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Opinions of Monday, 15 March 2021

Columnist: Richard Osei Boateng

Is Ghana’s independence celebration still worth the razzle-dazzle?

File photo: Ghana gained independence on March 6, 1957 File photo: Ghana gained independence on March 6, 1957

A rather garish school of thought in this debate has maintained that Ghana’s independence celebration has outlived its significance and needed to be cancelled or discontinued. It further argues that Ghana has nothing to celebrate or jubilate about because Nkrumah’s long professed Neo-colonialism has been allowed to fester amongst us. Therefore we are still inadvertently under colonial rule. The most tickling part of their story is that they even mention that the founder of Ghana; the Osagyefo is not happy and is tossing in his grave, relative to the bad state of the country he fought and died for.

Moreover, the above proponents believe that it is ‘nonsense’ for a country which still depends on a ‘colonial’ Bretton Wood institution to finance its fiscal policy and major governmental projects, to go haywire, singing celebration songs in commemoration of its independence. To them, what is independence without economic freedom? What is independence when almost more than half of your country men are wallowing below the poverty line, after 60+ years of independence? They therefore conclude that Ghana’s independence is not worth a celebration.

In trying to counter the above assertions, a pro-independence school of thought argues differently on the fact that Ghana had only political independence from its colonial masters. There by to them, it is not surprising for Ghana to go back to its former masters for financial help after independence.

I will attempts to dispel negative notions and misconceptions harbored by such schools of thought. To start with, Ghana had a complete independence from the British on 6th March, 1957. The only exception was that, Dr.Nkrumah first became a Prime minister with the Crown still as the ceremonial head until July 1, 1960 when we assumed a Republican status.

Therefore to say that Ghana had just political independence is far from the truth. This is because, it is in the records that the British relinquished total power to the Ghanaian, affirming Dr.Nkrumah’s popular maxim that, ‘The Black man is capable of managing his own affairs.’

It is a record of history that the British colonialists left about $500 million national reserve to the Nkrumah government at the time of independence. Therefore, how could one say that Ghana only had political independence? I believe that Ghana had a complete independence from the British. Thus independence to control the various sectors of our national life.

The fact that a nation like Ghana is still struggling to pick its feet after decades of independence does not mean we are not independent. The celebration of our independence offers us an opportunity to ponder on where we came from, the challenges, and plan how to overcome them into building a better nation. Therefore we have every right and the liberty to celebrate our independence each year in style but we should not let it be just a celebration. We must however learn lesson from our past via the celebrations in order to inform our future decisions.

Some still argue that Ghana had her independence too early. They claim that if Ghana had waited a while for the likes of Nigeria and South Africa, we would have been better in terms of our development. I beg to disagree with such a view owing to the fact that, at independence, Ghana had all it took to stand alone. We had the right leadership in readiness and the national will and character to nurture the new nation Ghana.

Most of our problems today are the result of post-colonial managerial failure on the part of our black leadership. The time of our independence does not in itself account in any way to our current woes.

Furthermore, Dr.Kwame Nkrumah proved beyond every doubt to our colonial leaders that we were ready to manage our own affairs. The origin of our current woes span to the era where our own black leaders were handed power.

According to professor B.N.Ayittey, Africa was betrayed by its own people. The successive military interventions in Ghana, took us several years backward. Those military juntas further came to mismanage what they had criticized, leading to what we see today. To attack the independence celebration of Ghana on the face of it, is somehow an unfair attack on only current leaders. We should always recount where we came from and the people who have been involved in getting us to our current level.

I believe the future is still bright for Ghana. Therefore celebrations like the independence will always get us on our feet, thinking about our country Ghana and how to tackle the numerous intertwining issues derailing it. There is hope for Ghana. We must always embrace and celebrate our independence with the mind to solving or adopting practical solutions to our numerous challenges to make Ghana a clearly self -reliant nation.