VOA: Ghana Anniversary
- From: "weagle" <weagle@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: 27 Feb 2007 11:05:45 -0800
Former Member of Nkrumah Cabinet Reflects on the Independence
By Peter Clottey
26 February 2007
Ghanaians are celebrating their 50th year of independence this year on
March 6, with festivities set to begin soon. In 1957, Ghana became the
first sub-Saharan country to free itself from colonial rule, with
founding father Kwame Nkrumah leading it to independence from Britain.
In this first segment of a five-part series, VOA's Peter Clottey
reports on the reflections of a former education minister during
Nkrumah's fledgling administration, K. B. Asante.
Asante said life for the average Ghanaian was difficult prior to
independence. While the fortunate few attended school and had access
to medical care, most were mired in poverty. Many died of malnutrition
and disease, yet people endured and accepted their lot as the "will of
But the groundswell for independence from Britain had started in
earnest with Nkrumah's election in 1947 as secretary-general of the
United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), a party dedicated to self-
governance for Ghanaians.
"The leaders wanted self-government; they wanted more self expression,
and it coincided with this general need (for freedom).... Kwame Nkrumah
(later) formed the Convention People's Party (CPP) which demanded self-
government [immediately]...," Asante said.
Nkrumah - and by extension, the CPP - grew in stature because ordinary
people "loved" him, said the former diplomat.
"Kwame Nkrumah and the CPP won the hearts of the people.... He asked
for a constituent assembly to usher in self-government. He then
declared 'positive action,' which was after (Mahatma) Gandhi (and the
push for freedom from colonial oppression in India); that is, oppose a
government without any violence, and he (Nkrumah) was imprisoned.
While in prison, elections were held, (and) he stood for elections in
Greater Accra and won," Asante said.
Following his election victory, the British rulers released Nkrumah
"The (colonial) government wisely released him from prison, and he led
the government which was then formed. He became the leader of
government business," Asante remembered, and said the expectations of
Ghanaians were high at the time of independence.
"Kwame Nkrumah himself was a dreamer. He dreamt of a metropolis
springing up in Ghana, centers of learning and culture and happiness
for the people. There was euphoria; people thought self-government
would bring everything. Nkrumah even said, "Seek ye first the
political kingdom and all others shall be added unto you."
Asante said Ghanaians thought all their worries were "a thing of the
past" when the country attained independence.
"People thought with self-government, they could fashion their life -
the life as they wanted - and that Ghana would be a haven. As a matter
of fact, Nkrumah tried to do that. He found out that [the lack of]
education was an impediment (to development), so he instituted free
elementary education for all Ghanaian children.... He started more
ambitious programs, like setting up an industrial development
corporation which would help Ghanaian businessmen."
With Nkrumah at the helm, Asante emphasized, Ghana became very
influential on the African continent.
"Nkrumah...said that the independence of Ghana was meaningless until it
was linked to the total liberation of Africa. So the young country,
Ghana, set out to try to liberate all African countries ... Ghana, under
Nkrumah, promoted African unity. In fact, Nkrumah was instrumental in
setting up the Organization of Africa Unity (OAU). The African Union
of today can be said to be a consummation of Nkrumah's ideas," Asante
explained. Many heads of state have been invited to attend a variety
of activities surrounding Ghana's anniversary celebrations, which are
to begin on March 6.
We'd like to hear what you have to say. Let us know what you think of
this report and other news and features on our website. Email your
views about what is happening in Africa to: africa@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
include your name and phone number if you would like us to include
your comments on our programs.
You can also telephone us and leave a message about this article. Call
the following number in the US: (202) 205-9942. After you hear the VOA
greeting, press the number "30" and leave your message. We may air