Osu Castle to be converted into presidential museum

Osu Castle to be converted into presidential museum
Source: Ghana | Abubakar Ibrahim with additional files from Ghana Monuments & Museum's Board
Date: 05-03-2017 Time: 01:03:27:pm

President Nana Akufo-Addo has tasked the Tourism Minister to transform the former seat of government, Osu Castle into a presidential museum as part of Ghana’s 60th-anniversary legacy project.

He called on the public to patronize the edifice and make it a center of learning about the heroes who sacrificed for the country’s independence.

"I pray this exhibition inspires Ghanaians to use their talents and energies to do something in their own small way to boost Ghana’s development in line with the theme of the 60th anniversary - Mobilising for the Future," he said.  

Speaking at a ceremony to commission the museum, the President said the castle is the perfect location to house a museum to celebrate the achievements and lives of Ghanaian Presidents who spent their time working in it. 

Exactly 60 years today, Princess Marina of Kent, representing the British Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, formally opened the National Museum in Accra. 

Sixty years on, the president said he is honoured to open an exhibition which pays homage to the nation's forebears, whose blood, sweat and toil won the country our independence.

Commemorating the 60-year old journey on the theme – Ghana: the Road to Independence, the exhibition also puts the spotlight on statesmen like Joseph Ephraim Casely-Hayford as well as accomplished playwright and lawyer, Kobina Sekyi.  

Paa Grant, the financier and president of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), the Gold Coast’s first mass political party, is also featured. Also on exhibition are the Big Six - Obetsebi Lamptey, Kwame Nkrumah, Ako Adjei, Dr. J.B Danquah, William Ofori-Atta, the famous Pa Willie, and the President's father, Edward Akufo-Addo. 

"The vision is to have a state of the art museum which would house presidential artifacts, presidential papers, wax works of our presidents and also on display are personal possessions of past leaders like books, artworks and items of clothing to allow us to honour appropriately their memories.

"One interesting exhibit at this museum will be the room the British Queen, Elizabeth II, slept in during her State Visit to Ghana in 1960, and there will also be bookshops, research rooms, well-manicured gardens and sculptures and artworks rendered by Ghana’s finest craftsmen and artists for researchers," he added. 

The ancient Christiansborg Castle is located just off the shores of the vibrant township of Osu was built by the Danes has been the seat of government since the capital was moved from Cape Coast to Accra.

In 1661, Jost Cramer, the Danish governor of the Cape Coast fort, Fort Fredericksborg, obtained the site for 3,200 gold florins, from Paramount Chief Okaikoi of the Ga ethnic group.

At this site, the Danes built a stone fort in 1659, to replace the earthen lodge that had been erected by the Swedish African Company in the 17th century. They named it Christiansborg, meaning ‘Christian's Fortress’, after the King of Denmark, Christian IV, who passed away in 1648.

A mutiny in 1679 resulted in the assassination of the fort’s Danish commander. The new leader, a Greek named Bolten, later sold the fort to the former Portuguese governor of Sao Tome.

The Portuguese christened it ‘St. Francis Xavier’, added on a Roman Catholic chapel, and further fortified its bastions. A lack of trade success caused the Portuguese to resell the fort to the Danes in 1683, after a four-year occupancy.

Danish rule was once again challenged and deposed ten years later by the powerful trader and chief Assameni, and his men, from the inland state of Akwamu. Assameni had previously infiltrated the Danish household by working as a cook.

He retained control of the fort, trading successfully with all nations, for almost a year. In 1694, he resold the fort to the Danes for the substantial sum of 50 marks of gold.

He, however, did not return the keys to the castle. The castle keys have since been a part of the stool property of Akwamu.

Escalating Danish trade, initially in gold, then in slaves, necessitated further expansions of the castle such that finally the castle almost quadrupled its original size. The abolition of the slave trade by Denmark in1803 resulted in a severe trade slump. The castle was sold to the British in 1850.

After 1876, British colonial governors ruled from the castle. They abandoned it from 1890 to 1901, when it was used as a constabulary mess, and later as a psychiatric asylum.

In 2013 the seat of government was changed by former President John Mahama to the Flagstaff House.