On this day, Ghana's founding father said the country must show 'the black man is capable of managing his own affairs.' It's a lesson Ghanaians – the first black African nation to throw off colonialism – have taken home.
Fifty-five years ago today, Ghana became the first black African nation to gain independence from a colonial power. As the Ghana Broadcasting Corp. reported today, apparently without great enthusiasm, “The day will as usual be marked all over the country with parades of security agencies, school children, workers, and other groups.”
When independence day becomes a ho-hum affair, it's a good sign. It means freedom is the accepted norm.
The path of independence has not been easy. Kwame Nkrumah – the pan-Africanist leader who galvanized various different tribes into a single nation, and then was overthrown in a 1966 coup for overstaying his welcome – told his countrymen that their success depended on common effort for the greater good.
…from now on, today, we must change our attitudes and our minds. We must realize that from now on we are no longer a colonial but free and independent people.
But also, as I pointed out, that also entails hard work. That new Africa is ready to fight his own battles and show that after all the black man is capable of managing his own affairs.
We are going to demonstrate to the world, to the other nations, that we are prepared to lay our foundation - our own African personality.
But the pride and hope of Nkrumah’s speech, and the enthusiasm of the crowd, helped set off a wave of independence movements across the continent that didn’t stop until the end of apartheid in 1994. Given how many African nations followed Ghana toward independence – some peacefully, others fitfully – it’s natural to think of this day as a collective rebirth-day for Africa.