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African Merchants of the Gold Coast, 1860–1905—Dynamics of Indigenous Entrepreneurship

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 June 2009

Raymond E. Dumett
Purdue University


Entrepreneurship in Africa can be analyzed from a number of perspectives. One approach, undoubtedly the most popular among economic anthropologists and sociologists, has been to conduct group surveys of the attitudes and behavior of small-scale traders and market-stall operators against the background of specific urban or rural settings. These studies have emphasized the importance of religion, ethnic group affiliation, family or clan structure, specialization, and the development of long-distance trading networks through migration or diaspora. Another type of study pioneered by Polly Hill, and since taken up by other field economists and historians, has been to analyze the individual innovation, cooperative effort, and adaptation of traditional institutions involved in the development of export crop agriculture (groundnuts, cocoa, coffee) by small farmers in Africa.

The Third World Trader
Copyright © Society for the Comparative Study of Society and History 1983

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A version of this essay was read at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Economic Anthropology at Athens, Georgia, 3 April 1982. The writer would like to thank Albert Van Dantzig of the University of Ghana, and Marion Johnson of the Center of West African Studies, University of Birmingham (U.K.) for comments.

1 Only a few selections from a very large body of work can be mentioned. See, for example, various chapters in Bohannan, P. and Dalton, G., Markets in Africa (Evanston, Illinois, 1962);Google ScholarCohen, Abner, “Cultural Strategies in the Organization of Trading Diasporas,” in The Development of Indigenous Trade and Markets in West Africa, Meillassoux, Claude, ed. (London, 1971), 266–81.Google Scholar For information on trans-Saharan and Sudanic traders, see Johnson, Marion, “Calico Caravans: The Tripoli-Kano Trade after 1880,” Journal of African History, 16:2 (1976), 93117;Google ScholarCurtin, P. D., “Precolonial Trading Networks and Traders: The Diakhanke,” in Development of Indigenous Trade, Meillassoux, , ed., 228–39;Google ScholarLovejoy, Paul, “The Kambarin Beriberi: The Formation of a Specialized Group of Hausa Kola Traders in the Nineteenth Century,” Journal of African History, 14:4 (1973), 633–51;CrossRefGoogle ScholarPerinbam, B. Marie, “The Julas in Western Sudanese History: Long Distance Traders and Developers of Resources,” West African Culture Dynamics: Archaeological and Historical Perspectives, Swartz, B. K. and Dumett, R. E., eds. (The Hague, 1980), 456–75;Google ScholarIsaac, B. L., “European, Lebanese and African Traders in Pendemu, Sierra Leone: 1908–1968,” Human Organization, 23:2 (1974), 111–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

2 A small sample of the literature on entrepreneurs in African agriculture includes Hill, Polly, Migrant Cocoa-Farmers of Southern Ghana (Cambridge, 1963);Google ScholarBerry, Sara, Cocoa, Custom and Socio-Economic Change in Rural Western Nigeria (Oxford, 1975);Google ScholarHogendorn, Jan S., “At Our Very Feet”: The Origins of Northern Nigerian Groundnut (Peanut) Exporting (Zaria, Nigeria, 1980);Google ScholarTosh, John, “Lango Agriculture during the Early Colonial Period: Land and Labour in a Cash-Crop Economy,” Journal of African History, 19:3 (1978), 415–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

3 Professor A. G. Hopkins of the University of Birmingham is presently completing a major work on the African merchants of Lagos in southwestern Nigeria, and has published several preliminary articles on this subject. See also Dumett, R. E., “John Sarbah, the Elder, and African Mercantile Entrepreneurship in the Gold Coast in the Late Nineteenth Century,” Journal of African History, 14:4 (1973), 653–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

4 See, for example, Kilby, Peter, African Enterprise: The Nigerian Bread Industry (Stanford, 1965);Google ScholarGarlick, Peter C., African Traders and Economic Development in Ghana (Oxford, 1971).Google Scholar

5 See Austen, R. A., “Compradorism in Africa”(paper presented at Eighty-sixth Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association,New York City,1971);Google ScholarKaplow, Susan B., “The Mudfish and the Crocodile: Underdevelopment of a West African Bourgeoisie,” Science and Society, 41:3 (1977), 317–33;Google Scholar and also Rodney, Walter, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (Washington, D.C., 1972), 254–58.Google Scholar

