Ghana Independence


Harrods Department Store, the epitome of British opulence

Harrods Department Store, the epitome of British opulence

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Give it Back
My page has a photo showing the flag of Ghana flown on the campus leading to Buckingham Palace with Big Ben in the background. it’s just three days after Ghana celebrated their 50th year of independence and Willy and I are taking great joy in finding this little bit of Ghana in London.

Later on during our visit we toured the Tower of London. That was our most truly “tourist-y” undertaking. The preserved history is truly magnificent and there is a lot to be learned from the British respect for their past. However, much of the celebration at the Tower dwells on weaponry, the tortures of the dungeons and long imprisonments for government and religious dissenters. And it wasn’t done with apology. In fact we walked by a docent giving a very gory and Saturday Nigh Live-ish acount of what it was like to the hung, drawn and quartered. Our Tower tour included an exhibit on the Crown Jewels, including massive amounts of gold and many spectacular gems with names like the Star of Africa 1 and Star of Africa 2. Willy’s wry comment to me was “isn’t it about time to give this stuff back to the people they stole it from?” A good question. I’m sure India, Ghana, Nigeria and many others would appreciate the gesture.

Think of this in the context of the new park and monument being erected on Bainbridge Island to help us never forget the abysmal way we treated our neighboring citizens of Japanese ancestry with their interment during World War II. To err his human. To forgive is devine. To apologize (repent) is that important stepping stone from one to the other.

The ubiquitous London pubs.

The ubiquitous London pubs.

Ghana Independence


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.