Ivory Coast Tribune
In the 19th century, after exploration, European nations undertook the military conquest of Africa. The French, English and Portuguese formed large colonial empires. However, their settlement proved difficult, as they indeed came up against the intransigence of some African resistance warriors. There was a flurry of those all over Africa. However, this presentation will only focus on one, KADJO AMANGOUA, the great southern Ivory Coast warrior.
KADJO AMANGOUA was born probably around 1825 in Bonoua (Ivory Coast) precisely in the Koumassi district, south of Abidjan. As the third son of a family of eight, the Abouré tradition incorporated him into the Tchagba age group of the M'ploussoué generation. Impulsive and sometimes violent, AMANGOUA was conceited, with a passion for glory and a tendency to mysticism. He inherited from his father's bravery, sound judgment, political brain, willpower and erotic passion. In addition to this, he spoke several dialects and conversed with most of the neighbouring Agni and N'zima village chiefs. In his age group, AMANGOUA learned about the history of the Abourés, their adversities, war strategies and achievements.
OFFSPRINGS AND TRADE
He had five wives: Massan, Antcho, Atoua, Amlan and Yaba. KADJO AMANGOUA had thirteen children: KADJO Komou, KADJO Voutoué, KADJO Vamou, KADJO Mossou, KADJO N'Gouoin, AMANGOUA Moh, AMANGOUA Offono, AMANGOUA N'Ni, AMANGOUA Anghètè, AMANGOUA Ebé, AMANGOUA Assoua, AMANGOUA Téki (mother of the late mayor Amethier Jean-Baptiste) and AMANGOUA Akassimadou.
KADJO AMANGOUA had a strong personality. He was a great businessman and political strategist. Besides, his influence spread on all age groups and their organisation. In addition to being a great warrior, AMANGOUA largely contributed to social and political activities in Bonoua. Endowed with an undivided curiosity he devoted himself to trade, thereby making trips to the Gold Coast (modern-day Ghana) and Sierra Leone to forge friendships with major local merchants with whom he conducted business on the coast of Grand-Bassam where he set up a salt and alcohol factory for a wider trading network. With friends from Yaou (a neighbouring village), he went on fishing trips on the banks of the Comoé River. The proceeds of their activities were used as a bargaining chip with adversaries and rivals. With the help of his cousins, he seized several lands in the forest of which he became the owner.
BONOUA WAR AND THE KADJO AMANGOUA RESISTANCE
There were numerous battles between Bonoua and the Sanwi. Wars with the Adjobi kings, Kissi, Awlè, Kacou Nogbou, so on and so forth.
The reign of Amon N'Douffou was peaceful due to an agreement between the Sanwi and Bonoua, but the Abourés did not attend his funerals when he died. This was considered a declaration of war back then. The Agnis decided to send a punitive expedition to their stubborn Bonoua brothers. Bonoua delegated emissaries to ask for forgiveness. However, the Agnis captured the emissaries and had them beheaded. Kadjo Amangoua and King Ahui Nogbou had no choice but to retaliate.
To prevent war between the two ethnic groups, Governor Binger summoned the parties to Bassam. The Abourés delegation preceeded the Agnis at the peace summit, but the latter had them wait for several days. Upon learning that the agnis were finaly on their way, the Abourés left Bassam, from the Alsam side of the river bank and ambushed them some fifteen kilometres from the source of the river in Yaou (Bonoua).
The Agnis found themselves surrounded. During the talks, both sides kept getting ready for battle. As Bah, the troop leader or (Sanflan) from Bonoua, one of Kadjo Amangoua's nephews attempted to disarm GBEMGBE, the troop leader from Aby (Sanwi), the Agni warrior killed his opponent at close range. Blood flowed from both sides.
Having been informed of the issues at hand, the colonial administration ceased the opportunity to finally capture the stubborn Negro . They decided to invade Bonoua, to the West by a column of Senegalese riflemen and on the East by Sanwi troops. This was in November 1894.
Commandant Finaud, who led the expedition had his column transported across the lagoon and the Comoé during the night of 9th November 1894 At 5 a.m. Platoons from the3rd and 10th Companies invaded Yaou.
With some insurgents captured and the disembarkation completed, Commander Finaud used a narrow path through the forest to join the village at half-past eight.
The first line of defence of the agglomeration was formed of three successive villages, lying in a corridor one hundred metres wide and crowded with impenetrable vegetation.
