chapter  2
17 Pages

THE LABOUR QUESTION IN THE GOLD COAST, 1870–1906

WithJeff Crisp

The Gold Coast Past and Present, 1898 In 1471 Portuguese explorers first reached the Gold Coast in search of the precious metal which gave the area its name. In a situation where even the poorest members of society could subsist without selling their labour power, some financial incentive was obviously needed to mobilise a labour force. The methods of supervision and management employed by the mines acted as a further disincentive to prospective wage labourers. In 1903 under 68 per cent of the industry's labour force came from the Gold Coast, but of the Gold Coast contingent, 16 per cent came from outside the mining areas of the south-west. The period after 1900 saw the appearance of new competitors in the Gold Coast labour market. The Gold Coast government was making its own attempts to establish a monopsonistic labour market in the colony.