The people of today’s Ghana live in the territory once called the Gold Coast because of the extensive mining for gold that was done in that region going back to the 12th century. They built mining shafts that penetrated the ground to depths of a hundred feet. Although these people were known by various names including Ashanti, Akan, Fante, and Adanse, once in Haiti, they were all called Nanchon Anminan, meaning people of the mines or simply, miners.
Africans in Haiti called people from the Gold Coast of Ginen, Anminan because it was largely through mining that they earned their living. Newspapers from the slave era in Haiti (Saint Domingue) advertised people as being from Nanchon Anminan to publicize their mining skills. Colonists advertised the ethnicity of their captives so that potential buyers would be aware of what skill sets they possessed.
Prior to trading directly with Europe, the Aminan people traded their gold with the Arabs of Northern Africa. Many of the other African Nanchons who came to Haiti also traded with the Arabs. For this reason some Arabic words became common among Africans taken to Haiti. Although Nanchon Anminan refers to the people of the Gold Coast, the word anminan is also an Arabic word that is often used in Vodou songs to mean trustworthy.
The contributions of the Anminan people to Creole are numerous. For example, the word Sham Sham for the eatable delicacy made with grounded corn and sugar is an Anminan word for sand like. Anansi is their word for spider and the popular name for girls Nancy is derived from anansi. As Haiti prepares to expand its involvement in gold mining, we pay tribute to our Anminan foreparents. We honor them for their knowledge as miners.
Note: As of January 2013, the Haitian Senate has barred gold mining activity in Haiti, pending the acceptance by mining companies of international statutes signed by Haiti protecting the environment and the rights of gold miners. (Source: Defend Haiti)