Independence Day: A view out of Ghana

8 03 2009

In honour of Ghana’s independence day the “Ghana Bloggers” group have decided to write posts entitled “Independence Day”. Ghana managed to get rid of us Brits, at least as colonial masters, 52 years ago and I’m pleased that they did. I’m aware that my country’s colonial history is complex and mixed, and I know that we can’t be held responsible for everything that has happened since but it’s still an era that I’m not proud of. In some ways Britain didn’t rule Ghana for very long, they were still fighting the Ashanti at the beginning of the 20th century and just 60 years later were gone. My grandfather was born while parts of what is now Ghana were nominally independent and died after it gained independence. On the other hand Britain’s influence was felt for centuries via trading posts on what was then called the Gold Coast. The grimmest trade of all was the industrialised evil of the slave trade.

What did Britain achieve in those 60 years? A small railway, a couple of universities, limited health care and fairly widespread basic education. That Britain left Ghana with more infrastructure and education than it found is true, but that was funded by the gold, cocoa and timber it took. Where the balance lies is a question for economists and historians rather than a mere computer programmer, but I suspect it wasn’t to Ghana’s advantage. Since independence Ghana has managed to peacefully create a sense of national identity from disparate groups of people speaking different languages and worshipping different Gods in different ways. They have built more universities, expanded the education system, built the largest man made lake in the world to feed a major hydro-electric plant that supplies electricity to most of the country as well as its neighbours and constructed a road network. Far more children complete each level of education and health care has improved.

Mistakes have been made, military coups and wasteful industrial projects, but they have been Ghanaian mistakes made by Ghanaians and hopefully learnt from by Ghanaians. There are still problems, there is a divide between north and south – it feels like Ghanaians in Accra are more likely to visit London than Bolga, there is still poverty and ignorance, but overall I think Ghanaians should be proud while concentrating on finding their solutions to the problems they know they have.

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12 03 2009
DrNick

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