A GNA News feature by Benjamin Commey
Ghana’s capital city, Accra, is a distinctive town in the Greater Accra region with many races, colour and creed of people.
The Region is the most densely populated though the smallest, with Ga, Twi and Ewe, being the commonest languages spoken.
It is home to two great metropolitan areas – Accra and Tema, the country’s major industrial and commercial centers.
How was Accra founded?
It is believed that towards the end of the sixteenth century, a section of the Ga people who left Ayawaso (then the main seat of the Gas), founded this new village (Accra).
According to online history websites, when the Portuguese first settled on the coast of what is now Ghana in 1482, the present site of Accra was occupied by several villages of the Ga tribe, ruled from a parent settlement, Ayaso (Ayawaso), located about 15 miles (24 km) north.
Between 1650 and 1680, the Europeans built three fortified trading posts—Fort James (English), Fort Crevecoeur (Dutch), and Christiansborg Castle (Danish)—along the coast in the locality.
While the European posts were being constructed, Ayaso was destroyed in a tribal war, compelling the people, together with others from major Ga towns on the Accra plains, moved to the coast by the prospect of profitable trade with the Europeans.
As a result, three coastal villages—Osu (Christiansborg), Dutch Accra (later called Ussher Town), and James Town—sprang up, became the hearts of what was to be Accra.
The name Accra itself is a corruption of the Akan word nkran, which referred to the black ants that abounded in the vicinity.
It came to be applied to the inhabitants of this part of the Accra plains.
The Chief of Ga Mashie, the Ga Mantse and other paramount chiefs of the region, symbolize the pomp and pageantry of the culture of the Ga people and the institution of Chieftaincy in the country.
The Ga people celebrate the ‘Homowo’ festival in August/September to mark their traditional calendar and to commemorate their past migration events.
Homowo is a harvest festival and means ‘hooting at hunger’. Accra remains the administrative, economic, and educational centre of Ghana.
The city contains the head offices of all major banks and trading firms, insurance agencies, the general post office, large open markets.
Its rapid development caused the British authorities who were then ruling the country to move their administrative headquarters from Cape Coast in the west to Accra in 1877.
The choice of Accra was due to its climatic advantages as well as its nearness to the Aburi Mountains, with near temperate climate-where the colonial authorities preferred to live.
Accra has fine public buildings reflecting its transition from a 19th century suburb of Victoriasborg to a modern metropolis, being worked at to become the cleanest city in Africa.
Spreading along the Atlantic coast, the city is well endowed with luxury as well as great value hotels, excellent restaurants and nightclubs.
It has a range of absorbing museums and fine public monuments, modern business and commercial areas, as well as busy markets and tree-lined residential suburbs.
Among the highlights of Accra are the National Museum, with its impressive display of exhibits that reflect the heritage of Ghana from prehistoric times to modern times, the National Theatre with its distinctive modern architecture, the Centre for National Culture, Independence Square, the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, the fishing port at James Town and the Makola Market.
The University of Ghana at Legon is just 14km north of Accra, and its unique buildings are set amongst elegant tree-lined gardens that are popular with students and visitors alike.
The Accra International Conference Centre is the host of most conference activities in the Country, and has played host to, many international gatherings.
In the field of Local Government, the satellite suburbs have assumed control of their respective jurisdictions and the rezoned ‘Accra’ is administered by the Accra Metropolitan Authority (AMA) under the Greater Accra Regional Coordinating Council.
Areas falling outside the jurisdiction of AMA include the Municipalities of: Ga West- Amasaman; Ga East – Abokobi; Ga Central – Sowutuom; Ga South – Weija; La-Nkwantanang Madina; La Dadekotopon, Adentan; Ledzorkuku-Krowor Teshie Nungua; Korle Klottey Osu Adabraka.
Tema, on the other land, is a new town, some 30km from Accra, with Ghana’s foremost commercial port with large fishing fleet.
Its modern industrial zone is one of the country’s major commercial hubs.
Today, the Greater Accra Region is home to more than five million people from heterogeneous ethnic groups in Ghana, according to data from the Ghana Statistical Service.