6 Fogel, R. W. and Fishlow, A., “Quantitative Economic History: An Interim Evaluation,” Journal of Economic History, 31:1 (03 1971), 4142;Google ScholarVicente-Wiley, L., “Achievement Values of Filipino Entrepreneurs and Politicians,” Economic Development and Cultural Change, 27:3 (04 1979), 467–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

7 See Katzin, Margaret, “The Role of the Small Entrepreneur” in Economic Transition in Africa, Herskovits, M. and Harwitz, M., eds. (Evanston, Illinois, 1964), 182–83;Google ScholarHart, Keith,“Small-scale Entrepreneurs in Ghana and Development Planning,” Journal of Development Studies, 6:4 (07 1970), 104–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

8 Standard definitions of entrepreneurship in Western countries are found in Say, J. B., A Treatise on Political Economy, Vol. I (London, 1821);Google ScholarSchumpeter, Joseph, The Theory of Economic Development (Cambridge, Mass., 1934), 6294;Google ScholarHawley, F. B., Enterprise and the Production Process (New York, 1907).Google Scholar

9 McClelland, David C., The Achieving Society (Princeton, 1961);CrossRefGoogle ScholarLeVine, Robert A., Dreams and Deeds: Achievement Motivation in Nigeria (Chicago, 1966), 7585et passim.Google Scholar

10 Hagen, E. E., On the Theory of Social Change (Homewood, Illinois, 1962), 8798, 175–89.Google Scholar

11 Godwin, R. K., “Two Thorny Theoretical Tangles: The Relationship between Personality Variables and Modernization,” The Journal of Developing Areas, 8 (01 1974), 181–98.Google Scholar This article raises a number of other provocative issues which cannot be evaluated at length here. For further criticisms of the “need for achievement” approach to entrepreneurship, see Schatz, Sayre P., “Achievement and Economic Growth: A Critical Appraisal,” in Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, Kilby, Peter, ed. (New York, 1971), 183–90.Google Scholar See also Hart, Keith, “Swindler or Public Benefactor: The Entrepreneur in His Community,” in Changing Social Structure in Ghana, Goody, J., ed. (London, 1975), 89.Google Scholar

12 For a review of the literature on location and spatial theory, see Berry, B. J. L. and Pred, A., Central Place Studies (Philadelphia, 1961);Google Scholar and essays in Dohrs, F. E. and Sommers, L. M., eds., Cultural Geography (New York, 1967).Google Scholar For work by historians, see Fox, E. W., History in Geographic Perspective: The Other France (New York, 1971).Google Scholar

13 A notable exception is Akeredolu-Ale, E. O., “A Socio-historical Study of the Development of Entrepreneurship among the Ijebu of Western Nigeria,” African Studies Review, 11:3 (12 1973), 347–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar See also Howard, Allen M., “The Relevance of Spatial Analysis for African Economic History—The Sierra Leone Guinea System,” Journal of African History, 17:3 (1976), 353–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

14 The inhabitants of villages along the beaches were often disdained by the residents of the more prosperous and powerful interior states as mere “fishermen” or “boat people.”

15 Hints that the development of trading skills among the Igbo might have been influenced partly by geographic and demographic factors can be found in Cookey, S.J.S., “An Ethnohistorical Reconstruction of Traditional Igbo Society,” in West African Culture Dynamics, Swartz, and Dumett, , eds., 327–44.Google Scholar

16 Annual tonnage of vessels entering and clearing Gold Coast ports: 1850—23,490 tons, 1860—50,718 tons, 1868—299,908 tons, 1870—518,079 tons (United Kingdom, Parliament, “Statistical Abstract for the Colonies and other Possessions of the United Kingdom,” Accts. & Papers (1879), [C. 2093], pp. 1213, LXXVIII).Google Scholar

17 The proportion of Gold Coast palm oil to British palm oil imports rose from about 6 percent of the total in the 1850s to about 20 percent by the late 1870s (Appendix No. 14: “Report of the Select Committee on Africa (Western Coast),” Accts. & Papers (1865), [170], pp. 3551;Google Scholar “Statistical Papers relating to the Colonial and other Possessions of the United Kingdom—Part XIV,” Accts. & Papers (1874), [C. 1038], p. 375, LXX; also Gold Coast Blue Book Statistics for the years).Google Scholar

18 Colonel Ord to Colonial Office, 31 March 1857, CO 96/42, Colonial Office Records, Public Record Office, London. (Hereafter cited as CO.)

