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Ghana Celebrates Centenary of Founding President Nkrumah

Ghana's President, John Atta-Mills is scheduled to deliver an early morning speech Monday to begin celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of founding President, the late Kwame Nkrumah's birth.

The government declared Monday a public holiday, fulfilling President Atta-Mills' promise during last year's general election.

Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah led Ghana, formerly the Gold Coast, to independence in 1957 from colonial power Britain.

He is noted for playing a pivotal role in championing the course for African unity that led to formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).

Nkrumah is famously remembered when he declared that Ghana's Independence was meaningless unless it was linked to the total liberation of the African continent.

Sekou Nkrumah, son of Ghana's first president told VOA that the founding president stood tall among his peers in Ghana and in Africa.

"I'm personally proud that we in Ghana are celebrating of 100 years of Nkrumah, his life, his struggle, his politics, and all that he represented. Here is someone who gave us our independence, of course, along with others. He also represented that voice for the unity of the continent," Nkrumah said.

He said the first president stood for the good of the common man.

"(He was) in a sense a nation builder, who wanted us to have self belief in our abilities in our people. He built the infrastructure for the development of our country. He wanted a rapid development for us to catch up with the developing world, and that is why he wanted to focus on industrialization," he said.

Nkrumah said Osagyefo Nkrumah wanted Africans to know they are capable of running their own affairs.

"He also had this vision and made all of us proud, the Ghanaians, Africans and the black race in general," Nkrumah said.

Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown in 1966 through a coup d'état that forced him into exile in Guinea, Conakry.

Nkrumah described as unfortunate not having the opportunity to know his father after his overthrow.

"I feel great, but I didn't really know Nkrumah. I was two years when he was overthrown, and when I was exiled in Egypt, he went to Guinea. But I would say, I think am proud as other Ghanaians are," Nkrumah said.

He said there are different themes as part of the centenary celebration.

"The celebration will run till next year. The high points are; Nkrumah's birthday. That is today. Then you have sixth of March next year. Then May 25th. That is AU (African Union) day…the high point also represents Nkrumah's life and struggle," he said.

Nkrumah said the founding president was a visionary.

"40 years ago, the same things that Nkrumah talked about are the same things our leaders are still talking about. We have not really made moves very far from there," he said.

Meanwhile, Ghana's Vice President John Mahama visited Nkrumah's burial site over the weekend in his home town at Nkroful in the western region.

The visit forms part of the government's plan to educate Ghanaians about the life and vision of the founding president.