ACCRA, Ghana – Preparations are underway for a national holiday in Ghana called Republic Day on July 1. This includes drumming on the streets, soccer games and beach parties.
Republic Day represents when Ghana inducted its first president rather than be ruled under the Queen of England. What better way for tourists to participate than going to the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum where many locals will be celebrating?
The mausoleum is open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is GH₵ 0.50, 25 cents in the U.S., for a Ghanaian adult to get in and GH₵ 1.50, 74 cents, for a non-Ghanaian adult. There is also an extra charge for cameras, which is GH₵ 10, or roughly $4.96.
On July 1, 1960, Kwame Nkrumah went from being the prime minister of Ghana to the first president in Ghana. This occurred briefly after its independence from England in 1957 when Nkrumah led them to freedom.
“After gaining independence, Nkrumah received the title Osagyefo, which means redeemer,” said Edward Quao, a tour guide at the mausoleum. Nkrumah was a role model to all Ghanaians and led the country as a unified force until a military coup chased him out of office in 1966.
Although Nkrumah spent majority of his life in Guinea after that, Ghanaians continued to admire him, even after his death. “Jerry John Rawling, the president of Ghana a few years after Nkrumah’s death, decided to create this mausoleum in his honor in 1991,” said Quao, the 37- year- old from Mamobi in Accra.
The Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum is the final resting place of Nkrumah and his wife, Fathia, an Egyptian woman.
The mausoleum was built where Nkrumah chose to announce Ghana’s independence. The reason why he chose that area was because that was where the British used to play polo.
“It was called the old Polo Grounds,” said Quao. “Natives were not allowed there.”
The main attraction to the mausoleum is it is quite calm and tranquil compared to the bustling downtown Accra on High Street right outside of the mausoleum. While walking through the 5.3 acres of land, the headless statue of Nkrumah can be seen, as well as his old car parked to the side and peacocks.
Ruth Yanney, 30, the manager of the gift shop at the mausoleum from Nungua in Accra, said, “It’s surprising and brilliant that someone was able to build something of that nature.” The mausoleum consists of statues and fountains among other artifacts. There is also a museum filled with pictures of Nkrumah and his memorabilia including 14 books written by Nkrumah and his telephone while president.
Just like most of the statues in the mausoleum, the structure of it is symbolic. “The shape of the mausoleum is a symbol that represents the work that he never got to finish for the country when the coup chased him out,” said Quao. This shape is like a hilt, which is the handle of a sword.
“The water represents life and without water, humans can’t live,” said Quao. “The fountains are always kept on and represent that Nkrumah never dies.”
The museum has received new artifacts from Nkrumah’s past. Quao said, “The latest piece added at the mausoleum are these series of letters Nkrumah wrote to his son when his son was a medical student.”
The mausoleum is a popular tourist site because of its historical value and emotional significance.
“I think it is a beautiful mausoleum and a reminder of what past leaders have sacrificed for independence,” said Carol Tshabalala, 30, a sports broadcaster for SuperSport from South Africa.
Nkrumah will always be a hero in the eyes of the Ghanaians, which the mausoleum represents. They have also found other ways to keep him alive in the country.
“In 2009, his birthday, September 21, became a holiday called Founders Day,” said Quao. “The Ghanaians looked up to Nkrumah for all he did for them.”