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,
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.
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? …