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Ghana Celebrates Independence From Britain

Ghana is holding parades and other celebrations to mark the 49th anniversary of its independence from Britain. President John Kufuor was set to attend a parade of military personnel and school children today at Independence Square in the capital, Accra. The government has focused this year's celebrations on improving economic growth and human resource development.

Ghana became an independent state in 1957, when Britain relinquished its control over the colony it had held for more than 100 years. Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah was the nation's first leader, until he was overthrown in a military coup in 1966.

English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey talked with Ghanaian Information Minister Dan Botchway and asked him about the significance of the occasion. He said it’s a time for both the government and the people to remind themselves of the hopes they had when they became independent and to reflect about whether they are on the right path. He said one of the goals of the founding fathers was prosperity and that he does not think the country is where they had envisaged it would be.

Botchway said, “There have been interruptions in our democratic path and therefore it has affected our national development.” He compared Ghana to Malaysia and said if in 1957 people were to have bet on the two countries, people would have bet on Ghana because of its natural and human resources. But he said, “For now, they have left us behind and we are still talking about strengthening our foundations…. The government’s drive, therefore, is to quickly re-strengthen the base…and see that now that we have been able to achieve democratic-economic stability, we will be able to develop very quickly.” He said many programs are being pursued in order to meet that goal.

The Ghanaian information minister talked about strengthening the educational system, including teacher training, and taking steps to encourage Ghanaians living outside the country to come back.