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Plagues and Epidemics in Asante

 Plagues and Epidemics in Asante

Water Supply System in Kumasi – 1924

Asante recorded its first infection of the Spanish Influenza on September 8, 1918.

In all, 9,000 people died in six weeks. According to the Whiteman chief Commissioner, about six to 20 people died daily. Kumasi was placed under quarantine and lockdown. Schools closed and major roads to and from Kumasi closed etc..

The 9,000 deaths were the official count of the Colonial govt. That is, those who had sought Whiteman’s medical help and thus had died in hospitals. But it is believed that many died in Asorefie and Abosomfie.

The influenza was been brought to Kumasi by West African Frontier Forces returning from World War I, and who was stationed in Kumasi since Yaa Asantewaa War to checkmate Asanteman from starting another war. ( West African Frontier Force became the Gold Coast Regiment which became the Ghana armed forces)

Then there was the plague of 1924-25 wherein Kumasi 90 people succumbed to the bubonic plague, 29 people to the pneumonic plague, and 20 people to the septicemic plague.

The deaths occured between mid June and early September with majority in the Zongos.

Again, Kumasi was placed under lockdown and quarantine. When no deaths occured in September, lockdown and quarantine were lifted. But in mid November, more deaths occured in Kumasi with one in Bekwai. So the city was put under lockdown and quarantine again for 11 days while vaccines were administered to 103,000 people.

This time, it was believed the plague had travelled by train from Sekondi to Kumasi. The plague had been raging in Sekondi since mid March. But by the time Kumasi was being ravaged, the plague had subsided in Sekondi.

The first person infected in Kumasi was most likely bitten by a plague infected rat. The person was a Zongo resident who plied his trade at the rail station in Kumasi. At one point, about 9 people living in the same house succumbed to plague

The plague was to last for a full year in Kumasi.

Hopefully by 31st July, 2020, the latest Epidemic of Covid-19 would have departed from Ghana.


Akwasi Amankwaa Afrifa Akoto (A4)

From the “Encyclopedia of Plagues and Pestilence: From Ancient Times to the Present.”

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