Located in downtown Accra, Ghana is the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and Mausoleum. The Mausoleum is the final resting place of Ghana’s first President and Africanist. The museum hosts rare artefacts relating to Ghana’s independence and tours at the park give visitors in-depth history of the Sub-saharan struggle for independence.
The mausoleum designed by Don Arthur houses the mortal remains of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and his wife Fathia Nkrumah. It is meant to represent an upside-down sword which in the Akan culture is a symbol of peace. The mausoleum is clad from top to bottom with Italian marble, with a black star at its apex to symbolize unity. The interior of the Mausoleum boasts marble flooring and a mini mastaba looking marble grave marker surrounded by river-washed rocks.
A skylight at the top in the Mausoleum illuminates the grave, and at the right time, seems to reflect off the marble further emphasizing that beauty many have come to fall in love with.
The Mausoleum is surrounded by water which is a symbol of life. Its presence conveys a sense of immortality for the name Nkrumah. It shows that even in death he lives on in the hearts and minds of generations here and generations yet to come.
The entrance to the site is from the 28th February High Street just along the coast from Independence Square. It is located directly opposite the old Paliarment House now known as the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice(CHRAJ).
It has a total surface area of approximately 5.3 acres. The mausoleum provides a front for the statue of Nkrumah whereas the museum is subterranean and does not compete with the mausoleum for attention. Rhythm, contrast and harmony were the main principles of design used in this building.
Ghana’s first President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah and his colleagues stood at the Old Polo Grounds in Accra on the eve of Ghana’s political independence, to declare the country’s freedom from British colonial rule.
Together with Comrades Kojo Botsio, Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, Archie Casely Hayford and Krobo Edusei, all clad in their northern smocks and hats, emotional and before a huge crowd which had travelled from the entire country to witness the memorable occasion, Nkrumah said “Ghana is free forever”.
Indeed, when the representatives of Queen Elizabeth and Lord Listowel, the then Governor General, Kwame Nkrumah and others gathered in the Old Parliament House to formally mark the country’s independence, the Old Polo Grounds accommodated a huge crowd of people who had gathered in Accra to participate in the historic activity.
Today, the place is known as Kwame Nkrumah’s Mausoleum and has become a tourist destination for Ghanaians and those in the diaspora.
The idea of erecting a monument in honour of Kwame Nkrumah dates back to 1972, when the African Students Union sent a memorandum asking the Government of Guinea, then under President Sekou Toure, to send the mortal remains of the Ghanaian leader to Ghana only if the military leaders at that time denounced coup d’état and re-erected the statue of Nkrumah which was destroyed during the 1966 coup.
Although the remains were later returned to Nkroful, his birthplace, it was not until 1992, that the image of Nkrumah was restored on the Old Polo Grounds during which the erstwhile Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), decided to build the Kwame NKrumah Mausoleum.
The mausoleum is located to the west of the Ghana Arts Centre and the offices of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly. It is also directly opposite the Old Parliament House, which now houses the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).
The memorial park covers a total of 5.3 acres and contains two main edifices; the museum which is subterrean and the mausoleum which provides the front to the bronze statue of Nkrumah.
The park itself is an attractive masterpiece with futuristic creation. There are two springs of water on either side of the pavement or walkway. It has seven bare chests, squatting statuette flute blowers, and literally blowing springs out. In Ghanaian culture, flutes are blown to welcome very important dignitaries and on special occasions.
Therefore, by symbolism, it can be concluded that all visitors to the park are seen as very important people and there are no second-class citizens of Ghana and for that matter Africa.
In addition, the two main features of the memorial are the museum and the mausoleum. The mausoleum is the place where the mortal remains of Nkrumah have been interred for the third time in the past 39 years.
The body was first buried in Guinea before being brought to Nkroful and later to the mausoleum, its final resting place.
The structure resembles swords which have been turned upside down, signifying peace, perhaps. Others also view it as an uprooted tree, signifying the unfinished works of Nkrumah.
The museum, on the other hand, accommodates the personal belongings of Nkrumah. These include books he wrote, photograph archives and official photographs.
The photo collection features pictures of Nkrumah with several renowned leaders of his time. Some of them are; Pope Pius XII, Queen Elizabeth II and President John Kennedy of the United States, just to mention a few.
Also in the museum is the metal coffin donated by the people of Guinea when the remains of Nkrumah were returned from Romania to Guinea and later to Nkroful.
In the park it is the bronze statue of NKrumah clad in cloth with his hand symbolically pointing forward. It stands at the same place that NKrumah stood to declare Ghana’s Independence from British colonial rule on March 6, 1957.
The Museum houses the personal effects and publications of Ghana’s first president and pictures showing his life history.
Some of these pictures of Dr. Nkrumah with some of the most famous people of his time is an eye opener.
Wander through the photos, and you will be stunned at how many of the 20th century’s most iconic people pictured shaking hands with the founder of modern Ghana.
He is pictured with famous people like Jawarharlal Nehru, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, Nikita Khrushchev, John F Kennedy of U.S.A, Sir Alec Hume, Queen Elizabeth II of England, Harold Macmillan, Pope Pius XII, President Nasser of Egypt, and countless leaders of countries like Malaya, Sri Lanka, Niger not forgetting Nigeria and many other more.
The body is buried under a catafalque raised in the centre of the park. Symbols which reflect Ghana’s culture and history were used to portray Dr. Nkrumah’s vision to promote the African personality. The full statue of Dr Nkrumah, wearing a cloth, in bronze is sited at the exact location where he proclaimed Ghana’s independence.
As you approach the main way leading to the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, you’ll see springs on either sides of the walk way. Each spring has seven bare-chested, squatting statuettes of flute blowers, who seem to welcome the arrival of world leaders and other important personalities.
The design of the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, which represents swords turned upside down symbolizes peace. It can also be viewed as an uprooted tree to signify the unfinished work of Dr. Nkrumah to totally unite Africa.
This is a place you wouldn’t want to miss during your stay in Accra, since the transition of Gold Coast to Ghana happened on this same location. Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, is what some scholars call the “genesis” of the actual History Of Ghana.
Original caption: 1/20/1963-Accra, Ghana- Ghana President Kwame Nkrumah (in suit) and his Egyptian-born wife, Madame Fathia Nkrumah (on Nkrumah’s right), are flanked by paramount Chieftains as they dance to high life music here recently during a reception. The affair was staged on the grounds of Flagstaff House in Accra. January 20, 1963 Accra, Ghana
The park is located just in the heart of Accra and you can reach there either via taxi, public transport (trotro/Metro Mass Bus) or by requesting a ride hailing service.
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