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50 Years of Independence


Image As Ghana celebrates 50 years of independence, we bring you the statement given by His Excellency, Annan Cato, Ghana’s High Commissioner to the UK, as he launched the 50th Anniversary celebrations in London.

Fellow Ghanaians, Members of the Press, Distinguished invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.  I welcome you warmly to this special media briefing which marks the formal launch of activities in the UK to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Ghana’s independence.

The significance of Ghana’s independence on 6th March 1957 is well documented. It was a great event for Ghanaians; but it was also an event of great political significance and therefore was welcomed by all of Africa and by peoples of African descent throughout the world. The immortal declaration by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah that Ghana’s independence had meaning only to the extent that it led to the independence of all of Africa brought hope to a sleepy Continent that was then under the grips of colonialisation and exploitation.

Kwame Nkrumah – Ghana’s first Prime Minister and President

Ghana’s leadership and sacrifices ensured the total liberalisation of the Continent.  But it did more than that. It gave Ghanaians a new confidence to work for improvements in their living conditions. It encouraged people of colour to discover their inner strength and to reject policies, attitudes and practices that had for centuries held them under bondage and subjected them to conditions of humiliation and cruelty.

It is this momentous event that has brought us here today. The opportunity enables me to outdoor the various activities which the High Commission has accepted to commemorate the event. The programme was drawn up after wide consultations with our stakeholders and with a cross-section of the Ghanaian communities in the UK.

Before we begin to savour the joys of this momentous occasion however, it is fitting for me to pay tribute to the founders of our nation and all our national heroes who fought for and sacrificed their lives in some cases, for the independence of the nation. In particular, I salute Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first Prime Minister and the first President of the Republic of Ghana for his visionary leadership. Many others, the Veranda Boys, Trade Unionists, Ex-Servicemen teachers and students, market women, made their own contributions to independence. We salute all of them as indeed we salute the current leadership of our country for their wise leadership and for the tolerant and prudent manner in which they have been steering the affairs of the country. It is this leadership of service which has ensured us stability, peace and sustainable development.

Ghana’s Independence re-energized the US Civil Rights Movement

I have already observed that Ghana’s independence had wide-ranging significance in Africa and elsewhere. It ushered in a new era of respect and recognition for the capabilities of peoples of African descent all over the world. It re-energised the civil rights movement in the US and fuelled agitations for self-rule in Africa. There can be little doubt that in the early years at least, Ghana played a role in international affairs much larger than the country’s infant economy and insignificant muscle would have made possible. A detailed assessment of Ghana’s experience as a sovereign country and role in international affairs will take a whole day to recount. For the moment I would like to observe that during the period of our independence, we have grappled with developmental challenges and in some cases we have registered impressive results, while in others, we have not done too well. Many avoidable mistakes have been made and Ghanaians have paid the price for them.

Our failure has been that we have not yet achieved levels of economic development that could have made poverty a thing of the past and some draconian policies of the past have driven too many of our citizens to foreign climes where their services have been appreciated. The tragedy of this exodus is that many of those who departed our shores possessed skills and knowledge which could have helped accelerate the pace of our socio-economic development. But impressive achievements have been made in many other aspects of the country’s life, which outweigh the failings. Particularly in the last decade, Ghanaians have embraced constitutionalism as the way they wish to be governed and have resolved that never again will they allow their rights to be violated. The confidence of Ghanaians has been revived and the resurgence of our economy is bringing the smiles back on the faces of our people.

Ghana Today

Today, Ghana stands at the threshold of becoming a middle income country with economic growth rates topping 6% in 2006. The confidence of the investor community has been restored in the national economy following the stabilisation of macro economic indices which in turn have drawn positive credit ratings internationally including the assessment of a respected institution like Standard & Poors. Ghana’s thriving economy continues to win recognition and admiration of our development partners and major development agencies who have rallied solidly behind the government’s economic agenda.

It is this new Ghana that we are celebrating this year under the theme “Championing African Excellence”. The broad objectives of the occasion would be to celebrate and commemorate Ghana’s achievement as the first country south of the Sahara to attain independence from colonial rule; to reflect on the evolution, development, achievements and setbacks of our country over the past 50 years and to look forward to the future with greater confidence believing that we can achieve excellence in all fields of human endeavour in the coming months and years.

Source and image: Ghana High Commission UK

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