Forts in Ghana: Fort Batenstein
Fort Batenstein was built in the 17th century, precisely 1656 by the Dutch traders who had arrived in the Gold Coast and taken up residence on the coastal areas of the Western region, near Butre where the Dutch had claimed territorial control at a time when the struggle by European nations for control over important trading routes and areas in the Gold Coast was at its peak.
Like most forts built in Ghana by the Europeans, the Dutch West India Company built Fort Batenstein to challenge the growing commercial influence of the Swedes through the Swedish Africa Company which had successfully built a fort on the coast first years earlier, even though they came to meet the Dutch on their arrival in Gold Coast.
The Dutch later managed to instigate the local people against the Swedish, resulting in the local people attacking the Swedish and forcing them to leave the area. After this, the Dutch signed a treaty with the elders and chiefs of the Butre and Ahanta area, in which the people and entire area was to come under the control of the Dutch.
The treaty remained in place until a war broke out between the Dutch and the local people in what was known as the Dutch-Ahanta war of 1837. It was during this chaotic period that Fort Batenstein gained attention and became an important fort in the Gold Coast, as it was used by the Dutch as their central military point where decisions were taken, refuge was sort and plans hatched.
By the end of the war, the Dutch had successfully defeated the Ahanta people and made the area a protectorate of the Dutch, with the commander of the Fort serving as the Vice governor of the protectorate.
Some forty years later, the Dutch decided to pack up and leave the Gold Coast altogether after the British had proven too strong and taken control of most part of the Gold Coast. As part of their departing arrangements, the Dutch ceded the Fort to Britain in 1872. Hence from that time till the departure of the British in 1957, Fort Batenstein was regarded as a property of Britain.
Unfortunately, the Fort is not in the same shape as it was in the 17th century as some parts of it which are important in telling its story have worn off. Notwithstanding, Fort Batenstein receives lot of tourists on regular basis, and is one of the most important and visited attractions within the Western region.