Exploring Accra

I returned to Accra on Sunday via the trotro again. This time it was much more as I had expected being rammed, in a bright orange van with 25 other people. There was a boy who’s dual purpose seemed to be collecting the money (about 50p for 100km) and holding on the door! I also had to get out at Tema and try to catch another one to Accra as the one I was on ‘branched’. This was an experience in itself and I was getting nowhere, trying to get into the practically full tros with all the pushing an shoving from the umpteen other people trying to do the same. I was very relieved when an empty one turned up after half an hour of jostling.

I got into the main trotro station at about 1 and seeing as it was close to the ‘sights’ of Accra I decided it would be a perfect opportunity to look around the city I had been in so much but seen very little of. Contrary to all I had been told about Accra, I experience very little hassle presumably because it was a Sunday. I walked into Jamestown which is one of the most deprived areas centred around a colonial lighthouse and James Fort, a colonial outpost which operates as a horrendous prison. walking back into Accra I passed the Nkrumah Mausoleum, which was garishly ostentatious and another fort called Fort Usher. I ended up ducking into the open door of this one to avoid a boy who was hassling me and to have a drink. The caretaker was asleep actually let me look around the fort which was really amazing. It had been used as a slave holding centre before being turned into a prison which closed in 1997. It was pretty chilling seeing the cells which held 14 and were no bigger than my room, as well as the dark political cells. I saw the cell in which JJ Rawlings, the previous dictator, was held following failed coups before his successful one, with hooks in the floor and ceiling between which he was tied upright night and day. There was also a cell, about a metre by metre and a half in which Kwame Nkrumah himself was held by the British for 2 years before becoming President in the 50s following independence. It looked as though no-one had even entered the cells since the fort was decommissioned. It was all the more chilling to know that 500m down the road there was an identical fort still being used in exactly the same way. It struck me as remarkable that many of Ghana’s presidents had been held in this fort in barbaric conditions and yet when they came into power they kept it running and did the exact same thing to their opponents.

Slightly further on was the ‘cultural centre’ which was essentially a large tourist market and allegedly the most pushy in Ghana. It was quite good fun, and after half an hour of wandering around and arguing they sort of realised I was a tightwad and the hassle diminished. Nonetheless I spent the small amount of money I had remaining on a few ‘small-small’ items even swapping my cheap old flip-flops for a few rather good things.

Last on my tour of Accra was the truly hideous independence monument situated on a vast parade ground. It is quite probably the worst building I have ever seen. It was getting dark so I spent minimal time there before getting a taxi back to the hotel.


~ by goldwhine on 17 September, 2008.

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