Ussher Fort, at the eastern end of James Town, is one of three European forts that were built in Accra. Officially all three are closed to public, but Ussher Fort is the only one where you can get a -illegal- tour for a small fee.
Ussher Fort was built as Fort Crêvecoeur by the Dutch in 1649, and started its existence as a trade fort. In the 18th century, it started to play an important role in the slave trade. Where the fort in Elmina was the Dutch Headquarters in the whole of West Africa, the one in Accra was the base for the eastern part of the region. The Dutch here took most of their slaves from the Ashanti region around Kumasi.
In 1782, during a Dutch-British war, the British took over the fort and destroyed it with the canons they took out of the fort, that were brought to the nearby James Fort. In 1786 however, the remains were returned to the Dutch who rebuilt it stronger then ever before. In this period the Dutch remained strong bonds with the local people of so called "Dutch Town", now called Ussher Town. A lot of people still have Dutch familynames and there even is a streetname Van Hien Street, named after a Dutch official Carel Hendrik Van Hien.
In 1862 Fort Crêvecoeur was heavily damaged by an earthquake, and partly reconstructed in the next years. In 1868 it was handed over to the British, because of the end of the slavetrade. They gave it its current name Ussher Fort. Soon they turned the Fort into a prison and they enlargened it to its current size.
After the independency the Fort stayed a prison, until it was closed in 1993. It was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and slowly they are restoring the building. During this work it is possible to ask some of the workers to show you around and tell about its history. You should bargain about the price. I paid 20.000 cedis for my 30 minutes tour: about $ 2,-. During this tour you can have a look in the old slave cells as well as the prison cells where Dr. Nkrumah also was kept for some years, and walk around at the inner square.
Right in the middle of the city centre of the city, close to James Town, you will find the old Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. It is a very strange sight to see such a typically British structure in the middle of this typically African city. Its style of construction and the materials that were used don't have anything to do with the African styles, which make the building a strange one in this tropical environment.
In 1876 the Seat of the Government of the Gold Coast was moved from Cape Coast to Accra. At first the Anglican base stayed in Cape Coast, because of the many activities of the church in that area. In 1887 a few Gold Coasters decided that a new Anglican church had to be built in Accra too.
At the 9th of August 1893, the commander-in-chief of the Gold Coast Colony, Sir William Brandfort was the one to lay the cornerstone of the church and the building was completed in the following year. In 1949 it received the title Cathedral.
Today it is part of a Anglican school complex in central Accra, but it is no problem to visit the church for free. And for a change: taking pictures here IS allowed.
Directly north from the Independence Square you will see another important landmark of Ghanaian Independency: the Independence Arch.
This is Ghana's version of the Arc de Triomphe. The arch has "Freedom and Justice, AD 1957" written on top of the arch, being an example for other African nations in those days.
Right underneath the arch you can find the "Eternal Flame of African Liberation" to memorise the importance of freedom in the continent. It was originally lit by the first president of the country: Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
With the Arch it is the same as the Independence Square: it is forbidden to take picture of it. Why? I don't have any idea...
During the colonisation of Ghana by the British, there once was a big manifestation to demonstrate against the oppressors. During this action, three men were shot by the police. The place where thing manifestation was held, now is called Independence Square: a symbol for Ghanaian and African nationalism.
Because this area was the place where the first rebellion started against the British, it also became the place where the liberation of the country years later should be celebrated.
Today the huge square is THE place for celebrations in the country. It has a seating capacity of 50.000, and it has some important monuments in its surroundings. At the sea-side you will see the Independence Monument: a huge concrete arch that is the centre of the square.
At the other side of the square you will see a black marble monument that is the monument for the Unknown Soldier.
During my visit to the square I was nearly attacked by some soldiers who told me photographing was stricktly prohibited. I played a little bit with my camera and told them I deleted the pictures from the camera. Later, when passing the square by taxi I took some other ones. But better watch out when you visit the square yourself: they might be a little bit smarter next time.
In 1957 Ghana was the very first country in Black Africa that gained its independancy. In March of this year its first president Kwame Nkrumah changed the name from the British Gold Coast into Ghana. Doctor Nkrumah was the most important person who fought in a peaceful way to liberate his country from the colonisation.
From the year 1949 on, he had been trying to get to an agreement with the British. In this year he founded the first political party in the country: The CCP: Convention People's Party. In 1951 his efforts were rewarded when the first elections in the Gold Coast were held. Nkrumah's party won and became the leaders of the new government. When the official independancy was gained in 1957 he became the first president of the country and stayed that until 1966, when a coup by the army ended the period Nkrumah.
During his period he established great growth in the country, and great projects like the Akosombo Dam in the Volta River. He also had been important in the struggle for independancy of other African countries. He was the inventor of Pan-Africanism and he was a big inspiration of African pride in the period. In 1972 he died in exile in Guinea.
