Ahanta’s Safohen Jan Kwa I shows the way for renewed Ahanta-Bahamas relations

Ahanta's Safohen Jan Kwa I with some chiefs and queen mothers

The people of Ahanta in Ghana’s Western Region have taken yet another step toward building bridges with its citizens in the diaspora who were taken away through the slave trade in pre-colonial Ghana.

A citizen of the Caribbean Island of Bahamas, Christopher Davis, has been installed as Safohen of the Ahanta Traditional Council at a colourful event at the palace of Otumfuo Badu Bonsu XV at Busua in the Western Region.

Christopher Davis is the son of the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Philip Davis and his wife, Ann Marie Davis.

Mr. Davis has been researching into the history of the Junkanoo festival – the biggest festival in the Caribbean, named after an Ahanta warrior, Jan Kwa, who fought fiercely against the slave trade.  Earlier this year, Mr. Davis and five others from Bahamas were initiated back into the Ahanta tribe.

The people of Ahanta in Ghana’s Western Region have taken yet another step toward building bridges with its citizens in the diaspora who were taken away through the slave trade in pre-colonial Ghana.

“I want everybody to follow me as best as they can to Princess Town to see some of the sites, and to see that small town that connects Ahanta’s entire diaspora. Over 14 countries are connected to the people of Ahanta. To the history of Slavery in Ahanta, I am proud for this reconnection so I urge us all to follow me to Princess town to see the fort and the mansion of Jan Kwa I to see where it began for us in Bahamas, Jamaican, the United States and the list goes on and on,” he said.

Jan Kwa I, after whom this new Safohen is named, was a chief of the Ahanta people in the early 18th century, who established a stronghold in the defunct Fort Fredericksberg in a small town called Princess Town in the Western Region and fought multiple wars with European traders for twenty years. It fell finally in 1725, though Jan Kwa’s fate is unknown. He is commemorated in the festival held in the Caribbean each December.

As it is the duty of chiefs to promote development and use their influence to hold sustainable initiatives for their people, the Western Regional Minister, Dr. Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, who spoke at the coronation, admonished him to be development centred and promote cultural ties between Ghana and the Bahamas.

“As you are being enstooled today as Safohen and appointed to represent the Ahanta Traditional Area in the Bahamas and the Caribbean, I urge you to enhance the capacity of Ghanaian residents there. This will help them to effectively participate in national development in a structured way through the channeling of their remittances to foster entrepreneurship, support innovation, and develop priority sectors of the economy.

Therefore, I will urge you to use your position to unite and fight for the common purpose of the people you represent, bearing in mind that, when people come together for the right purpose, they are able to make a huge impact on their mission which makes life much bearable for them,” he said.

The minister further encouraged Safohene Jan Kwa I and the entire Bahamas to join them during their annual Sekondi-Takoradi Christmas City Project where they expect to host thousands of tourists from all over the world.

“Let me also use this opportunity to inform and invite you, and (other) brethren from the Bahamas to our Annual Sekondi-Takoradi Christmas City Project. Primarily, the Christmas City Project is an initiative under the Western Regional Co-ordinating Council’s Investment Centre, which is aimed at promoting investment through tourism.

“It is a week-long homecoming event slated during the festive period, and brings together over 50 masquerading groups to showcase their unique apparels and dancing skills. The event, over the years, has attracted over 200,000 tourists and natives from the diaspora on the average. I believe it is also a great avenue for our brothers in the diaspora to reconnect to their Ghanaian roots.

“Accordingly, this year, we are expecting a delegation from the Bahamas to join us in the celebration,” he noted.

On her part, the First Lady of the Bahamas, Ann Marie Davis expressed confidence that her office would ensure that cultural ties that have been built between the two states will be strengthened.

“To enhance cultural activities between the Bahamas and Ghana, yes I will be pursuing that. We wish to build the cultural ties which Christopher has uncovered in his research here in Ahanta. We have our Ambassador of Cultural Affairs – Jamaal Rolle, and Foreign Service Officer – Kenneth C. Wallace Whitfield, here who will lead the charge as we step forward to strengthening ties and trade to see whether you (Western Regional Minister) can get some of the seven million tourists here through that foreign trade. We will find the best means possible to build businesses and connections that we need,” she noted.

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