19 For details on the rate war, see Davies, Peter N., The Trade Makers: Elder Dempster in West Africa, 1852–1972 (London, 1973), 5665, 8182.Google Scholar

20 According to this observer, trade stimulated education and other aspects of Westernization in the spread of new ideas favorable to entrepreneurship (Statement by the Rev. E. Schrenk, 4 May 1865, in United Kingdom, Parliament, “Minutes of Evidence: Report of the Select Committee on Africa (Western Coast),” Accts. & Papers (1865), [412], p. 140, V).Google Scholar

21 Gold Census Report for 1911, ADM 5/2/3 GNA, 36. Several writers have emphasized both social mobility and economic mobility (the willingness of individuals to move from one job to another) as important indicators of entrepreneurial responsiveness. (See, for example, Harris, John R., “Nigerian Entrepreneurship in Industry,” in Entrepreneurship, Kilby, , ed., 334–35.)Google Scholar

22 The British government had built a school at Cape Coast in 1766. One hundred years later this was still the only government school. Much more active were the Wesleyans. The first Methodist missionaries, led by the mulatto Thomas Birch Freeman, arrived in 1835. By the mid-1870s the Methodists had 70 schools and about 2,600 pupils. The first high school on the Gold Coast, the Wesleyan High School for Boys (later Mfantsipim), did not open until 1876 (Bartels, F. L., The Roots of Ghana Methodism (Cambridge, 1965), 9395.Google Scholar

23 Although certain of the Cape Coast and Accra business class were mulattoes, a European surname did not necessarily mean descent from mixed parentage. There were many purely African families who took European-sounding names. Furthermore, even coastal merchants born of mixed parentage adhered to traditional Akan rules of inheritance when it came to disposition of property. They were regarded by their contemporaries (and by Ghanaians today) as being Africans.

24 Limberg, Lennart, “The Economy of the Fanti Confederation,” Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana, 10 (1970), 83,Google Scholar n. 1. For other data that discount Westernization, see Bevin, H. J., “The Gold Coast Economy about 1880,” Transactions of the Gold Coast and Togoland Historical Society, 2:2 (1956), 81.Google Scholar

25 Statement by Henry Barnes, 18 May 1865, in United Kingdom, Parliament, “Report of the Select Committee on Africa (Western Coast)” (see note 20 above), pp. 234–35.

26 For Blankson's career, see Akita, J. M., “Biographical Sketch of George Blankson of Anomabu, 1809–98,” Transactions of the Gold Coast and Togoland Historical Society, 1:5 (1955), 217–22.Google Scholar

27 Interviews with Ghanaians, 1969 and 1972.

28 Among the leading examples were Chief J. B. Ashou of Beyin in Western Ghana; Nana Annor Adjae II, Paramount Chief of Beyin, Western Apollonia; and, in Eastern Ghana, Anthony, Chief of Addafia; Amegbor, Chief of Krikor; James Ocloo, Chief of Keta; and Geraldo de Lima of the Anlo Coast. See also Amenumey, D. E. K., “Geraldo de Lima: A Reappraisal,” Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana, 9 (1968) 68, 72.Google Scholar

