Montag, 4. Januar 2016

City of Sekondé

City of Moreé (Mauri / Maure / Mori)

Historic References in GHANA / West-Africa to the ancient Nassau County

Dipl. Biol. Peter Ulrich Zanger

Fort Nassau at Moreè

The following description refers to a historic period, where the nowadays used geographical and ethnological terms have´nt been in use yet. So it is necessary to overview shortly in an introduction the historic development during the time period, when European influence and construction efforts started at the coasts of the actual westafrican state and nation named GHANA.

The geographical area in mention was initially inhabited and populated by the so called AKAN-PEOPLE when first european territorial acquisition attempts started in the year 1471 with the arrival of the first exploration and discovery ships from Portugal at a coastline that during the following centuries was titeled in Europe "Gold Coast", "Slave Coast", "Ivory Coast", "Pepper Coast" or "Guinea-Coast". The latter name indicates already the sometimes confusing paralel use of site names in Europe as for example here for Guinea Coast, Guinea Bissao, State Guinea and Ecuatorial Guinea for different geographical or administrative units in West Africa.

As historical regional nations, states, tribes or ethnic units in the nowadays country of Ghana are mentioned primarily the Ashanti, Akwamu, Bonoman, Denkyira and Mankessim Kingdoms or Empires beneath probably others less mentioned.

During the time-period from 1471 until 1954, that nowadays we call the colonization period, the region was under the influence of competing economical, cultural, military and colonizing activities and interests started from the former european Portuguese, Brandenburg and Prussia (Germany), Swedish, Danish-Norwegian, Dutch (Netherland) and British (United Kingdom) Maritime Trade Companies (EAST-INDIA-COMPANIES).

The Wikipedia-Internet-Encyclopedia provides several lists of fortified constructions in Africa or specific countries. For the territory of the nowadays state Ghana are listed 19 Castles or fortresses as concomitant construction results of the Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, German, English, Netherland and Portuguese activities in that african region (See also: Castles Ghana and Castles Gold Coast). Two of these constructions are named in relation to the historic Orange-Nassau County, an during the mentioned historic period independent royalty or "Dukedom" that as inland state without coasts and harbours not owned proper naval fleets. The emigration from the ancient Orange-Nassau region in Central Germany, Luxemburg and Holland towards colonized states in Africa depended so from relationships to countries respectively royalties with proper East-India companies that provided the necessary transport structure. Those political relationships had been established to the Dutch, English, Spanish and Prussian noble houses so that the participants in colonization campaigns from Orange-Nassau County moved towards their new destinations under a foreign flag. Not seldom they became contracted as "Foreign Legion" or mercenaries with military, defense, control or combat tasks and remained in their new destination countries first locked up in fortified stations, named mostly "Fort Nassau" or "Fort Orange - Oranien/Oranje".

The fortified constructions followed or accompanied the initially civil TRADING POSTS established by the EAST INDIA COMPANIES to defend them against foreign intromissions, competing activities of companies from other european countries or to protect the comercial monopolization of goods exchanged in their area of influence. In Africa these fortified Trading Posts have been the starting point of slave trade, transport of ethnic groups to other world regions and similar migrational movements. The East India Companies Trading Posts have been titeled FAKTOREI (german) or FACTORY (english). 

Description of FORT NASSAU at Moreé / Ghana

The Ghanaian Fort Nassau is situated about 120 kilometers southwest of the capital Accra in the seaside village MORI (also written Moreé, Mouri, Mouree) near the town CAPE COAST, the capital of the Central Region of the state. The former fortification on an elevated landscape structure near the coastline is surrounded by the settlement described visually in the following youtube video from 6. September 2011 (use link to access more youtube videos about Moreé). The ancient fortress constructed since 1610 (other sources 1612 or 1621) exists still in ruins.

View along the beach of Mori / Ghana. In the horizon on a coast hilltop walls and tower as visible remains of the ancient Fort Nassau (Source: kivafellows/
Insight in the interior of the former fortresses walls : The actual state of development  and appropriate use of the remains of the old fortification as comunitary cooking site. (Source:
View from the market place of Mori towards Nassau Fortress on the hilltop.
(Source :

This site description has not the intention to strengthen a single version of history or weaken at time the whole historic bookholding by presenting contradictory facts, but the mere existence of the ruin walls in Mori generate a severe problem for one of the explanatory versions about the existence of numerous historic paintings that draw that site on paper during the past centuries. And that is because of a myth or better said a told story version about Nassau Fortress in Ghana that described the apparent fact, that the fortress in reality never has existed.

