Ghana Then & Now
By Priscilla Addison
March 6, 1957. This date was a pivotal year for Ghana and for those fighting for equality, justice and emancipation across the globe. Ghana, meaning warrior king in the Mande language of West Africa held true to its name; as she was sub-Saharan Africa’s first nation to gain independence from colonial rule. She paved the way forward, not only for her African counterparts, but for her black brothers and sisters fighting the struggle against racism and segregation in the United States.
In his sermon on April 7, 1957 entitled “A Birth of a New Nation”, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., described his discussions with Ghana’s newly appointed Prime Minister, Kwame Nkrumah:
“Nkrumah said to me that one of the first things that he will do is work toward industrialization. And also, he plans to work toward the whole problem of increasing cultural standards of the community. Still ninety percent of the people are illiterate, and it is necessary to lift the whole community in order to make it possible to stand up in the free world.” [Source page 6].
Indeed, despite many obstacles and setbacks Nkrumah kept his word to Dr. King. Industrialization and education were key initiatives in his plans for Ghana’s accelerated development and to reduce her dependence on foreign manufacturers.
In 1960, Nkrumah was elected as Ghana’s first president and he achieved the following and much more listed below:
· The construction of the Akosombo Dam
· The Ghana Industrial Holding Corporation
· The Tema Steel Factory
· Two tomato factories in Wenchi and Pwalugu
· West African Mills (founded to process cocoa beans)
· A jute factory in Kumasi (to package Ghana’s own cocoa beans)
· A meat processing factory in Bolgatanga
· A shoe factory in Kumasi
· The Ghana Industrial Holding Corporation Distilleries (for the production of alcoholic drinks)
· The Ghana Industrial Holding Corporation Electronics (to manufacture technological devices, like radios)
In the area of education, he mandated compulsory free education for all citizens. Not one single person had to pay fees for school. To read more on his achievements please click here.
In his sermon that day, Dr. King further comments on Ghana’s independence and advised his congregation that: “[…] Ghana has something to say to us. It says to us first, that the oppressor never voluntarily gives freedom to the oppressed. You have to work for it.” [Source page 7].
Fast-forward to present day. March 6, 2017. What do you think the newly independent Ghana of 1957 would say to the country that is Ghana today— in 2017? What would it say to our youth? What would it say to our leaders? The citizens?
I think it would ask itself what happened to your drive. Your formidable outpouring of energy and will for resistance and independence?
Remember, “You have to work for it” urges Dr. King. I believe Dr. King was alluding to more than justice and freedom. Here, he also denotes the exertion involved with developing one’s own country and self. There is no doubt that only through hard work can we continue to push Ghana to new heights.
To those entrepreneurs out there putting endless hours to bring your idea to fruition. Don’t give up! To the Ghanaian returnee who is depressed and discouraged by Ghana’s state of affairs, remember that growth doesn’t happen overnight. To the Ghanaian who is looking to cross seas in search of opportunities elsewhere, make an attempt to succeed at home before you have thoughts of leaving your homeland.
As we commemorate Ghana’s 60th independence, let us be reminded by Dr. King that “[…] freedom never comes easy. It comes through hard labor and it comes through toil. It comes through hours of despair and disappointment. And that’s the way it goes.” [Source page 9]
HAPPY 60TH INDEPENDENCE DAY TO MY FELLOW GHANAIANS AND GHANA LOVING ALLIES
About the author: Priscilla is a Co-founder of ’57 Chocolate. A lover of dogs and an international snack enthusiast. Her favorite snack is green-tea kit-kats. She is fond of eating a delicious meal in great company and conversation. You can follow her adventures on Instagram here.