As the days go by, I am amazed by the new historic sites I keep seeing in Ghana, it brings great joy to know, our cultural roots are not entirely lost. Walk with me in this article as we explore the castle gross- Friedrichsburb, located in the Ahanta West District of the western Region of Ghana.
Princes Town or Pokesu is located 5 km east of Fort St. Antonio on Manfro Hill in the Ahanta West District of the Western Region of south Ghana, lying between Axim to the west and Sekondi-Takoradi to the east.
During the period of the British, German and Ethiopians trooping into Ghana for trade, a Brandenburger expedition of two ships commanded by Otto Friedrich von der Groeben, arrived in the Gold Coast and began to build a strong fort, on 1 January 1681 between Axim and the Cape of Three Points.
The fort was completed in 1683 and was renamed Fort Fredericksburg (German: Gross-Friedrichsburg) in honour of Prince Frederick William I, Elector of Brandenburg. Because the fort was named after a Prince, it has been referred to as Princes Town. The fort was to be the headquarters of the Brandenburgers in Africa.
In 1708, an Akan merchant, John Canoe learned that the Germans were going to sell the fort to the Dutch. In protest, he began a resistance that managed to hold off fleets of battleships for almost 20 years. The fort was eventually captured in 1725 by the Dutch and renamed “Hollandia”.
Because John Canoe was successful in retaining control of the fort, inhabitants looked upon him as a hero. In 1872, the Dutch ceded the fort to Britain and in 1957, the fort became part of the newly independent country of Ghana.
“Junkanoo” (pronounced “John Canoe”) festivals are held annually in the coastal outlines of North Carolina, in Jamaica and the Bahamas.
The Fort Fredericksburg was built of stone transported by sea between 1681 and 1683 from Prussia and is one of two German forts built in Ghana, the other being Fort Dorothea. It is estimated that about 300,000 Africans were transported through this fort. The remains of John Canoe are a mystery. Some have said he was captured after having lost the battle of the fort while others have said his remains are in the Tafo Cemetery in Kumasi.
John Conny claimed and took over Fort Fredericksburg, and for seven years, he maintained trade lines with all nations, offering huge discounts on the price of gold and slaves. In spectacular victories, he successfully resisted all Dutch military attempts to reclaim the fort. This earned him a hero’s place in tales recounted by slaves in the Caribbean. When the Dutch finally ousted John and his army from the Fort in 1724, they discovered that John had removed enough stones from the fort for the construction of a personal mansion and a dividing wall.
Renamed Fort Hollandia, it lacked its previous beauty and splendour as Fort Fredricksburg and served the Dutch as a service station. Fort Gross Friedericksburg is currently a rest house. It can accommodate ten people at a time.
To get to this place of history, one can join a bus from Accra to Takoradi, from Takoradi move to the Axim road, locate Princes Town or Pokesu 5 km east of Fort St. Antonio on Manfro Hill in the Ahanta West District of the Western Region of south Ghana. It lies between Axim to the west and Sekondi-Takoradi to the east.