And that came so: During the years of 1620-1612 two delegates from Ghana arrived at the royal dutch court in the Netherlands and lamented the destruction of a dutch factory, denouncing "The Portuguese" as authors of an assault on the trade post, where local goods where sold to the merchants of the East India Company. Their realistic description outraged the authorities so strongly that inmediately funds where released to construct a fortified trade post. But in conspiration with local governors these funds haven´t been really used for a fortress construction so that Fort Nassau was not build up in reality. To cover that fact, a painter was contracted who painted the unexisting Fort Nassau to distract the Netherland authorities attention. That drove to the problem that during a later state visit the delegates of the Dutch crown didn´t find the fortress which they wanted to visit and in consecuence sent several special investigators that all returned with new drawings of the Fort Nassau at Mori. By that way Fort Nassau at Mori became probably the most painted european fortification in Africa.

That told the story. But who constructed then the walls in Mori ?

Painting of Fort Nassau at Mori from the Atlas of Peter Goos and Johannes van Keulen ca. 1670
(Source : Res Obscura)

Fort Nassau at Mori in Ghana from Views of Trade Posts 1748
(Source : Internet)

Fort Nassau at Mori in Ghana
(Source : Toronto Images)
Fort Nassau at Mori in Ghana
(Source : Wikipedia)
Fort Nassau at Mori in Ghana
(Source : Mutual Heritage)

Fort Nassau at Mori in Ghana 1645
(Source : Wikipedia)

Fort Nassau at Mori in Ghana
(Source : Tuck´s Postcard ca. 1920)

"The bricks for the walls of Fort Nassau in Mori", so far sheds light upon the upside mentioned question of the constructors identity the German Wikipedia Encyclopediy registry about the regarded site, "have been brought by ship in 1610 from the Netherlands directly to the African Gold Coast". This probably uncommon transport was done to prevent "further Portuguese intromissions in the reconstruction of the destroyed Dutch trade post", if we let us guide here by the historic description of Wikipedia.


The arquitecture of the new fortress, that later during multiple conflicts has been destroyed and reconstructed partially and changed several times it´s hosts between Dutch, Portuguese and British until the 19th Century, followed building techniques considered as locally inappropriate so that in consecuence the building suffered insufficient ventilation what in consecuence led to negative health effects for it´s inhabitants (Wikipedia).

Guard Rooms of Fort Nassau Mori (English Wikipedia)

Construction Plan for Fort Nassau Mori (Netherland Wikipedia)

So far the compilation of data available by simple Internet-literature researches and without inspection of the effective remains of the building in situ. Excavations might bring there more facts to surface but the lack of written regional history in an environment of tribes and nations with oral literature registries probably will not make possible to clear up finally the real historical events around Fort Nassau Ghana. Apparently nobody complains it´s actual condition and the fact that in a certain moment it has been "constructed down". But compared with the great number of still intact similar military constructions in its surroundings it´s existence and appearance encourages towards thought-provoking.
Map of Fort Nassau in Moreé near Cape Coast southwest Ghanaian capital Accra
Source : Wikimapia

Of linguistic, anecdotic importance is the translation of the town name Moreé to european, mainly german word meanings. Moreé is synonym with the german word MOHR (pl. MOHREN) = "Moors" as term for humans with dark skin colour, inhabitants of the westafrican region. It also is identic with the term MAUREN (spanish: Morros, Moriscos, english: Saracens) that inhabited temporary also Spain and Southern France, where the political alliance of Nassau and Orange was founded by the marriage of Henry III from Nassau and Claudia from Chalon (about 1518). From the region around the provencal town of Orange greater migrational movements of Waldensians towards the ancient Nassau County in Germany started in 1545.

Most popular infantile symbolization of the german term Mohr are the representations in publicity as "Sarotti-Mohr" for fine chocolade products and "The Moor" of the William Bush Tales.  

Sarotti-Moor as fine chocolade product label

"The Moor"  in the german Wilhelm Busch childrens tales


Fort Orange at Sekondi

Young tour-guide and it´s little brother at Fort Orange Sekondi

Compared with the Nassau Fortress at Mouri, no doubts about it´s history or real existence surround the Fort Orange or Oranje in Sekondi, the capital of Ghanaian Western Province situated 60 kilometers southwest of Moreé. It exists still in it´s last reconstructed shape from 1704 meanwhile a second fortress constructed probably by the British Trade Companies in it´s inmediate neighbourhood at the Sekondi harbourside in the year 1682 has disappeared nearly completely and it´s only remains are the ruins of a former tower.

View from Fort Orange on Sekondi Harbour Hilltop towards the harbour, 
where remains of the tower of a second fortress are visible.

