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Ghana @57: The significance of an independent Ghana

INDEPENDENCE [Dictionary definition] not dependent; not depending or contingent upon something else for existence; not relying on another or others for aid or support; to self-govern; to not be subject to another’s authority or jurisdiction; autonomous; free…

Independence is a strong word, and one which holds much significance and importance in many countries across the world. From the land of the Stars and Stripes, to the land of Kilts and Shortbread, the issue and sentiment of independence is one which triggers great emotion – whether it refers to success achieved in the past, or the present end-game desire a people have for their future.

For Ghana, the word independence is as significant to our cultural and historical fabric as the black star which resides dead-centre in our national flag. The sentiment of independence forms the very foundation of our being. We are known for our gold, known for our cocoa – but our claim to independence is one which triggers immense pride.

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In black sub-saharan Africa, it was we who shone forth as a beacon of light across the continent, showing others the way to freedom, showing that we didn’t need to rely on colonial rulers for our wellbeing but we were more than capable to govern ourselves. Nkrumah saw an independent Ghana as being a spearhead for the liberation of the rest of Africa from colonial rule – the pioneers, the example, the spark to ignite the touchpaper of African potential. From the shores of the Gold Coast, Ghana, the lighthouse of Africa, beamed its light far and wide across the plains of Mother Africa. Kwame Nkrumah’s voice boomed. His ideals infiltrated the fabric of nation upon nation, a domino effect set in motion on that dark morning of 6th March 1957. Africa slowly woke up from its slumber, woken by the victorious cries and startled by the momentous effort of those who went to sleep in the Gold Coast one day and woke up in Ghana the next.

The name ‘Ghana’ means ‘Warrior King’, and so it should be no surprise that it was the nation which was christened Ghana would be the one to step out and take back its heritage and reclaim its name. The fight was not easy, and reached further back than the days of Yaa Asantewaa, a woman who epitomised the core zeal and strength of the African female as she led the Ashanti rebellion known as the War of the Golden Stool against British colonialism.

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Yes, if we’re going to take our rose-tinted glasses off, our time under colonial rule was greatly a result of our own doing, as tribes signed agreements with the British. Also, despite the best efforts of others, Great Britain were victorious in a series of campaigns to take over territories, especially against the Ashanti’s. There were many casualties along the way in our fight to have the authority to self-govern, their blood mixed into the red banner which sits atop our flag today. But those core qualities of strength, fortitude, resilience, faith and sacrifice were the fuel which drove our relentless race to independence to completion. Regardless of defeat, or setback, we refused to go backwards. And eventually, on 6th March 1957, we made the dream possible. As Kwame Nkrumah once proclaimed, ‘Forwards Ever; Backwards Never!’

Now, here in the present an independent Ghana is being celebrated as the model for African progress and development, a poster child for economic success, anti-imperialism, stability and democracy in Africa; celebrated within the continent for being at the center of the liberation struggle and therefore holding a special place in pan-African history.

So as we celebrate 57 years of independence, 57 years of standing on our own two feet, proud and free, what is the mantra of a free Ghana as we look to the future? I think Mr. Michael Kwame Gbordzoe said it best when he wrote the following to assist the composition created by Philip Gbeho:

God Bless our homeland Ghana, and make our nation great and strong. Bold to defend forever, the cause of freedom and of right. Fill our hearts with true humility. Make us cherish fearless honesty. And help us to resist oppressors’ rule with all our will and might forevermore!

Jermaine Bamfo (@Dr_Jabz27)