Ghana’s Golden Jubilee & Post Independence Africa
By Paul Adujie
Sunday, 11 March 2007
BBC extended an invitation to me to discuss Ghana’s Golden Jubilee on the 6th of March, 2007; and its larger implication for post independence Africa. And the BBC asked the question, in particular reference to Ghana’s critics, who had asserted that Ghana had nothing to show for her political independence for 50 years! Through the magic of technology, there were panelists and participants from different countries in Africa, America and Europe, all, commenting simultaneously!
Ghana’s former President Jerry Rawlings joined the chorus of vociferous and strident critics of the government of Ghana’s President Kufuor, who was accused of squandering over twenty million dollars for the 50th anniversary of Ghana’s political independence from Britain. Former President Jerry Rawlings specifically accused the current political leadership of pervasive corruption at all levels, missed opportunities for genuine progress, nepotism, tribalism and known cases of political torture and killings.
President John Kufuor of Ghana had recently called critics of Ghana and by extension, all of Africa, “Afro-pessimists” The critics of course insists that Ghana, just like Nigeria and other post independence African nations, have not utilized political independence to the best advantage of citizens of the African continent.
Ghana’s Golden Jubilee in my view, is worth celebrating, it called for stock taking and sober reflection. It called for circumspection and a time to plan and put in place, strategies for development and advancement now and as the future unfolds.
Many have described Ghana since independence, as haven witnessed all sorts of roller coaster of a time; ranging from coups and economic meltdown, but also as having a semblance of stability and hope. Ghana has recently, by all accounts, experienced steady economic growth and low inflation to the envy of neighbors! including some in Nigeria!
Political independence is a sine qua non for nationhood and national development! The importance of political independence is beyond question. Who would prefer the British or the French, who were usurpers of power in Nigeria or Cameroon, as opposed to Nigerians and Cameroonians being in charge of Nigeria and Cameroon respectively? Who would prefer Apartheid in South Africa, to what we now have in South Africans? There are currently developmental challenges in South Africa, in Ghana, in Nigeria and elsewhere. There are also new efforts, renewed determinations in various African countries to entrench democracy and good governance.
In Nigeria for instance, there is a new dawn, a new era, in which new institutions, new systems and new structures are being erected and built, to forestall the causes of regression of the past in Nigeria in particular and of course, all of Africa as a whole. President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria was one of the more than twenty presidents and heads of governments that graced Ghana’s 50th Independence anniversary. President Obasanjo made the point of reminding Ghanaians and other Africans, of the new era that is dawning the African continent. Africans must therefore look ahead with renewed determination and purpose. Again, Jerry Rawlings, says that Ghana’s Golden Jubilee is the right time to pledge to each other to “consolidate social justice, integrity, honesty etc for better life in Ghana” And truly, rehabilitation, restoration and development of core infrastructure are being undertaken in Ghana as in Nigeria and other African countries
It is of course a fact that Africa has missed many opportunities, to that extent, it is true that Africa could have done better. It is also true that political independence has not translated into better lives for Africans. But has Africa missed opportunities on its on accord? Or has Africa been ensnared in political and economic failures? Has Africa’s fate been steered towards political and economic instability for the benefits of others outside Africa?
There are also other points to be made, which are, outside interference and outside intermeddling in African affairs? This has happened with such regularity to Africans, from slavery to colonialism and there are countless examples to be had. Or do we really require Mr. John Perkins, of “Confessions of an Economic Hit-man” to tell us, the history of manipulations of Africa by others?
It is also, the case that those Africans who have played meaningful, substantial and significant roles, for the advancement of Africa, have met obstacles to their political career and even, frequently, paying the ultimate price, the supreme sacrifice of their lives for daring to care for their African countries! Even former President Jerry Rawlings conceded that he reserve continued criticisms of certain international powers.
Ghana had a purposeful leader at independence, Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, a patriot and a fighter, he was an African nationalist, Pan Africanist! He staunchly advocated freedom! He was a man with a mission. In the Congo, there was a man, another man with a mission, his name is Patrice Lumumba, he was passionate about Congo, but guess what happened to him? Mobutu Seseko and we also know how recently, how there were attempt by foreigners to violently overthrow the government of Guinea.
I have also in the past agonized, over whether those who “gave” political independence to African, actually planned the obsolescence these African nations? Obstacles and impediments have been variously put on the path of African development.
However, Africa is making new strides and overcoming great challenges. Ghana, in particular, is making steady progress in all spheres.
Ghana chose a beautiful theme for their anniversary: Championing African Excellence. There were three main objectives for Ghana’s jubilee celebrations and they are, to celebrate and commemorate Ghana’s landmark achievement as the first country in Africa to attain political independence from colonial rule. Secondly, to reflect on the evolution, development, achievements and drawbacks since political independence. Thirdly, to look forward to the future, to our vision of excellence in all fields of endeavor in the next fifty years and beyond. We must recapture missed opportunities and singularly focus on development.
Ghana’s experiences, the good and the not so good, are similar, if not identical, to other nations in the African continent. In many respects, these experiences are also the lot and burdens, of peoples of African descent.
Ghanaians, Africans and peoples of African descent must look ahead with new determination, in the search of lasting democratic-political and economic development.