29 There follows a list of major West African merchants and traders of the Gold Coast in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Some of these were independent and others worked as agents for other African-owned as well as European trading houses. Keta and the Anlo Coast: Anthony, Chief of Addafia; Amegbor, Chief of Krikor; Chief Akolatse; Badago, Chief of Agbosome; Hoku, Chief of Blokuso; S. B. Cole; Christian Jacobson; B. P. Johnson; Geraldo de Lima; James Ocloo, Chief of Keta; J. E. Pecku; Acquathy Sappor; B. R. Williams; J. G. Williams; G. B. Williams. Ada, Akuse, and the River Volta: T. T. Agbettor, J. D. Amartey, Tetteh Amler, O. T. Azzu, Robert Bannerman, James Boye-Doe, J. H. Caesar and Sons, Emma O. Caesar; R. A. Coomah, Tetteh Dabeh, Mr. Darlington, T. C. Dohsooh, A. J. Ocansey, William N. Ocansey, John E. Ocansey, J. G. Ocansey, Tetteh C. Ocansey, Isaac Ocansey, Isaac A. Pupulampu, Abraham Pupulampu, H. A. Solomon, J. F. Tamako, R. D. Totimeh, Mr. Wuddah. Accra Region: the Addai brothers, W. Addo, the Ofori brothers, James Bannerman, J. Barnor, J. H. Cheetham, Alfred A. Cole, P. A. D. Cole, R. A. Coomah, A. Lincoln Cudjoe, George Cleland, Charles Dawson, John Dodoo, Labrech Hesse, William Lutterodt, David Laryea, P. Lutterodt, J. F. Micah, H. M. Micah, J. Ablor Mills, the Owoo brothers, B. D. Okai, Emmanuel Quartey Papafio, Samuel D. Pappoe, E. G. Quartey, J. E. Richter, C. J. Reindorf, the Sackey brothers, J. E. LeGrande Sawyer, J. W. Tetteh, Mr. Tettehfio, C. Annan Vanderpuije, J. Addo Vanderpuije, Isaac Vanderpuije, J. Mensah Vanderpuije. Winneba, Apam, Mumford, and Agona-Swedru: J. R. Arthur, C. W. Bentill, R. J. Hammond, F. B. Micah, James Clement, J. E. Dadson, R. J. Ghartey (King Ghartey IV), David Ghartey, E. Moss, A. Thompson, S. P. Wallis. Saltpond: J. B. Acquah, John Adu, Mr. Bassi, Albert Biney, Robert Cann, J. A. Cusno, J. B. Gordon, John Graham, Bentil Hayford, Kwesi Ikwa, Jacob Ise, James E. Quashie, John B. Quashie, Amos J. Quashie, Simeon Quashie, James Eggay Taylor. Anomabu: John Alloo, George Blankson, Samuel Collins Brew, R. A. Ferguson, J. N. Insaidu, Josiah Mills, John Ogoe, John Sarbah, W. T. N. Yankiah. Cape Coast: Joseph F. Acquaye, J. M. Abadoo, Kwesi Abbah, T. Addoquay, J. Addoquay, J. P. Brown, George Hughes, Thomas Hughes, Robert Hutchison, W. F. Hutchison, John Inchiful, T. F. E. Jones, Josiah A. Mills, Alfred Aggrey, John O. Ansah, J. D. Abraham, James F. Amissah, Quassie Anbrah, Henry Barnes, Robert Cann, A. D. Ellis, J. E. Ellis, B. Enofi, Joseph Dawson, F. C. Grant, Mrs. Ino Grant, R. A. Harrison, A. T. Hughes Halm, John G. Halm, Hannah Morgan, A. F. Parker, James S. Parker, W. E. Pietersen, John Plange, James Sago, Pobee and Son, R. A. Quansah, J. M. Sarbah, John Sarbah, Sarah Sarbah, Jacob W. Sey, Joseph Sey, James Eggay Taylor, A. Q. Yarquah. Elmina: Edward Blewett, A. Delveer, J. P. Dontoh, G. E. Emissang, Saul Green, J. J. Molenaan, the Ter Muelen brothers, William Plange, Henry Vanhein. Sekondi and Tarkwa (Mining Region): Joseph Dawson, Swanzy Essien, Dr. J. Africanus B. Horton, John Inchiful, Chief Kofi Kyei, King Enemil of Wassa, Thomas Birch Sam, William Edward Sam, W. E. Sam, Jr., John H. Scheck. Achowa, Dixove, Axim, Beyin, and Assini (French Ivory Coast): Joseph Aandor, Mr. Acquah, Francis Acquasi, Isaac Amissah, Chief J. B. Ashou, John Annin, A. Bissoe, Henriette Brew, Albert Bedue, Robert Bruce, Isaac Clement, James C. Clinton, Mr. DaCosta, Mr. Hagah, Swanzy Essien, Thomas T. Jeffrey, J. B. Kimfull, J. W. Mensah, Benjamin Sam, Daniel Ussher. See Dumett, R., “Compilation of African Merchant and Traders' Agents of Major Towns of Ghana,” Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana, 13 (1972), 260–64.Google Scholar

