From Our Files: Africans Cheer Ghana Freedom: Parliament Meets

Article excerpt

Today marks the 55th anniversary of Ghana's Independence Day, as the former British colony became the first black African country to achieve independence from colonial rule. In March 1957, Monitor reporter John Hughes was writing on location in Ghana. He describes a jubilant and hopeful scene as the former Gold Coast became a new nation, named Ghana after an ancient African kingdom.-Emily Powers, Monitor Library

Originally published Wednesday, March 6, 1957.

For hours the crowds had seethed excitedly outside Parliament. Inside as the hands of the clock drew near midnight, Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah tied up the final business of the Gold Coast in a speech to his legislators. At the moment of midnight the clamor of hooters and sirens blended with a great roar from the mob. In a rush and a flurry Dr. Nkrumah was whisked bobbing on the shoulders of his supporters to a platform among his people. On his head was his white cap embroidered with the initials P.G. for "prison graduate," commemorating his sentence by the British for sedition. Then came that incredible moment when, with face glistening with tears and sweat under the photographers' floodlamps, weeping quietly with emotion, he called for the national anthem of the new nation whose freedom was at last fulfilled.

Parliament Meets

In this manner in the early hours of March 6 was born the new independent state of Ghana, first African member of the British Commonwealth. This was not only Dr. Nkrumah's hour, though. It was also the hour of Great Britain to whose initiative in developing Ghana from primitive jungle Dr. Nkrumah paid tribute at this time. Thus another British colony had come to full independence. And just a few hours later Communist delegations for whom no such similar freedom from Soviet domination looms saw Prime Minister Nkrumah, now in complete charge of his own country, drive back to the Parliament building to attend the first meeting of the new Ghana national Parliament. [The Associated Press reports: President Eisenhower saluted the government and people of Ghana March 5 and the State Department officially announced United States recognition of the new African state.] Pledging himself anew to the British Commonwealth link, Dr. Nkrumah told his guests that Britain had recognized the realities of the situation in his country and accordingly, "instead of that feeling of bitterness which is often born of a colonial struggle we enter our independence in association with Britain and with, good relations unimpaired." One of the main questions stemming from Ghana's independence is,' "Can its African peoples so new to Western civilization make it work? …