Robertson’s Report on the geology of Western Togoland (1921)

One of the earliest English sources on the geology of what is today the Volta Region in eastern Ghana is a survey report by Thomas Robertson. It was published in 1921 by the Gold Coast Geological Survey in Accra. The economical goals of the survey are clear from Robertson’s repeated examination of rivers for gold (“River X gave black sand but no gold on panning”). Download the report here (20Mb).

For anyone interested in early sources on Akpafu and Santrokofi, the document contains some interesting notes. The early 1900s was the time when several of the mountain-dwelling peoples in the central Volta Region started building villages in the valleys, and Robertson has the following to say about this:

In the Akpafu hills, however, there seems to be something similar to what we have in the Avatime highlands, a small group which has kept fairly distinct from the peoples of the low country round about. It is noteworthy, however, that in both districts there is of recent years a very strong tendency for the hill-peoples to desert their old villages and make new ones in the valleys below. Borada and Santrokofi are examples of this in the Buem country, and Akpafu threatens to do likewise.

Historical note: the people of Akpafu indeed made new villages in the valley — Akpafu-Mempeasem, established in the 1920s, and later Adɔkɔ in the east valley — but they did not desert their old village and Akpafu-Todzi is still inhabited.

There is also a description of three iron ore mines in Akpafu on pages 41-43. The fairly specific description of their location enables us to identify at least two of Robertson’s sites as still extant today (one of them can be visited under the guidance of the Akpafu Tourist Council). Sadly, the iron industry of Akpafu was already a thing of the past at the time of Robertson’s survey, as witnessed in the following quote:

Very near the second occurrence [of an iron mine, MD] is an old bank of furnaces which have been used at some time for smelting the ore. They were built of earth from ant-hills, according to the guide, who was an old man, and said he remembered their being used when he was young. There is very little left of them now. Six furnaces are to be seen in a row, and a good deal of slag is lying about, but no ore.

I have highlighted here only some things related to the area where I do field research myself, but the survey covers a wide area and should be of interest to anyone from the Volta Region interested in geology and recent history. This is is why I make it available for download here:

Robertson (1921) Report on the Geology of Western Togoland.

  1. Robertson, Thomas. 1921. Report on the geology of Western Togoland. Accra: Gold Coast Geological Survey. — download the report (20Mb)

One thought on “Robertson’s Report on the geology of Western Togoland (1921)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


5 − three =