The people of the Ashanti Region are noted for their strong attachment to their heritage and customs and verbose nature. One of their major pride is their capital city, Kumasi, a city once called by the Queen of England as the Garden City of West Africa.
In 1961, when Queen Elizabeth first visited Kumasi, she was greeted with evergreen flora and melodious rhymes from the aves these flora provided home for. It is quite obvious that the Queen had inwardly done a comparative analysis of Kumasi with other cities in West Africa she had visited and could conclude without any shred of doubt that Kumasi was indeed the home of nature.
We are told that Kumasi was an epitome of a natural green environment where nature co-existed with humanity in unison. The diversity of plant life that was found in places like Danyame, Manhyia, Asafo, Amakom and Bantanma provided a more or less garden-like landscape which was artistically startling. Prominent among Kumasi’s aesthetic appearance was the wonderful trees of different sizes and shapes that decorated her high streets. The trees formed canopies which provided natural shade and offered protection to both residents and visitor from the scorching sun in the afternoon.
Queen Elizabeth might have reached her conclusion in naming Kumasi as the Garden City perhaps due to the parks and gardens that surrounded the city in those days. Apart from the Parks and Gardens at South Suntreso, which is a state institution, many other parks spanned across the city. These parks did not only provide greenery but also served as meeting points for the aged and middle-aged who met to enjoy indoor games and socialized. They were spots that enhanced all forms of exercises and reduced tension, especially among the unemployed youth and the aged.
During the Queen’s visit to Ghana, perhaps, the only place she could relate to nature was in Kumasi that perpetually explains why she called Kumasi the Garden City of Africa. The people of Kumasi from that time even till now pride themselves with that accolade but will the queen still call Kumasi the Garden City should she come for a second visit today? Just Thirty Eight (38) years down the lane and we cannot glory in the pride of greenery and Kumasi as the Garden City again.
The gardens that gave Kumasi the accolade ‘Garden City’, the Adehyeman Gardens, directly opposite the Kejetia Lorry terminal and in the heart of Kumasi, readily comes to mind when recounting how useful some social centres were in those days. But what is the state of the gardens now?
Fast forward to today and the city is dried and devoid of trees and greenery. The trees that marked the lateral boundaries of the streets have been cut down and even where they exits they only act to provide surfaces of attachment for posters and advertisement boards. The parks have now been turned to markets and lorry stations. Kumasi could not develop sustainably as there was no plan for the future as the population of the city increased. The once Garden City is now desolate; as desolate as a desert without an oasis!
The inauguration of the Rattray Park in 2015 was a news the people of Kumasi welcomed with alacrity alas, the political brouhaha surrounding it made their interest dwindled. Three years after its inauguration, Daily graphic through a report by Kwadwo Baffoe Donkor described the state of the park as distressed.
In an interview with Daily Graphic, as reported by George Ernest Asare some 6 years ago, the then Medical Superintendent of the Sofoline Hospital, Dr Kwabena Opoku-Adusei, related Health to the total wellbeing of humans with evergreen environment as a component to reach this not just the absence of diseases or infirmity.
Dr. Opoku Adusei, therefore, challenged the city authorities to come out with a meaningful layout and recreational sites as the metropolis expanded.
It should be noted that not only would reintroducing the parks and gardens into the Kumasi metropolis restore its accolade as the Garden City of West Africa, but could also create a conducive atmosphere for meaningful exercise among the public for them to enjoy healthy lifestyles.
The President of the Eco Warriors Movement, Mr Otuo-Akyampong Boakye has also on several platforms reiterated the need to plant trees along the streets in Kumasi. The Street Planting project of the Eco Warriors Movement should be given the needed attention, partnership and financial support to help bring back “the garden” in Kumasi.
George Ernest Asare’s article; “Kumasi: The Garden City without Garden” posted on graphic.com some 6 years ago should have been a wake-up call for Kumasi Cities Authorities to address the situation. Political leaders have failed us so far as the struggle to regreen Kumasi is concerned, as they have not shown enough commitment and appreciation for the value of the flora and natural aesthetics that span across the city so as to maintain them. It is about high time the people of Kumasi take up the challenge ourselves to restore our environment. We need to take action now and act. If you share a similar burden like I do just reach out to me as I have already started the action by the street planting project.
It is time traditional leaders and Non profit organizations take up the challenge to bring back our Garden City.
President, Eco Warriors Movement