Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas Andrew Otoo (Rtd), a senior citizen in Cape Coast, has inaugurated a recreational centre in honour of the Gold Coast Aborigines with a call on the community, the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (GMMB) and the Ghana Tourism Authority to work together to raise a befitting monument in their memory.
The Aborigines, eight in number, are considered by many as the pioneers in Ghana’s struggle for political freedom from colonial rule.
They are Jacob Wilson Sey (Kwaa Bonyi), George Alfred Grant (Paa Grant), John Mensah Sarbah, J.E. Kwegyir Aggrey, J.W. De Graft-Johnson, J.P. Brown, William Essuman-Gwira (Kobina Sekyi), and J.E. Casely Hayford.
The monument, a golf facility for amateurs and an art gallery at the Marnico Guest House in Cape Coast, was raised to trigger both local and national recognition for the Aborigines as pioneers of Ghana’s independence struggle.
The centre is also in honour of Abrewa Gyamfua of Assin Atandasu Assinie Royal Family of Nyankumasi Ahenkro, the great grandmother of Lt Colonel Otoo (Rtd), who contributed to the struggle.
A fountain surrounded with the busts of the ‘unsung heroes’ sits at the centre of the Abrewa Gyamfua Learners’ Golf Spot with the gallery having a brownish plaque bearing the names of the eight Aborigines in gold portraits.
It also has the history of some heroes, Adinkra symbols, Kente cloths, beads, old memos and notices, pamphlets and some other relics.
Osabarima Kwesi Atta II, the Oguaamanhen; Air Marshall Sampson Oje, the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff; and Nana Ato Dadzie, a former Chief of Staff, were among other dignitaries that supported the inauguration of the facility.
The eight men formed the Aborigines Rights Protection Society (ARPS), an African anti-colonialist organisation in 1897 in Gold Coast, to impugn the Crown Lands Bill of 1896, which threatened the traditional land tenure system, thus protecting Gold Coast lands from being annexed by the British Colonial Government.
An ARPS delegation was dispatched to London to advocate the repeal of the Lands Bill in front of Joseph Chamberlain, the Secretary of State of Britain at the time, in which they succeeded.
The struggles of the ARPS became a catalyst in promoting political consciousness among the indigenes of Gold Coast and laid the foundation for the ultimate political liberation.
However, Lt Colonel Otoo said the leaders of the Aborigine had not been given their rightful place in history as the political history of the country usually centered around 1947 to date.
The recreational centre, therefore, would attract more customers to the guest house and create more awareness and exposure for the role the Aborigines played in Ghana’s political history.
“In view of this, I am humbly appealing to the Regional Minister to use her good office to help Oguaaman to raise a befitting monument at an appropriate location, maybe at the Victoria Park near the Bust of Queen Victoria, which Jacob Wilson Sey brought from Britain as a symbol of success in getting support for denunciation of the Lands Billing 187”
This was done with an assurance that the “native law would remain and prevail with regard to devolution of land,” he said.
He was hopeful that the proposed monument, when erected, would attract both foreign and local tourists.
“I will once again humbly suggest to Osabarima to include launching this Aborigines Monument project in this year’s ‘Fetu Afahye’ programme,” he added.
In his remarks, Osabarima Kwesi Atta eulogised the members of the ARPS, saying no Ghanaian would have owned land but for their efforts.
He accepted the challenge to collaborate with other stakeholders to honour the leaders of the ARPS assuring that “sooner rather than later, all of us will assemble at the Victoria Park to inaugurate the bigger version of what we have seen today.”
Commending Lt Col. Otoo (Rtd), Osabarima Kwesi Atta urged Ghanaians across the country to replicate the gesture in honour of their heroes to elevate Ghana internationally.
“Let’s look at what our elders and ancestors have done, stand upon that and improve our livelihood and standard of living,” he said.
Mr Clifford Ashun, the Central Regional Director of GMMB, said he was inspired by the purpose and intent of the centre and pledged to work with the traditional leaders and the Ghana Heritage Conservation Trust to establish a greater memorial for the benefit of future generations.
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