School boy in Kumasi, celebrating Ghana's 50th year of independence

School boy in Kumasi, celebrating Ghana's 50th year of independence

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

“At long last, the battle has ended. And Ghana your beloved country is free Forever.”
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah March 6, 1957

One of my favorite memories is of our friend and Ghana host Pastor Emmanuel from Ghana walking along side the Island Church rock band float in the Bainbbridge Grand Old 4th of July parade. He was dressed in red, white and blue and had great fun passing out logo’d water bottles celebrating this bit of Americana, perhaps more than anyone else in the crowd.

For those of us who grew up in the States with 200+ years of freedom the significance of our annual celebration can become dulled by familiarity.

This past Tuesday in Kumasi, Ghana my traveling partners and I had the privilege to celebrate another country’s freedom.

We decked ourselves out in red, yellow and green with the Ghana “Black Star” as we joined throngs of Kumasi revelers gathered around the green of Kwami Nkrumah University of Science and Technology . The occasion of all the hooting and hollering was a nation-wide celebration of Ghana’s 50 years of independence on March 6, 2007.

What we in America did by force in 1776, the Ghanians did in peace in 1957. They sent the British colonizers packing. Ghana was the first colony in Africa south of the Sahara to become independent. The past 50 years in Ghana have seen some ups and downs, coupes, famines and great difficulties, but through it all the strong and proud people of Ghana have creating a working democracy and have begun rescuing the failing economy their Colonizers left them with. It’s a great story and it’s not finished. (To get a taste of the celebration visit the official web site: http://www.ghana50.gov.gh/).
For weeks the city of Kumasi prepared, for the celebration with most businesses festooned with the Ghana colors (there will be a lot of red, yellow and green dresses in someone’s future) we well as sprucing-up projects like curb painting, neighborhood clean-ups and the like. Street side vendors sold commemorative cards to be worn on ribbons around the neck (their version of a Seafair pin fundraiser). School children from the large cities to the small villages practiced marching and drill routines for the big parades.

When the time came for us to join the crowd, our friend Frank was able to get us onto the parade grounds right up to the white chalk line that separated the crowds from the participants. I don’t know how Frank pulls this stuff off, but I’m very glad he’s on our team! What a view! We were taken from spectators to participants.

One school boy, about 11 years old, asked me if we ever did anything like this in American and I was able to share with him that both counties have a common heritage of being freed British colonies. He was amazed and proud. So was I. We need to look deep into our roots to see just how far we have come. And like our friends in Ghana, look into the future to see how far we have to go. Both counties can have a bright future, but we need to remember where we came from and the fact that freedom is never free.

The colors of Ghana fly proudly over Buckingham Palace with Big Ben in the background during the week of Ghana’s 50th anniversary of independence from the British Empire.

The colors of Ghana fly proudly over Buckingham Palace with Big Ben in the background during the week of Ghana’s 50th anniversary of independence from the British Empire.

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