Fifty-eight years to the day, Dr Kwame Nkrumah and his comrades announced that Ghana gained independence from Britain.
There was so much hope, joy and celebration. Victory was sweet, but has the “Warrior King” been victorious?
Nine years after this momentous day on 24th February 1966, the Nkrumah government was overthrown in a military coup instigated by Colonel Kotoka, Major Afrifa, and Inspector General of Police J.W.K. Harley, with a little help from the American CIA.
Usually independence days are met with celebrations but unfortunately when ‘celebrating’ those on the African continent; they induce more questions upon reflection:
Why can’t Ghanaians get the government they deserve to act responsibly for the good of the WHOLE country?
How can Ghana be an oil producing nation, the world’s second-biggest cocoa grower and the second largest gold producer in Africa and not be able to supply its citizens with a constant flow of electricity?
Why is it difficult to get clean water (even in some hospitals)?
Answers to these and related questions can be complex; then there is the predicted rhetoric of “well we’ve seen improvement…. the fastest growing economy…” etc. Unfortunately the chronic problems cast a shadow over the achievements, as we stand in 2015 celebrating another Ghanaian Independence Day.
If you are celebrating Ghana independence, I’m not trying to kill your vibe…honest! I just get a bit more pensive around this time.
Independence means different things to different people; being a ‘British-Ghanaian’ it’s easy to look at this African country through European lenses. However, I still feel that Ghanaians shouldn’t feel ‘fortunate’ for basic things like electricity and clean running water in 2015.
Independence Day doesn’t just bring to mind Ghanaians in Ghana but those of us outside. A program focussing on Ghanaians in London who cannot speak their ethnic languages airs today 6th March at 7pm OH TV (SKY Channel 199 and Vision TV via Freeview Channel 24).
We may be independent, but are some of us actually lost in translation?
I couldn’t end this post without an excerpt from Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s speech on Independence Day, 6th March 1957 – you know I love my quotes!
“At long last, the battle has ended!
And thus Ghana, your beloved country is free forever.
And yet again I want to take the opportunity to thank the chiefs and people of this country, the youth, the farmers, the women who have so nobly fought and won this battle.
Also I want to thank the valiant ex-service men who have so co-operated with me in this mighty task of freeing our country from foreign rule and imperialism.
And as I pointed out… I made it quite clear that from now on – today – we must change our attitudes, our minds, we must realise that from now on, we are no more a colonial but a free and independent people.
But also, as I pointed out, that also entails hard work.
…. That the new African is ready to fight his own battles and show that after all, the black man is capable of managing his own affairs.
We are going to demonstrate to the world, to the other nations, that we are prepared to lay our own foundation.
The full speech can be found here.
Happy Independence Day Ghana – 58 years and counting!
P.S. The British Library is developing an exhibition about West Africa, showcasing the region’s written heritage and oral literature over the last three centuries and want YOUR opinions! Click here.
Always from a colourful perspective
Pictures: Google Images, Ghana Embassy.