Virtual Kollage: The factors that contributed to the rise of the coastal states and kingdoms in Ghana

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The factors that contributed to the rise of the coastal states and kingdoms in Ghana

Seascape, Tide, Landscape, Sea, Water
THE FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTED TO THE RISE OF THE COASTAL STATES AND KINGDOMS IN GHANA
Introduction
The coastal states and kingdoms in Ghana refer to those traditional political units that dotted the coasts of the Gold Coast before the coming of the Europeans explorers from beyond their shores and even after the Europeans had arrived. These traditional coastal states include the Anlos, the Fantes, the Ga Adangme, the Nzemas and the Ahantas. These coastal states may not have existed concurrently but the features that contributed to their rise seem to be similar.

FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTED TO THE RISE OF THE COASTAL STATES
Political organization
One of the factors that contributed to the rise of the coastal states were their political organization. Among the Anlos, for example, the king was called the Awomefia and below him were three divisional chiefs. The Awomefia was chosen from between two royal clans – the Adzovia and the Bate clans – in alternate order to prevent any of the royal clans from clinging to power for too long and to reduce the tendency for political dictatorship. The Awomefia ruled in close association with three divisional chiefs below whom there were other sub-chiefs and headsmen heading the smaller political units at the bottom. Among the Fante, each state was headed by a paramount chief below whom there were divisional and sub-chiefs. These chiefs and some representatives of Asafo groups functioned as advisers to the paramount chief.

Military organization
Another factor that had contributed to the rise of the coastal states in Ghana was their military organization. The Anlo adopted the military organization of the Akwamu people who were a little into the forest zones of Ghana. As said earlier there was a king called the Awomefia. Immediately below the Awomefia, the Anlo state was divided into three wings and each of the divisional chiefs was responsible for one wing. There was a left wing, a central wing, and a right wing. The strategy was that in the event of a military attack from an enemy from any direction, the divisional chief of that wing was expected to engage the enemy and send for reinforcement when they are overwhelmed. Among the Fantes on the other hand, there was a military wing called the Asafo group. The divisional chiefs together with representatives of the Asafo groups advised the paramount chief on important matters. In times of war, the various states in Fanteland formed an alliance to fight the enemy and revert to their various states again.

Salt, Saltpan, Walvisbay, Namibia, White 
Control of traditional commodities
Also, the control of some traditional commodities contributed to the rise of the coastal states of Ghana. By virtue of their closeness to the Sea, the coastal states had direct access to the fishes of the ocean and to a rare commodity such as salt.

The men went to Sea to catch fish and this was given to their wives, sisters or other close relatives. The fish is then processed through solar drying or smoking before being sold within the community and the rest is taken further into the hinterlands and to the forest areas. They also discovered the art of mining salt. The Anlos and the Ga Adangme were noted for the production of salt and this was transported into the hinterlands for sale. These economic activities generated a lot of income for the coastal states and brought in wealth which contributed to their rise.

Contact with Europeans
The rise of the coastal states is also attributed to their early contact with European traders. By the 15th century, the Portuguese had arrived at the shores of the Gold Coast. The Europeans established several economic activities with the locals. They brought in goods from their countries and took other items from Ghana back to their own countries. The economic activities of the coast attracted other people to the shores and this translated into growth and expansion.

Introduction of firearms
Another element in the rise of the coastal states was the introduction of firearms into the battles of the local people. When the Europeans established trading activities with the local people, one of the merchandise that was later brought was guns and ammunition. As these states mastered the art of using these firearms, some of them started attacking the less powerful states close to them in order to expand their territorial integrity. In addition, the firearms helped them to ward off attacks from their enemies. This greatly contributed to the rise of the coastal states in Ghana.

 Lighthouse, Coast, Portugal, Ocean
The Atlantic slave trade
The Atlantic slave trade was also a major contributor to the rise of the coastal states of Ghana. At a point, after the Portuguese made their first contact with the coastal communities, they started capturing Africans and sending them back to Europe. When America was discovered, there was a need for slaves but the slaves from America and Europe was insufficient to meet the demands of the new world, hence the need for slaves from the African coast. Soon, the coastal state realized that they could profit from the trade as well. The wealth that was generated from the involvement of these coastal states in the Atlantic slave trade contributed to their rise.

Leadership and individual heroism
The last but not least factor that contributed to the rise and sustenance of the coastal states of Ghana was the leadership and heroism of some individual members of the society. One notable individual among the Anlos was Adzigbli who single-handedly killed thousands of soldiers of an alliance of the Gas, Akwapims, Krobos, Akyims and the Ada people. The alliance of 24,000 fighters failed to defeat the 8,000 strong armies of the Anlos during the reign of Tɔgbi Atiasa I, from 1784-1810 and Aʋadada Kɔwuga I and had to retreat. Adzigbli chanced upon the retreating enemy army in a big canoe at the banks of the Volta River and offered to ferry them across.  Each time he ferried a group across, he drowned them mid-stream and came back to fetch another until 1000s of them were killed. Individual acts of heroism therefore also contributed to the rise and maintenance of the coastal states of Ghana.

SAMPLE QUESTION(S)
1. Explain six factors that contributed to the rise of the coastal states in Ghana.
2. Highlight the factors that accounted for the rise of the coastal states in Ghana.

ALSO READ:
The factors that accounted for the rise and growth of forest states in Ghana before the seventeenth century

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