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Ghana History - Independence

The educated Ghanaians had always been in the fore-front of constructive movements. Names that come into mind are Dr Aggrey, George Ferguson, John Mensah Sarbah. Others like king Ghartey IV of Winneba, Otumfuo Osei Agyeman Prempeh I raised the political consciousness of their subjects. However, movements towards political freedom started soon after WWII.

This happened because suddenly people realised the colonisation was a form of oppression, similar to the oppression they have just fought against. The war veterans had become radical. The myth surrounding the whiteman has been broken. The rulers were considered economic cheats, their arogance had become very offensive. They had the ruling class attitude, and some of the young District Commissioner (DC) treated the old chiefs as if they were their subjects. Local pay was bad. No good rural health or education policy. Up to 1950 the Govt Secondary schools in the country were 2, the rest were built by the missionaries.

There was also the rejection of African culture to some extent. Some external forces also contributed to this feeling. African- Americans such as Marcus Garvey and WE Du Bois raised strong Pan-African conscience.

Kwame Nkrumah was born the son of a goldsmith on 21 September, 1909 in what was then the Gold Coast, a British colony. He was sent to an elementary school run by a Catholic mission and later worked as a teacher himself. Pursuing his dream of studying in the United States, this young man, of humble origins, crossed the Atlantic on a steamship as a stowaway. He lived and studied in the US for 10 years.

In the mid-1940s, he moved to Britain where he studied law. It was there that he became a passionate advocate of pan-Africanism, of a strong and unified Africa. By 1947 he had returned to the Gold Coast, where he organized strikes and boycotts and formed the radical Convention People's Party (CPP) whose party slogan was "Independence Now."

In 1950, Nkrumah was arrested by the British and sent to prison. The CCP won the elections the following year by a commanding majority. Nkrumah was released from prison and asked to form a government. He became prime minister in 1952 but ultimate authority over the country still rested with the British governor. This changed in 1957 when the Gold Coast made a peaceful transition to independence.

In 1945 a conference was held in Manchester to promote Pan African ideas. This was attended by Nkrumah of Ghana, Azikwe of Nigeria and Wallace Johnson of Sierra Leone. The India and Pakistani independence catalysed this desire. Sir Alan Burns constitution of 1946 provided new legislative council that was made of the Governor as the President, 6 government officials, 6 nominated members and 18 elected members. The executive council was not responsible to the legislative council. They were only in advisory capacity, and the governor did not have to take notice.

After World War II, the drive for independence began in earnest under the auspices of the United Gold Coast Convention and the Convention People's Party, the latter founded by Kwame Nkrumah in 1949. These forces made Dr J.B. Danquah to form the United Gold Coast Conversion (UGCC) in 1947. Nkrumah was invited to be the General Secretary to this party. Other officers were George Grant (Paa Grant), Akuffo Addo, William Ofori Atta, Obetsebi Lamptey, Ako Agyei, and J Tsiboe. Their aim was Independence for Ghana. They rejected the Burns constitution.

On August 3, 1956, the newly elected Legislative Assembly passed a motion authorizing the government to request independence within the British Commonwealth. The opposition did not attend the debate, and the vote was unanimous. The British government accepted this motion as clearly representing a reasonable majority.

On March 6, 1957, the 113th anniversary of the Bond of 1844, the former British colony of the Gold Coast became the independent state of Ghana. The nation's Legislative Assembly became the National Assembly, and Nkrumah continued as prime minister. According to an independence constitution also drafted in 1957, Queen Elizabeth II was to be represented in the former colony by a governor general, and Sir Arden-Clarke was appointed to that position.

This special relationship between the British Crown and Ghana would continue until 1960, when the position of governor general was abolished under terms of a new constitution that declared the nation a republic. The new constitution created the Republic of Ghana, the same year that Nkrumah was elected president.

Nkrumah saw Ghana as the "Star of Black Africa." He believed that Ghana should lead the effort to free- Africa from the shackles of Western colonialism and envisioned a union of independent African states that would command respect in the world. Nkrumah also helped found the Non-Aligned Movement, a grouping of world states that attempted to pursue policies independent of East and West. His ideas about African unity proved immensely appealing in the late 1950s and early 1960s; indeed, the Pan-Africanist dream still resonates across Africa in the 1990s.

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Page last modified: 15-03-2017 18:21:42 ZULU