Asamani and the Osu Castle, an excerpt by Kofi Akpabli

For many decades in Ghana’s history, the Christianborg Castle at Osu had been the seat of government. However, the original keys to his monument are stashed in a most improbable place: in the safe custody of the Akwamufie Palace. Occupying the lush forest areas in the Eastern Region that includes Akosombo and bordering the Volta Lake, this traditional area has an illustrious history. And their geography too is worth a long tour.

I connected to the town at Atimpoku Junction where the scenery heralds a destination that is well-endowed in nature and heritage. As one negotiates the roundabout, the statue of Asamani, a heroic ancestor, stands against the backdrop of the dramatically rising hills while the iconic Adomi Bridge beckons.

Without a doubt, attractions abound here but what currently attracts me the most is the story of Asamani. Before we even go into the story, let me say that the nation must do more for this man’s legacy. From my own little corner, I gift him the accolade: ‘as ambitious as Asamani’.

It is a rags-to-riches legend. It is the kind of plot that film maker Shirley Frimpong Manso could make a blockbuster out of. The story starts with Asamani as cook who spent a lot of time in the fort learning the ways of the Europeans. As the time the Danes owned and operated from the Christianborg Castle. He went into business and became a middleman for Akwamu traders who came to Accra to trade with the Danes.

During this period, there was conflict over who should have control over trading on the coast. This created a series of skirmishes involving Akwamu, the Ga of Accra and the Danes. In the 1670s, Akwamu attacked Accra, but that was foiled by the Ga army with the support of the Danes. It is also said that the Akwamu king was never able to defeat Accra because of support from the Danes. So they had a grudge and Asamani was tasked to plot their revenge.
He dreamt a long scheme equal to the Trojan War game plan. Asamani kept a close eye on the castle and by 1693 when the strength of the Danish occupants of the Christianborg Castle had been reduced by death and disease, he saw that the time was ripe to act.

He mobilised about 70 men, who camouflaged as merchants. They came to the castle to buy arms. Unknown to the Danes, these men had bullets hidden in their cloths. Whilst inside the castle, they were shown the guns to inspect. Like it is said in Ghanaian local parlance, ‘fufu has dropped into the soup bowl’. The band of fighters loaded the guns with the bullets. They turned the weapons on the Danes and the rest is history.

When Asamani took over the castle he designed a white flag with a black warrior emblem and mounted it over the Castle. If you are wondering what happened to the defeated Danish Governor’s wardrobe please be informed that Asamani also had style. He entertained captains of trade ships to expensive banquets, and he appeared at such dinners in the full dress of a Danish Governor.

– Kofi Akpabli, Romancing Ghanaland

** Tickled by Asamani? Join Kofi Akpabli and Nana Awere Damoah for more. 2 readings in September – the first is happening next week 3rd Sept at JamRock Restaurant East Legon (together with Alba K Sumprim) and the second on 24th Sept at Kumapley Auditorium, KNUST, Kumasi.


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