30 I use here the standard definition of a merchant as one who engages in an overseas, longdistance, or inter-regional import or export business as well as in local trade. Other definitions which were used on the Gold Coast during the period 1850–1900 were “a man who did a large volume of trade” and a businessman “who lived in a large house.” Some of these men worked as part- or full-time agents for European trading houses. The men referred to here were known to their contemporaries as “merchants” and were named as such by W. S. Kwesi Johnson, retired businessman of Cape Coast, who was in his late seventies when I interviewed him in Ghana during August 1969 and January 1972.

31 The number fifty has been documented, but the figure was probably several hundreds. At one point, Ocansey acted on behalf of “50 of the native Volta merchants” to purchase in Britain a steam launch with which they could make a vast increase in the amount of cargo carried and could compete on an equal basis with the European firms (letter from John Ocansey to M. Hershell and Co., Liverpool, 22 November 1882, Ocansey Letterbook, 1879–85, Sc. 8/63, Ocansey Papers, Ghana National Archives, Accra (hereafter cited as GNA)).

32 For interesting new research on the salt trade of the Lower Volta, see Sutton, I. B., “The Volta River Salt Trade: The Survival of an Indigenous Industry,” Journal of African History, 22:1 (1982), 4361. One of Sutton's provocative conclusions is that the traditional salt trade expanded and grew stronger, not weaker, during the twentieth century period of formal colonial rule.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

33 See Ocansey, J. A., African Trading, or the Trials of William Nahr Ocansey (Liverpool, 1881), 517.Google Scholar

34 Field notes and tapes of personal interview with Moses B. Pupulampu, Ada, in eastern Ghana, 5 January 1972.

35 Ocansey Station Cashbook, 1 January 1878, Sc. 8/17; invoice from W. N. Ocansey and Sons to M. Herschell, Liverpool, 8 July 1882, Ocansey Letterbook, 1879–85, Sc. 8/63, Ocansey Papers, GNA.

36 Hickson, Sykes & Co. to W. N. Ocansey, 19 April 1878, Ocansey Letterbook, 1879–85, Sc. 8/63, Ocansey Papers, GNA.

37 In one instance, Ocansey's Liverpool broker informed him that a substantial cargo of palm oil sent in a single ship from West Africa would be sufficient to depress the prevailing price offered for a ton of ordinary grade oil (Hickson, Sykes & Co. to W. N. Ocansey and Sons, 22 April 1879, Ocansey Letterbook, 1879–85, Sc. 8/63, Ocansey Papers, GNA).

38 This is a terse summary of complex set of problems. The elder Ocansey's son emphasized a long chain of misfortunes including the mishandling of credit by several of his local agents, the death of another trusted upcountry agent, numerous losses of palm oil en route down the Volta, and the failure of a Liverpool firm to deliver a £2,000 steam launch ship Ocansey had ordered (Ocansey, , African Trading, 517).Google Scholar

39 Personal interview with King Ghartey V (age 80) of Winneba, Ghana, 22 December 1971.

40 In 1901 when the young Ghartey V was nine years old, he went to live with an uncle at Aburi in Akuapem state, and in 1905 became a student at the Methodist Mfantsipim School, Cape Coast. His knowledge of his father is based on what was told to him by others (Personal interview with King Ghartey V, 22 December 1971).

41 Sampson, Magnus J., Gold Coast Men of Affairs Past and Present (London, 1937), 118.Google Scholar

42 The Ghartey trading firm store account books and letterbooks at the Ghana National Archives, Accra, deal mainly with goods sold to the Fanti Confederation. See Ghartey Papers, Sc. 7/—series, GNA.

