My good friend Thomas Jefferson will not forgive me for continuing to use the word Accra. He is right, there is no word called Accra in the Ga language but we have moved along culturally with the integration and assimilation of people from different places. The beauty of it all is that there is a Jamestown smack in the middle of Accra that most people who live in Accra do not know.
But it was in Jamestown that we all grew up and it was in Jamestown that our navels were cut and buried and so we continue gravitating towards Jamestown. For me, it is to the home of my maternal grandfather that I celebrate the Ga Homowo, but since I am so blest I am also privileged to go the house of my paternal grand uncle’s house at Krobo in Teshie.
Bruce Road is at the heart of James Town, others may claim the Bannerman Road or Hansen Road that run parallel to Bruce Road are more prominent but I beg to disagree with them and I would suggest that where more prominent would one find Adawso House, a place that has sadly been torn down. A large number of footballers cut their teeth playing ‘otipi’ at the popular C – the rather small pavement that bordered the CFAO warehouse.
We had London Market, not surprising for James Town but we also had Royal School and Royal Park that was later transformed into the infamous James Town Police Station. The Bruce Konuah, Blavo, Bannerman, Addy, Vanderpuije, Crabbe, Heward Mills, Biney, Quartey Papafio, Torto, Mould, Hutton Mills all lived on Bruce Road.
Sadly there is always a decline in fortunes of any city area, especially what becomes known as the inner city. The decline cannot be resolved by family alone, because though strong neighbourhoods are built by families, there must be a joint effort by all including government to sustain these neighbourhoods. There are many names to this game. Regeneration, Urban renewal, community development, neighbourhood restoration. The important issue here is that it must be a partnership between the government, the community and most times the private sector.
There is no point in creating new areas since in 50 or so years time they will fall into disrepair if you do nothing to maintain those areas that 50 years ago were prominent. The culture of renewal is too important to dismiss for any developing country otherwise Accra will end up as one large slum.
So I hope that yesterday when the Ngleshie Alata Mantse celebrated his Homowo and flew the Union Jack over the Mantse Palace he was thinking about the renewal of Bruce Road because that is what Homowo is about; the start of a yearly process that enables us to account for what things have happened during the year and to look forward to the better things that we are intent on achieving.
As my friend from Osu put it last night at his lecture on the role of Gadangme Europe in the transformation and revival of Gadangme, he said and here I can only paraphrase
…. imagine if 5 years time there are four clinics in Kasoa, Ada, Ofankor and Chorkor, if in the next year this is followed by 4 libraries in different outposts of greater Accra and if in the next year there are four different apprentice schemes in yet four different areas and if all these are donated and maintained by the Gadangme people of Europe as a gift for the Gadangme people of Ghana. Would that not be a transformation from the usual chorus of people talking about the marginalisation of the Gadangme people and beating their chests about a once-great people?
well, but for the efforts to move beyond the talking about the demise to taking action, there must be serious planning without which there can be no proper and purposeful organising and the danger of taking action as individuals is that if there is no groundswell of support and if there is no proper coordination, we will end up with incoherent projects competing against each other when they must be collaborating. The spirit of partnership based on the principle of enlightened self-interest will be missing and progress will continuously be thwarted.
So how do we get Bruce Road to lead the way as they did at the turn of the last century by producing the professionals who helped to transform our country from Gold Coast into Ghana?
Those who ate Kpoikpoi yesterday must sense the start of a new period.
Noo wala, noo wala
Afi oo afi
afi naa akpe wo
kpaanyo ani na wo
woye Gbo ni woye Gbiena
alonte din ko akafo woten
wosee afi wa ta shie ye omaye mli
ni afi aya ni eba nina wo
Tswa ni Omanye Aba