„Jamestown is the heartbeat“

When the Uber dropped us off at the Jamestown Lighthouse, we could hear the ocean.  In front of the building, people had gathered under a palm-leaf-roof to hide from the mid-day soon. One woman washed her clothes in a bucket, carefully propping them on the stones to dry. For once, we had left the international Osu behind and entered Jamestown – to participate in a walking tour. With its narrow streets and the traditional fishing communities, Jamestown is considered a „Bad neighborhood“ by some. Our guide Nii Kwartei Owoo, who grew up in Jamestown himself, wanted to change that.

Who are you?

My name is Nii Kwartei Owoo, a tour guide and researcher in Jamestown.
Jamestown, as considered as one of the oldest districts in Accra and with the Walking Tours educates on the suburb whilst walking through the community exploring through it living legacies from the pre-colonial times through to the post and COVID times in the community. It helps to acquire an undisclosed understanding of the community’s rich history and key historic events that took place.

During the walking tour we have visited a family home. Could you quickly describe what it is?

Family homes are spaces belonging to groups of family in Jamestown. Inhabitants normally bare same surnames. These houses are inherited through the paternal systems and the architecture styles could be traced to the 15th centuries as a security and protection measure against kidnappings and attacks as sources of historic slavery. There are no fencing but rooms are built to surround common courtyard which serve a multi-purpose. Family members are encouraged to extend these homes by working and acquiring other spaces, thus extending the family’s spaces and creating spaces in the old ones for younger folk to also occupy. There are also Paramount heads as well as household heads.

What do you like most about Jamestown?

Accra may be the heart of the country but I feel Jamestown is the heartbeat. I love its diversity(different people, culture, food) and the people living in it.

What do you want people to know about Jamestown?

Jamestown, is one of the safest places in Ghana. Although served once as a rich mercantile, it’s considered poor in the current times which is not true. I have seen better smiles and opportunities in Jamestown. It’s still under studies and I will entreat people to visit, research on various topics and approach to break the negative stereotypes.

What are the biggest challenges your community is facing?

Modern day slavery is the current biggest challenge being faced by Jamestown which can be clearly linked to historic slavery. There are proofs, survivor experts and connections with Jamestown serving as a recruitment and destination centre to modern enslaved people