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The End of the Komenda Wars

Sam Leslie

After a year of relative calm, on January 21, 1696 a fleet of canoes suddenly blockaded Little Komenda. One spectator declaimed, “Little Taggee is to fight Great Taggee.” Takyi Kuma (Little Taggee), the little brother of Taky Panin (Great Taggee), plotted his succession to the throne assisted by the Dutch, Adom, and Akani. Unfortunately for Kuma, Takyi Panin defeated him on March 20, 1696. However, Kuma’s campaign had support within the Eguafo, especially Little Komenda, “whom [Takyi Kuma] they all did hope would prove conqueror.”

Simultaneously, the Fante, a neighboring tribe who had stayed neutral in the conflict, lamented, “their soldiers were not there to assist that they might [have] had the glory of action.” Instability in the Gold Coast promoted a conquering mindset to stabilize and also monopolize the area. After this conflict, the Dutch and Takyi Panin renewed peace agreements with the Panin, giving generous terms to revitalize the trade and bring peace. The English, feeling as though they had begun to exhibit an advantage over the Dutch, revived animosity against the Dutch with Takyi Panin who “renewed his old course, and did us as much mischief as ever,” thus enraging the Dutch. The Dutch desperately sought African allies, including the Fante, and returned to an exiled Takyi Kuma for assistance. On May 25, 1697, the Dutch fired at an English-occupied area in Little Komenda and days later fired again at English canoes. The RAC wrote, “Little Taggee is prevented by Great Taggee [from attacking Komenda] but succored by the Dutch, who endeavour to reimbroil the country.” Moreover, the English complained that the Dutch had “corrupted some of the natives [the Fante],” returning to the double standard that Dutch “endeavour[s]” exploited a local population.

After a period of war, Takyi Panin found peace with the Dutch while allowing both the RAC and WIC to station in Komenda. A Dutch account reflected, “Palaver being ended here, and we live very peaceable.” The peace for Takyi Panin lessened Eguafo’s dependence on the English, stimulating a fair and budding trade relationship. However, the English once again broke the peace, feeling dissatisfied with a new customs tax and a lack of involvement with Dutch and Eguafo peace agreements. This time, the English preyed upon the evolving Denkyira and Akani war, allying with Denkyira while using Takyi Kuma against Takyi Panin. The English armies reached Eguafo in October 1698 and “muder’d [Takyi Panin] in a manner esteemed barbarous by all Europeans.” After this assassination, it was not until May 9, 1700 that Takyi Kuma became king of Eguafo. Ironically, because the English demanded that Kuma repay his war debts to him, “[he was] more inclined to the Dutch interest than ours,” establishing the Dutch as the dominant European force.

Current-day British fort in Little Komenda

Flixtey, Fort Komenda, September 25, 2016, photograph, accessed September 6, 2023,

This period, described as “the longest-drawn-out struggle between a local state and a European Company,” engulfed the Gold Coast into degressive conditions. European forces, vying for regional hegemony out of greed rather than necessity, goaded the native population into many wars that served European self-interest. Unlike in Europe where wars were fought over land, the spoils of war in Africa were enemy captives destined to become African slaves. The European quest for domination, which had poor intentions from the start, used the excessive war to profit off of the excess of African slaves and destability, turning the Gold Coast into the Slave Coast. Bosman, a slave trader who kept account of the Gold Coast, brazenly remarked, “For [slavery] never happens on any other account but that of necessity or some great crime; but most of the slaves that are offered to us are prisoners of war, which are sold by the victors as their booty.” Bosman’s judgment fails to take an introspective view of the atrocities the Dutch and other European nations committed using the institution of perpetual slavery while blatantly disregarding the real necessity: profit, supremacy, and legitimacy. While some may argue that African rulers similarly sought legitimacy, ultimately the desired conditions that would remove their native populations, give them an opportunity to trade, and invite many trade partners to grow the Gold Coast trade. Ultimately this did not happen, and Bosman’s illegitimate view of necessity sustained itself, disregarding the inhumane: “I doubt not but this trade seems very barbarous to you, but since it is followed by more necessity, it must go on.”

  • Robin Law, "The Komenda Wars, 1694-1700: A Revised Narrative," History in Africa 34 (2007): 149,

  • Law, "The Komenda," 150.

  • Law, "The Komenda," 151.

  • Law, "The Komenda," 156.

  • Law, "The Komenda," 159.

  • Law, "The Komenda," 163.

  • Law, "The Komenda," 167.

  • Kwame Yeboah Daaku, Trade and Politics on the Gold Coast 1600-1720: a Study of the African Reaction to the European Trade (Oxford, 1970), 83.

  • Willem Bosman, "An Eyewitness Describes the Slave Trade in Guinea," Cengage Learning, last modified 1721, accessed April 16, 2023,

  • Bosman, "An Eyewitness," Cengage Learning.


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