43 Personal Interview with King Ghartey V, 22 December 1971.

44 For a full discussion of the major trade roads leading to the interior, see Wilks, Ivor, Asante in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, 1975), 2435, 4347, 5455.Google Scholar

45 Strictly speaking, Cape Coast lay in the Efufu or Fetu state, but this polity became part of the Fanti Confederation in the nineteenth century, so that it is not improper to equate the Fanti region with the central Gold Coast. People from Cape Coast have recently reported that they fall under the jurisdiction of the Oguaa substate (Author's field notes, 1971–72).

46 Report on the Census of the Gold Coast for the Year 1891. Enclosed in Governor W. B. Griffith (306) to Lord Ripon, 11 November 1892, ADM 5/2/1 GNA.

47 It appears that a number of educated African merchants of Cape Coast doubled as circuit missionaries. For details, see Bartels, , Roots of Ghana Methodism, 4041.Google Scholar

48 Belief in the gospels of morality and hard work (the combination of “the Bible and the Plough”) played a strong part in the sermons and writings of the Reverend Thomas Birch Freeman, mulatto leader of the Cape Coast Methodist community. In this way West Africa could be delivered from poverty through the vitality of her own people (Bartels, , Roots of Ghana Methodism, 2933). Ideas very similar to this crop up in the papers of some of the major merchants. See, for example, John Sarbah to Albert Cudjoe, 4 April 1879, Sarbah Trading Papers, Sc. 6/4, GNA.Google Scholar

49 Unofficial African members of the Gold Coast Legislative Council were James Bannerman (1850–56), George Blankson (1860–73), Robert Hutchison (1861–63), F. C. Grant (1863–66), Samuel C. Brew (1864–66), G. F. Cleland (1886–87), W. Hutchison (1887), John Sarbah (1888–92), J. H. Cheetham (1893–98), and John Vanderpuije (1894–1904). The governors listened to African criticisms of their development policies, but the weight carried by African mercantile representatives in the government's decision making should not be exaggerated. Most Africans involved in colonial administration served in minor posts such as customs clerkships. See Kimble, David, A Political History of Ghana (Oxford, 1963), 6467, 455–56.Google Scholar

50 For details, see Dumett, , “John Sarbah,” 653–79.Google Scholar

51 Oral evidence gathered in Ghana during 1969 and 1971–72. See also Bevin, , “Gold Coast Economy,” 8081.Google Scholar

52 Letter from John Sarbah to Albert Cudjoe, 4 April 1879; John Sarbah to John Ogoe, Anomabu (n.d., 1875); John Sarbah to Thomas Jeffrey, 25 May 1877; John Sarbah to T. Jeffrey, 14 August 1878. All from John Sarbah Letterbook, Sc. 6/4, GNA.

53 There are many references to “hold-ups” in the literature. See, for example, Governor W. B. Griffith (230) to Lord Ripon, 8 July 1893, CO 96/235; Wolfson, Freda, “A Price Agreement on the Gold Coast—the Krobo Oil Boycott, 1858–1866,” Economic History Review, 2d ser., 6:1 (1953), 6877.Google Scholar

54 Personal interviews with Nana Akoda Kwadjo Ofor, at Akyem-Ajumako, 1971, and with Opanin John W. Kofi Asante, at Akyem-Oda, 1969.

55 Letter from John Sarbah to Francis Acquasi (Adjuah), 15 December 1876; John Sarbah to Charles Dawson (Accra), 24 April 1881, John Sarbah Letterbook, Sc. 6/4, GNA.

56 The pros and cons are discussed in Garlick, , African Traders, 92106.Google Scholar See also Nafziger, E. Wayne, “The Effect of the Nigerian Extended Family on Entrepreneurial Activity,” Economic Development and Cultural Change, 18:1 (10 1969), 2533.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

57 John Sarbah to King Kofi Amonu III (Anomabu), 21 May 1874, John Sarbah Letterbook, Sc. 6/4, GNA.

58 Examples of the general categories of business papers which are available include (1) station cashbooks (where merchandise sold was balanced against cash on hand), (2) wholesale stockbooks, (3) bills of lading (records of exports) and invoices for shipments received from Europe, (4) wages books and records of other local disbursements, (5) records of accounts receivable, (6) annual ledgers or trade journals indicating general firm assets and liabilities. From research thus far, I have been unable to discover any evidence of comprehensive annual profit-and-loss statements. This does not mean that such statements were not formulated—only that they have not survived. See, for example, Special Collection, Ghana National Archives: Blankson Papers, Sc. 1/—Sarbah Papers, Sc. 6/—series; Ocansey Papers, Sc. 8/—series; G. B. Williams Papers, Sc. 12/—series; J. H. Caesar Trading Papers, Sc. 13/—series.