The good conservation and maintainance condition of the fortress founded in the year 1642 as Trading Post and lodge building by the Netherland East India Company  is explainable due to the use of the construction as lighthouse and naval base by the Ghana Ports and Harbour Authorities since 1872, when it was sold together with the rest of the Dutch crowns possessions at the Ghanaian Gold Coast to the British Empire.

Fort Orange at Sekondi about 1900 viewed on a postcard
Photography :

This could be already the essence of the present description, but most publications about FORT ORANJE SEKONDI in Internet give more or less clear details about a rather complicated conflict history since the foundation of the settlement in Ghana, so that some of these aspects must be attached here to avoid final accounting of lost properties by former owners.

During the first 50 years of existence of the "Dutch Trading Post" at Sekondi, between 1642 and 1694, the historical situation was marked by multiple competences between the european countries that established new "markets" in Westafrica as well as between native inhabitants of the countries that probably acted in alliances with one or other of the foreign flags. As well as "attacks of Portuguese", who burned down native settlements around the Trade Posts, are described "British intentions of weakening the Dutch stronghold at the Gold Coast" by elevating in gunrange of existing fortresses competing battle stations.

Much more numerous than the conflicts between the competing europeans must have been the conflicts generated between the mercenaries retained inside the fortresses and the civil population that has been more or less rough submitted to slave trade by the european intruders. During one of these attacks of "indigenous people" in September 1694 the Dutch Trade Post in Sekondi must have got destroyed. The available literature names as responsables the civil rebels called "HANTA, AHANTA or AHATANTA".

The answer from the Netherlands was drawing up an arquitectonic reconstruction plan of the lost Trade Post as fortified battle station with blinded, high walls, loopholes, canons and probably also catacombs. The planned construction was lifted up in 1704 - 311 years ago from today.

Reconstruction Plan for the Sekondi Trade Post drawn up in the Netherlands around 1700.

The fact, that the guns of the new constructed Fort Orange pointed towards the neighbour British fortification could be an indication, that a certain alliance might have existed between Ahanta and Englishmens. In this logic is told, that the english construction was destroyed already 4 years later in 1698, also by a competing Ahanta rebel group and 6 years before Fort Orange was reconstructed - what excludes the participation of the latter in the battle (Source : Ghana Expeditions). Consequently "The English" rebuild their fortress so that the actual condition of the building probably is the result of the recapturing by "The French" in 1797.

Painting of a peaceful neighbourhood that not existed always. The artist describes "pleasant and fertile gardens, delicious fish, mullets and oysters" and "natives in peace that provide elephant teeth and slaves" around the Dutch and British Fortresses at Sekondi
Source : Wikipedia

So far, the drawn attention on tales, myths and justifications of historic facts and phantasies could distance again from that object of observation. The actual problems of West-Africa consist in uprising the level of wealth for the whole population and the protection of the less privileged parts of the native societies. For example between December 2013 and December 2015 the so called "EBOLA-epidemia" in the western neighbour countries of Ghana killed around 11.000 persons, probably from less privileged social strata. The epidemias consecuences contributed to a refugee migration wave from the affected countries northward during 2014 and 2015. In their intent to cross the mediterranean sea towards the European Community countries with improvised vessels another unknown greater amount of persons lost their lives. Due to the difficult adaption to life and climate in the actual northern host countries probably a greater amount of the of the african citizens, that actually survive there, will have to return to their sites of origin. The fact, that the possibility of an pretended genocide by poisoning as reason for the sudden high death rate of native persons is discussed, shows clearly, that the historic problems related to colonial activities 400-100 years ago distract from an somewhat more virulent present. As example might be given here the somewhat suspicious preventive attitude of european "care and health associations" with their most actual "preparations" for an "expected future Ebola crisis" in Ghana. The country "until now" has not suffered this epidemia, says an article in german Internet from April 2015.

Image Text: 
The two federal ministers Groehe and Mueller visit a quite successful country that during the next epidemia in Western Africa will play an important role - but itself will be advised affected.
 Source : Wirtschaftswoche 9. April 2015

So, having considered the walls of Fort Nassau in Moreé as useful windshield for the comunitary kitchen fireplaces of traditionally cooking woman, could be then the future of Fort Orange also be the one of an protected preparation site of traditional dishes without risk of integrating contaminated water or rice in the dayly breakfast, supper or dinner ? Why not !

Protecting walls that could be also an adequate restaurant site for the road kitchens from Sekondi.
Source :

The Lighthouse on Fort Orange Sekondi
Source : Schubi-Uetersen / google panoramio
Passage through the interior of Fort Orange Sekondi
Source : ghanapedia / youtube
View from the top of Fort Orange over Sekondi harbour
Source : ghanapedia / youtube

Road-Movie : Through Sekondi until Fort Orange
Source : ghanapedia / youtube


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