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Bentsifi’s Tattle

BY: Daily Graphic
The Christianborg Castle is a place worthy of visit
The Christianborg Castle is a place worthy of visit

We are standing in the courtyard inside Christiansborg Castle.

Sam, our tour guide for this afternoon's visit is currently giving the narrative about the 300-year-old cistern, - an underground rain water reservoir built by Carl Gustav Engmann, - Governor of Christiansborg Castle from 1752 to 1757 - to serve the residents at the time.

Concurrently descending the nearby stairs are a bunch of animated teens, in school uniform, who break the protocols for being in such public spaces and are chattering with abandon, drowning Sam's words in the hubbub.

I couldn't help but notice also, the sheer amount of litter, tons of plastic and take away packs, that have been left to "de.beautify" the garden opposite the main entrance to the edifice. Devoid of litter, this garden is a spread of lush green manicured lawn running some two hundred metres, with trees on the sides.

When you get the historic narrative of this site being the original area that was Osu village proper, before it moved slightly further away after the British bombarding the indigenes when they refused to pay tax imposed on them by the foreigners who had come to lord it over them!

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It was the Swedes who first begun building on the site of the Castle though, with the mounting of a house used as a trading post in 1652. The site was then purchased by the Danes from the Osu Paramount Chief for 100oz of gold in 1661, in order to conduct trade.

They expanded Fort Christiansborg - ‘Christian’s Fortress’, named after the King of Denmark, Christian IV - and over time, enlarged and converted it into a castle and occupied it until 1849.

During that time, it changed hands a few brief periods. Between 1679 and 1683, it was sold to, and occupied by the Portuguese. It was then renamed Fort Sao Francis Xavier. Then in 1685 and 1689, it was mortgaged to the British.

But in 1693, a trader and chief of Akwamu in Ghana’s Eastern Region, a courageous man named Asameni gained possession of the castle through subterfuge and acted as ‘governor’ for a whole year, before selling it back to the Danes in 1694.

It is Asameni's statue that is mounted in the middle of the roundabout as you make the turn in Atimpoku, onto the Adomi Bridge.

You will notice that Asameni is holding a bunch of keys.

These are the original keys to the castle which Asameni took with him, and is to this day in the custody of the paramountcy of Akwamu!

Going on this tour of the castle with Sam, I get a real sense of how things must have been then. As must have these youth.

I feel a deep sense of reverence for the place, and can't imagine dropping anything there to litter it's environment, or speak in a manner that would disturb the spirit those captured Africans who may have died there in captivity.

And I have felt this way about these spaces since childhood and thus, can't understand why today's youth do not grasp the import of the responsibility of keeping our environments clean and sombre.

The Christianborg Castle was for many years the administration hub of Gold Coast, and then Ghana's government.

It is now turned into a Presidential Museum, with an exhibition of all our nation's Heads of State since the beginning of the last century.

A place worthy of visit, it has a chapel, warehouse, residential quarters, storerooms later turned dungeons where captured Africans were kept as slaves prior to being transported in the trans-Atlantic slave trade! There's also a bell tower, cannons and saluting guns.

It was the Danish Edict of March 16 1792 that officially marked the abolition of the Danish transatlantic slave trade, but which was not enforced until 1803.

Then in 1849, Denmark sold Christiansborg, along with its other forts, together with plantations in the Akuapem Mountains to the British for 10,000 pounds.

The British then came in to colonise us, and set segregation systems that led to the struggle for independence!

Now, take note that our Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) is intensifying enforcement on littering, also let us all be mindful and be responsible for our environment.

AMA promises arrest and prosecution of offenders who will be liable on summary conviction to a fine, not more than 100 penalty units (GHc1200) or a term of imprisonment of not less than 30 days and not more than six months or to both.