Jacob Wilson Sey (1832-May 22,1902) was a wealthy Gold Coast merchant who flourished in the latter part of the 19th century. He was the first president of the Aborigines Right Protection Society (A.R.P.S), founded in 1897, and financed it’s 1898 deputation to English, which resulted in the withdrawal of the land bill of 1897, which threatened the traditional African land tenure system.

He was born in 1832 in Anomabo and was known in private life as Kwa Bonyi. Subsequently, however, he spent the greater part of his life at Cape Coast. At first, he took to carpentry, but later became interested in palm wine tapping and in the sale of palm oil. It was this occupation which laid the foundation of his very considerable wealth. When he died, he left more than 30,000 British Pound Sterling in cash as well as real estate in different parts of the country valued at more than 10,000 British Pound Sterling. Because of his source of wealth, he made the palm tree a source of his personal emblem. At Anomabu, he was Safohene (captain) of No.3. Asafo company, the Asafo Companies being traditional Fante organizations of ancient origin, originally formed for purposes of military defense.

Although he was not an educated person, he took an active interest in the politics of the times. He was one of the seven councilors elected in 1887 to maintain law and order at Cape Coast when the Municipal Corporation was revived. When the A.R.P.S. was formed in 1897 in protest against the Land Bill introduced that year, he was elected its first president. He was one of the deputation of three who went to England in May 1898 to press the objections of the society to the bill, which was withdrawn as a result of their representations.

He was a staunch Methodist, and made liberal donations to the Methodist Church both at the Anomabu and at Cape Coast. Other Cape Coast. Other Cape Coast churches, such as Christ Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (A.M.E,Z) church ,and the Roman Catholic church also benefited from his generosity. The A.R.P.S. was particularly indebted to him, for it was he who financed its deputation in English in 1898.

His death in 1902 was a severe blow to the A.R.P.S. His service in helping prevent the alienation of African land, as well as in paving the way for the development of nationalism in the country in the 20th century,were equally memorable.


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