59 Pollard, Sidney, The Genesis of Modern Management (London, 1965), 270–71, notes that a firm's ability to calculate profits accurately came only with the advent of modern cost accounting.Google Scholar

60 Letter from John Sarbah to J. B. Gordon (Saltpond), 23 November 1878; for a similar directive, see also John Sarbah to R. Hammond (Winneba), 12 August 1878, John Sarbah Letterbook, Sc. 6/4, GNA.

61 John Sarbah to Mr. Bassi (Saltpond), 18 April 1881. See also John Sarbah to Josiah A. Mills, 21 April 1877, John Sarbah Letterbook, Sc. 6/4, GNA.

62 A selection of Sarbah's agents and branch station managers included Josiah A. Mills (Winneba and Appam), Charles Dawson (Accra), Robert Bruce and J. Acquah (Assini), Francis Acquasi (Adjuah), Edward Blewett (Elmina), Thomas Jeffrey (Adjuah and Axim), J. B. Micah (Winneba), James B. Clement (Cape Coast), David Ghartey (Winneba), John Graham (Saltpond), Benjamin Sam (Anamabo), John Alloo (Anamabo), John Ogoe (Anamabo), Chief Kofi Dontho (Chama), James B. Gordon (Saltpond), R. Hammond (Winneba), Mr. Bassi (Saltpond), J. A. Cusno (Saltpond), Kwesi Ikwa (Saltpond), Chief J. B. Ashou (Dixcove), Mr. Aiders (Appam), William Hagen (Assin and Grand Bassam).

63 United Kingdom, Parliament, Hutchison, W. F., “Report on the Economic Agriculture on the Gold Coast,” (1889),Google Scholar “Papers Relating to H. M. Colonial Possessions,” Accts. & Papers (1890), [C. 5897–40], pp. 725, XLVIII. Letter from John Sarbah to David Ghartey, 11 September 1883, John Sarbah Letterbook, Sc. 6/4, GNA.Google Scholar

64 Compiled from Gold Coast Blue Book Reports for the years.

65 For Asante the main earlier contributions to the Atlantic system had been slaves and gold. There was also a substantial overland trade to the north (Mali and northern Nigeria) in gold and kola nuts. See Wilks, , Asante in the Nineteenth Century, 178–79, 197, 268,Google ScholarKwame, Arhin, West African Traders in Ghana in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century (London, 1979), 614, 5157.Google Scholar

66 Report by H. Vroom, 6 September 1883, encl. in Hodgson (Conf.) to Ripon, 30 October 1893, CO 96/237.

67 For a discussion of the permeation of the coastal rubber trade into Asante and its effect on individual accumulation in Asante, see Lewin, Thomas J., Asante before the British—the Prempean Years, 1875–1900 (Lawrence, Kansas, 1978), 4, 53, 5758, 143, 160, 214.Google Scholar

68 For a complete discussion of the rubber trade and its impact, see Dumett, Raymond E., “The Rubber Trade of the Gold Coast and Asante in the Nineteenth Century: African Innovation and Market Responsiveness,” Journal of African History, 12:1 (1971), 89101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

69 Hutchison, C. F., The Pen Pictures of Modern Africans and African Celebrities (London, [ca. 19201930]), 176;Google Scholar see also Kimble, , Political History, 5.Google Scholar

70 An excellent discussion of the pros and cons of what has been called the “semi-investment” in “prestige” houses and other properties can be found in Lawson, Rowena, The Changing Economy of the Lower Volta, 1954–1967 (Oxford, 1972), 104–16.Google Scholar

