The Cape Coast Metropolitan is also home to the regional capital of Central Region. The Metropolitan forms part of the Twenty (20) Mertopolitan, Municipalities and Districts in the Central Region of Ghana. The Metropolitan is bounded on the south by the Gulf of Guinea, west by Komenda / Edina / Eguafo /Abrem Municipal, east by the Abura/Asebu/Kwamankese District and north by the Twifu/Hemang/Lower Denkyira District.
The Metropolis covers an area of 122 square kilometers and is the smallest metropolis in the country. The Administrative capital is Cape Coast. The Metropolis was established by Legislative Instrument (L.I) 1927.
The population of the metropolis according to 2010 population and housing census stands at 169,894 with 82,810 male and 87,084 female.
The traditional name of Cape Coast, ‘Oguaa’, which is still in use, is derived from the Fante word ‘gua’ (market).
During the time of Portuguese colonization, Oguaa was named Cabo Corso (Short Cape). Later the name was changed by the English to Cape Coast.
The collapse of the ancient Ghana Empire in the Sudan, west of the Niger bed, set in motion a wave of migration southward around the 12th century. Among the various groups of people that moved southward in search of habitable lands were the Fetu (Efutu).
The kingdom they eventually founded after moving southward through Techiman and Adansi (Akrokeri) dates back to the 14th century, with Efutu which is situated about twelve miles north of present Cape Coast as its capital.
Legend has it that an early king of the Fetu had as his chief delicacy, crabs which he tasked his people to provide in copious quantities. It was in search of this delicacy to please the king, that his people stumbled on a sheltered bay at the beach, protected by rock outcrops and by small running water filled with fishes.
Here, they found sufficient quantities of crabs they desired. Some of the people later settled down here and named the spot ‘Kotoworaba’ (crab hamlet), now adulterated to ‘Kotokuraba’.
The rock was given the name Tabir (or Taabi) and till today one of the seven titular gods of Oguaa (Cape Coast). As time went by, a small settlement and a market developed at Kotokuraba at which the exchange of other commodities came into being besides the crab catching occupation.
The name of Kotokuraba survives till today as the biggest market in Cape Coast. As a result of this development, large numbers of traders from far and near converged at the area to sell and buy wares, and the name of the settlement became Oguaa.
This persisted until 1555 when the first English manifest reached the Gulf of Guinea, and William Towerson landed at Oguaa. He initiated a period of trade between the Europeans and the people of Fetu. Around 1600, a Portuguese group acquired a plot of land at Oguaa for 64 shillings, paid for in goods and built a Castle on the Rock, Tabir which was a sand structure.
In 1637 the Castle was occupied by the Dutch who eventually extended it. For the following 27 years it was occupied in turns by the Swedes, the Danes, and again by the Dutch until finally in 1664 the English took possession of it, with Robert Holmes as leader of a joint force of English and Danes.
Between the 17th and 19th centuries, at the height of the Slave Trade until its abolition, Cape Coast Castle which was one of the main trade posts, played a very important and historic role.
Besides their duties as warriors, the members of the asafo companies were often assigned to undertake civic responsibilities and also detailed for civil purposes during peaceful periods – they still exist today.
With the occupation of the Castle by the English, the importance of Cape Cast as an administrative and commercial centre increased rapidly. Several merchant organizations established their headquarters there.
The 18th century was relatively a quiet period of consolidation, during which Cape Coast enjoyed growing wealth and expansion. However, contrary to this development, the situation in Cape Coast became insecure due to the increasing growing in importance of the Ashanti Kingdom inland with its capital Kumasi. And in 1805, the Ashantis conquered Cape Coast town, but they failed to capture the Castle.
In order to halt any further inroads into what they considered their protectorate, the English built two more fortifications, Fort William (first called Smith’s Tower) on Dawson Hill in 1820 and Fort McCarthy on a hill northeast of the Castle in 1822. Fort William still exists, and is referred to now as the ‘light house’ because the Railway and Ports Authority later used it as a Light House. Fort McCarthy has however vanished.
