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Elmina Township

Elmina: The storied past of the ancient town


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Elmina, known by indigenes as Edina and found in the Central region of Ghana, near Cape Coast, is one of the most ancient towns in Ghana and among the first to be discovered by European sailors who arrived on the coast of Ghana in the early 16th century.

The Castilians and the Portuguese got involved in a brutal naval war near the village for the control of the Guinea Trade Route which was responsible for the supply of gold and slaves from the inner cities to the coast. Eventually, the Portuguese proved too strong for the Castilians who were defeated.

After defeating Castilla, the Catholic Monarchs of Portugal recognized the area around Elmina as an official territory of Portugal in 1479.

Gradually the small tinny village grew, with the local people engaging in trade with the Portuguese. As the town continued to grow and volume of trade between the two parties increased, the Portuguese decided to stamp their authority on Elmina by constructing a Fort on the Coast to ward off other European nations arriving on the coast.

What followed was the construction of the famous Portuguese castle Sao Jorge De Mina on the coast of Elmina by their commander Diogo De Azambuja in 1482. The Fort became the most important trading post in the entire Gold Coast, housing thousands of slaves, gold and other commodities meant for export to Lisbon. In the centuries that followed, Elmina came under Dutch rule and later British rule before the era of total colonisation began.

Today Elmina is one of the few towns in Ghana that still have remnants of the dreaded slave trade and colonisation. On the shore of the sea close to the town, one could see the storied Elmina Castle built by the Portuguese in their quest to control the area and keep slave captive.


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Elmina, Ghana: Elmina Castle, an old Portuguese fortress - river side and fishing boats - S„o Jorge da Mina castle, Feitoria da Mina, Portuguese Gold Coast - Unesco world heritage site - photo by M.Torres

Elmina, Ghana: Elmina Castle, an old Portuguese fortress – river side and fishing boats – S„o Jorge da Mina castle, Feitoria da Mina, Portuguese Gold Coast – Unesco world heritage site – photo by M.Torres

While modernization has caught up with us, the town still keeps its ancient outlook with most of the houses in the town being constructed over hundreds of years ago. Something the people take pride in and say it reminds them of their ancient past.

Elmina is also one of the busiest fishing towns in Ghana, with a majority of the working population engaging in the trade either as fishermen or fish mongers and distributors.

Politically, the town is the administrative capital of the Komenda Edina Eguafo Abriem Municipal District and is headed by a District Chief Executive (DCE). A traditional chief is however responsible for the enforcement and maintenance of customary laws and traditions.

Elmina remains one of the most visited communities in Ghana by tourists, especially those coming from places like Europe and America and wish to see the last remains of Ghana’s slavery and colonial past.


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Akesse Sanza | Jetsanza.com

Akesse Moise Sanza is a Travel & Tourism Consultant, Travel Blogger, Anti-Human Trafficking & Safe Migration Advocate and a Traveler.

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