Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 October 2020
The sociocultural forms of accra, whose population is now an estimated 2.5 million people, grew form interactions with Europeans from the fifteenth century onward. By the end of the seventeenth century, there were three major European trading outposts on the coast—Ussher Fort (Dutch), James Fort (British), and Christiansborg Castle (Danish). Each European post imparted a particular character to its neighborhood and, more importantly, triggered specific dynamics of social struggle both between the locals and the Europeans and within each local group. Traces of the European influence can also be discerned in some of the street names—Bannerman Road, Hansen Road, Bruce Road, Lokko Road, Rev Richter Road, Joel Sonne Street—which evoke the Euro-African families that formed the earliest local elites. The postmodern maxims that reality is a product of language and that language is essentially unstable and contradictory are by now standard views in critical theory. But I sometimes wonder what conclusion the postmodernists would have come to if for their reflections they had taken not the history of Western philosophy but rather the evolution of the polyglot and hybrid forms of language, ideas, society, and culture that are abundant in the non-Western societies that make up the bulk of the world's population. Accra might have provided a rich site for such reflections.