TILLING FOR THE 'GOLD' IN THE GOLD COAST
After the fall of Benin city, the capital city of Benin empire, British set out to takeover the whole of West Africa for itself, with the French contending for coastal regions. Ashanti Kingdom was one of the strongest kingdom at the coastal region of West Africa; a kingdom rich in gold, in such much quantity that 'the natives dug out gold nuggets in their backyards'. And as much as it sounds too good to be true, this was actually a fact around the lands of tribal groups like the Fante, Ahanta, Nzeemaa, Ashanti, ewe, Frafra and so on that occupied what we know today as republic of Ghana. This modern country differ, geographically, with the medieval kingdom of Ghanah (the word itself meaning gold in several West African languages), which was located in the lands of the Soninke people of what is today Mauritania, including Gambia and part of Senegal and western Sahara.
The Ashanti Kingdom had a strong alliance with the Benin empire which was centred around what is today southern parts of Nigeria toward the delta and the bight of Biafra toward the southern parts of (modern day) Cameroon to the east, down to what is Gabon today. The geographical area controlled by the Benin empire went through different changes from the 12th century CE to the 16th century CE, when the empire had, at this time, stretched to what became modern day Togo toward the west of the capital city of the empire. It was at this time that Benin empire had the strongest ties with The Ashanti Kingdom. But by the 18th century CE, Dhahomey kingdom was carved out and became a go-between region with Benin empire on one hand and Ashanti Kingdom on the other.
Ashanti Kingdom also had strong inter-communal relations with groups in the southern borders of the Songhai empire(and formerly, the Mali empire) which had collapsed in the 1590s after Morocco hired mercenaries from Europe to loot and plunder Songhai empire. The relationship between these entities made their cities great contributing units to the trans-Saharan trade, along with city states like Kano; where all the hides and skin products that could be found anywhere along the trans-Saharan trade routes came from. The relationship between these entities was so strong that at some point, what became Ghana and Mali in the 20th century CE almost became one nation through peaceful negotiations that unexpectedly, fell along the way.
The British and the French had wanted these West African regions; its rich resources, land and trade, and they did everything to make sure these entities stopped trading and cooperating with each other, but that they should instead, be trading separately with Europe and not among themselves. In this regards, it worked out for the British to this day. Although it was the Portuguese that had made the initial moves, the French(the descendants of the Barbarian tribe of Europe, known in history as the Franks) eventually got Mali, What became Burkina Faso (land of the Mossi), Ivory Coast(land of the Guro Guro) and Niger (lands of the Wadaaobe, Bororo, Tebu and so on), while Britain (descendants of the Europa's barbarian tribe known as the Anglo Saxons from the 5th century CE) got what became Ghana (that the British named Gold Coast) and Nigeria.
This had only happened through bloodshed, slavery, manipulation, deception through religion and the 'divide and conquer' approach that was employed by the British.
This was possible because the 'inner circles' of these African societies fall apart, and the centre could no longer hold. The first of these group to breakaway from the "inner circles' in the region was the Mossi, next was the Dogon people, then the Akan and the northern regions of the Hausa speaking tribal groups who had began to mix ties with the Fulani(Fulbe) people from Fouta Djallon highlands in Guinea. The Fulani were the first group in Africa to embrace Islam from the Arabian caravan traders and who took Islam as their culture and tradition, instead of just as a belief system and statecraft.
The 'scramble for Africa' in the 19th century CE was a period when European countries were almost on the brinks of war as "they struggled among themselves on which European tribal nationality should own what in Africa" -John Henrik Clarke. During the all European Berlin conference of 1884/85, the European countries were able to settle among themselves like "thieves sharing the spoils of robbery," the whole of Africa, except Ethiopia (the former polity of Abyssinia which Italians couldn't afford to take, even though they tried and persisted to their defeat).
Western Europeans were able to divide Africa among themselves.
Samuel Johnson, a British poet described such a struggle between the French and the British as being like "two robbers fighting each other over a passenger's bag..." Over the spoils of plunder.
Tomas Sankara who had observed this from history, had broken all ties with western countries in the 1980s, pulled out of the IMF and began, internally, developing his country, and he did well for Burkina Faso. He was assassinated in 1987. In 1993, a presidential aspirant in Nigeria, Bashirun MKO Abiola, promised in his Manifesto that he would free Nigeria from the crutches of what had held her bound for centuries, and make America and Europe pay for over 300 years of plunder, by first declaring all presumed debts owned to Europe or America by Nigeria as 'Null and void.' Two months later, the election (known then in that West African country as the famous June-12 election, which was subsequently declared the fairest in the history of the country) was declared 'null and void' by the Nigerian military president then, Ibrahim Babangida. MKO Abiola was, belatedly, concluded to be the presumed winner of the election. He died while still under house arrest, right before Kofi Annan, the then UN Secretary general, during a meeting to discuss his freedom and annulled election.
Jerry Rawlings of Ghana, observing the awful events that history had brought to his people, had enforced reforms that made Ghana a peaceful and prospering west African nation. Recently, a military regime in Mali had began similar efforts by cutting all ties with France and sending all French forces out of Mali, beside effecting a change in currency.
Image: the takeover of Ashanti Kingdom in the 19th century CE