71 Several of these points are drawn from Hutchison, , Pen Pictures, 67, 111, 176, 188.Google Scholar

72 United Kingdom, Parliament, Hutchison, “Report on the Economic Agriculture on the Gold Coast” (see note 63 above), pp. 24–33. The relationship of the African coastal merchants to the cocoa trade remains to be explored. There is little evidence of any direct connection between the early efforts of the Cape Coast group and the famous Ghanaian cocoa-growing revolution which got under way after 1895. The cocoa revolution began mainly in the Akuapem hills of eastern Ghana, spreading later to Akyem and subsequently to Asante (Hill, Migrant Cocoa Farmers). Although several of the Cape Coast mercantile families set up cocoa farms, the immediate hinterland of Cape Coast was not really suitable to the growing of cocoa.

73 Enclosures 1–3 in Acting Administrator F. White to Holland, 10 November 1887, CO 96/199.

74 United Kingdom, Parliament, Hutchison, “Report on the Economic Agriculture on the Gold Coast” (see note 63 above), p. 32, plus numerous articles in The African Times. Other newspapers were The Gold Coast News, the Gold Coast Independent, the Gold Coast People, and the Ashanti Argus. These newspapers can be read at the British Library branch at Colindale, and in microfilm through Cooperative Africana Microfilm Project (CAMP), Center for Research Libraries, Chicago.

75 Advertisements for G. C. Native Concessions Purchasing Company in The Gold Coast Times, 22 April 1882.Google Scholar

76 W. E. Sam, Sr., began his business career as an agent in the Swanzy firm. His sons, W. E. Sam, Jr., and Thomas Birch Freeman Sam, were trained as mining engineers in England. See records of the Tamsu (Wassa) Gold Mining Company and the Cinnamon Bippo Gold Mines, Ltd., in which T. B. F. Sam was a shareholder and manager (record of association on file at Registrar of Joint Stock Companies, London). For a later history of the Sam family, see Bittle, W. E. and Gets, G., The Longest Way Home (Detroit, 1964), 195–97.Google Scholar

77 See Ayandele, E. A., Introduction, Letters on the Political Condition of the Gold Coast, by Horton, J. Africanus B., new ed. (London, 1970), 3435.Google Scholar

78 Editorial, The African Times, 10 June 1881.Google Scholar

79 United Kingdom, Parliament, Hutchison, , “Report on the Economic Agriculture on the Gold Coast” (see note 63 above), p. 29.Google Scholar

80 See Williams, F. Awonoor, “George Alfred Grant: A Biographical Sketch,” typescript (Balme Library, Legon, n.d.), 2.Google Scholar

81 Gold Coast newspapers complained of the objectionable “colour prejudice” or “Negro phobia” which became blatant in the 1890s. It manifested itself in many ways including a decline in the number of Africans appointed to colonial government positions and to upper-level supervisory positions in churches and schools, restriction in social relationships, and discrimination in business affairs (Gold Coast Chronicle, 4 January 1892).Google Scholar

82 Examples where credit was cut off can be found in records of the later years of the Ocansey firm, the Williams firm, and the J. H. Caesar trading firm. See, for example, McLaren Brothers (Liverpool) to Mrs. J. G. Williams, 25 November 1901, Williams Papers, Sc. 12/12; and copy of letter from J. H. Caesar to Horsfield, Derry & Co. (Manchester), 21 March 1899, Caesar Papers, Sc. 13/17, GNA.

83 References to Africans being deliberately excluded from the advantages of shipping rebates are found in testimony of J. H. Batty, 14 May 1907, “Report of the Royal Commission on Shipping Rings,” Accts. & Papers (1909), [Cd. 4668], p. 235, XLVII.Google Scholar

84 For a good analysis of the effects of twentieth-century economic change on Cape Coast and various other port towns, see Amoah, Frank E. Kwame, “The Growth and Decline of Seaports in Ghana” (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 1969), 160–77.Google Scholar

85 In 1918 there were 292 registered African companies competing against some 98 European firms. Obviously this statistic says nothing about the size and profits of the African firms and their ability to compete with the expatriates. MacLaren, W. A., The Resources of the Empire (London, 1924), 180.Google Scholar Noted in Tenkorang, S., “John Mensah Sarbah,” Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana, 14:3 (1973), 7578.Google Scholar

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