By Prudence Minayo
Africa is home to some of the grandest presidential palaces or state houses, as they are referred to in some countries. When it comes to the construction of presidential addresses, it seems skill, art, creativity and money was not spared at all. A good number of these presidential homes were built in the colonial period and underwent a series of renovations while others were built after the colonial government left.
In no particular order, here are the top 10 most beautiful presidential homes.
Presidential Palace, Khartoum, Sudan
Sudan has two presidential residences, the old one and the new one. The old one is equally imposing and was constructed under the guidance of a British governor with the new modern one built by the Chinese. Sudan’s new presidential Palace was inaugurated 139 years to the day that British governor of Khartoum, Charles Gordon, was beheaded on the steps of the old palace. The Palace was opened on 26th January 2015, the exact day the governor was murdered.
One thing for sure is that both palaces are adorned with invaluable relics, antiques, and beautiful flowers located on Blue Nile. Looking at the two magnificent palaces, it is hard to tell which one is the best as both are enormous and beautifully designed.
Union Buildings, Pretoria, South Africa
The Union Buildings form the official seat of the South African government and also houses the offices of the president of South Africa. The large gardens of the buildings are nestled between Government Avenue, Vermeulen Street East, Church Street, the R204 and Blackwood street. They occupy the highest point of Pretoria and constitute a South African National Heritage site. The designs of the building were largely determined by the nature of the site. Designed by sir Herbert Baker, he envisaged identical wings of rectangular office block, each representing one of the two official languages.
Baker wanted the buildings to be built of imported granite, but any idea of using anything but South African stone for the most important government building of the new state was unthinkable to those who commissioned it.
The building is surrounded by beautifully terraced gardens of indigenous plants. Various monuments adorn the expansive lawns, such as, the Delville Wood War Memorial, and a statue of the first prime minister of South Africa. The lawn in front of the buildings are often the location for public gathering.
State House of Windhoek, Namibia
Located in the Auasblick suburb, it was constructed by Mansudae Overseas Project of North Korea from 2002 to 2008. The estimated cost was NAD 400 million. The site covers 25 hectares and is bordered by a 2km long-star fence, there are dark glassed towers and large guard rooms.
The administration area consists of the office of the president, the office of cabinet members and 200 staff offices of the president. There is also a guest house for visiting head of states and two helipads are located opposite the main gate.
The park-like grounds are aligned with animal replicas and at the entrance hall are paintings of the first Namibian cabinet.
The old State House was located at Robert Mugabe avenue in Windhoek CBD and is currently the residence and office of the prime minister.
State House Uganda
There are two State Houses in Uganda one in Nakasero, Kamoka and the other in Entebbe. The palace situated in Entebbe, 40km South of Kampala, was built even before independence. It was built to house the former colonial governor who was the de-facto ruler of the country. Uganda’s first president Sir Edward Muteesa did not use it as his residence since he could not leave his various palaces. Milton Obote occupied it in 1966.
It was renovated in 2007 and was expanded from 1,584 square meters to 17,472 meters squared. It is the dominant structure to the left, before Entebee town as one leaves the airport.
It has a number of amenities including offices for various people, health clubs, conference halls, guest wings and recreational facilities. It also has a conference hall that can sit 500 delegates.
Abdeen Palace, Cairo, Egypt
This is a historic palace that was built for the former ruling monarch and the royal family of Egypt. It is located above Qasr el-Nil in Eastern Downtown. Build on the site if a small mansion owned by Abdeen Bey, Abdeen Palace was named after him and is considered one of the most sumptuous palaces in the world in terms of its adornments, paintings, and a large number of clocks scattered in the parlors and wings, most of which are decorated with pure gold.
It was inaugurated in 1874 after 10 years of construction and it was designed by French architect Leon Rousseau along with a large number of Egyptian, Italian, French and European decorators.
The Palace garden was added in 1921 by Sultan Fuad I on an area of 20 feddans. The cost of building the Palace reached 700,000 Egyptian pounds in addition to 2 million Egyptian pounds for its furnishing. It has about 500 suites.
Presidential Palace, Dakar, Senegal
It was commissioned in 1902 by Gaston Doumergue, the minister of colonies at the time. It was initially built to accommodate the Governor General of French West Africa. The neoclassical building topped out after five years of construction and was inaugurated in 1907.
The building underwent several renovations giving it its current shape with monumental and understated lines as architecture and technology evolved over time. The edifice was modernized by high commissioner Paul Bechard, tenant of the residence from 1947 to 1951.
It opened its doors to the first president of the Republic of Senegal, Leopold Sedar Senghor, who occupied it on 5th September 1960.
The Flagstaff House/Jubilee House, Accra, Ghana
Previously known as the Flagstaff House, the Jubilee House, is the presidential Palace that serves as office and residence of the president. It is built on the site of a building that was constructed and used for administrative purposes by the British Gold Coast government. It was renamed Golden Jubilee House or simply Jubilee House by president Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo in March 2018.
The original budget for the reconstruction was $30 million and a grant from the Indian government. However, BBC journalist David Amanor reported that construction may have cost between $45 and $50m.
Presidential Palace, Nouakchott, Mauritania
It is located in the center of the city and is by far the most prominent landmark in the capital, set in extensive grounds and gardens. It lies just to the Northwest of Lebanese International University, adjacent to the US embassy and was built by the Chinese. It is surrounded by beautiful extensive gardens.
Iavoloha Palace, Antananarivo, Madagascar
It is situated 15km to the South from the capital city and was modelled on the Roca of Antananarivo. It was built in the 1970s by North Korea for free. Situated at the base of a hilltop and providing panoramic views of the surrounding, its beauty and grandeur is indeed a sight to behold.
The Unity Palace, Yaoundé, Cameroon
The Unity Palace is a striking work of art that is sure to take many people’s breath away. Built in the 1980s, the palace has been the home of the president of Cameroon Paul Vita since the 80s. Its most prominent features include the towering pillars that hold its walls, pleasant surroundings and lots of greenery around it.