We must begin at the beginning. Carl Reindorf in his history of the Gold Coast and Asante popularized the idea that the Ga originated from ancient Egypt or possibly ancient Israel. Modern historians and archeologists such as Paul Ozame, Irene Odotei, James Anguandah, Adu Boahen and John Parker reject this thesis. Irene Odotei believes that the Ga originated from the lower banks of the Volta River. They travelled in family or clan groups and settled in the hills overlooking the Accra plains. The Accra plains were dotted with lagoons and rivers, rich with fish and salt. These two commodities together with agriculture became the basis of Accra’s early peasant economy. The Ga developed a trade relationship with the nations in the rich forest belt. Their neighbors the Akwamu, the Akyem and later the Asante traded with the Ga with whom they exchanged gold, slaves and forest products for salt and fish.
The next watershed in Accra’s growth towards a market center began in the second half of the 15th century when the Portuguese arrived on its shores. European goods like alcohol, textiles and guns were bought by the Africans for gold and slaves. The Portuguese wanted to establish a permanent trading post on the coast but this was rejected by the Ga. The partnership with the Portuguese ended in 1576 when they built a trading lodge on the Accra coast against the wishes of the Ga king. The lodge was attacked and destroyed on his orders and the Portuguese were expelled. Other Europeans followed the Portuguese into Accra. They were the British, Dutch and Danes. Trade in Accra became extremely busy with an endless flow of European goods exchanged for gold and increasingly slaves. As competition mounted among the European nations and between the Ga and their neighbors, the Europeans renewed the requests for fortified lodges to protect their interests. In 1649, the Ga king Mampong Okai granted permission to the Dutch West India Company to build a fort and leased land to them at Aprang, a village on the coast. The decision infuriated the king’s advisors and generals who recalled the Portuguese presence and the cost in lives to uproot their fort. The king would pay dearly for giving the Dutch permission to build their lodge in Accra. The fort was named Crevecouer but it is now called Ussher Fort. It was renamed for a British governor Herbert Taylor Ussher after the British bought it from the Dutch in 1868. In 1661, Okaikoi the son of Mampong Okai and his successor as Ga king permitted the Swedes to begin a lodge at Osu. The Swedes were superseded by the Dutch then the Danes who took over the fort in the same year and built Christiansborg castle.
The story of Jamestown began with the erection of James fort by the British in 1673 – 74. The British fort was the last European trading post to be erected in Accra. It was the smallest of the 3 forts and was built about one and half miles from the Dutch fort. It stood in a village called Soko owned by the Ajumaku and Adanse clans. The site for the fort was leased in 1672 to the Royal African Company by the Ga Mantse Okaikoi. King James I of Great Britain granted a royal charter to the company to build the fort and gave permission to name it after himself.