Mahama, Rawlings conspicuously missing at 63rd independence anniversary

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Former presidents John Dramani Mahama and Jerry John Rawlings were conspicuously missing at the celebration event to mark 63 years of Ghana’s independence from British rule.

The event has been taken to the Ashanti Region capital of Kumasi for the first time.

In attendance is His Royal Mejesty, Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.

Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Christopher Rowley is the Guest of Honour.

But the event did not have most of the members of the opposition in attendance.

Most of the Minority Members of Parliament were absent.

It is unclear whether the National Democratic Congress (NDC) deliberately boycotted the event.

Former President John Agyekum Kufuor is present.

The event is being marked on the theme: ‘Consolidating Our Gains’.

Brief History

Dressed in their traditional smock or batakari and hats, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah together with Kojo Botsio, Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, Archie Casely Hayford and Krobo Edusei, stood emotionally at the Old Polo grounds, Accra, before a crowd of British subjects on March 5, 1957, the eve of Independence.

Then soon-to-be Ghanaians had travelled from the entire country to witness the memorable occasion. Nkrumah with tears in his eyes finally declared: “Ghana free forever”.

This implied that Ghana was absolutely free from British colonial rule. It made Ghana the second sub-Saharan African country to gain its independence in 1957; the first was Sudan in 1956. Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah later became the first Prime Minister of Ghana and subsequently, the first President of the Republic of Ghana.

Nkrumah’s independence speech

At the Old Polo grounds, Nkrumah’s significant speech still remains in the hearts of Ghanaians.

He said: “At long last, the battle has ended! And thus, Ghana, your beloved country is free forever! And yet again, I want to take the opportunity to thank the people of this country; the youth, the farmers, the women who have so nobly fought and won the battle. Also, I want to thank the valiant ex-servicemen who have so cooperated with me in this mighty task of freeing our country from foreign rule and imperialism. And, as I pointed out… 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. As I said to the Assembly a few minutes ago, I made a point that we are going to create our own Africa personality and identity. It is the only way we can show the world that we are ready for our own battles. But today, may I call upon you all, that on this great day that let us all remember that nothing can be done unless it has the support of God.

We have won the battle and again rededicate ourselves … our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of Africa. Let us now, fellow Ghanaians, let us now ask for God’s blessing for only two seconds, and in your thousands and millions. I want to ask you to pause for only one minute and give thanks to Almighty God for having led us through our difficulties, imprisonments, hardships and sufferings, to have brought us to our end of troubles today.

One-minute silence.

Ghana is free forever! And here I will ask the band to play the Ghana National Anthem.

Reshaping Ghana’s destiny, I am depending on the millions of the country, and the chiefs and the people, to help me to reshape the destiny of this country. We are prepared to pick it up and make it a nation that will be respected by every nation in the world. We know we’re going to have difficult beginnings, but again, I am relying on your support…. I am relying upon your hard work. Seeing you in this… It doesn’t matter how far my eyes go; I can see that you are here in your millions. And my last warning to you is that you are to stand firm behind us so that we can prove to the world that when the African is given a chance, he can show the world that he is somebody! We have awakened. We will not sleep anymore. Today, from now one, there is a new African in the world!”

The euphoria that surrounds this day, makes Ghanaians to reflect on the struggles of their forefathers and how they toiled with their blood to build a better country for the generations that come after them.

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