Thursday, March 31, 2011

Emancipation in the Gold Coast

Yesterday a PhD student from Germany gave a talk on the discussion regarding the abolition of slavery in the Gold Coast by native elite in contemorary newspapers. The British formally emancipated all slaves in the colony in 1874 without compensation to the owners. This action was strongly contested by some of the Gold Coast elite who thought that failure to compensate native slave owners was unjust. In the discussion that followed one of the items that came up was the definition of a slave. The British evidently defined a number of types of subordinate status as slavery even though they often fell far short of chattel slavery. Like many other colonized territories the Gold Coast had a rather complex and differentiated  native society. Unfortunately, I am not familiar enough with Ghanaian history to grasp the local distinctions made between the various groups all lumped together as slaves by the British for purposes of emancipation. Nevertheless, the talk was interesting and the responses by other faculty who are experts on the subject did increase my limited knowledge of African history a little bit.

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