Forty-nine years ago, Ghana became the first country of the then colonised Africa to gain its independence. Its then prime minister, Kwame Nkrumah, famously told the world at the time that Ghana's independence was meaningless without the total liberation of Africa. Forty-nine years on, with the total political liberation of Africa achieved, another Ghanaian president, John Agyekum Kufuor, only 19 years old at the time of independence, has promised to link the golden jubilee celebrations of Ghana's independence to "championing excellence on the African continent".
Speaking at the 49th anniversary in Accra on 6 March, a buoyant President Kufuor told an adoring crowd in Independence Square that next year's golden jubilee celebrations would be a year-long affair and preparations were already underway for a befitting anniversary.
"Our 50th anniversary of independence," he said, "will make a fresh beginning and a rebirth of our nation and see us as worthier citizens of the motherland. The theme for the year-long celebration, which starts in January 2007, is: 'The new Ghana--championing Africa's excellence'. This poses a challenge to Ghana to resume its place of leadership [in Africa] and together with sister countries, work towards political stability and economic growth of the African continent."
The president recalled the pioneering role of Ghana at independence in 1957 and the confidence others had in its leadership of Africa which attracted diasporan African intellectual luminaries like W.E.B DuBois, George Padmore and others to take up residence in, and citizenship of, Ghana to contribute their quota to the struggle to recover dignity for Africa. "As we look forward to the jubilee of the nation next year," Kufuor told the people, "let us think of the new opportunities it affords us to build a new Ghana which will play an important role in championing excellence on the African continent."
In February, in his 'State of the Nation Address', Kufuor had announced that the country would capitalise on the golden jubilee to rebrand itself as "the preferred tourist destination in the...