Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park

The site of the proclamation of Ghana's Independence

Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum and Memorial Park (2020) by HACSA FoundationHeritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation

Remembering Ghana's founding leader

The Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park is a site of memory dedicated to Ghana’s first Prime Minister and President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah who lived from 21st September 1909 to 27th April 1972.

Kwame Nkrumah Mausouleum and Memorial Park (2020) by HACSA FoundationHeritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation

The Old British Polo Grounds

The park is situated at the Old British Polo Grounds on the Prof. Atta Mills High Street,  formerly opposite Ghana’s Old Parliament House. The polo grounds were for Europeans only and were strategically chosen by Nkrumah to declare Ghana “free at last” on the 6th of March 1957.

Completing the circle

This made Ghana the first African country south of the Sahara to gain independence from colonialism after a liberation struggle led by Nkrumah, earning him the title 'Osagyefo' meaning 'the Redeemer'.

Promoting Pan-Africanism

Nkrumah was a Pan-Africanist and passionate advocate for the founding of the African Union. He successfully convinced other founding members to join what was then called the Organisation of African Union which was established in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 25th May, 1963.

Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum and Memorial Park (2020) by HACSA FoundationHeritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation

Intricate design of the park

The cultural landscape of the park was designed to reflect and celebrate Nkrumah's life and role in the independence of Ghana and the building of the new nation. The park includes symbolic statues and a mausoleum. 

The Exterior of The Museum (2020) by HACSA FoundationHeritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation

African Man of the Millennium

Within the compound there is also a museum displaying photographs, personal effects, furniture and books published by him. In 2000, Kwame Nkrumah was voted African Man of the Millennium by a BBC World Service listeners poll.

A musical welcome

The formal entrance of the Park reserved for VIPs is accessed from the main road and the visitors entrance is accessed on the side from the car park. From the formal entrance, visitors are greeted by statues of musicians representing Ghanaian ethnic groups, demonstrating the importance of the personality to whom the monument is dedicated.

Statue of Man and Talking Drum (2020) by HACSA FoundationHeritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation

The underlying theme of the layout of this heritage site depicts the funeral celebration of a traditional ruler. To the right, a man in a traditional toga is depicted beating a talking drum, which is a popular instrument among Akan groups of Southern Ghana.

Statue of a Musician (2020) by HACSA FoundationHeritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation

To the left is a man wearing a fugu or traditional smock, playing a kora popular with groups in the north of Ghana and the Sahel.

Horn Blowers in the Fountain Pool (2020) by HACSA FoundationHeritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation

7 traditional horn blowers kneel on each side of the central walkway, perched on plinths within the fountain pools. Traditionally, horn music is used for mourning in Ghana, especially for funerals of prominent leaders. The horn blowers announce the demise of a great leader and usher visitors to his tomb.

Statue of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah (2020) by HACSA FoundationHeritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation

“Forward ever, backward never!”

In the center of the Park is a large bronze statue of Nkrumah. Its posture denotes the slogan “Forward ever, backward never”, of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), the party he founded. It is positioned in the exact spot Nkrumah gave his speech declaring Ghana’s independence from British rule, in 1957.

It is mounted on a platform with his right hand and left leg motioning forward and his left hand forming a fist. The mausoleum serves as a backdrop to this statue emphasizing the notion that even in death, his legacy lives on.

Headless Old Statue of Nkrumah (2020) by HACSA FoundationHeritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation

Headless old statue of Nkrumah

A headless statue, which was damaged and toppled over after Nkrumah’s government was overthrown in 1966 stands on the right hand side a little away from the main statue of Nkrumah. It was made by the Italian sculptor, Nicola Cataudella, and was mounted in front of the Old Parliament House in Accra on March 5th 1958.

In what remains of this statue, Nkrumah is depicted with his right hand raised, in a greeting or waving motion, adorned in his favorite attire, a fugu, which is a traditional smock from northern Ghana and is wearing trousers and shoes.

Head of Old Statue of Nkrumah (2020) by HACSA FoundationHeritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation

Head of old statue of Nkrumah

 After several assassination attempts made on his life, Nkrumah resorted to authoritarian rule and became very unpopular. However, the story of the lost head of Nkrumah’s statue confirms the popularity of Nkrumah amongst his devotees even when his popularity was in decline amongst Ghanaians in general.

Following the 1966 coup which toppled his government, his statue was decapitated by crowds reveling in the end of what had become a de facto dictatorship. Although the remainder of the statue was recovered, the head went missing.  A woman returned the head of the statue in 2009, after keeping it safe for 43 years.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
Black History and Culture
The past, present, and future of the Black experience in the United States
View theme
Google apps