Ghana has 15 forts with about 4 of these forts partially in ruins.Amongst these partially ruined forts is ” Fort Prinzeinstein”.
Fort Prinzeinstein happens to be one of the most prominent places to visit in Keta due to its’s beautiful view and the sea behind the fort, which is quite tidy and a sight to behold.
BRIEF HISTORY ABOUT THE FORT
Fort Prinzeinstein is a fort located at Keta, in the Volta Region of Ghana. It was built in 1784 by the Danes during the reign of Danish King, Christian VII. He reigned from 1766 to 1808. His son, Frederick VI reigned from 1784 as Prince Regent. There is a possibility that the fort could have been named after him.
The uniqueness of this fort lies in the fact that it is one of the most spectacular relics of colonialism that can be found to the East of the River Volta.
PURPOSE FOR BUILDING THE FORT
The fort was initially built by Danish traders in 1784 for defensive purposes and to keep the area safe from other colonial powers.
During this era, there was strong competition among European powers in terms of building forts for their trade and it was a matter of the survival of the fittest.
The fort was later used to detain slaves who were to be transported to the Caribbean, a role it played until 1803. It also served as a transit point for slaves from Togo, Dahomey in Benin, Greater Accra and Northern Volta.
HOW KETA WAS FOUNDED
The Keta township was founded by Ewes who migrated from Togo. It is positioned to the west of a sandbar. When the people were about to cross the sandbar the leader, Wenya told his followers, “Mieva do kea ta” or “Mekpo ke fe ta” meaning we have reached the sand head. Hence the name “Keta” meaning Sand head.
FACTORS THAT LED TO THE ANLOS BEING SOLD OFF INTO SLAVERY
During 1782, the Anlos heard that a Danish lodge at Horny, located up the River Volta were going to be converted into a fort.
The Anlos felt that building of such a fort would ruin the Ewe land because slavery was at its peak during that period. The Anlo fathers selected the fearless young men among them and demolished the building. This didn’t go down well with the Danish foreman, Salvadore, who had witnessed the wrath of the Anlos.
The governor, Governor – Kiog resolved to silence the Anlos by selling them off into slavery in order to earn more money.
TREATMENT METERED OUT TO THE SLAVES
Slaves were marched from their villages to slave markets in Atorkor and Keta. The slaves were further moved to Fort Prinzeinstein and were subjected to thorough examination by a medical expert who determines how fit they are.
They were then branded through a barbaric treatment, where a hot-iron which bears either the name or coat of arms of the company was burnt into the skin of these slaves leaving marks on their bodies. These marks served as a means of identifying the slaves.
CURRENT STATE OF THE FORT
Fort Prinzeinstein serves as a monument in remembrance of the era of slavery and colonialism which definitely cannot be ignored because it tells a sad story about what our forefathers endured.
This Fort is currently old and dilapidated edifice with half of it swept away by tidal waves during a storm in 1980.