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 [pronounced in an Anglophone style as “Ee-gwer,” with the accent on the second syllable, which rhymes with ‘where’].
Founded by the by fantes in the 10th century, Cape Coast grew around Cape Coast Castle, now a World Heritage Site. It was converted to a castle by the Dutch in 1637, 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 Accra became their capital in 1877. Cape Coast was also where most of the slaves were held before their journey on the Middle Passage.
The Cape Coast Slave Castle
The town’s symbol is a crab 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, Ghana. View of the fishing fleet
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 AME Secondary School (AGGREY)
* Ghana National College (GHANACOLL)
* Holy Child Secondary
* Cape Coast Technical Institute (CAPETECH).
* Cape Coast Polytechnic (C-POLY).