By: Alhaji U Njai
If you are ever in Accra, a day out at the beautiful Aburi Botanical Gardens is a must. Located 20 miles from Accra city, the 64.8 hectares botanical garden was opened in 1890. Legend has it that the garden was founded by Governor William Brandford-Griffith and Dr. John Farrell Easmon, a Sierra Leonean Medical Doctor. So a little bit of Sierra Leone here in the Gold Coast, which makes sense giving Sierra Leone was the citadel of British Colonial West Africa. The botanical garden has played a key role in cocoa production in Ghana, by supplying cheap seedlings and information of scientific farming methods. Likewise for Rubber production and numerous spices including nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric, shear butter, several ornamentals, Ficus leprieuri, and many other species introduced to Ghana. The garden is also home to an amazing hollowed out Ceiba pentandra (Cotton Tree), whose intestinal parts has been eaten up by the parasitic Ficus plant. You can literally walk or climb on the inside of the tree; it feels like a gigantic tower. Apart from the beautiful lawns, divers tree species, and environment that make up the garden, Aburi is very famous for the Aburi Accord or declaration in January 4-5, 1967 that saw the cessation of the Nigerian Biafra war. The delegates from both the Federal Government of Nigeria and delegates from the Eastern Region of Col. Chukwuemeka Ojukwo met in one of the landmark buildings of the Aburi Gardens, and vowed not to use force to settle the Nigerian crisis. The atmosphere at the meeting was said to be cordial, which I’m sure was augmented by the serene and peaceful atmosphere of the garden. Although, Col. Ojukwu is said to have been absent, the signing of the accord started the process of peace. The Aburi Botanical gardens snaking through the lush Akwapim hills is magnificently beautiful and a place to align the mind, body and spirit.