I was trying to do some site seeing in Ghana and I came across one of the oldest districts in the city of Accra. Located at the east of the Korle Lagoon, one very popular lagoon in the greater Accra Region, James Town is one of the historic towns in Ghana. It is known also as British Accra or old Accra. In the colonial days, the town became popular as a result of a fort called Crexecouer which was built there. This fort now is called; Ussher Fort as a result of it being named after a British governor.
The actual popularity of the town came about with the building of the James Fort, the last trading post to be erected in Accra. A lot of trading activities took place there during the colonial days. This trade was basically slave trade.
Today, James Town remains a fishing community which has most of its in habitants being of the Ga tribe. It is a town which show cases the offcuts of Accra’s colonial past. One very significant thing the town is noted for is the Light house. A lot of people in Ghana who do not know about this light house mistake it for the church named Light house whenever it is mentioned. This lighthouse overlooks the James Town Harbor and enables people to see the James fort and Ussher fort from a bird’s eye view.
It is about 34 meters above sea level. Tourists who want to climb to have a look usually are advised to come at night so they can get a great view. It consists of a stone tower with lantern and a gallery. It’s believed that the light from the light house even gave clues to sailors as to whether they were closer or farther from the destination. It is painted red and white and there’s no way one can’t easily make it out upon reaching James Town.
The town is recognized as one of the slummiest areas in Ghana. Its inhabitants are basically fisher men and fish mongers. It indeed has a very vibrant local community. My visit there got me talking to one very popular guy in the neighbourhood known as “one touch”. From my observation he’s nothing less than thirty years. “One touch” is a Ga gentleman who according to himself was born at James Town. Upon enquiries, he said he’s been living there for the past twenty-six years.
Finding out why the town, with such rich historical occurrences has not been “polished” in any way, he said “we like it just the way it is, we know how Ghanaians would eventually destroy this place and ask us all to live if we allow them to make the place better”. Apart from needing a Junior High school, he said they were just fine. The only problem he thinks the people have had to do with the young children walking thirty to forty-five minutes to school on the Accra high street. He said anybody who comes to live at James town lives a free life as unlike other slums, they don’t have police interruptions. “Even if we have…… the Police is always our friend”. The town gives an interesting and if I may say very beautiful sea view. It also here that you will find the Mantse Agbonaa, a recognized area for gatherings.
James Town is recognized for poor sanitation system even though the first ever pipe borne water facility in Ghana was introduced here… how interesting!
Teenage pregnancy has also been recording high numbers in this district. Despite its bad sides, it’s also has some positives. Prominent among them is that one of the most patronized and very popular arts festival which brings together people from all walks of life and countries is held in this town. The arts festival, known as Chalewote Arts festival is one of its kind. Currently its gaining a lot of popularity as tourist travel all the way just to participate in it. It held in the month of August annually.
Sometimes they say, words may not be able to describe things exactly as they are, though they might create a great imagination. James Town is one of the places I would recommend for anyone visitor into Ghana to have a god look at. I know the memories would definitely be stuck with you for so long…because…. you might never find a place like it.