Opinions Sat, 9 Feb 2013

Osu Castlle better than Flagstaff House

Osu Christianborg Castle, a better presidential edifice than the Flag Staff House

By Justice Lee Adoboe

On Thursday, February 7, 2013, President John Dramani Mahama relocated the presidency of the Republic of Ghana from the Osu Christianborg Castle to the Indian-built Flagstaff House building.

However, the appropriateness of the Osu Christianborg Castle as a presidential or executive mansion for Ghana cannot be matched in any way by the Flagstaff House as it stands now.

In terms of architecture, layout, planning, location, ambiance and elegance, the colonial edifice stands far taller than what we have been able to build for ourselves-I mean the three summer huts that the Indians built for us at the Flagstaff House.

This is one of the reasons, many hold the view that much as we need to emancipate ourselves from the stranglehold of colonialism and neo-colonialism that must not be done without due cognizance of the fact that there were positive legacies left behind by the colonial masters.

The Christianborg Castle at Osu built by the Swedish African Company in the 17th century, having stood the test of the vagaries the coastal climate proves to be a very deliberately thought-out architecture compared with the summer-hat building which stands at the Flagstaff House which used to house Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.

Not only was it surprising to hear the president has moved the entire government business from the castle to the $135 million “palace” but also to hear him say the Osu Castle was to become a tourist site. How can we build three summer huts such as those in the Flagstaff House at such an exhorbitant cost and designate them “Presidential Palace,” ok, perhaps palace but not for our presidency, Ghana deserves better than that.

Just look at the Castle from outside, and you would see the complex piece of architecture that stands at the beach of Osu, in which one cannot determine where the residential accommodation of the first family is.

Inside the castle one realizes why it is the appropriate place for the presidency, as compared with the Flagstaff House.

With the Flagstaff House, it is predictable where the president would be walking from in the morning to his office, and where his bedroom is located, and the president’s security advisors believe this is safe for the security of the state?

I believe that if our colonial masters left a building for us, a building they used forced labour of our ancestors to erect and we think it is not appropriate enough as a presidential mansion, we should demonstrate a better sense of quality in building a more magnificent edifice with a better architecture for our leaders. There are architects in Ghana who can design a better building for an executive mansion than what we have moved into now. It lacks the aura that surrounds a presidential office.

Meanwhile, if the British colonial edifice is no more appropriate, would the Indian architecture be a better alternative? The Indian architecture looks even less sophisticated than what the Chinese have built for the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Meanwhile on my way to Accra on Friday, I saw workers busy digging a marked portion at the Bus Stop just in front of the Flagstaff House, the fear is that this bus stop is going to be sacrificed for our bad decision.

Ghana remains a peasant country where many still, including workers at the presidency board tro-tro, and removing this bus stop from where it stands would be most unfair to the ordinary commuter.

Meanwhile there is no need to rush in turning Osu Castle into a tourist site, we need to explore the reasons, successive governments returned to Osu as their presidential office.

As long as the Flagstaff House remains at this current level, and as long as Accra remains the administrative capital, Osu Castle is far conducive for the presidency than the India than the Flagstaff House. Enditem.

Source: Justice Lee Adoboe (devitor2002@yahoo.com)

Columnist: Adoboe, Justice Lee