Today (March 6th) marks 50 years of Ghana’s independence from British colonial rule. It was the first country south of the Sahara to achieve this goal. From Accra Ghana, Joana Mantey spoke to some young university graduates for their views on the anniversary.
At local universities are young people who as voters, business people or political leaders will chart the nation’s course in the years ahead. But how much do they appreciate the struggle made by independence leaders.
Samuel Dei Dankwah, 25, is a graduate from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
“[The pioneers] laid a foundation for us to build upon. Gaining independence from our colonial masters brought the confidence that we can also take up leadership positions.”He says.
Flora Turkson, 27, is also a graduate from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
She says that “When you look into the history of our country you can take so much courage in the things our fore fathers did.”
She said their sacrifices gave Ghanaians the opportunity to chart their own destiny. But critics say if the journey to that destiny started at the time of independence, then that progress has been slow.
They say that today Ghana’s economy is to a large extent dependent on the production and export of non processed gold and timber just like in colonial times. And, since independence, the country has known more than 20 years of military dictatorship, economic stagnation, unemployment and decline in real incomes.
The question then on the minds of some Ghanaians is whether government was justified in allocating 20 million dollars to the year long celebration since there was nothing much to show for it. Flora says despite the nation’s challenges, the celebration is welcomed because it will give Ghanaians an opportunity to think about the past and plan for a better future. She said the nation has also chalked up some successes, including free-market inspired economic growth that is the envoy of many African countries.
“We have enjoyed peace, we don’t have civil wars. We’ve produced so many great men from this country. Ibn Chambas at the ECOWAS Commission, the immediate past UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan and our own president Kufuor who is head of the Africa Union. Even in West Africa we stand out.” She says.
Flora adds that efforts to turn the country round is beginning to yield fruit. Ajoa Sey is a graduate of the Africa Institute of Journalism and Communication.
“Sometimes I ask myself what we are celebrating taking into consideration the problems we are having in this country; social vices, unemployment among the youth and all that. But at the same time we have had peace. For 50 years we have not seen wars in this country so I say yes[to the celebration]”.She adds.
She is however not certain whether the celebration of 50 years is relevant to young people. Adjoa said the youth are not committed to the ideals of independence nor do they share the passion of past generations.
She says, “ The youth have a misplaced priority. It makes me wonder come 50 years whether they will be able to take up the mantle of leadership. Now they are more pre-occupied with fashion, music and other things that do not contribute to the growth of the country”
Jerry Adjina, 27, is a graduate from the University of Cape Coast. He says some youth are dedicated to moving the nation forward. Jerry says Ghana set the pace for other countries during Africa’s struggle for independence, and is still setting an example for such things as good governance today.
He says, “I believe that Ghana has been a beacon for Africa and will continue to be a beacon. In the West Africa sub region Ghana has become a role model for many of the nations. If our leadership will set itself right, be more proactive; be more visionary, I believe that the country will definitely become the star of Africa.” Jerry said if people act responsibly and if leadership is honest and competent, Ghana will become a giant in Africa in the next 50 years.