Under Governor McCarthy, the English tried to drive the Ashantis back, but the troops were defeated and Cape Coast town fell a second time in 1824. At Dodowa in 1826, however, the Ashantis were defeated, and under Governor McLean, Cape Coast recovered entirely and expanded again.
The headquarters of the Wesleyan Mission was then established in 1835, and many substantial buildings including the Wesleyan Chapel were subsequently bult. In 1850 the English acquired the Danish prosperities in West Africa and in the Treaty of Breda in 1872 the Dutch also ceded their possessions to the English, who eventually made a strong expedition under Sir Garnet Wolseley against the Ashantis in 1873, leading to the capture of Kumasi in February 1874.
Despite this important victory albeit, the years after saw Cape Coast deteriorate to an extent the effects of which are still being manifested today. Under Governor Dr. Rowe, from 1876 – 1877 the seat of the Colonial Government of the Gold Coast was transferred to Accra due to climatic and other reasons. The first railway project in the Gold Coast (running from the Castle one mile in the direction of Kumasi) was abandoned.
Another important catastrophe to befall Cape Coast was the construction of the Sekondi Harbour in 1888, and the railway link between Sekondi and Kumasi in 1903. until this time, Cape Coast had been the most important port of the Gold Coast for the exportation of cocoa; but after this event, its importance diminished. In 1963 the port was finally closed down.
The establishment of the first Secondary School, Mfantsipim in the Gold Coast at Cape Coast seems to have given a signal of another hope of development which gives the town a different importance and identity as the major educational center of the nation.
Major landmarks along the road to fame in this area include:-
– 1890, Establishment of the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Mission;
– 1950, The establishment of the Archdiocese;
– The establishment of other secondary schools; and
– The Foundation of the University
Traditional Administration of Cape Coast dates back to the 1660s, and is composed of the Omanhen (Paramount Chief), ahenfo or mpakamufo (chiefs of various grades or subordinate chiefs), tufuhen (master of arms), apanfo or omanfo (counselors), asafo-mpanyinfo (heads of the various companies) and akyeame (spokesmen).
The omanhen is the paramount chief of the town. Originally, the line succession was patrilineal, but this was later changed to matrilineal.
The Omanhen is assisted by a council referred to as beguafo in his day-to-day administration of the town. The council’s membership comprises certain hereditary chiefs, supported by persons elected on merit. The traditional name for these hereditary chiefs is mpakamufo who are by right the counselors to the omanhen.
The head of the mpakamufo is the next to the omanhen. He is called ohema-ose-aman-ye-nan (the chief that bears the feet of state). The omanhen is entitled to ride in a palanquin or apakan likewise the mpakamufo.
Traditionally, Cape Coast is divided into seven asafo companies. These are Bentsir, Anaafo, Ntin, Nkum, Brofomba, Akrampa and Amanful. Each asafo company is headed by a superior captain (Supi) and under him a captain (safohen). Each company has its own complete organization. In the olden days they were known as the “town soldiers” who fought enemies of the state in times of war.
All the seven companies have fetish priests and priestesses who are responsible for the spiritual needs of their members and the company as a whole. These priests and priestesses take care of the 77 gods of Cape Coast and all rituals pertaining to the gods are performed by them. In times of war they carry the god of war to the battle field.
They are also heavily involved in the Fetu Afahye, the festival of Cape Coast. The Tufuhen (master of arms) is the leader of the asafo companies and is regarded as the ‘General Captain’ with the responsibility of giving orders and directing affairs when war breaks out.
A history scholar once described the asafo companies as a “para-military organization of the town youth” to meet such communal needs as warding off aggression, reaching out to community members and cleaning public places. These days, these asafos are mostly only seen in their full attire during the Afahye period.
