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Heritage Month: Bond of 1844 is 180 years tomorrow

Wednesday March 6, 2024, will mark 180 years since the British government and Fante Chiefs in the Gold Coast signed the declaration known as the Bond of 1844.

The agreement took place 113 years before Ghana’s independence and was viewed by the British as an approval to take part in the administration of justice and the enforcement of their laws in the local states.

However, the local leaders saw the agreement as a military and defense contract, according to experts.

Historians indicate that the Gold Coast formally became part of the British Empire in the mid-19th Century. Subsequently, a British merchant, George Maclean, was appointed Governor of the Gold Coast.

Maclean was hailed for abolishing slave trade in all areas under his jurisdiction, and for establishing harmonious relations within the colonies.

His successor, Commander Henry Worsley Hill, led the parties to sign the Bond of 1844.

As some scholars indicate, the signing of the Bond of 1844 ‘did not mean that there was a consensus on British rul

Some personalities and groups were said to have challenged British rule right from the onset until the agitation for independence.

Chiefs and persons, including Nana Kodwo Tsibo of Denkyira, King Kaku Ackah of Nzema and John Aggrey of Cape Coast, and Ghana’s first President Dr Kwame Nkrumah and The Big Six, were active in the efforts towards self-government.

Groups like the Aborigines’ Right Protection Society (ARPS) and the Fante Confederation were also instrumental in protests, with John Mensah Sarbah, the Gold Coast’s first Lawyer and President of ARPS, leading the charge.

As captured in some official records, the Bond of 1844 was signed by chiefs namely; Cudjoe Chibboe, (King of Denkyira) Quashie Ottoo (Chief of Abra) Chibboo Coomah (Chief of Assin) Gebre Gyebi (Second Chief of Assin) Quashie Ankrah (Chief of Donadie) Awoossie Ewusi (Chief of Domonnasi) Amonoo (Chief of Annamboe) and Joe Aggrey, Chief of Cape Coast.

The agreement was signed by H. W. Hill, Lieutenant-Governor, and said to have bee
n witnessed by George Maclean, J.P and Assessor, F. Pogson, Lieutenant 1st W.I. Regiment, Commanding H.M. Troops, S. Bannerman, Adjutant of Militia and Police.

Other records indicate that military confrontations between Ashantis and the Fantes, contributed to the growth of British influence on the?Gold Coast.

The Fante states, concerned about Ashanti activities on the?coast, signed the?Bond of 1844?at Fomena-Adansi.

The Bond, therefore, allowed the British to seize judicial authority from African courts. Per the document, the chiefs, among other things, agreed that ‘murders, robberies, and other crimes and offences, will be tried and enquired of before the Queen’s judicial officers’.

They again pledged not to indulge in practice such as human sacrifice and panyaring- (kidnapping), part of the Bond of 1844 read.

‘Whereas power and jurisdiction have been exercised for and on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, within divers countries and places adjacent to Her Majesty’s forts and
settlements on the Gold Coast; we, chiefs of countries and places so referred to, adjacent to the said forts and settlements, do hereby acknowledge that power and jurisdiction, and declare that the first objects of law are the protection of individuals and of property.

‘Human sacrifices, and other barbarous customs, such as panyaring, are abominations, and contrary to law.

‘Murders, robberies, and other crimes and offences, will be tried and enquired of before the Queen’s judicial officers and the chiefs of the districts, moulding the customs of the country to the general principles of British law.’

Source: Ghana News Agency