Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Going back to my roots...

This weekend was indeed a restful respite after the hectic throes of Friday. To cut a long story short as we would say in Jamaica (i.e. to get straight to the point) I was the unintended victim of what could be best described as 'road rage' - though I have a few other choice words I would prefer to use.

On my way to work after dropping my daughter at school when I saw two cars racing towards me - on my side of the road! Despite my swerving - and my swearing - both ended up in the left side of the vehicle I was driving. Suffice to say that entire side is a sorry mess. To hear them tell their side of the story - they were both involved in a hit and run further up the road. One driver was actually pursuing the other when they both came crashing into me.

For an accident that had happened at 7.40 a.m. I didn't finish with the paper work and all that until 2:00 p.m.! So much for my day that I had planned. During that time I:
  • ferried police men between the stations - one station had not staionery to take the accident report on and no vehicles;
  • ferried policemen to the scene of the accident - again no vehicles;
  • went to the DVLA to get my vehicle tested;
  • gave and wrote numerous statements.
Granted, though it did take a lot of time, I must say that everyone was quite helpful and polite - both at the police stations and the DVLA.

Decided that my weekend therefore had to be totally stress free and so spent the Saturday with friends just chatting and drinking - well mainly drinking. The chatter soon turned to Jamaica, Jamaicans and the links with Ghana and the wider African continent. Coincidentally, I had just finished reading a book entitled '
The History of Jamaica' and I was sharing some of the new things I had 'discovered' (more on that in a separate post). I was then given a chapter to read in another book entitled ' Survivors on the Gold Coast: The Basel Missionaries in Colonial Ghana' written by Peter Schweizer.

The book chronicles the arrival of the missionaries here in Ghana, including the Jamaicans who were sent over. Though I had referred to it on one of my previous posts, this was actually the first time I was able to read and see pictures and make some interesting links - at least by way of name - to both sides of my family, maternal and paternal.

It is interesting that the introduction of black missionaries were requested by the then King of Akuapem who said '
when God created the world, he made the Book for whiteman and Juju for blackman. If you can show us some blackman who can read whiteman's book, then we will surely follow you'. And so in 1842 two Basel missionaries were assigned to go to Jamaica to recruit christianised ex-slaves who could then support their efforts in the (then) Gold Coast. So in 1843 there arrived:

' six West Indian families and three bachelors, all of African descent. They comprised of 24 adults and children whose family names were Clerk, Greene, Hall, Hasford, Miller, Mullings, Rochester and Walker.'

The contracts they had provided them with hosuing and farmland and a grant for basic living expenses. In return they would assist the missionaries in their daily work. Ironic isn't it that the descendants of persons previously captured and taken from the Gold Coast, and transported to Jamaica under situations that could best be described as 'hellish' would be returning to assist in the 'saving of souls'? After the five year contract, many however prefreed to stay and settle in places like Akropong and Abetifi.

Topped off the weekend on Sunday night by then listening to a BBC report entitled Africans Abroad, which priarily featured a Ghanaian woman living in Jamaica and the similarities she found in language, food and culture. She also shared that when she decided to move to Jamaica to live with her husband, her father actually told her that her great grandmother had actually been captured by the slavers. It was only through the intervention of her grandmother's father (who seemed to have been a king) that she was saved. Her father found it ironic that a couple of generations later here was his daughter taking that same journey, but of course now of her own accord.

And so, I am supposed to meet some of those that settled here and that actually share my surname - cool uh? Am already itching to see if I can find the connections. Will also be going up to a missionary house in Akropong where a friend's great grandfather's dairy is kept. It actually gives the day to day account of the period and what the Jamaican missionaries went through. Needless to say I am already excited by the prospect.


posekyere said...

Hi Denise,

I really love the way you are always able to breathe life into your postings.
Thank goodness you came out of the crazy accident unharmed.
Your account of the historical links between Ghana and Jamaica makes an interesting reading.
I know of the resettling of some black folks from Brazil around the Ga areas but never knew of black missionaries coming from Jamaica.
Apart from the migration of people from other countries to Ghana over the years, Ghanaians in general, because of our inherent quest for adventures have one of the most diverse genetic codes in the world.
We are a melting point of people from all parts of the globe and, in my opinion, that is excellent.
Hope you are able to trace something interesting.

Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

And when you read it, please do share.

Your power of writing is clear when you do the historical narrative. I love history myself, but don't know how to say it in my own words. Grease!

Sorry about the accident. Glad its all sorted out now (?)

Denise said...

Hi Posekyere, all well that ends well I guess. Am just now annoyed by having to be without a ride while this one is being fixed.
I actually would like to do a couple more factual - rather than anecdotal - posts on the links between Ghana and Jamaica. I think its fascinating and I am sure tons of info are available. Interesting what you said about Ghanaian and their nature of adventure. Jamaicans are like that too. A genetic link again?

Denise said...

Of course Nana Yaw, will be sure to share.
I am sure your historical accounts would be as informative and entertaining as your other accounts are. Give it a try sometime.

Maya said...


Does that mean we are related?! I'm a direct descendant of the Clerks. Ask big H, he has the documents, would love to see what you read as well. We even went to see some living relatives at their house in Akropong.

Denise said...

Ah! Maya we have to exchange notes on this one! Yes, have spoken to H about all of this - he was actually the one that piqued my interest. Will definitely keep you updated as to what I find.

The Evangelist said...

Hey there!

I am so glad that I stumbled upon this post!

Please keep writing!!

The Evangelist said...

Hey there!

I am so glad that I stumbled upon this post!

Please keep writing!!

Jacqueline Smith said...

Hi Denise,
Sorry to hear about your accident, but i'm amused that the whole scenario sounds like something that could have happened in Jamaica. The hit and run and chase. The police not having paper or vehicle. It's too funny. Ok, it's not funny.

Then the irony of how those missionaries got back home to Ghana *shaking head*.

Glad to make the connection and will be keeping up with your very interesting blog.

Nuff respec.

Denise said...

Hi Jackie, was just going back and checking this post for a link when I noticed you had left a comment. Thanks!
Am actually putting together a piece that I hope to post next week as I finally made it to Akropong (where some settled). Really interesting - just wish I had the time to do some more 'research'.