In 1804, Sir Thomas Hislop, Governor of Trinidad, commissioned the construction of Fort George or La Vigie in St James to defend the City of Port of Spain. This fort was constructed by the “colonial/King’s negroes” who were essentially enslaved men owned by the colonial government and who were used for public works. Amongst the enslaved men who built this fort was Jonas Mohammed Bath, a remarkable individual of Mandingo extraction, who claimed not only to be the Sultan of Yulliallhad Alimant
Animan but a prince in his own native land as well. Governor Hislop, observing that Jonas Bath was a man of rank among the ‘colonial negroes’, put him in charge of hastily constructing Fort George. After the construction of the fort, Bath formed a Mandingo Society in order to pool resources to buy the freedom of enslaved Mandingoes. He also wished for repatriation to Africa for himself and his followers which he expressed to the colonial authorities through various petitions.
When the fort ceased to be used by the military in 1846, a Victorian-style building was constructed on its grounds in 1883 to serve as a signal station. This building was designed and built by Prince Kofi Nti, the son of King Kofi Calcali of Ashantee, West Africa, who became a ward of the British Government after a war against the Ashantees in 1872.
“Prince Kofi Nti” Port of Spain Gazette Supplemental. 1 July 1881. n.p. Print/Microfilm. Besson, Gérard. The Angostura Historical Digest of Trinidad and Tobago. Cascade, Trinidad and Tobago, W.I.: Paria Pub., 2001. Print.
Gomez, Michael Angelo. Black Crescent: The Experience and Legacy of African Muslims in the Americas. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2005. Print.