“We put ourselves under the protection of . . . the [local] king and the viceroy, and the next day . . . we set about to begin our sales. . . . The merchants in this country were alerted to our arrival, and then we saw [them make] their way down from the hills and came to buy our goods,” wrote a Flemish-speaking merchant who traveled to the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana) around 1479–80.1 Unlike in most of the Americas, the encounter between the region that became Ghana and Europe was not one of conquest and colonization; rather, it was one where European nationals competed with each other for the good favor and “protection” of indigenous leaders and merchants at a time when the commerce that brought Europe to West Africa was based on gold. Europeans found a vast territory of forests and lagoons connected by the politics of commercial and social networks, peoples residing in sophisticated social and cultural orders and skilled in the arts of trade, agriculture, and gold mining. Gold, in the minds of the interlopers, become shorthand for the region, hence, the Gold Coast. Centuries later, the global trade in gold would be eclipsed by the trafficking in human captives and then a cash crop economy centered almost exclusively on cocoa and other commercially viable resources. Today gold is still a valuable commodity as one of Ghana’s largest exports, but the nation of Ghana is also known throughout the world by another commodity that shines—their national soccer team, the Black Stars
|Auther||Kwasi Konadu, Clifford P. Campbell|
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