Daily Archives: November 11, 2020

Brandenburg fort, Fort Gross Fredericksburg | Ghana Museums & Monuments Board

The history of the Brandenburg fort, Fort Gross Fredericksburg, still reverberates in the Caribbean, via the John Canoe festivals. On Manfro Hill, in Princestown, in the Western Region of Ghana, the Brandenburg Africa Company, led by Benjamin Raule, under the patronage of Frederick William of Brandenburg, built the luxurious Fort Gross Fredericksburg as their headquarters, between 1683 and 1684, desiring also ‘a place in the sun’ and the riches of the Gold Coast. It is the only fort in Ghana with Germanic authors.

A farmyard lookalike, the fort had 32 cannons upon completion; and only a strong defence would have been a sufficient deterrent to assaults from the Dutch and British, who resented further foreign intrusion into the area. This was especially so because as few Brandenburg ships arrived on the coast, the fort traded with merchants from all nations, becoming the hub for smugglers along the coast.

Jonn Conny, Chief of the Ahanta ethnic group, often referred to as ‘the King of Prinze Terre’, as the Prussian’s African broker, was a most effective ally, succeeding in directing such trade to the fort that revenues dwindled at the Dutch forts at Axim, Butre and Sekondi. Over 95 ships are recorded to have traded with Fort Fredericksburg between 1711 and 1713. In 1717, with their departure from the Gold Coast, Brandenburg sold its possessions to the Dutch, without John Conny’s knowledge.

John Conny claimed and took over Fort Fredericksburg, and for seven years, he maintained trade lines with all nations, offering huge discounts on the price of gold and slaves. In spectacular victories, he successfully resisted all Dutch military attempts to reclaim the fort. This earned him a hero’s place in tales recounted by slaves in the Caribbean. When the Dutch finally ousted John and his army from the Fort in 1724, they discovered that John had removed enough stones from the fort for the construction of a personal mansion and a dividing wall.

Renamed Fort Hollandia, it lacked its previous beauty and splendour as Fort Fredricksburg, and served the Dutch as a service station.

Additional information has been compiled about the fame and fortunes of  Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg — under whose patronage the slave castle was initially built in 1683 and 1684.  In addition, there is further information about his youngest son: Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg-Schwedt.  He is perhaps best known in history as the dignitary to whom Johann Sebastian Bach presented “Six Concerts à plusieurs instruments”  in 1721 — which subsequently became known collectively as the Brandenburg concertos — “…widely regarded as some of the best orchestral compositions of the Baroque era” in Europe.

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Completely digital library opens in Texas

CBS This Morning

Nov 30, 2013

A different sort of library has opened in Texas, one that turns a new page on an old idea. It has lots of things to read, but you won’t find any shelves full of books. Jeff Glor reports.

Introduction to the Beinecke Digital Library

Beinecke Library at Yale

Apr 14, 2020

Access the digital collections from the Beinecke Library website: https://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dig… The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library has digitized approximately one million images of collection material, with new images added regularly. We’ve made this video as a guide for new users about how to access and search the Beinecke digital library. We hope you’ll enjoy searching the Beinecke Library’s digital collections. While they are but a portion of the overall library collections, the million plus images available to you have a lot to offer. Like any large digital collection, searching our digital library can involve some trial and error, occasional frustration and frequent delight. We hope you’ll come back early and often and find great reward in engaging the past, in the present, for the future on the Beinecke Digital Library.

Beinecke Windows Showcase James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters | Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Though the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library building remains closed to the public until further notice, the digital library remains open to all online … and now the building’s ground floor windows are a platform for sharing images from the collections, with a new display celebrating the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters installed on the exterior glass.

On the building’s east side, facing Hewitt Quadrangle, the new exhibition begins with text from the opening lines of Langston Hughes’s poem, “Let America Be America Again.” The poem by Langston Hughes was first published in Esquire in 1936 and, revised, in a collection of his poetry, A New Song, in 1938. The Langston Hughes Papers are the single most consulted archive in the Beinecke Library. Given by him beginning in 1941 and continuing throughout his life, they are part of the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection.

…(read more).

Cloth is Money: Textiles from the Sahel

Textiles from the Sahel—the southern border region of the Sahara—reach deep into the area’s complex past, evoking images of camel caravans, the trans-Saharan trade, and the rise of great medieval West African empires. The exhibition, Cloth is Money: Textiles from the Sahel, illustrates the complex and timeless value of woven cloth in this region by exploring weaving techniques, designs, and symbols alongside the rich history and cultural context of the Sahel.

Cloth represents culture and wealth in Africa more than any other medium. It is an asset that not only enhances the owner’s image (by literally increasing their size and adding visual interest), but that also converts into other goods. Historically, cloth was money, like cowrie shells, iron implements, or brass bracelets. Today, it is still valued for its expressive qualities, displayed during life-cycle ceremonies and as markers of status and achievement.

Though made between the 1960s and 1980s in the modern countries of Mali, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Libya, and Tunisia, the textiles in this exhibition have antecedents that date to the 11th century. During the medieval period, a robust trade network between North Africa and regions south of the Sahara created vast wealth and gave rise to the most prominent medieval West African empires: Ghana (300–1200 CE), Mali (1230–1600 CE), and Songhai (1230–1600 CE). Many products, including textiles, drove this trade, which, at the height of his power, made Mansa (“king”) Musa of Mali (1280–1337) the richest man in the history of the world. There is substantial evidence that these powerful West African kingdoms were both known in Europe and considered major players in world trade.

As a fundamental facet of the economic, social, and cultural development of the Sahel for centuries, textiles offer a dynamic view of the complex past and present of this region. Textiles remain the most widely appreciated art form in Africa and the Diaspora today, a part of people’s lives whether as fashionable clothing, family heirlooms, or aspects of their environment. As the renowned Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui has said: “Textiles are to Africans what monuments are to Westerners.”

This exhibition aligns with the field’s growing interest in this region and is concurrent with two major exhibitions: Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Exchange across Medieval Saharan Africa now at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art and Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This exhibition is made possible by the generous donation of John Hutchison, Professor Emeritus, African Languages and Linguistics, Boston University. It was organized by Consulting Curator for African, Oceanic, and Native American Art, Jean Borgatti, with Collection Manager, Aminadab “Charlie” Cruz Jr.

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