- For cities to be identified as beautiful, certain characteristics must run through. These include: ...
Written By Doreen Hammond - All over the world, nations big and small take pride in the beauty of their capital cities.
I once chanced upon an argument among people of different nationalities, each claiming theirs was the most beautiful.
Of course I did not take part for obvious reasons.
It may be difficult to pinpoint the most beautiful city in the world, for as the saying goes, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.
This notwithstanding, most regular world travellers attest to the beauty of cities like Lisbon, Rome, Amsterdam, Paris and London .
In Africa, Johannesburg, Marrakech, Abuja, Tunis, Addis Ababa and Kigali are noted as beautiful cities albeit by African standards.
For cities to be identified as beautiful, certain characteristics must run through.
These include: orderliness, which means that buildings should be uniform in appearance and layout - to a degree.
There must also be visible life, meaning that we must see people walking the streets and working in shops and there must be places for relaxation, such as, recreational facilities and parks and historic monuments.
A city must be Compact to be considered beautiful.
It must not sprawl and land must be well utilised.
There must be a balance of large and small streets which should allow for easy access and travel.
And of course, a beautiful city must be clean with a good drainage and waste management system.
Sadly, in the case of Ghana, it appears that we fall short in almost all the indicators mentioned above.
None of our cities, including Accra, boasts of good architecture, a well-thought through plan, a good drainage system and a good road network.
There is a lack of harmony among motorists as cars, motorbikes, bicycles and pedestrians struggle for movement.
To make matters worse, parts of the roads have been turned into mechanics’ shops and city authorities look on helplessly.
The medians of our streets are always bushy and our beaches serve as places of convenience for some city dwellers.
Clearly, this is an indictment on us as a people, considering our place in the history of Africa.
But the reality is that beautiful cities do not drop from space, it takes political will, sound planning, commitment, a good budget and an enforcement of regulations to make cities beautiful.
Regrettably, we take comfort in comparing Accra to neighbouring cities, who are still suffering the effects of protracted wars like Freetown in Sierra Leone, Monrovia in Liberia and Niamey in Niger as we do in all endeavours of life.
Unfortunately, such comparison does not motivate us to excel or do better.
It is a fact that in the past, some attempts to beautify the capital were made to the extent that a whole ministry for beautification was set up. But with the lack of a political will and a requisite budget, it fizzled out without much impact, if any at all.
The sad result is that, our beloved Accra remains drab, a driver’s nightmare, sprawling out of control, inundated with unapproved structures, noisy, stinky and lawless.
As if not enough, the city is poorly lit at night resulting in security issues.
To reverse this embarrassing trend, we need to rethink our land use in the city.
The free for all, anything goes attitude must change.
At a recent visit to the Accra Digital Centre, I was saddened by the use of a prime land to put up single buildings.
All those buildings could have been housed in one high rise to maximise land use and beautify the place.
Unlike other modern cities, Accra also lacks a mass transport system. A reliable bus or rail has eluded Accra and its open drainage has also not helped as they serve as receptacle for all manner of refuse including human waste.
Thankfully, the President seems to have a vision for the beautification of Accra as he announced at a ceremony some time ago. The challenge is that beyond the words, not much work has been seen taking off.
Taflatse, has it ever occurred to us that the Odaw river is our version of the River Thames in the UK or the Potomac in the US?
As a people we seem to have a knack for destroying rather than building.
The drift is that even if God made you the most beautiful human, if you don’t complement God’s effort with personal hygiene, a good haircut and neat clothes to match, this beauty will remain one that only God sees and not mortals.
We need a national effort to make Accra count among the beautiful cities on the continent at least, if we can’t make it on the international front.