amon kotei
Nii Amon Kotei

A look at the dailies reminds me of a retired farmer who told me, years ago, that long before websites and complications like common directional policies by government, the toast of the people was reading about patriotic pieces in the few news prints available.

It is against this background a historic icon, Nii Amon Kotei, designer of the National Coat of Arms of Ghana is eulogized.


Nii Amon Kotei, a Ghanaian artist (sculpture, painter and musician) and a trained surveyor was one of Ghana’s finest artists.  Kotei, was born on May 24, 1915, at La, near Accra, and belonged to the Ga tribe (one of the many tribes in Ghana).

In his early academic life, he studied under a scholarship at Achimota School and later received a scholarship to study art at the London School of Printing and Graphic Art from 1949-1952.  During World War II, Amon Kotei fought for the Royal West African Frontier Force and also worked in the Cartographic Division of the Army. With his background in arts, he drew maps and plans for use by soldiers on the war front.

Amon Kotei later taught at Achimota School and as Independence Day drew near, the need for a coat of arms distinct from that of the imperial power, Great Britain became quintessential. To give a distinctive local flavor to the work, experienced Amon Kotei was asked to put up a sketch for consideration.

For his motives, the painter had the elephant and palm tree. After months of hard work, he finally completed the drawing and after comparing it with other Coats of Arms, he was convinced that it was one of the best, a view shared by Cpt. Hamilton, the British officer who liaised between him and the Osu, Castle. Amon Kotei’s piece was approved without hesitation and presented on March 4, 1957.

Amon Kotei died on October 17, 2011. He received several awards including the State Honour of Grand Medal, Civil Division, Coat of Arms Design that was presented to him on Friday, March 7, 1997 by then president Jerry John Rawlings.

Coat of Arms

The National Coat of Arms, found on all government official letter heads, is composed of a shield, divided into four quarters by a green St. George’s Cross, rimmed with gold. It symbolizes government sanction and it is found at important Government places like the Osu Castle, the Courts and other government offices.

Ghana National Coat of Arms

Crossed Linguists’ Staff and Ceremonial Sword on a Blue Background This is positioned at the top left-hand quarter represents local administration

A Heraldic Castle on a Heraldic Sea With A Light Positioned at the top right-hand quarter representing national government.

A Cocoa Tree is at the Bottom left-hand quarter depicting the agricultural wealth of the country

A Mine Shaft located at the dottom right-hand quarter.It represents the mineral wealth of the country

A Gold Lion is also positioned at the centre of the Green St George’s Cross showing the continuing link between Ghana and the Commonwealth.

Black Five-Pointed Star Rimmed with Gold Standing on the Wreath of Red, Gold and Green Colours With easy identification it’s on top of the shield meaning the lone star of African Freedom.

Two Eagles, Around Each Of Whose Neck Hangs A Black Star Suspended From A Ribbon Of Ghana’s Colours – Red, Gold And Green This can be found supporting the shield on the left and right hand side. It signifies a protector with strength, very clear and attentive eyes keeping watch over the country.

The motto FREEDOM AND JUSTICE is found under the shield. It represents national aspirations.

Recent Criticisms

In recent times critics have raised concerns about the use of a castle in Ghana’s national emblem – the Coat of Arms saying it may no longer be tenable, due to the fact that the Osu Castle is no longer the seat of Government.

However it has not been changed and remains what was originally produced by Amon Kotei.