The month of March, marks exactly 60 years of Ghana’s journey as an independent country. The Gold Coast, as formally known, finally became a British Crown Colony in 1901 after the defeat of the Asante Empire and the exile of Nana Agyeman Prempeh I. After independence, Ghana became the only black nation in the world who had a black leader as a president. Ghana became a symbol of inspiration for other African nations under colonial rule and black civil right leaders, particularly, in the USA, where ideas of Pan-Africanism had emerged.
There has been a running debate among Ghanaians about the relevance of Ghana’s independence to her citizens and Africa in general. Some Ghanaians believe that the independence of Ghana has been of no use since the country is still battling with issues of infrastructure, good living standards, quality education, industrialization, corruption, foreign domination of the economy etc. These people hold the view that Ghana would have become better if the British had been left to rule the country. They often compare Ghana to South Africa and other East African countries who have a sizable white folks. People who subscribe to these thoughts even sometimes blame our leaders for sacking the Europeans. They argue that the British build a lot of infrastructure for the country. In fact, if you subscribe to these ideas about Ghana’s independence, wear your seat belt as this article takes you through the journey revealing the true meaning of Ghana’s independence and perhaps why some people have such views.
First of all, I will like to address these doubts and misunderstanding among Ghanaians about Ghana’s freedom. Independence for the Gold Coast was very necessary. Most of the developmental projects embarked upon by the British colonial governors were not intended to develop the country. The hospitals, for instance, only catered for white peoples. The roads and railway lines were built from the ports to areas where there were lots of natural resources. In short, without natural resources meant no development for the area. This uneven developments is what has left the northern part of Ghana under-developed compare to the southern sector. If indeed the British had good intentions to develop the Gold Coast, as argued out by some people, why did they not build industries to process our raw materials here? Instead of, carrying them overseas to process before sending them to us as finish products. There is no colonialist in this world who takes the interest of the local people into consideration. So for the equal development of the Gold Coast, independence was necessary and needed. For those who compare Ghana to South Africa and other East African nations due to the presences of white folks, it should be noted that in these areas the whites had established settler colonies and they lived with the indigenes and settled in these areas due to the favorable weather conditions. Of course this cannot be said about our forest regions of West Africa, where mosquitoes are the other of the day. This suggests that in South Africa and other East African countries, the Europeans intentionally developed these places because they had intended to stay in these areas due to the unemployment situation that had hit Europe after the world war.
Now, let’s set the ball rolling, on the eve of Ghana’s independence celebration in 1957, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah made a prophet declaration, “Our independence is meaningless until it is link with the total liberation of Africa continent and towards African unity”. It is in this paradoxical statement that one can really understand the true meaning of Ghana’s independence. This declaration indicated that the independence of Ghana was a means to an end and not an end in itself as many Ghanaians had envisaged. Ghanaians taught that independence would bring about prosperity and other good things. This perception is not out of place. Indeed, independence comes with prosperity and good things for citizens, but among African nations this cannot be achieved because none of these African nation is capable of standing alone. Nkrumah saw that if Africans remained separately, as it is today, the west would use other means such as international organizations, foreign aids and even the media to prevent Africans from enjoying the full benefits of their independence. What this meant was that colonialism will come back to Africa but in a different form, whereby African leaders will be ‘remotely’ controlled by leaders from the west through the IMF-International Monetary Fund, foreign aids, building foreign Military bases on African territories etc. As a result of the failure of African leaders to form a United States of Africa to give voice to African people in world politics, we are still battling with issues, such as foreign domination of the economy, our goods priced by the west in the world market, lack of industries, poor infrastructure etc. The problems we are faced today as Africans were the same reasons why our forefathers fought for independence for us. So the true meaning of Ghana’s independence, as indicated by our founder, is that our independence was a means to achieving total freedom for all African nations and towards African unity. The freedom of all African nations has been secured but the next phase of the struggle is bring together all these free African states to unite to become a formidable force in world politics. As indicated in my earlier article, ‘The Nkrumah Never Dies Legacy: The status quo of Africa’, had the thirteen American colonies not united to form a formidable force, Britain could have found other ways to get them back on their knees after their independence.
In all, for Ghana to enjoy the full benefit of her independence, she should co-operate with other African nations, who are equally in the same position, to foster the development of African Unity. Ghana alone cannot give the full realization of independence to her citizens unless all African leaders come on board to propose a political unity for Africa. In that sense, All African states can adopt a common economic foreign policy which will accelerate the pace of development on the continent. Without Unity among African states, Africa is going to remain a dark continent forever.
Long live Ghana
Long live Africa
Long live African Unity
COLLINS NANA ABEBRESE
B.A (HONS) HISTORY & RELIGION
THE UNIVERSITY OF CAPE COAST