The apamfo or the Omanfo (Councillors) are selected based on their intelligence and integrity and always join the Chiefs in settling disputes as well as in the general management of affairs of the town.
There are seven major clans or Ebusua in Cape Coast and their heads play a role in the traditional administration of Cape Coast. The head of each clan is called Ebusuapanyin. The seven clans are Twidan, Nsona, Anona, Ntwaa-Abadze, Aboradzi, Kona-Ebiradzi and Adwenadze. The Omanhen comes from the Kona-Ebiradze Ebusua. Each indigenous inhabitant of the town belongs to one of these clans.
Ghana’s stocks of historic and traditional buildings are second to none in the Sub-Saharan Africa. These monuments are protected by legislation, and are properly cared for by the GMMB, in whose custody they are. Of those national monuments, two groups have been designated by UNESCO, under the World Heritage Convention [to which Ghana was one of the first African countries to subscribe], as World Heritage Monuments: the groups of forts and castles in the and the group of Asante traditional buildings [Obosomfie, or ‘fetish houses’].
Of all the cities and towns of Ghana, Cape Coast, the capital of the Gold Coast colony until 1877 has the most extensive surviving historic core of pre- 1900 building, and the greatest potential for revitalization and economic regeneration through repair, rehabilitation, and where necessary, reconstruction, of the existing building stock. A Visual survey carried out some years ago, in association with the Urban Conservation Study commissioned by CEDECOM from the Department of Architecture of UST, Kumasi, identified about 750 no longer habitable rooms in the existing housing stock in the historic core, contained within Beulah Lane, Aboom Road, Aboom Wells, Kotokuraba Road, Ashanti Road, Sam Road, and the coastline between the Town Hall and Amanful Methodist Church.
Cape Coast is an ancient and historic town: and its role in Ghana’s history a long and honourable one, despite its still evident associations with the slave trade. Although a dependency of the Fante state of Fetu in the 16 century, the market of Oguaa was flourishing when William Towerson , the English navigator, visited ‘Don John’s town’ in 1555, and when Paul de Marees documented it in 1600. Future generations of Ghanaian school children ought to be able to study the roots of their country’s development as a modern nation by visiting its historic sites, and places associated with key figures in Ghanaian history.
For many years, the Castle has served as an educational resource, a role being significantly extended and enhance under the present Natural Resource Conservation and Historic Preservation Project, funded by USAID, as part of the Central Region Integrated Development Programme. But the town, that has grown up over the past three hundred years, outside the walls of the Castle, has hardly begun to be exploited as an educational resource. There is therefore the need for an integrated tourism and local economic development programme to be developed for Cape Coast to harness the potentials of the town.
Besides the Castle and Forts and related Historic Buildings and attractions, the Municipality could also boast of an Ostrich Farm at Efutu Mampong, Wetlands for birds at Duakor, Crocodile Pond at Bebianeha (Hans Cottage), Lagoons and Good beaches available for development.
Tourism is a service-based industry and, as such, has been an important factor in service-sector growth. Tourism is also a composite industry product, which has very strong linkages with many sectors of the economy. In Ghana, tourism is the most rapidly growing sub-sector of the service sector. In 1993, the services sector’s contribution to GDP was 46.5% as against 41.5% for agriculture. In 2002 the service sector grew by 4.7%, the same for industry but more than the 4.1 % registered by agriculture.
Tourism, which in the 1970’s was completely insignificant in the national accounts, has now grown to be the third largest earner of foreign exchange, after mining and cocoa sub-sectors. Indeed, it is now the largest growing industry in the services sector.
The tourism industry provides about 10% of total annual foreign exchange and has engaged up to 400,000 people in direct and support services. Ghana’s serious approach to developing tourism potential is manifested in her annual tourist arrivals.
