Excerpt of Romancing Ghanaians by Kofi Akpabli

Imagine the frustrations of a village guy whose dream to see Accra eventually comes to pass when he is invited over by a relative. Then just as he is settling in, his host, the Accra Man tells him ‘‘Brother, feel at home, erm…I am going to Accra to come’’. Accra again? How confusing.

If Accra can inflict such emotional turmoil on the Ghanaian, one can imagine what the foreign visitor has to secretly endure.

The term ‘‘Accra’’ has been used vaguely if not arbitrarily. The result is that half the time the Accra being meant can only be determined within context. Though the confusion surrounding Accra’s place name may not lead to territorial battle it does create tensions of identity.

At one point in time, Accra was defined as follows: starting from the coast where the Ring Road joins the La – Nungua road, winding through Osu, the High Street, James Town and then bending off at the Korlebu Junction. The demarcation is then completed from the Korle Bu – Obetsebi Lamptey road stretching through Ring Road West, Nkrumah Circle, Danquah Circle and then back to the Labadi end of Ring Road East.

At the time of writing, there are three different locations that are referred to as ‘‘Accra.’’ The home truth is that there could be more.

The first Accra is arguably the central part of the Accra which is the capital of the Accra also known as Greater Accra. This area ropes in the Central Business District; it also includes the Dutch, British and Danish Accra. Or does it really?

The second Accra is the provincial Accra. This Accra is Greater Accra which capital is Accra. It is one of ten administrative regions which make up territorial Ghana. This Accra has Tema as the twin of its capital.

As a region, Accra the Greater, shares borders with the Volta, Eastern and Central Regions. One may think that at least this demarcation is problem free. But not when you are dealing with a character such as Accra. What the city has done to Kasoa, to use just one example, is to subtly constrict it like a boa does to its prey. Today, Kasoa’s status as a Central Region town is simply a puzzle.

Then there is the third Accra. This is Accra the capital of the Greater Accra region. For the sake of clarity, this is the Accra which is the chief city of Nkrumah’s Ghana. This is also the Accra which is the political centre of the country currently hyped as the centre of the earth.

Accra, I mean the headache one, now extends to… well, nobody knows where. This Accra is at times made to contain Tema. But when it becomes convenient this same Accra is divorced from the harbour city. If cities are said to have their own personalities does this makes Accra of a slippery character?

~ Kofi Akpabli, Romancing Ghanaland

**After the jammed book reading at JamRock in Accra (yes, the headache one ☺), you should not miss the three jamming authors – Kofi, Alba K Sumprim and Nana Awere Damoah – as they romance Oseikrom on 24th September. It shall be pure sebitical fun! You are invited, Alba-style!

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