Slave Raiders

(oral history provided by Kugoriamo Gabriel of the Nania community)

In the year 1704, the institution of slavery hit the community of Nania and then extended to the town of Paga, the Upper East region of Ghana, the bordering country of Burkina Faso, and on to other sub-Saharan Africa countries.

The Nania community is a farming community. Residents of Nania live as extended families in their compound houses. At that time, the community wasn’t aware of chattel slavery. It was part of their culture that if you need someone to help in work, you ask an elder of a household, and a person would be given for help. That person is free to return to their family after the task or mission was complete.

One morning, the people woke up to see a stranger among them. They asked him for personal information about himself, but each time, he provided contradictory information. The people then named him BAGAO, meaning “a Bush Man.” Bagao then asked for land to settle and live with the people. He requested to stay at a place called PIKWORO. Pikworo means “place surrounded by rocks.” The site also had a lot of trees and grasses, making the area bushy. While he was granted to stay at Pikworo, he invited two of his friends to join him at Pikworo. Their names where BABATU ZATO and SAMOURI TURE. Samouri Ture was from Burkina Faso, Moushi by tribe. Babatu Zato came from Mali, Wangara by tribe.

Bagao, Babatu, and Samouri started to trade in local products made by the community. They later began to capture members of the community people (human trafficking). They came with all kinds of material that they may have needed to execute this process. According to community belief, these raiders didn’t know that there were already existing community helpers. These three raiders secretly kidnapped many community people and took them to Pikworo. Each day, they searched for their missing family members. It took a very long time before people understood what was going on.

The three slaves raiders visited the chiefs in the rural areas to explain their mission and the reason people were missing. They said, “We want to develop the community and other communities. We need strong men and beautiful ladies to go overseas and learn skills which would generate money to come back and develop the communities.” The chiefs told them that they should take people in a better way. So then, the raiders visited from house to house to seeking energetic people.

The raiders took the selected people to the Pikworo camp. Once there, the people were held captive and chained against trees. There was a lack of infrastructure and food. The community members, including the chiefs, did not know that their taken family members were being maltreated at the Pikworo camp.

Our captured family members suffered a lot at the Pikworo camp before being sent to the dungeons of the castles located along the coast. As they took their exit of the Pikworo slave camp, they were kept in chains attached to each other for easy control. They moved from the Pikworo camp, to the Salaga Slave market, to Assin Manso (also known as Slaves River or The Last Bath), and then to the castle dungeons along the coast. All in chains, some died along the way. Our family members who survived the transport were then shipped to foreign lands.