The M'Ploussoué and the N'Nowé of Bonoua put up a strong resistance. Two officers, Lieutenants Hutin and Lacour, Sergeants Prevel and Bourhis were seriously wounded. Reinforcement was abruptly stopped in Koumassi, a village set up as an impregnable fortress. Sergeant Extanasia and two riflemen were killed in addition to 65 men wounded. Commander Finaud had to retreat. It took him two hours to retrieve the dead and wounded under heavy gunfire from 50 meters. The column withdrew from the village for reinforcements. When the Colonel received news of what was unfolding, he brought back heavy artillery from Tiassalé.
The settlers had thought of a regular expedition of a few hours that would have been aimed at frightening and subduing the Abourés of Bonoua. They were now facing fierce battle. After several cannon shots, the French occupying forces entered the abandoned village of Bonoua. The indigenous troops had withdrawn to the "N'Tchoué-boh" forest with their Chief of Staff Kadjo Amangoua. Weary of war, the French forces withdrew to Grand-Bassam.
After several days, the Sanwi troops reached Bonoua. Amangoua and his men surrounded the village to the south and east with the only escape route for the Agnis in the direction of the Comoé River. The Agnis were massacred.
THE DEPORTATION AND DEATH OF KADJO AMANGOUA
1-Conspiracy and deportation
The Colonial Administration was only able to defeat Bonoua with heavy weapons, cunning and treason. They used an indigenous official; a relative, to betray Amangoua the fearsome warrior.Thus taken prisoners, King Ahui Nogbou of Bonoua, Chief Otchoumou Kacou of Adiaho and Kadjo Amangoua were sent into exile in Gabon in 1896.
In 1910, Captain LAIGNOUX of the Senegalese riflemen reported the death of KADJO AMANGOUA to the governor of Gabon in Libreville. He had died on October 16, 1909, from an unknown illness. He was suffering from pains caused by abnormal swelling of his belly and legs. Much has been written about the nature of the disease, and the Abourés remain convinced that he was poisoned. This opinion is unfortunately corroborated by disturbing facts. Indeed, his death was not made public for several months. This gave credence to the idea that the government feared the return of KADJO AMANGOUA to Ivorian soil.
On December 27, 1909, having learned that the people of Bonoua were willing to surrender their weapons, still unaware of the death of their hero, the colonial administration pressured them to surrender. In good faith, the Abourés handed over 650 rifles to the Grand-Bassam administration.
Governor-General ANGOULVANT had sent a telegram to the Lieutenant Governor of Côte d'Ivoire with orders for the immediate release of AMANGOUA and his companions and to have him embark on the "CHARGEUR" boat on 20 December for Côte d'Ivoire.
The Governor-General thus asked that the promise made to the Abourés be kept. Alas! The Lieutenant Governor, in agreement with his counterpart in the Congo, insisted on concealing the death.
The return of AMANGOUA dead or alive, it was said, meant the return of the much-feared unrest in the south of the country.
3-The return of his remains
For the promise to his grandmother Yaba, Jean Baptiste Améthier, whose real name is Ahimin Koua N'tayé, kept investigating and researching the whereabouts of his grandfather Kadjo AMANGOUA. President Felix Houphouët Boigny requested that searches were undertaken in Dakar, Abidjan and Libreville by Minister EKRA Mathieu, to find out where the great warrior Kadjo AMANGOUA had been buried. In 1999, with authorization from the Gabonese Ministry of the Interior, and in the presence of the mayor of N'djolé, assisted by company GABOSEP, earth was taken from the indigenous cemetery of N'djolé and transported by plane to Côte d'Ivoire. On Saturday, 22 October 2005, tribute was paid to Kadjo AMANGOUA "Totossi Djra" (the lion of Bonoua), one of the first great Ivorian resistance warriors, in the presence of President Laurent Gbagbo, his wife, the various kings of the department, many political, diplomatic, administrative, civil, military and traditional dignitaries.
Despite their resistance at the turn of the century, the likes of KADJO AMANGOUA could not stop European penetration from the coasts. Just too weak militarly, compared to the powerful weapons of the colonising forces. On the other hand, they quickly failed for the policy of divide to conquer; Africans rarely thought of inter-tribal solidarity against white invaders. Resistance movements were isolated, therefore doomed to failure.
Published By Meyan Nanguy
LifeStyle & Culture Editor