The memorial that is built for him in Accra includes a huge mausoleum surrounded by a park with fountains an a big statue of the Doctor. There is a small museum that shows pictures of his entire life. The guide I had obviously was a huge fan of the former-president and told passionately about him.
Entry in the park is free, but you have to pay a small fee to take pictures.
One of the most chaotic, colourful and exciting markets I've ever seen in my life is Makola Market in central Accra. This big area close to the Tema Tro-tro station and the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial, is the biggest "supermarket" of the city.
Entering Makola Market is like being a being a movie star among its biggest fans: from all directions you are attacked by salesmen who want to shake hand, want to know your name and where you come from. Here the enthusiasm of the people is sincere: they are too excited to think about selling their ware.
At Makola Market you can buy anything you can think of. Not only food like big piles of rice, colourful selections of fruits and vegetables, and smelly meat like pigheads and cowfeet. There also are completely other things that you can get here. You can buy things like televisions and fridges on the market, all types and sizes of pans and of course all types of clothes and fabrics.
The market is like a huge maze: you know where you get in, but you don't know where you will get out. It is not that big that you can get lost though. Inside the market you hardly have to be afraid for pickpockets: Ghanaian people normally are very honest.
The most popular beach in Accra definitely is "La Beach". It is a nice sandy beach at a few kilometres east from the centre. It officially belongs to the Labadi Beach Resort, but it is also possible to enter it for a day visit.
At the beach it is not wise to swim in the ocean, because the currents are very strong in this part of the sea, but it is possible to refresh yourself in the shallow part. There are -not so clean- showers and dressing rooms that you can use, there is a lifeguard and there are nice chairs that you can use for free.
The restaurant on the beach can serve fresh fruit juices and great meals. I had a lobster with fried rice and I really enjoyed it.
One very annoying thing about La Beach however are the young salesmen that hang out there all day long and attack every white person they spot. Stories like "you are my friend", "I can show you the nice places of Ghana" and all that crap can be very annoying after the 10th attempt. At the end of every conversation they offer you all kinds of souvenirs and even drugs. So better don't start a conversation with them.
I woke up in the morning and had my breakfast at the small garden of the hotel which is also a restaurant. The breakfast is not fantastic like the open buffet of Golden Tulip Hotel that we had (Prince Eric and me) but it was okay.
My driver Bill showed up and we went to the museum, to Nkrumah museum and we listened to the history of this great leader who wanted to change Ghana to make it a better place. He was the first president of independent Ghana and he was thrown off power during a coup-d’etat that took place while he was visiting China and Vietnam. The CIA didn’t like his recent relationships with communists leaders and was afraid that he was about to join the Russian camp.
I didn’t know that he had an Egyptian wife and the marriage was arranged by his friend Gamal Abdel Naser, the president of Egypt at that time. The kids of Nkrumah are very well educated and two of them are doctors.
Open 9 am to 6 pm daily
The museum has a mesmerizing collection of Royal tools, State umbrellas, swords and linguist’s staffs “akyemepoma”.
There are some amazing piece of arts and also brasswork, weights used by the Ashanti Goldsmiths for measuring gold. My favorite item was a lion head offered to the former president “Rawlings” when he went to Ethiopia.
Tons of other items that display the history and culture of Ghana, extremely rich and fascinating.
Camera fee: $0.70
This museum holds the remains of the first President of Ghana Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah. The Museum was created in his honor after which his body was exhumed from his original burial grounds at his home town-Nkroful.
I would highly recommend a visit to the national museum since it is well organized and informative. A lot of investment has been done and its a great place to learn about the famous Ghanian stools, the kente clothe and slavery history.
I think the cost was about a $1 or $2 for entry
Kaneshie market is the second largest market of the Accra region. It is located in a big yellow 5 storeys building full of small shops for the market.
The people and shops are now so numerous that the places around are also invaded by merchants.
The area is also a big bus station for small busses and tro-tros.
Just climb the pathway on top of the main road and you will see those thousands of people going and sellin everywhere around you, these hundreds of tro-tros trying to park, embark and disembark people in the middle of the traffic.
Walk in a market
That's incredible. Thousands of smells, thousands of people thousands of goods and food !
You will walk there safely in the whole place. Don't be afraid to be lost in the crowd.
very safe, no pick-pocket, no jack...
Soccer, need I explain.Unfortunately I follow the English premiership more than I do the Ghanaian one.I am a hearts fan though,NO DOUBT!Anyway, check out the sports stadia for a game or two,and then hit the beaches HIT THE BEACHES!!!And then you should absolutely check out the open air night markets.They are the best.RThere is spicy African food, freshly prepared on the spot sometimes on charcoal grills right there in front of you .It makes for a romantic date (just dont forget the mosquito repellent.)teeheee.
The National Museum is .. rather small, with artificats seemingly randomly strewn about. But nonetheless a must for people interested in museums, cultures, etc. If you're used to the flashy edutainment type museums, not gonna find it here. I found the displays on slavery most informative and interesting.