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Diasporian News of Friday, 11 March 2016

Source: Quaye Botchway

Ghanaians in Birmingham UK Celebrate Gh@59 with Mayor

The Ghana flag hoisted by Birmingham City Council to mark Ghana’s 59th independence anniversary

The 59th anniversary celebration of Ghana’s independence from British colonial rule fell this year on Sunday 6th March 2016, and was marked by low key celebrations throughout England in the Ghanaian communities. The fact that it happened on a Sunday may have something to do with it, or is there more to it than the Sabbath day?

One cannot help but to observe the uniqueness of this year’s independence anniversary celebrations. Firstly, it happened in a leap year. Secondly, for the Ghanaian groups who tend to mark the occasion with some form of public activity, the inclusion of Easter in the month of March made time tabling a bit difficult for the groups, with limited choices for weekend dates to organise events. Thirdly, the occasion in England coincided with the traditional annual Mother’s Day celebrations in March. Finally, the Sunday date which the Independence day fell left people wondering, as to how to mark the occasion. Most people traditionally reserve Sundays for either going to church or resting and preparing for the week ahead.

Most of the Ghana Unions in the UK that tend to celebrate this special event have been caught up in such a conundrum this year. They have been presented with limited option for dates to organise events to mark the occasion. Indeed, well known regional Ghana Unions such as Ghana Union Midlands (GUM), Ghana Union UK (London), and Ghana Union Greater Manchester are all scheduled to celebrate Ghana's 59th Independence on the 12th of March. Even the Ghana High Commission in London may have also been caught up in such a conundrum, as it deferred its activities to mark the occasion till the Monday the 7th of March. Notably, the Commission's event this year was a low key affair that was restricted to the Mission’s office at Hyde Park in London. The Independence Day date which fell on Sunday limited the usual pomp and pageantry that comes with the anniversary celebrations.

In fact, most Ghanaian groups that I know celebrated the occasion differently. For instance, the Ghanaian Community in Bristol marked the occasion with a special thanks giving church service. In London, a private Independence Golden Ball was held at the Park Plaza Hotel. For Ghana Union Midlands, the fact that the anniversary day coincided with the annual Mothers’ Day celebration in England, provided us with the perfect occasion to combine and celebrate the two events, and pamper Mother Ghana, Ghanaian mothers and friends of Ghana alike.

The Ghana Union Midlands (GUM) executives and members of the union met with the Lord Mayor of Birmingham City Council, Councillor Raymond Hassall on Sunday 6th March in a special flag raising ceremony. The ceremony took place at the Council forecourt where the Lord Mayor hoisted the flag of Ghana to mark the 59th Independence Day Anniversary celebration. This was an historic occasion for GUM in the sense that it was the first time such an event has been organised by the City Council for the Ghanaian community and Union in our 48 years of existence in Birmingham. It was pleasing for us to note that at 8:30am prompt, 40 people including children in jubilant mood had braved the cold weather to attend this special occasion, and most importantly all the attendees had been punctual without any late comers. This in itself is historic.

The Lord Mayor of Birmingham with the President (in smock and sun glasses) and members of the Ghana Union Midlands in the historic flag hoisting ceremony to mark Ghana’s 59th independence anniversary.

The Lord Mayor was very happy to receive GUM and commended the leadership of GUM for organising the historic event. The GUM President explained that, the flag raising ceremony was the first of two part events to celebrate the anniversary. A special dinner dance is scheduled on Saturday 12 March to mark the second part of the celebrations.

The author is the President of Ghana Union Midlands and also Chairman of the National Council of Ghanaian Union, UK. He can be contacted on 07904090878.