Scorpio’s World

Thoughts on Politics, Race, and Middle Earth

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY GHANA!!”

Posted by scorpiomkm on March 7, 2007

      The Felicity Daily Herald
   “All the news that’s fit to print; and a whole lot more”

People walk past a statue of Ghana's first president Kwame Nkrumah in Accra, March 3, 2007. After a chequered independent history, punctuated by a spate of military takeovers known locally as 'booms', Ghana stands as one of Africa's most respected democracies -- an enviable status in a region racked by coups and wars right up until this decade. Under the charismatic pan-African leader Nkrumah, the former British colony of Gold Coast, rich in palm oil, gold and cocoa, became the first black African country south of the Sahara to shake off colonial rule. (Yaw Bibini/Reuters)

Thousands cheer Ghana’s 50th independence birthday

By Orla Ryan Tue Mar 6, 6:32 AM ET

ACCRA (Reuters) – Thousands of cheering Ghanaians waving the red, yellow and green national flag packed a central square in the capital on Tuesday to celebrate the 50th birthday of the first nation in sub-Saharan Africa to win independence.

Accra’s Independence Square was transformed into a sea of fluttering flags as excited crowds of citizens joined invited dignitaries to celebrate the March 6, 1957, anniversary of the end of British colonial rule over Ghana.

The freedom 50 years ago of the former Gold Coast colony under charismatic nationalist Kwame Nkrumah triggered a wave of independence movements that transformed Africa from a largely European-ruled continent into a constellation of new states.

The crowds in Accra, many of them wearing national colors, had partied through the night. They jostled for a glimpse of arriving dignitaries, including several African heads of state.

Traditional chiefs dressed in ceremonial robes and sheltering under ornate umbrellas were among the guests.

“I wanted to see how Ghana is celebrating its 50th anniversary and how people are patriotic,” said 12-year-old Kasiteh Adu, a Ghanaian flag wrapped around her waist.

But while people celebrated Ghana’s status as one of Africa’s most stable democracies, many said more needed to be done to fulfil the dreams of founding father Nkrumah.

“There is still a lot of poverty. We have a lot of unemployment, especially the youth. Many Ghanaians travel abroad to find their daily bread. Some die in the desert traveling to Europe,” said Francis Nimo, 21, a electricity company employee.

In the square, a group of children dressed in white held black stars, the symbols of independent Ghana.

DANCING IN STREETS

Overnight, thousands of Ghanaians had danced in the streets of Accra to the sound of music blaring from loudspeaker trucks.

Some watched a re-enactment of the midnight declaration of independence, and a fireworks display.

Singer Stevie Wonder was due in Accra this week to sing a special version of his hit “Happy Birthday” dedicated to Ghana.

Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo was billed as guest of honor at the ceremony on Tuesday attended by Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, along with Britain’s Duke of Kent and black American politician  Jesse Jackson.

“The independence of Ghana was a landmark event with global impact. They said the sun would never set on the British empire and Ghana was a huge blow to British colonialism,” Jackson told Reuters.

“I came specifically for the 50th anniversary,” said Nigerian oil worker Norbert Abaa Umahi, 38. I am part of a brotherhood of Africans (and want) to celebrate such milestones.”

After a checkered history since independence in 1957, punctuated by a spate of military coups, Ghana has emerged as one of Africa’s most respected democracies.

But thecelebrations have not been without controversy.

Former President Jerry Rawlings, who led two coups and ruled for nearly 20 of Ghana’s 50 years of independence before stepping down in 2000, did not attend.

Rawlings, a vocal critic of President John Kufuor’s administration, has criticized the government for refusing to acknowledge his contribution to Ghana’s development.

Many ordinary Ghanaians have questioned the decision to spend $20 million on the year-long commemoration.

                                            _______________

Last Monday a fellow worker came up to me and asked, “Do you know what’s happening in Ghana this week?”

The Gentleman is Ghanaian, a member of the Respected and Powerful “Ashanti Tribe” (Supreme Man <g>). In fact, ever since I told him I had visited my ‘Home Land” (Africa, including Ghana)  we have discussed Africa and African Politics quite often. But back to the story.   : )

I responded to his question with, ” …. well, NO. What’s going on in Ghana?”

He gave me a surprise ‘look ‘ and said with PRIDE : “Ghana is Celebrating this week ‘Ghana Independence’!! I’m leaving next week to attend!!”

Two countries I’ve traveled to that will forever have my Heart, Mind, and Soul:

New Zealand & Ghana!! In fact, these two countries I Plan on spending an awful lot of TIME in once I Retire ~ God ‘Willing’.   : )

There’s always something “Special” when you ‘Go Back Home’. I recall the sun was just rising above the horizon when I got my first glimpse of the African coastline from the seat of our 747. I silently cried ‘Real Tears’ as I looked below at the ocean kissing the African Coast; while in my ‘Mind’s Eye’ I saw slave slips, the ship’s holes filled with thousands of my Forefathers headed for the Caribbean, South America, and the United States.

Six Months I roamed the West African countryside, in search of my History and True Identity; and while finding both …. forever remaining with me would always be a deep sense of Pride and Dignity in being an African ~ that just happened to be born in the United States.

Ooh, the African Nights were so … so sensual. A HUGE Moon would be setting up there, while in the distance Tribal Drums would be tap-tap-tapping out the rhythms of LIFE & Death. Drums and the far off sounds of the savanna.

And the People. So warm and friendly. So True and Welcoming. Often I would ask a Ghanaian for a direction to ‘such & such’ and he/she would take me by the hand and walk me THERE ~ even if where I was going were MILES away!

And what a spectacle to see the Regional Tribal Chiefs parade into the stadium in downtown Accra, Ghana; their awesome Procession complete with Drummers, Stool & Umbrella Carriers, and the Chief himself in his Royal Chair and being carried high atop on the shoulders of the bearers.

What a visual, delicious Spectacle it had to be in Ghana this week!! And I’m so sorry I missed it!!

Photo

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