Today, March 6th, is Ghana's Independence day, marking 57 years of independence from colonial rule.
The people of the colony known as the Gold Coast were ruled by the British since 1874. On March 6, 1957, under the new name of Ghana, the territory became the first sub-Saharan country to gain its independence. Their lives and resources would no longer be ruled by the British, they would be free to decide how to manage their territory, economy, and resources.
The word Ghana means "warrior king".
Most importantly, by gaining its independence, Ghana forged the way for many other colonial ruled territories - within five years of Ghana's independence, 25 other African nations gained independence as well.
"Ghana's independence is meaningless unless it is linked with the total liberation of Africa"
- from Kwame Nkrumah's independence speech (first president of Ghana).
You can read the entire speech here.
Ghana's independence movement began shortly after WWII, after Ghanaians had served and fought for Britain's freedom. Led by Kwame Nkrumah and inspired by India's independence movement, resistance started with civil disobedience and peaceful protests. As their peaceful protests were met by violence from the colonizers, violent conflict ensued. By 1951, Britain allowed for free elections during which Kwame Nkrumah (who was imprisoned at the time) and his party won by a landslide. This began the process of towards full independence.
|Jubilee for Ghana's 50th Anniversary of Independence in 2007|
Photo Credit: Oluniyi Ajao & Sweggs
Following Ghana's independence, Nkrumah made changes to the constitution ensuring a stronghold of power for himself and a government ruled only by his followers. Unfortunately his presidency became a dictatorship and through extravagant overspending, he put Ghana into deep debt. Though overthrown in 1966, for years Ghana was beset with conflict, corruption, military rule, and economic hardship. There has been greater stability since the late 1990s, and Ghana has secured the status of a stable democracy in 2004 because leadership had been transferred legitimately by election since 2001, over the course of two elections. Furthermore over the past 20 years, there has been record poverty reduction, and steadily increasing economic growth.
Photo Credit: David Whillans
You can find a printable Ghanaian flag at Crayola
Below is the first stanza of the Ghanaian national anthem, as found on Vocal National Anthems:
You can read the lyrics to the anthem here.
Map used was sourced from: The World Factbook 2013-14. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2013 .