OPENING OF GOVERNMENT HOUSE
Osu, Accra. July 1, 1963
We have met here this afternoon for the formal opening of these beautiful extensions to the Castle which have recently been completed, and also to re-establish the Castle as the Permanent seat of administration of the Republic of Ghana. It is fitting that this ceremony should take place as part of the celebrations for the Third Anniversary of our Republic.
For many years before Ghana’s independence, Christiansborg Castle, as these buildings used to be called, was the home of the European Governors, and the seat of the colonial power. It was used before then, as a warehouse for the unfortunate men and women, who formed the merchandise in the abominable slave trade. It is recalled that in the year 1657, the Swedes built a Fortress at Osu on the site of an earlier Fort built by the Portuguese in 1578. In 1659, the Fort was captured by the Danes and named Christianborg Castle after King Christian the Fifth, the then King of Denmark.
We are told that in 1693, the Castle was captured by a brave Ghanaian by name Asamani, a Chief of Akwamu. It is not certain how he was able to achieve this daring feat. It appears, however, that Asamani and his men were able to trick the Danes and overcame them in the Castle which they held for nearly one year. During that period, he established himself as Governor, and was said to be lavish in his gun salutes! The whole incident is significant because it is the only occasion on record when a European Fort along our shores was captured, almost single handed, by an African.
The Castle was subsequently bought over by the British Government in 1850, and was held by them until we occupied it in 1957. It was on the 18th May, 1957, shortly after independence, that it was decided to establish the Castle as the Seat of Government. This had been for a long time the seat of power and government of colonial powers. It was important, and indeed psychologically necessary that the people’s government should be seen to operate from the Castle. Only in this way would the masses of the people realise that effective power was now in the hands of their own elected leaders, and that the might of the colonial ruler was no more. Six years have passed since then, and three years since we adopted the Republican Constitution.
The move from the Castle to Flagstaff House in 1959 was made in order that repairs and renovations could be carried out. It was while this work was going on that it was decided to build these new Cabinet Offices, which while being modern and contemporary in style, would harmonise with the original architecture of the Castle. And this is what you see around you here today. These new buildings which we are opening today will therefore become the focal point in the administration of the State by providing suitable offices for the Cabinet, Ministers and other public officers. The standard of accommodation provided in these buildings is high, and comparable to the best anywhere in the world. Besides a well equipped Cabinet Room, provision has been made for Offices, Conference Rooms, a spacious Library, and Lounges for Ministers and Visitors. A special Lounge is provided for Ambassadors, High Commissioners, Diplomats and visiting dignitaries.
Great credit goes to the Architects, Messrs. Nickson and Borys, who designed these buildings, and also to the Contractors, Ghana National Construction Corporation who built them.
I am pleased to say that the rooms and grounds of the Castle will be open all day tomorrow to members of the public who wish to inspect them from six o’clock in the morning to six o’clock in the evening. I hope that as many of you as possible will make use of this opportunity.
The Government of India has very kindly presented us with a magnificent carpet, specially manufactured for the Presidential Office in the Castle. We are most grateful for this gesture of goodwill.
We expect that all who are privileged to work in these buildings will continue to be imbued with the spirit of service and devotion to Ghana and to Africa. From now on, these Offices shall be the seat of the Government of the Republic of Ghana, and shall be known and referred to as THE CASTLE, Accra. And now, Your Excellencies and Friends, it is a pleasant duty for me to declare the offices of the Castle formally open.