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    What You Need To Know About Ghana’s Independence From Britain On March 6, 1957 As It Turns 64 Years Old


    “History is a people’s memory, and without a memory, man is demoted to the lower animals,” says late African-American human rights activist, Malcolm X. Malcolm X, born on February 21, 1965, was best known for his involvement with civil rights movements such as Black Nationalism, Pan-Africanism and was assassinated at age 39.

    Today, Saturday March 6, 2021, marks 64 years since Ghana gained independence from Britain.

    It would be recalled that on March 6, 1957, Ghana became an independent nation.

    The country, then known as the Gold Coast, had been governed by Britain during the colonial era until 1957.

    Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, founder of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) became the first democratically elected President of Ghana after the country gained independence.

    Ghana was the first to gain independence from European colonial masters.

    Prior to the colonial era that spanned several decades, Ghana was made up of a number of independent kingdoms, namely the Gonja and Dagomba in the north, Ashanti in the interior, and the Fanti states along the coast.

    How it all started

    It would be recalled that the events that resulted in Independence for Ghana included among other things, a statement to the House of Commons, in 1956.

    The statement to the House of Commons was sent by the Colonial Secretary, Alan Lennox-Boyd. The statement indicated that the Gold Coast would be allowed to govern itself within the Commonwealth, provided a general election was held in the country.

    According to the historic statement, “The new West African state will incorporate the Gold Coast, Ashanti, the Northern Territories and Togoland, which recently voted to integrate with the Gold Coast.”

    The statement went on to set the target date for independence at  March 6, 1957.

    In the statement, Lennox-Boyd, announced to the House of Commons that the fledgling state will be named Ghana.

    According to the statement, “Ghana will be the first black African nation to become independent from Britain, but there are fears of internal fighting between various tribes in the region over a new constitution. For this reason, the minister (Komla Gbedemah) is insisting on elections for a new legislature that will then be asked to approve self-governance.”

    Nkrumah’s return from UK

    Following the announcement made in the statement, Dr Nkrumah returned to Ghana from the United Kingdom (UK).

    Prior to the announcement, the Gold Coast, had remained a colony of Britain since 1901.

    Following World II, nationalist activities in the Gold Coast began to intensify.

    Dr. Nkrumah emerged subsequently as the leading nationalist figure.

    General elections were held in the Gold Coast after UK granted a new constitution which had been drafted by Africans.

    The Convention People’s Party won the general elections, enabling Dr. Nkrumah to become a prime minister.

    Who was Nkrumah and what was his role in Ghana’s Independence struggle?

    Dr. Nkrumah was born on September 21, 1909. He was an indigene of Nzema in the Western Region of Gold Coast now Ghana.

    Dr. Nkrumah was one of the leading figures of  Pan-Africanism during his time.

    He studied at the Black College of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.

    During his stay in Pennsylvania, Dr. Nkrumah became involved in the Pan-African movement in the United States between the 1930s and 1940s. He was a leading member of the African Students Association, the Council on African Affairs, as well as other organisations.

    At the end of World War II in 1945, he departed the United States. He later played a crucial role in convening the historic Fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester, England. The Manchester Congress was a gathering that many credit with laying the foundation for the mass struggles for independence during the 1940s and 1950s.

    In late 1947, Dr. Nkrumah was offered a position in the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) as an organiser.

    Dr. Nkrumah became popular among the masses after he was imprisoned with other leaders of the UGCC for supposedly inciting unrest among veterans, workers and farmers in the colony.

    He later fell out with the UGCC after establishing the Committee on Youth Organisation (CYO). CYO became the best organised segment of the UGCC.

    Why the break up between Nkrumah and UGCC?

    Dr. Nkrumah fell out with the UGCC after its leadership refused his demands for immediate political independence for the Gold Coast.

    Later on the 12th of June, 1949, the CYO and Dr. Nkrumah formed Convention People’s Party (CPP) in Accra. Tens of thousands of people attended the launch of CPP.

