The Transatlantic Slave Trade took place predominantly on the Gold Coast from 1517 to 1874. The abolition of slavery allowed for legitimate trade in other goods. European nations withdrew gradually and by1872 only the British remained. They assumed full colonial authority over the country and moved the capital to Accra from Cape Coast, five years later.
Christian missionaries played a leading role in the early development of the country through the introduction of formal education, technical training and experiments with economic crops like coffee and cocoa. The country became an important producer of natural rubber together with palm oil, kola nuts and ivory.
However, the biggest boost for Ghana’s economy came when it became the world’s leading exporter of Cocoa. This was after its successful cultivation by Tetteh Quarshie, a Ghanaian, who had returned from Bioko Island, formerly Fernando Po, with some cocoa beans. The export of cocoa brought prosperity and development to several areas of the country. Gold continued to be mined, together with diamonds and manganese. The country’s forest yielded valuable timber and soon railways were built to link Accra and the economic hot spots to a new harbour at Takoradi which opened in 1928.
The introduction of air travel greatly improved trade between Europe and West Africa by 1937. The British Imperial Airlines and Air France’s flying boat commenced landing at Takoradi Harbour and the building of a United States Air Force base in 1941 encouraged the development of a busy airport. Roads, bridges and hospitals were also built. Communication was improved with the opening of a radio station in 1936 followed by the rapid extension of relay stations, telephones and the establishment of inland postal services.
Education became a high priority. The Basel Missionaries had established a Teacher Training College as far back as 1848 at Akropong-Akuapem and the Wesleyan Mission opened many secondary schools in Cape Coast. One significant development in the educational sector was the emphasis on the use of the vernacular, because of which the Akan, Ga and Ewe languages were adapted to written text between1853 and 1869.
By 1927, the first post-secondary institution was established at Achimota, and scholarships were granted to deserving students to further their studies abroad until the opening of the country’s first University at Legon in 1948.
The Gold Coast became a model of prosperity and enlightenment among the British colonies. Ghanaians became brilliant scholars and prominent individuals occupied key positions on the international scene, in General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan recent history this has included the previous Secretary.
A fall in the price of cocoa during the first half of the 20th century led to trade boycotts by farmers, which shook the colonial government. Strong nationalistic feelings between the new middle classes and the growing numbers of agitated workers exerted pres. sure on the government. Political concessions culminated in the granting of full independence, on 6th March 1957, and the naming of the country as Ghana.
Three years later, Ghana became an independent republic but maintained ties with the British Commonwealth and also joined the United Nations Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of the country, was the prime architect of Ghana’s independence movement and an ardent Pan Africanist. He was also a founding member of the Organization of African Unity (now called the African Union) in 1963.
In 1975, Ghana joined the rest of West Africa in the establishment of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), made up of 15 countries. Ghana’s attainment of political independence was sensational. As the first black economy to achieve independence, many African countries drew inspiration from Ghana’s example. The famous statement by Dr.Nkrumah on the eve of the country’s independence that…the independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked to the total liberation of Africa’, ignited the fire of liberation struggle across the African continent.
After independence, many Pan Africanists came to live in Ghana, notable among them were Dr. W.E.B Du Bois and George Pad more. Thousands of travelers also came to see the World Heritage Monuments and experience the dynamism of the people of this historic country.