Parrot Memories Fade as Ghana’s Colonial Architecture Swept Away

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As property developers tap into high demand for residential rental space by building luxury high-rises and gated communities for expatriates, tens if not hundreds of colonial buildings are lost without a trace
As property developers tap into high demand for residential rental space by building luxury high-rises and gated communities for expatriates, tens if not hundreds of colonial buildings are lost without a trace / © Pauline Bax/Bloomberg
As property developers tap into high demand for residential rental space by building luxury high-rises and gated communities for expatriates, tens if not hundreds of colonial buildings are lost without a trace
As property developers tap into high demand for residential rental space by building luxury high-rises and gated communities for expatriates, tens if not hundreds of colonial buildings are lost without a trace / © Pauline Bax/Bloomberg

Elizabeth Biney remembers as a little girl watching monkeys play in her yard and parrots flit above the sloping roof of her colonial house in the Ghanaian capital, Accra.

“There were birds all over the place,” Biney, now 58, recalled in an interview. “There were so many trees you couldn’t see the sky.”

Today her home in the Ridge neighborhood is one of the last century-old houses built by the British colonial administration. Developers have invaded the area, chopped down the trees and built bland three-story complexes of apartments with rents of as much as $7,000 a month set behind electric fences.

As property developers tap into high demand for residential rental space by building luxury high-rises and gated communities for expatriates, tens if not hundreds of colonial buildings are being lost without a trace.

“Development is decimating our neighborhoods,” said Joe Osae-Addo, an architect and chairman of the ArchiAfrika foundation that gathers Africa-based architects and designers. “There’s pressure on these properties, on the land, and families are very eager to get rid of these colonial buildings because there’s no government policy to protect them.” ….

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