There is this beautiful Ghanaian proverb which can literarily be interpreted to this effect: “A newly hatched chick that survives will not lack the ability to grow feathers.” It means “when there is life, there is hope.”
Fifty-two years ago (6 March 1957 to be precise), Ghana made political history in tropical Africa. On that day, the Gold Coast became Ghana. How did it happen? At exactly midnight that night, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, flanked by some ambitious comrades of his, mounted a podium in the old Polo ground within the town of Accra and proclaimed:
“At long last, the battle has ended; and Ghana our beloved country is free for ever.”
The visionary Nkrumah then produced a seemingly harmless statement which turned out to help make him the African man in the twentieth century. He declared, “The Independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it really is linked with the total liberation of the African Continent.”
Yes, you should tell the true story of the Independence of Ghana so that our kids, their kids, and their children’s children will know just how Ghana was a nation of “Freedom and Justice.” At that time Dr Nkrumah made that legendary declaration, no more than eight away from 53 countries in Africa knew what independence was. In West Africa, all of the 16 countries were clamped inside the jaws of Colonialism. In terms of South Africa, she was deep within the throat of any hateful and horrible creature called “Apartheid.”
Ghana’s independence was not granted to our own forefathers on the silver platter. In other words, our forefathers failed to eat with their fill, drink, booze and went to bed and started snoring then someone went and called them to obtain their independence. Certainly not! In fact, the independence struggle did not start on the 6th March 1957 when that celebrated proclamation was made.
If Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah talked of the end of the battle, we have to ask ourselves what kind of a battle he was alluding to. Again, it ought to be borne in mind which it had not been only Dr Nkrumah who single-handedly fought for Ghana’s independence. But he was the locomotive or even the vanguard indeed! It is therefore imperative that at any time we celebrate the independence anniversary of this blessed land called Ghana, other equally important national heroes should be accorded the recognition they deserve.
For example, homage should be paid to war veterans like Sergeant Adjetey, Corporal Attipoe and Private Odartey Lamptey who were gunned down like common criminals on 28 February, 1948 at the Christiansburg, Accra. What crime did they commit? These people were only going to present a petition towards the Colonial Governor in the Gold Coast. These were only fighting for ex gratia awards when they have been in war front for many years.
It had been their blood that galvanised the momentum and served as catalyst for the legendary BIG SIX to get the gold -the INDEPENDENCE. The BIG SIX included Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Dr J.B.Danquah, Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey, Mr. Ofori Atta, Mr. Akufo-Addo and Mr. Ako-Adjei. These were collected and dumped in jails throughout the country; were they armed robbers? These are some of the greatest national heroes we must pay homage to if we celebrate the independence anniversary of Ghana. For this reason our National Pledge reminds us in part: “…I promise to hold in high esteem, our heritage won for all of us from the blood and toil of our fathers; I pledge myself in all things to uphold and defend the good name of Ghana.”
Today, while we celebrate the 52nd Anniversary of Ghana on the theme: “Unity and Peace: Pillars for National Development,” the very least that people can do would be to renew the promise as well as the pledge to the father and mother Ghana.
Aside from the historical and political significance in the independence, what can one say about the economic achievements of Ghana since independence? Even the political journey of the nation since independence is not all rosy at all. For that uncountable military coup d’états from the 60s, 70s and early 80s had dealt some deadly blows to democratic governance from the nation.
Fortunately, however, considering that the coming into being in the fourth Republican Constitution of 1992, which was ushered in by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) on January 7, 1993, Ghana has been enjoying change of government through democratic elections rather than military coup d’états. This trend of affairs is commendable.
Just last year, 2008, for the first time in her own 52 many years of nationhood, Ghana scored high democratic marks among nations in Africa once the New Patriotic Party (NPP) another democratically elected Government successfully completed its constitutionally mandated term of eight years and handed to NDC again. The advantage of this culture of “moko aya ne moko aba”( let someone choose somebody to come)is progressive for the advancement of Ghana.
It is against this backdrop that this theme for this particular year’s anniversary celebration “Unity and Peace: Pillars for National Development” is most suitable. It is common knowledge that without peace and unity, no meaningful development can take place, not just in the national level but in the District and Regional levels as well. This explains why the people of Ghana must pat themselves on the back for your just-ended peaceful general elections.
Now that the elections have ended, there is the need for the nation to set all political games behind it and concentrate on national development agenda in unity. First, the leadership from the nation itself must be seen to be interested in peace and unity for national development. Selfishness, partisanship, greed and corruption should be reduced for the barest minimum or even eradicated entirely.
There can not be peace and unity if political leaders are seen to be curious about their very own welfare to the neglect of most of the those who elected them into office. The current hullaballoo about proposed ex-gratia awards for ex-Presidents, Members of Parliament as well as other public holders is really a typical demonstration of how political leadership can create disunity and disharmony amongst the populace leading to agitation and unrest as opposed to unity and peace for national development. It really is gratifying to note that H.E. President J.E.A.Mills is making efforts to use constitutional means to assess the whole saga of ex-gratia awards. If it is not done you will see no peace and unity and you will see no national development.
Ghana is not a bad country naturally. It is common place that Ghana is really a blessed land endowed with all kinds of resources including gold, diamond, bauxite, cocoa, timber, arable land, rivers, good rain fall patterns and abundant sun shine all year round. But Ghana is endemic with poverty. After 52 many years of independence, if the nation’s natural resources had been effectively and efficiently managed, should a Ghanaian child visit bed without having a meal? After 52 numerous years of independence, should any Ghanaian child be denied basic education? Something might go amiss!
Besides natural resources, Ghana is equally endowed with human resources. She actually is blessed with some of the best brains in Africa or even in the world. One can cite the immediate past UN Secretary-General Busumuru Kofi Annan as well as others in international bodies to symbolise the human resource base of the nation. These are just several reasons why Ghana might have done better than she did up to now after 52 many years of nationhood when it comes to socio-economic, political and cultural prosperity.
Now one can speculate that the solid foundation has been laid for your economic take-off the nation across board. Various sectors of the economy including Agriculture, Education, Health, Transportation, Communications, Investment, Tourism, Foreign Policies, Sports yet others appear to be in a better shape today compared to what they were before independence. As an example, the Capitation Grant, National Medical Insurance Scheme and also the School Feeding Programme and also have created opportunity for some school-going children to remain school and be given a minumum of one meal a day free from charge. The new government can improve upon what is set up for national development.
The National Medical Health Insurance Scheme has arrived to remain, but there is more room for improvement. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is gradually but steadily taking roots in society. Ghana is on the Information Super High Way through the Government of Ghana Portal. Ghana features a comprehensive ICT Policy already in place. The National Portal must be revamped to make it a genuine electronic gateway in the true sense E-Government.
The earlier Government started establishing what is known as Community Information Centres (CICs) in the 230 electoral constituencies through the country. It is a viable strategy that concretely helps to ensure that ICTs are taken closer to rural individuals who are in majority in the united states. It is actually hoped the new administration will continue with this particular project and kcifhh it better for national development. Again, the discovery of oil in commercial quantity during the 50th anniversary celebration of Ghana was very opportune with this blessed nation, just to bring up but a couple of.