KING TAKYI: The Ghanaian ‘King-Turned Slave’ And Leader Of The 1760 Slave Rebellion In Jamaica

You might have wondered what was slavery like and the ordeals we had to face as Africans including the narrow escapes and counterattacks. The era of slavery was notorious for rebellions and slave revolts. Significantly, the Tacky’s war which included Akan slaves and other Akan tribes stands as one of the most dangerous rebellions in the eighteenth century.

King Takyi was the paramount chief in Fante land and originally from the Fante ethnic group in West Africa. The Fante Land can be located in the Central region of present-day Ghana. Before being a slave, he was a king in his village. Takyi was highly educated and it was reported that he was very fluent in English as it was indeed common for the ruling class of Fantes. Prior to being a slave, it must be noted that Takyi himself sold slaves notably his rivals of competitive clans.

In a twist of fate, Takyi ended up being a slave when a rival state defeated his army in an heated battle and sold him into slavery. He ended up in Jamaica.

King Takyi, leader of the slave rebellion.

The revolt started on the early hours of Easter Monday, 7 April 1760. It seemed like a well sketched plan as there was a great zest for escape. Tacky and his men took over the plantations they were assigned to while killing their masters. They later made way for the storeroom where the arms were kept. After eliminating the storekeeper, Tacky together with his followers stole over four barrels of gun powders and 40 firearms, before heading for other plantations.

By dawn, hundreds of slaves had joined Takyi. They stopped by a valley to rejoice in their hard-earned success with great jubilation. However, a slave that had escaped from one of the camps slipped away to sound the alarm. A group of witch doctors known as Obeahmen quickly circulated around the camp to apportion a powder they claimed would protect the men from injury in battle. Belief was high.

When the British militia learned of the Obeahman’s boast, an obeahman was hunted, killed and hung together with his charms at a place that could be possible for the rebels to see. With this in place, many gave up and decided to return back to their plantations as they felt it was a fruitless endeavor. Takyi and his men decided to fight on as slavery wasn’t an option.

On April 14, Takyi was ambushed and being chased after by a group of maroon parties. While running at full speed, Tacky was shot dead and his head was cut off as a symbol of a trophy or a feat. Takyi’s head was later displayed on a pole until a follower took it down in the middle of the night. The rest of Takyi’s men upon learning about this committed suicide rather than going back.

The Takyi rebellion inspired many revolts.

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