Cape Coast, or Cabo Corso, is the capital of the Central Region of Ghana and is also the capital city of the Fante (Fanti) people, or Mfantsefo. It is situated 165 km west of Accra on the Gulf of Guinea. It has a population of 82,291 (2000 census). From the 16th century the city has changed hands between the British, the Portuguese, the Swedish, the Danish and the Dutch. The city’s Fante name is Oguaa.
Founded by the Portuguese in the 15th century, Cape Coast grew around Cape Coast Castle, now a World Heritage Site. It was converted to a castle by the Dutch in 1650, then expanded by the Swedes in 1652 and captured by the British in 1664. The British based their Gold Coast operations in the town until they were expelled because of severe opposition to the “window tax” in 1877.Accra became their state. Cape Coast was also where most of the slaves were held before their journey on the Middle Passage.
The Cape Coast Slave Castle
The crab is the town’s mascot and a statue of one lies in the city centre. Fort William, built in 1820, was an active lighthouse from 1835 to the 1970s, while Fort Victoria was built in 1702. Other attractions include a series of Asafo Shrines, Cape Coast Centre for National Culture, the Oguaa Fetu Afahye harvest festival and, since 1992, the biennial Panafest theatre festival. The city is located 30km south of Kakum National Park, one of the most diverse and best preserved national parks in West Africa. Cape Coast also boast of being the first location where soccer was played at in Ghana and Ebusua Dwarfs FC is the darling Club of Cape Coasters.
It is believed that U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama considers Cape Coast as her ancestral home], and on 11 July 2009, she took the rest of the first family to tour Cape Coast Castle as part of her husband’s trip to Ghana.
Cape Coast is the seat of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Ghana’s leading university in teaching and research. Cape Vars, as it is popularly called, lies on a hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The city also boasts some of Ghana’s finest secondary and technical schools:
Wesley Girls’ High School
St. Augustine College
Adisadel College (ADISCO)
Aggrey Memorial Senior High School (AGGREY)
Ghana National College (GHANACOLL)
Holy Child Secondary
Cape Coast Technical Institute (CAPETECH).
Cape Coast Polytechnic (C-POLY).
Notable Cape Coasters
J. E. Casely Hayford 1866-1930; Author, Lawyer, Politician and Educator.
Rev Dr Philip Quarcoo 1741-1816; First African Clergy of the Church of England.
Dr Samuel George Duker 1905-1994; LRCP Edin LRCS Edin LRFPS Glasg; Pioneer Physician
Hon Robert Hutchison 1828-1863; Statesman, Soldier, Philanthropist.
Jacob Wilson-Sey alias Kwaa Bonyin 1832-1902; Millionaire, Philanthropist, Founding Member of the Aboriginal Rights Protection Society.
Hon John Sarbah 1834-1892; Educationist, Merchant, Industrialist.
Rev Mark Christian Hayford 1863-1935; Author, Founder of Gold Coast Baptist Church and the Christian Army of the Gold Coast.
Rev Samuel Richard Brew Attoh-Ahuma 1863-1921; Clergy, Nationalist, Pioneer Pan Africanist.
John Mensah-Sarbah 1864-1910; First Ghanaian Barrister, Author, Published Fanti Customary Laws.
Charles Emmanuel Graves 1884-1929; Musicologist, Composer.
Sir James Henly Coussey KBE 1895-1958; High Court Judge, Chairman of the Coussey Commission, President of the West Africa Court of Appeal.
Kofi Bentsi-Enchill 1895-1948; Textiles Tycoon, Philanthropist
Dr Henry Mercer-Ricketts 1895-1980; MB ChB Edin; Pioneer Physician
Berempon Kwadwo 1701-1777; Merchant, Founder of various settlements.
King John Aggery Essien 1809-1899; King of Cape Coast, Pioneer Pan-Africanist.
Chief James Robert Thompson 1810-18-86; Pioneer Educationist.
Hon Francis Chapman Grant 1823-1889; Founding Member of the Fanti Confederation. Cousin of Ulysses Grant.
Thomas Frederic Edward Jones 1850-1927; Petitioned Queen Victoria about Lands Bill.
Hon James Cheetham 1834-1902; Merchant Member of the Legislative Council.
Rev Andrew William Parker 1840-1912; Conscientious Nationalist, Fought in the Ashanti Expedition.
Joseph Peter Brown 1843-1932; Patriot, Statesman.
Prince James Hutton Brew 1844-1915; First Ghanaian Qualified Solicitor.
Henry Van Hein 1858-1928; President of the Aboriginal Rights Protection Society
Hon William Ward-Brew OBE 1878-1943; Lawyer, VP of Aboriginal Rights Protection Society.
George Edward Moore 1879-1950; Recipient of the Ashanti Medal, Executive Member of the Aboriginal Rights Protection Society.
John Coleman de-Graft Johnson 1884-1956; Secretary of Native Affairs, Anthropologist.
Prophet Jemisimiham Jehu-Appiah 1892-1948; Founder of Musama Disco Christo Church in Africa.
Hon Nana Amenfi III CBE 1892-1951; Nationalist.
Hon Jacob Kwesi Bart-Plange 1925-1952; Politician, Youngest Member of the Gold Coast Legislative Council.
William Esuman Gwira Kobina Sekyi 1892-1956; Lawyer, Politician, Author.
Peter Turkson, 1948- Cardinal-Archbishop of Cape Coast