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Opinions of Monday, 6 March 2006

Columnist: GNA

The New Ghana: Championing Africa's Excellence

Accra, March 6, GNA - Firmly rooted on the sandy shores of the Atlantic Ocean at a point near where thousands of Ghanaians were shipped into slavery is the Independence Square where the footprints of Freedom and Justice was embossed on the national psyche 49 years ago. Paradoxically the Square is just about 500 metres from the Osu Christiansburg Castle, where British Colonial rule was entrenched for decades.

But just some few minutes to mid-day, President John Agyekum Kufuor lighted the Perpetual Flame at the Cenotaph of an "Unknown Soldier" at the Square, adorned with national colours to rekindle the national pride and hope in the pioneers who battled the coercive colonial administration to make Ghana the first black African State to gain independence from colonial rule.

The national parade that characterised the Day had a long role call of dignitaries including Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama; Speaker of Parliament Mr Ebenezer Begyina Sekyi Hughes; Chief Justice Mr Justice George Kingsley Acquah, Ministers of State, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Heads of the security agencies, chiefs and the general public. President Kufuor drove in a black limousine accompanied by a Police Constabulary from the Castle and arrived at the heavily fortified Square where the tone was set for the day with the National Anthem.

The mass band from the Ghana Armed Forces and the Police reminded the large gathering that had occupied every space on the ground to be "bold to defend forever the cause of freedom and of right" and "Raise High the flag of Ghana and one with Africa advance".

The Number One Man of the country was asked by the Parade Commander, Group Captain Kit Caesar to inspect the contingent on parade, comprising 16 school contingents from first and second cycle schools, school cadet corps and 31 contingents drawn from the security services.

He was chauffeured in a ceremonial vehicle to take a close look at the contingents. He was accompanied by his ceremonial aide-de-camps, the Chief of Defence Staff, Lt-General Joseph Boateng Danquah and Inspector General of Police Mr Patrick Kwarteng Acheampong and followed by the Minister of Education and Sports, Mr Yaw Osafo Marfo, Minister of Defence, Dr Kwame Addo Kufuor and Minister of the Interior Paapa Owusu Ankomah, in another vehicle.

President Kufuor attracted cheers from the crowd that waved miniature flags to acknowledge his presence.

The omnipotent, omniscience and omnipresent God who divined March 6 as the country's birthday was invoked to give his divine blessings for the day by eloquent school children, who poured libation and said Muslim and Christian prayers.

The physical presence of the Soldiers and Police at every vantage point put the fear of the gun into any person who wanted to pose a security risk on this special day.

There was cultural pageant by school children and gymnastic display and the trooping of band and colours, which attracted the reverence of the Head of State and the general public, who stood up to show their respect.

The female contingents from the Army, Police and the mentally retarded children from the Dzorwulu Special School received thunderous applause for their classic and deft display of marching skills. Before the Head of State's address, there was 21- gun salute from GNS Seboe and GNS Achimota anchored behind the Square, while Ghana Air Force jets and helicopters flew past with one of copters carrying the national flag.

President Kufuor fired his first patriotic shot by reminding the youth never to forget the meaning of the celebration and the national motto: "Freedom and Justice".

"Freedom and Justice must be ingrained in the psyche of all of us," he stressed.

He formally announced the Golden Jubilee celebration of Ghana's Independence by giving it a religious twist. "As we learn from the Bible, Jubilee Year is of great significance spiritually and otherwise. It is proclaimed as a year of the Lord's favour, a year of good news and freedom. It is a time to practise forgiveness and do justice to all."

Massaging the Holy Ghost even further he said: "Henceforth, fellow feeling should become the basis of all we do. That way, our 50th anniversary celebration of independence will mark a fresh beginning and rebirth of our nation and see us as worthier citizens of the motherland."

He unveiled the theme for the year-long celebration which starts in January 2007 as: "The New Ghana: Championing Africa's Excellence." President Kufuor paid tribute to the founding fathers of the nation that included the pace setter, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's First President.

"Let us remember that the confidence in Ghana's leadership attracted Diaspora African intellectual luminaries like W.E.B. Du-Bois, George Padmore and others to take up residence and citizenship in Ghana to contribute their quota to the struggle to recover the dignity of Africa."

President Kufuor rounded up his speech with a prayer he borrowed from Parliament: "Oh God, grant us the vision of our country, fair as it might be; a country of righteousness where none shall wrong his neighbour; a country of plenty where evil and poverty shall be done away with....

"Inspire and strengthen our people that they may give time, thought and sacrifice to speed the day of the coming beauty of Ghana and Africa."

As the President prays for Ghana, as Ghanaians pray for Ghana, Heaven will certainly open up to help the West African State to deepen Freedom and Justice as the 20 million citizens wait for the jubilee year.