    The name Ghana

    Ghana as a Republic, derived its name from the medieval West African Ghana Empire which became known in Europe and Arabia as the Ghana Empire after the title of its Emperor, the Ghana.

    The medieval Ghana Empire, accordingly, appeared to have broken up following the 1076 conquest by the Almoravid, General Abu-Bakr Ibn-Umar. However, a reduced kingdom continued to exist after Almoravid rule ended, and the kingdom was later incorporated into subsequent Sahelian empires, such as the Mali Empire several centuries later.

    According to historical documents, the medieval Ghana Empire was geographically approximately 500 miles (800 km) north and west of the modern state of Ghana. The ancient empire was reported to be controlled territories in the area of the Sénégal River and east towards the Niger rivers, in modern Senegal, Mauritania and Mali.

    Early Independence Days

    In the early days of Ghana’s Independence, then President Nkrumah, felt it was an opportunity to liberate the rest of Africa from colonial rule.

    Dr. Nkrumah also viewed Ghana’s Independence as an opportunity for the establishment of a socialist African unity under his leadership.

    To be certain, in July 1960 after Ghana gained a republican status, the country  became identified with a single political party (the CPP), with Dr Nkrumah, as president.

    While Dr Nkrumah was in Beijing in February 1966, the Ghana  army and police leaders rose against him, and his regime was replaced by a National Liberation Council chaired by Lieut. Gen. Joseph A. Ankrah.

    Gen. Ankrah overhauled the Government machinery and conservative financial policies introduced by Dr. Nkrumah.

    He however failed in his capacity as President of the Republic to redeem a promise to restore parliamentary democracy.

    As a result, in 1969 he (Gen. Ankrah) was overthrown by brigadier Akwasi Amankwaa Afrifa, a principal leader of the coup. Subsequently,  a constituent assembly produced a constitution for a second republic, and a general election was held in August 1969.

    The 1969 coup was considered a substantial victory for the Progress Party which was led by Kofi Busia. Busia was a university professor and an opponent of Dr Nkrumah.

    The Afrifa-led coup paved way for Busia to become a Prime Minister of Ghana, and Edward Akufo-Addo, a former Chief Justice, was chosen a year later as President.  The late Edward Akufo-Addo, is the father of Nana Akufo-Addo, the current President of Ghana.

    Return to Democratic Rule

    Ghana continued to suffer series of coups until the early 1990s when its then military leader, the late former President Jerry John Rawlings, accepted to return the country to Democratic Rule.

    Mr. Rawlings acceptance ushered in the 4th Republic, and the 1992 Constitution. The 4th Republic remains the longest period in the political history of Ghana where there has been no overthrow of a democratically-elected President.

    Under the 4th Republic, eight parliaments have been inaugurated and five Presidents namely incumbent President Nana Akufo-Addo, former Presidents John Agyekum Kufuor, John Evans Atta Mills, John Mahama and Jerry John Rawlings, have all served and duly handed over power peacefully.

    President’s declaration

    With today being a Saturday and weekend, President Nana Akufo-Addo has in accordance with the Public Holidays Act declared Monday, March 8, 2021, as a public holiday.

    The President made the declaration through the Interior Ministry of Ghana.

    In a statement sighted by African Entertainment on its official website, the Ministry said the declaration was due to the fact that Ghana’s Independence Day which is a Statutory Public Holiday falls on a weekend.

    “The general public is hereby notified that Saturday, 6th March, 2021 marks Independence Day which is a Statutory Public Holiday,” it said.

    “However, in view of the fact that 6th March, 2021 falls on a Saturday, His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Ghana, has by Executive Instrument (E.I), in accordance with section 2 of the Public Holidays and Commemorative Days Act, 2001 (Act 601) declared Monday, 8th March, 2021 as a Public Holiday and should be observed as such throughout the country,” the Ministry said in its release signed by the Minister-designate for the Interior, Ambrose Dery.

    Note: some historical information were sourced from Britannica, Wikipedia and Commonwealth in compiling the above report

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