Frederiksgave Plantation

I had heard about the slave plantation at Abokobi in Accra but did not know where exactly it was located. My first thought was that it was a slave stop site where the slaves stopped to rest on their way to the coast.

The first encounter I had of it was to see a picture of the stream that runs through the place. Then I finally had the opportunity as a resource person on the field trip of participants at the INSRAT Historic Society of Ghana Teachers of History in High Schools workshop.

It was exciting as it was the first time for me to get to know this place too.

Abokobi is an old town just below the Aburi mountain ranges that became popular for its farming activities. The land is fertile so that even in the early 80s when the drought and famine hit Ghana, Abokobi was not much affected because of its location and the fertility of its land.

The inhabitants are mainly farmers and they cultivate cereals like maize and also palm oil and then bring the produce to the market in Madina to sell. These were the traditional farmlands of the Ga people.

Modernity however has caught up with Abokobi and its environs. The new capitalist economy means that the lands that were hitherto used to farmlands have been sold to private ownership and these private owners decide whatever they want to do with the lands. Inasmuch as a few of them still maintain the lands as farmlands, the majority have used the lands to build plush modern day houses to use as their homes to retire to.

These rich people in society have built mansions that they can retire to from their active service in the mainland and central Accra. These peri-urban areas have spread all over Accra and the owners of these houses are usually absent because of the distance from the central mainland Accra.

On the way to Abokobi lies the Pantang Hospital for the mentally ill. There was a time when this hospital was isolated from the nearest place of activity but now it is bursting with activity as the city is drawn closer to it.

Gone were the days when anybody seen in the environs of the hospital was considered a mental patient and therefore accorded the stigma that comes from society for being a mad person.

Another long existing place on the road to Abokobi is the Italian design and construction firm Micheletti. The firm has been there for years and there were many times when people have wondered what goes on in those plush design buildings.

This company is responsible for the building of the hockey stadium that hosted the African Hockey tournament in 2009.

Further down the road is the Abokobi land fill site acquired and owned by Zoomlion Waste Management Company Limited. In recent times there has been controversy on the effect of the land fill site on the residents of the area. They claim that the waste is not treated well. The land fill site is the dump ground for the waste of areas within the Accra East environs.

One just has to drive by the place and leave the windows to the car open to relate to what the residents feel when they make complaints about the land fill site.

There is an old Presbyterian church at the crossroads to the plantation site. It is obvious the church has been refurbished several times but its location is paramount in showing missionary activity and European presence in Abokobi.

The University of Ghana has a sign post on the crossroad showing the way to the plantation. A couple of mud houses still dot the road to the plantation.

It is interesting to know that Frederiksgave is in a cul-de-sac. It is situated at the last end of the road of the road from Abokobi in a place called Sesime. At the cul-de-sac is a sign post that tells visitors that they have arrived at the plantation site. It’s a signpost of the University of Ghana and Ghana Museums Board.

There are cobblestones leading up to the villa situated up a slight hill a short walk from the end of the road.

The caretaker of the museum is an affable man who welcomes visitors and gives a short history of the plantation. The plantation was the private residence of a Dutch man who lived there. He died interstate and as by Danish law, his property became the property of the monarch of the time, King Frederick.

Later on, Frederick gave over the plantation and villa to the Danish government hence the name Frederiksgave meaning Frederick’s gift. The plantation originally housed 21 slaves, 13 female and 8 male who lived in two thatched houses on the site next to the villa, planting coffee and tobacco for local consumption.

The villa was rebuilt as part of The Heritage Project, when archaeology students of the University of Ghana started coming over to do practical work at the site. For many years the site was not restored but one man Dr Beduwa-Mensah (of blessed memory) made it his pet project and the subject of his doctoral thesis.

Through his efforts, the Augustino Foundation, a Danish foundation, sponsored the restoration of the site that has now become a museum of Danish and Dutch presence in the Gold Coast inland.

In the museum, there is a list of slaves that were at the plantation and how much they were bought for. It is interesting to note that the slaves came from all over Ghana and even beyond.

It is imperative that some of the slave descendants will still be in Abokobi town but it will still be difficult to trace the lineages of such families unless maybe the traditional historians. This is because any such descendants would have been integrated into the society.

There are also documents relating to instances where chiefs brought over slaves in exchange for tobacco or even at one time a hammock.

The villa not only served as a Dutch residence but also an inland clinic for the Dutch presence in the gold Coast and there was a direct walking  route to Christianborg in Osu which was visibly marked with tamarind trees.

Whenever slavery is mentioned, our first thought goes to our forefathers who were shipped abroad to work in the plantations in the New Lands in the Caribbean and other parts of the world.

This plantation is a historical sight to show that some of the Europeans kept slave plantations locally and it was only when they wanted to usually punish some stubborn slaves that they sold them overseas.

it is now a Ghana Heritage site where tourists can visit and learn about slavery in Ghana.

Let us all stand together and say NO MORE to slavery.

Like i always say, it begins with YOU!

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3 Responses to “Frederiksgave Plantation”

  1. I work with INSRAT.

  2. Abena safoa Djisam Says:

    Good job . we need more of such, there is so much history ,tourist sites and archaeological sites in Ghana lying in waste, I have visited a couple of these places . There is a lot out there to be seen. I am not an archaeologist neither am I a historian , I am just an inquisitive fellow.

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