Thursday, 20 March 2014

Independence Day and Goodbye

People celebrating Independence Day
As we celebrated Ghana’s Independence Day earlier this month, we thought we would honour it by writing a blog about some of Ghana’s history and its move to independence. As Ghana’s Independence Day is a celebration of a crucial element of its history, and we had experienced the remarkable cultural experience of the Damba festival at the very beginning of our time in Ghana, we were all rather excited to see what celebrations would ensue. It also represented an opportunity to take part in a celebration of the country’s culture and identity.  My personal experience of similar days in countries outside of the United Kingdom suggested that it was a prime opportunity to demonstrate national pride. In the United Arab Emirates their National Day is cause for taking to the streets wearing their national dress and carrying the country’s flag in various shapes and sizes. And the day would end with a brilliant display of fireworks in each major city. At the summer camp I worked in whilst in the United States it was a prime excuse to demonstrate patriotism by bedecking themselves in variations of the stars and stripes and a whole array of events were organised in celebration.

Ghana became an independent country within the Commonwealth of Nations on the 6th March 1957, and was the first black African country to do so. This year is its 57th since declaring independence from the British. Before the declaration of independence in 1957 much of the territory of Ghana was colonised by the British who had controlled it under the title of the Gold Coast since 1867 and gradually expanded their territorial control through the invasion of local Kingdoms.  Prior to Britain’s expansion much of the territory to the North of the coast had been controlled by the Ashanti tribe. Who through various wars had achieved predominance in the region.

It was not until 1957, when independence was declared that the territory of the Gold Coast (and the Northern trust territory of British Togoland) came to be known as Ghana. The name Ghana comes from the title of the Kings who had ruled the Empire of Wagadugu that had covered the same territories during the Middle Ages. Although the Ghanaian’s used this title solely for the Kings the Arab traders who came through the territories often used it to describe the area and this is perhaps where the application of it to the land originated. Ghana’s population is made up of people from many different tribes, some of these include the Ashanti, the Dagomba, Ewe, Fante.

President John Mahama
After Ghana’s independence, Dr Kwame Nkrumah became the countries first prime minister having played a key role in the country reaching independence through the creation of the Convention People’s Party (CPP). Despite starting well with the presence of various opposition parties and a provision for universal suffrage in the constitution, in 1964 Nkrumah declared Ghana himself president for life and banned all opposition parties. He was deposed two years later by a military coup and one coup after another followed until 1992 representing a rough start for the young nation. However, in 1992 a referendum on a multiparty system was carried out and Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings was elected President. He remained in this position till 2000 when John Kufour was elected.

Today, Ghana’s elected President is John Mahama who has been the President of Ghana since July 2012. Prior to this he held the position of vice president of Ghana from 2009 to 2012. Under his leadership Ghana is continuing to develop as an independent nation. This year’s parades carried the theme of “building a better and prosperous Ghana through patriotism and national unity” although unfortunately in Accra their progression was somewhat hindered  by the occurrence of an unexpected downpour the Independence Day celebrations were an apt display of National Pride for what is a truly remarkable nation.

Our time here in Ghana has now come to an end. We have had a fantastic time here, made some great friends and learnt a lot about both ourselves and Ghana and its culture. We would like to thank everybody who has made our time here so special and hope that the next cohort can take the Resource Centre to greater heights.

This is Cohort 3 signing off.                                                                 

This week’s blog written by Alex

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