History The story of William Ansah Sasreku (sessarakoo)

The story of William Ansah Sasreku (sessarakoo)

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William Ansah Sasreku (sessarakoo): the african prince, son of John Corrantee from Gold coast who was sold into slavery in barbados but gained his freedom and became a celebrity in london

William Ansah Sasreku (sessarakoo): the african prince, son of John Corrantee from Gold coast who was sold into slavery in barbados but gained his freedom and became a celebrity in london
William Ansah Sessarakoo (b. c.1730, d. 1770), by John Faber Jr., mid 18th cent. (after Gabriel Mathias, 1749)

Sessarakoo was the son of a wealthy Fante Trader based near a trading post established by the Dutch on the West African Gold Coast (present-day Ghana).

His father, known as Enu Baissie Kurentsir (known to the European traders as John Bannishee Corrantee) who was a trader in gold and slaves.

John Corrantee of Annamaboe (or Anomabu) was well known by African merchants from the interior and European slave traders on the coast.

Corrantee used his status as an intermediary and his diplomatic skills to gain a trade advantage over competing Europeans.

William Ansah Sasreku was born in Anomabo, Ghana c. 1736

Enslavement

To improve communication with his business partners John Corrantee arranged for his son to be educated in England.

At the time, William Ansah Sasreku lived in Anomabo with one of the officers of the Royal African Company. There, he became an admirer of British culture.

In 1744, Sessarakoo boarded a ship to England when he was abruptly captured and sold into slavery when the ship stopped in Barbados instead of continuing to England for his education.

His father, John Corrantee on learning of the abduction, used his trading influence to have his son freed.

Corrantee demanded European officials investigate and return his son, a ship was sent to Barbados to retrieve William Ansah Sasreku.

The venture was successful. Sessarakoo’s freedom was restored, and he then sailed on to England.

When Sessarakoo arrived in London, he was treated as a high-profile figure in the London scene and quickly became known as the prince of Annamaboe (now Anomabu).

The Gentlemen’s Magazine printed an article recounting Sessarakoo’s reaction to a popular theatrical performance about a noble African slave. Sessarakoo’s public appearances with British nobles was closely watched and recorded in several other publications.

His story of enslavement and rescue was preserved in other forms of art, including drama, poetry, and painting. A portrait of William Ansah Sessarakoo was made, and an etching of him appeared in The Gentlemen’s Magazine.

Return to Anomabo

William Ansah Sasreku ‘s visit to England was never meant to be permanent, so he returned home to his father and the Fante people in 1750.

He returned “elaborately dressed in the latest style befitting his station” with an English education and immense understanding of English culture.

When Sessarakoo arrived at Anomabo his father replaced his elaborate English dress with African attire.

William Ansah Sasreku worked as a writer at the Cape Coast Castle—until 1761, when he was beaten by the governor of the castle and dismissed. The British were convinced that John Corrantee had tricked them into believing that Sessarakoo was to be his heir.

 

 

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