“The welfare of our land we have sincerely at heart”

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Publication Details

List of Authors: Patrik Hettula
Place: Valencia
Publication year: 2016
Publisher: European Social Science History Conference (ESSHC)
Number of pages: 22


Abstract

This paper was presented at the ESSHC in 2016 at a session I organized, "African and Euro-African Actors in Transcultural Environments". The paper deals with the Euro-African society on the British Gold Coast during the late 19th century. It discusses how this small but influential group possessed capabilities that were gained from belonging to several different cultural societies and having vast networks and family linkages. Through living in urban surroundings, speaking several languages, dressing according to European fashion and consuming European or other imported goods, they expressed their European heritage and influenced their status in politics and higher social classes on the Gold Coast. At the same time they respected African customs and laws, supported local chiefs and proposed African alternatives to the colonial administration. The history of this mixed-heritage social group has been kept alive by a few historians, but needs to also be addressed in the future in order to understand how the structure of different social groups and their networks spurred the development of independent nations as was the case with Ghana. The focus of this discussion will be on a few prominent Euro-Africans of the late 19th and early 20th century. These men, influential and widely cited already during their own lifespan, were challenging spatial boundaries to extend ideas and action over formerly culturally divided spaces. Their actions crossed back and forth over European to African power spheres and touched upon the entangled networks that they were involved in. Due to their mixed-heritage they could translate into western terms what it meant to be a reformer and African ideologist in the turn of the 20th century. However their agency and representation has to be taken into consideration as they were a socially marginalized elite with ambitions vastly different from the majority of the people on the Gold Coast.


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