Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Jamestown, Accra....

The origins of old Accra I was told is the area known as Jamestown which sits right by the Ocean in a little Fishing Village, not far from the bustling shopping area of Osu, so I took myself down there on a sunny Saturday morning in late February last, in fact it was much more than sunny, it was seriously hot and humid.

Stephen is a driver I have used a number of times here in Accra, a native of the city and a really helpful and friendly man. We arrived at the Old Lighthouse at Jamestown and there was met by a local “tour guide” Godfrey, who is also in fact a teacher in the local school for children orphaned by fishermen lost at sea.

We took a walk down to the shore where there were traditional fishing boats cut from trunks of trees,
and carved with motifs, the waterfront doubling up as an open workshop for building boats.

Jamestown is a shanty town of approximately 5000 people fitting in a small triangle of land surrounded by the sea of two sides and the old Fort on the other side, its actually hard to believe that so many people live in such a small space.

As we walked through the narrow lanes, it was clear how simple these people lived, the community is essentially supported by the sea, the men, Godfrey explained to me go out to sea as far as Ivory Coast to the west and Togo and Benin to the east to fish in these simple craft, so can be absent fathers for long periods, and sadly some do get lost to the Atlantic on these trips, thus the schools for children who have lost one or both parents.

Jamestown is alive and active on this Saturday morning, Fishermen are fixing nets, boys are swimming in the sea and screaming with delight, fish are laid out to dry and being smoked over barrels and everywhere there is chatter, music and football being played. It’s a real community here, and though there is poverty, it’s also a way of life , as they’ve existed here while Accra has grown to become one of the fastest growing cities in West Africa around them. It’s a fascinating place.

We finished the tour with a visit to the school that Godfrey teaches in and also a quick visit to the Fort where slaves were once held and sold to the new world and where Ghana’s founding president Kwame Nkrumah was once held, and we finish with a climb up the lighthouse accompanied by another local named “Nice One”, yes that’s really his name….. 

Jamestown Lighthouse, Accra, Ghana