi harbour was Ghana’s sole deep/sea harbour.

The burden of the development of social infrastructure was mainly borne by Christian missions.  Indeed, before the turn of the 19th century education occupied a low place in the colonial Government’s order of priorities.  By 1881 the Basel, Wesleyan, Bremen and Catholic Missions owned 136 out of the 139 schools in the country.  The Education Ordinance of 1882 merely set up a Board of Education and appointed a Director of Education.  Another Education Ordinance of 1887 provided for token annual grants of £100 and £50 to be made to the Basel and Wesleyan Missions, respectively.  By that date Government maintained only two schools, namely the Cape Coast Castle School and the Elmina Dutch School.  From the beginning of the 20th century Government began to pay some attention to education.

The number of Government schools consequently rose from 7 in 1902 to 22 in 1925. In the field of higher education as in elementary school education, it was the Missions that led the way.  Akropong Seminary founded in 1848 in Akuapem, Mfantsipim founded in 1876.  Wesley Girls High School founded in 1884, St. Nicholas Grammar School (now known as Adisadel College) founded in 1910 and St. Augustine’s College founded in 1936, all in Cape Coast, The Evangelical Presbyterian Church Seminary was founded in 1864 in Peki, Wesley College founded in 1924 in Kumasi and Presbyterian Secondary School founded in 1938 in Krobo Odumase, were all established by the leading Christian Missions

As at 1913 Government did not own a single secondary school in the Gold Coast.  In that year Government’s education budget was only £25,000  or 3% of the national budget.  In 1931, considered the peak, the budget was only £250,000 or 7% of the national budget. Greater strides were made under Governor Guggisberg, who was governor from 1919 to 1927, who considered improvement in education as the ultimate goal of all his economic policies.

In 1922 he set up 4 Junior Trade, industrial schools at Yendi, Asanti-Mampong, Asuansi and Kyebi. He also initiated the construction of Achimota College in 1924 and appointed Rev. Frazer and the Gold Coast educationist Dr James Kwegir Aggrey as Principal and Assistant Vice Principal respectively in October.  Achimota opened its doors to students in January 1927.  As part of his plans for encouraging education, Guggisberg set up an Education Committee in 1925 whose membership included such prominent Gold Coasters as Nana Ofori Ata I, Mr Hutton-Mills and Dr. Quartey Pappafio.

Guggisberg also brought to fruition Governor Hugh Clifford’s plans to build a much larger hospital than the old colonial hospital, which stood on the site of the present High Coourt buildings.  In January 1921 he laid the foundation for Korle-Bu Hospital, which was duly opened on 9 October 1923.  This was the 9th of the hospitals built by him in the colony, Asante and the Northern Territories.  Guggisberg’s plans for a medical school were shelved by his successor, Governor Alexander Ransford Slater who was governor from 1928 to 1932.  The medical school which formed part of his plans to develop Achimota into a University to train doctors locally had to wait till 1962 when Dr. Kwame Nkrumah commissioned the University of Ghana Medical School.  By 1939 the Gold Coast had 38 hospitals and dispensaries.

Guggisberg also brought to fruition Governor Hugh Clifford’s plans to build a much larger hospital than the old colonial hospital, which stood on the site of the present High Coourt buildings.  In January 1921 he laid the foundation for Korle-Bu Hospital, which was duly opened on 9 October 1923.  This was the 9th of the hospitals built by him in the colony, Asante and the Northern Territories.  Guggisberg’s plans for a medical school were shelved by his successor, Governor Alexander Ransford Slater who was governor from 1928 to 1932.  The medical school which formed part of his plans to develop Achimota into a University to train doctors locally had to wait till 1962 when Dr. Kwame Nkrumah commissioned the University of Ghana Medical School.  By 1939 the Gold Coast had 38 hospitals and dispensaries.
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