“Kormantse”, as the modern people of the settlement call it, was and is still fishing and farming settlement located on a hill north east of Fort Amsterdam at Abandze on the Accra-Cape Coast main road. The settlement constituted a major landmark in its role in the colonial trans-Atlantic trade. The name, “Kormantse” in its various spellings continues to signify bravery, power, spirituality, authority and the best of the African in the African Diaspora. But among researchers, its true role in the identity and interpretation of the history and culture of Africa and the African Diaspora remain elusive. “Kormantse” has become a central pillar of identity for groups of people, who passed through that location, consequently suggesting definitions that cut across ethnicity, art, artistic expressions, traditional practices, geographical boundaries and other forms of cultural identity. Kormantse remains a significant symbol of African survival in the Diaspora.
When the British attempted to build their very first lodge at Kormantse and failed to complete it owing to the depredations of the local people, little did they realize that they were sparking an everlasting confrontation with one of the warrior groups of Africa that would define the course of freedom for many. Even though no clear evidence of the lodge has yet been recovered, the historical legacy that it sparked continues to shape our understanding of the process that led to the culture of freedom fighting in the African Diaspora.
Kormantse and Cultural Identity
“Kormantse” has been used in its various forms to refer to the origins of a group of enslaved Akan people of the then Gold Coast and most often with the Asante, who constitute one of the many Akan groups in modern Ghana, Ivory Coast and to their cultural practices such as religious worship, drums and drumming, songs. Kormantse has been characterized as a “Nation”, and although very important in the reconstruction of African cultural identities in the African Diaspora, it remains archaeologically unexamined. References and meanings in historical and archaeological record of the African Diaspora are many. In addition, numerous references to Kormantse and the claims of societies in the African Diaspora as their “homeland” or “culture” in Africa, and its recognized central role in the search for African identities and interpretations, demonstrate the need to explain its historical importance by use of tangible evidence provided by Archaeological research. The role played by the people in and around the Historic site of Kormantse during the colonial period in West Africa is far, and much more, significant than has been recognized. A closer examination of the archaeological, and related evidence (KARP’s objective), should place Kormantse at the center of our understanding of African culture in the African Diaspora, particularly in the Caribbean and the Americas and how African cultures have not only shaped the African Diaspora but has shown the way toward freedom fighting and self determination. The sceptical who think that uncovering the English lodges defines the role and contributions of Kormantse in World History will come to understand that there are more significant considerations such as how Kormantse helps to redefine the formation and transformation of African cultures in the Diaspora in the present and in the past.
What History Records about Kormantse
Resistance history, and particularly marronage, in many parts of the New World appears to suggest that religious connection with Kormantse heritage empowered the enslaved, who passed through Kormantse, as they fought to define their power relations, restore justice and their traditional values and consolidate their achievements, successes and survival. The presence and participation of Kormantse descendants or the spirits of their ancestors in Diaspora are always recognized in colonial or modern areas of the Africa and the Diaspora. Mention of Kormantse would spark fear, pride and empowerment. Without anything else, the spiritual connection alone would drive many, including even those, who were not necessarily ‘Kormantse’, to survive centuries of wars. The leadership status of Kormantse in the History of the African Diaspora has been voiced in many ways.
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