Ghana became an independent state when the British relinquished its control over the Gold Coast. Led by Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the Gold Coast (now known as Ghana) became the first African state to gain independence. 61 years on, we have developed into one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. Let’s take a look at 5 major monuments that remind us of how far we have come as a nation.
Cape Coast Castle
The Cape Coast Castle was built in the 17th Century. It was originally built by the Swedes for trading timber and gold but was later used in the Trans Atlantic slave trade. The castle was modified during the Slave Trade to create dungeons to keep slaves in for export to North, South America and Europe. The castle has since been converted into a museum and holds photography of the era, art collections, and architectural history. It also contains a gift and bookshop for anyone looking to take a souvenir home after the tour.
The Elmina Castle, built in 1482, is one of the oldest castles in West Africa. Due to the Castle’s proximity to the sea, the castle was used as a stopover for Portuguese traders who bartered goods like textiles and sugar for slaves with the local chiefs and slave owners. Slaves were held captive in the castle and were led through the infamous “Door of No Return” into slave ships and across the Atlantic Ocean. The castle houses a number of photographs that depict the castle’s ‘development’ over the years. There are guided tours to teach visitors the castle’s history and a bookshop for souvenirs.
Osu Castle or Christianborg Castle was built by the Danish in the 1960’s. Renovated several times, it was primarily built to facilitate trade between the Gold Coast and Europe but acted as the seat of government till recently after the late President Evans Atta Mills passed away. It has since become a historic monument and is open to the public for tours.
The Larabanga mosque is known as the oldest mosque in Ghana and is referred to as the “Mecca” of West Africa. It was founded in 1421 and is built from mud and reeds in Sudanese style. It has been renovated several times in order to preserve it. The mosque houses a Koran which is said to have been delivered from heaven to an Imam called Bramah in 1650, when he prayed for a Koran. The mosque is located in the Islamic town of Larabanga in the West Gonja district of the Northern Region.
Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum
The Kwame Nkrumah mausoleum and Memorial park is located on the High Street in Accra Central right opposite the High Courts of Ghana. The mausoleum is dedicated to Kwame Nkrumah and is the location where he and his wife, Fathia Nkrumah are buried. The mausoleum is open to the public to pay their respects to the late president. It also houses a museum documenting Dr Nkrumah’s life works, etc.
During this month of March, as we celebrate Ghana, it is pertinent to pay a visit to at least two of these monuments to remind ourselves of our history and how far our nation has come.