Fifty years after the Gold Coast wrestled its independence from Britain and christened itself “Ghana” in tribute to the medieval African empire fabled as the “Land of Gold,” the country is preparing to host a discussion that is sure to elicit a smile from the ghost of the first Ghanaian president, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. In July in Accra, Ghana’s capital, the 2007 African Union Summit of Heads of State and Government will ponder the sole item on its agenda, “A Study on an A.U. Government: Toward a United States of Africa.” In line with Nkrumah’s Pan-African vision, the A.U. study presents a road map for integration at the national, sub-regional and regional levels over a period of nine years.
“My father was a great leader. He instinctively knew that even the largest [populated] African country, Nigeria, or the wealthiest, South Africa, could not survive as a political entity,” recalls Nkrumah's son, Gamal. “He was thinking ahead in terms of African unity.”
It is fitting not only that Africa’s heads of state collectively will mull integration in Ghana, but also that they will do so during what Ghana@50 organizers have billed “Africa Unity Month.” The official Ghana@50 Web site, www.ghana50.gov.gh , declares, “The meaning of Ghana's independence is African emancipation, unity and progress. Ghana, the lodestar of Black emancipation, the path-finder and pace-setter of the continent of Africa, is forging ahead.”
Few will quarrel with Ghana for taking advantage of its golden jubilee to proclaim its right to the title of lodestar of Black emancipation. Ghana’s independence on March 6, 1957, was the first in sub-Saharan Africa. More importantly, Ghana’s independence spawned similar struggles in the rest of Africa and the Caribbean and mightily influenced Black nationalists in the United States.
Today, Ghanaians are celebrating their landmark independence under the theme, “Championing African Excellence.” Each month’s celebrations are planned around a sub-theme, one of which, not surprisingly, is dedicated to the African diaspora. For the rest of the year, celebration organizers say, Ghanaians will reflect on the “evolution, development, achievements and drawbacks of our country over the past 50 years [and] look forward to the future, to our vision of excellence in all fields of endeavor in the next 50 years toward our centenary birthday as a nation.”
The themes for each month and the explanation of those themes by Ghana@50 organizers are a telling comment on Ghana’s view of itself at this time in its history and of where it wants to go. They are as follows:
January—Reflections. This was the month “to look back, to reconsider the intent, dreams and vision that propelled the struggle for independence, while exploring opportunities for national transformation and renaissance.”
February—Toward independence. “When you put your hand to the plough, you do not look back. With resilience, we will realize fully the dreams and vision of those who toiled and laid down their lives to win our hard-earned freedom from colonialism.”
March—Face of freedom. “A march toward freedom is a bold march into our collective national destiny. A time of hope and renewal. There can be no turning back.”
April—Our nation, our people. “The proverbial broom symbolizes the strength in the diversity of our people, our history, our culture, our religions, our aspirations, and connects the young and the old, the past and the present to a promising future.”
May—Our wealth, our prosperity. “We are blessed with a land rich in gold and diamond, flora and fauna, rivers and beaches and a friendly climate. With hard work and dedication we have nothing but tremendous hope for the future.”
June—Our heroes. “We salute our heroes, heroines and martyrs for your courage, sacrifices, perseverance and leadership, In you, we draw strength, our hope and our aspirations for a better tomorrow.”
July—Africa Unity Month. “The meaning of Ghana's independence is African emancipation, unity and progress.”
August—The Diaspora Month. “Africans from far and wide, from across the seas, dispersed through slavery or otherwise, return home to the navel and cradle, back to your roots, the source, the ancestral home where you belong. Come and be with your kind, your kith and kin for reflections, rejuvenation, reunion and redirection.
September—Service to the nation. “It is incumbent upon all Ghanaians, irrespective of their status, to contribute positively to the building of our ideal nation.”
October—Knowledge and our development. “The progress and future of [Ghana] hinge on literacy and education and the application of knowledge of science and technology.”
November—A healthy people, a healthy nation.
December—Final curtain. “Success begets success.”
By Rosalind McLymont