This book attempts to outline the history of gold mining and related subjects like marketing, trading and use of gold from the legendary times until today. The work will not limit itself to the borders of present day Ghana but will have to consider also adjacent areas of today's Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria to put especially the earlier historical developments into their proper context.
This History will attempt to piece together not only the technical development of gold mining, but the historical, political and socio-economical pressures which caused and were also generated by the development of the gold mining sector within this geographical area.
A disadvantage for the historian digging into West African History is the fact that the peoples dwelling in these areas had not developed written records but rather depended on oral tradition of their history. Systematic attempts to preserve this oral history through taping or writing down were undertaken only over the last 100 to 150 years, in sporadic attempts may be a little earlier. The historical events of the last millenium, i.e. from 1000 A.D. to today can be reconstructed for the first half through the written records overcome by the efforts of the muslim scholars, which in a very scientific manner recorded historical, political, economical and social developments in West Africa and in the sub-Sahelian areas. Over the last 500 years the advent of European traders, missionaries and adventurers produced written records of events they encountered during their more or less long ventures at the shores of the West Coast. Of course, a lot of information they gathered and laid down in their records was based on hear-say sources because only very few adventurers penetrated the hinterlands. Nevertheless, we will realise that all these records, as one-sided and biased they might be in many cases, together with oral tradition culled from the traditional rulers and archeological evidence, can form a quite solid basis for the reconstruction of historic events in West Africa in general and the area of today's Ghana in particular.
Completely different is the picture for the earlier times, i.e. before 1000 A.D. for the three millenia back to 2000 B.C. We are very certain that negroid ethnics were populating the West African lands but we do not know where they came from, how they called themselves, which political and socio-economic systems they had developed for themselves and whether or when they perished, migrated away or were absorbed by other negroid ethnic groups who themselves migrated from almost uncertain directions into these tropical rainforests.
In short, whilst we can speak of the Bono, Gyaman, Guan, Asante for the last millenium, we can only call the previous inhabitants the black "West-African", sometimes differentiated according to distinct cultures named according to the location of their archeological finds, like Ntereso, Nok, Benin etc. These sites prove the existence of highly developed cultural and technical skills expressed in the overcome artefacts found in the excavations. But the curtain in respect of the true nature, descendancy, sociology of these people, who were the originators and perpetuators of these documented cultures, can not be lifted.
Here reflection on the flow of historical events from the ancient times to modern times.
We will leave it to you, the esteemed reader to form an opinion on the question: Did the development of the gold mining sector benefit the People of Ghana ?