Osu Castle is a former slave castle which was later used as the Ghanaian government offices. Visitors are welcome but you can only explore Osu Castle on a guided tour. You can take a private tour when you arrive which costs only $2.
When you first enter Osu Castle you may be forgiven for thinking it’s a beautiful place. The red floor and grand staircase would and does make a top Instagram location in Accra. However, as you begin to explore Osu Castle and learn its dark history, you’ll soon think twice about posing for pictures here.
If you must pose for pictures in Osu Castle then the grand staircase is the place to do it. However, you’re not permitted to use the central staircase. This is reserved for VIP guests. Previous guests who’ve ascended the central staircase include, Queen Elizabeth II, President Obama as well as former presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Of course, former Ghanaian leader, Jerry John Rawlings will have ascended the central staircase.
Osu Castle Facts
Osu Castle was built on the beautiful Gold Coast by the Danes and Norwegians during the 17th century. It has since been controlled by the Portuguese, the local Akwamu ethnic group, Britain, and today of course by an independent Ghana. It’s principal purpose has been to trade in gold, ivory and slaves. There are two other fort close by in Accra Ghana, James Fort and Ussher Fort.
Male Slave Dungeon
Osu Castle has the most disturbing dungeons of all the slave castles I’ve visited in Cape Coast, Elmina, The Gambia, Grand Bassam and Dakar. Why? because there was not enough room for the kidnapped slaves to even stand up. To make things worse, there was no light and minimal ventilation. Kidnapped slaves wouldn’t have access to a bathroom or food. They’d cruelly be cramped in this dark hole until the slave ship came to port which would take them to the Americas. Some wouldn’t be able to straighten their backs and some would be blind by the time the ship came to port. Minimal food would be dropped into the dungeon to keep the slaves alive.
Europeans brought Christianity to West Africa and of course they built a church in the castle. It’s hard to believe that one of the holes where they’d drop minimal food into a slave dungeon was built into the church. As a result, Europeans were praying to god in the same place they were committing sins.
All that separates the church from a slave dungeon is a small hole. This is covered in the church and only opened the throw food down to the slaves below. Only enough food was thrown down to keep the slaves alive. The Europeans didn’t want the slaves to have any strength to put up any kind of resistance.
Spiral Staircase to the Slave Dungeons
When you first enter Osu Castle you do feel its a relaxing and innocent place. However, take a walk down the spiral staircase to the slave dungeons and you soon get a realization of the nasty history of this castle.
Door of No Return
After spending months in the dark dungeons with little food, slaves would discover if they were blind as they hit the incredibly bright beach. Small boats would be waiting on shore to take them to the slave ship. As many slaves as possible would be crammed onto each boat with no safety considerations. Many slaves had never seen water before and could panic therefore capsizing the boat and drowning even before reaching the slave ship. This ship would take them to another continent against their will. Many more would die during the crossing of the Atlantic.
Guest Room of Queen Elizabeth II
As the slave trade ended, the Gold Coast became a British colony. In 1957, the independent nation of Ghana was born. The newly independant Ghana welcomed Queen Elizabeth II as a guest. The Queen stayed in a specially made room within the Osu Castle complex. To this day, the Queens room has been maintained in its original state (with the addition of an air conditioning unit).
Jerry John Rawlings Swimming Pool
Jerry John Rawlings was a military leader as well as President of Ghana throughout 1981 to 2001. His base was within Osu Castle. It was Jerry John Rawlings who added a swimming pool to the castle with stunning views over the ocean.
Jerry John Rawlings Office
The office of Jerry John Rawlings has been maintained and visitors are welcome to sit at his desk. An interesting fact about the office is that it overlooks Black Star Square and the city of Ghana. He believed that if he was in charge then he should be able to see the capital city of the country he was in charge of. Lastly, Jerry John Rawlings is definitely a top Instagram spot in Ghana.
Osu Castle Gardens
The well kept gardens of Osu Castle feature trees planted in honor of visiting presidents. Photographed above is the tree planted in honor of Nelson Mandela.
Jerry John Rawlings Customized Vehicle
How do African Presidents travel around their city and country? In a customized bullet proof vehicle of course. Osu Gardens is home to 3 customized vehicles of former Ghanaian presidents. Visitors are welcome to explore these cars and even sit in them and pose for photos.
Respectfully Visit Osu Castle
The history of Osu Castle is terrible therefore be respectful of the past throughout your visit. It’s highly likely your guide will tell you about many nasty things which happened here over the years. He is telling the truth, this is the history of this part of the world.