There is a difference between dissatisfaction with yourself and anger, depression. You can be dissatisfied and do something about it: if you don’t know German, you can learn it. If you haven’t worked at writing, you can work at it. If you are angry at someone else, and repress it, you get depressed. Who am I angry at? Myself. No, not yourself. Who is it? It is my mother and all the mothers I have known who have wanted me to be what I have not felt like really being from my heart and at the society which seems to want us to be what we do not want to be from our hearts: I am angry at these people and images. I do not seem to be able to live up to them. Because I don’t want to.
Prince William Ansa Sasraku
Mezzotint, after a painting by Gabriel Mathias.
The Akwamu, Denkyira, Akim and Fanti people of what is now Ghana were involved throughout the eighteenth century in wars to control trading links with Europeans on the coast. In the mid-century the king of the Akwamu, Nana Ansa Sasraku, came to dominate a vast stretch of land from Denkyira to the Accra plains. To consolidate his power, Sasraku knew that effective communication was needed with the main trading partners - the Europeans. Sasraku realised that he needed a trusted English-speaking mediator and so arranged for his son to be educated in England.
The British sea captain to whom Prince William Ansa Sesraku was entrusted took him instead to Barbados and sold him into slavery. Luckily for the prince, his father’s control of West African trade was important enough for the young man to be retrieved and taken to London as promised. The prince was the toast of the town and his story was told in prints, poems, newspaper reports and a book entitled The Royal African.
(With thanks to Otoobour Djan Kwasi II and Adelaide Adu-Amankwah)