In 1994, Ghana’s tourist arrivals of 208,000 was second to Senegal in the West African Sub-region. In 2001 the number rose to 400,000, bringing in around $400 million. In the African region, Ghana ranks eight in foreign exchange earnings from tourism and ranks third to Namibia and South Africa in the rate of growth of the tourism industry. The Central Region has a comparative advantage in tourism potential. This is seen mainly in heritage tourism, including the following:
- Historical heritage efforts and castles along its coastal line,
- Ancient traditions, festivals and artisan products,
- Unique natural heritage of pristine ecological systems that have been preserved as National Parks for eco-tourism promotion, e.g. the Kakum National Park.
The Cape Coast Municipal Area is fortunate to be the central focus of all tourist activitiesof the Central Region. Activities either emanate from Cape Coast or they end in Cape Coast resulting in the improvement of the local economy through tourist expenditure.The Cape Coast Castle is one of three of Ghana’s World-Class historic structures. The other two are Elmina Castle and Fort St. Jago.
Other tourist activities are far advanced towards enhancing total tourism development in the region. Some of these are the protection of 360sqkms of tropical forest known as Kakum/Assin Attandanso Forest and Game Park.
Current Tourism Development in Cape Coast
Tourism in the Central Region is based on two important regional resources -the historic castles and forts, and the Kakum/Attandanso Natural Forest and Park. These major attractive sites give rise to the demand and patronage of hotels and restaurants.
The Cape Coast Castle is one of three castles and forts given the World Heritage protection, conservation and preservation status. This was done through a grant of $5.6 million signed on August 27, 1991 by USAID/GHANA and Mid West Universities Consortium for International Resource Conservation and Historic Preservation Project (NRCHP).
The Kakum/Attandano Natural Forest and Park is under the National Resource Conservation component of the project whilst the Castles and Fort St. Jago comprise the Historic Preservation Component (HP). The Cape Coast Castle in particular, has undergone a lot of physical development focusing on exterior wall rendering, lime washing and replacement of windows.
The most significant interior development has been the preparation of museum rooms. No doubt visitors of different nationalities and categories continue to be attracted to Cape Coast and Elmina castles. In 2001, expatriates in Ghana accounted for nearly 10% of the total domestic visitors compared to 5% in 1995. Generally, it has to be said that visitations to the two castles have improved substantially since 1994 (Table 22).
Visitations to Cape Coast Castle
Majority of visitors to the Cape Coast Castle between 1990 and 1997 were Ghanaian residents. International visitors are mostly from other West African countries such as Togo and Cote D’lvoire, Europe, North America (mostly African-American) and Asia. Between 1990 and 1997 North American visitors were second to Ghanaian residents with Europeans being third on the arrivals list.
On a yearly basis, Ghanaian residents continue to dominate the visitation record. In 1993 for instance, Ghanaian residents accounted for over 70% of all visitors to the Central Region. North American and European visitors placed second and third respectively. There is hope that if economic, social, cultural and environmental conditions improve in the region, country and Municipality, domestic tourism will improve tremendously. Information on the length of stay of tourists is scanty but anecdotal data suggest that this has the potential to improve if a variety of activities can keep visitors busy for days.
Seasonality of tourist visitations to Cape Coast castle
Tourism demand for a facility like Cape Coast Castle is subject to fluctuations during the year as exemplified by the 1993 data for Cape Coast Castle in Table 21. The main causes of these fluctuations are the time of the year, climate, type and nationality of visitors, purpose of visits and level of attraction of the facility. The knowledge of peak and lean periods of visitations allows for planning to be done with a view to enhancing the optimum utilisation of the tourist facility.
Economic impact of visitations to Cape Coast Castle
The overall goal of a tourist facility like the Cape Coast Castle is to have an impact on the socio-economic life of the area concerned. It is therefore important that revenue generated from visitations should be maximised and utilised for the total improvement of the economy in general and the facility in particular. It is expected that within the plan period attempts would be made to use the industry to generate employment, improve infrastructure and promote sports and conferences in the Municipal Area. These would help greatly to stimulate growth in the local economy.