Monday, March 5, 2007
The world gathered in Ghana
Fifty years ago, an extraordinary crowd poured into Accra from all over the world to witness an extraordinary event in the history of Black Africa.
It was the day the flame of Africa’s decolonization was lit with the declaration of Ghana as the first sub-Saharan African State to gain independence from colonialism.
In the following pages, we reproduce a special publication titled, ‘GHANA IS BORN’ which was produced by the Information Services Department with the help of Newman Neame Limited and the authored by LIONEL BIRCH.
* AT THE ACCRA AIRPORT.
The time is 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 2, 1957. The passenger is her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Kent, the Special representative of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
* To the sound of 21-gun-salute, Her Royal Highness was welcomed by the Prime Minister, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, and the Governor, Sir Charles Noble Arden Clarke.
* The Vice-President of the United States, Mr. Richard M. Nixon, flow in, accompanied by 23 American journalists. He was welcomed by Mr. K.A. Gbedemah, Minister of Finance, Mr. Kojo Botio, Minister of Trade and Labour, Mr. A.E. Inkumsah, Minister of Housing and Mr. B. Yeboah-Afari, Minister of Agriculture.
THEY came from the four corners of Ghana and from the ends of the earth. Thousands arrived by plane, hundreds by ship, tens of thousands, by mammy wagon. One arrived, unforgettably, by gun boat.
In the week before Independence, they gathered in Accra – the Presidents and the Prime Ministers, the Ambassador and the Governors, the Captains and the Kings, the Chiefs, and the People, the known and the unknown.
There were official delegations from 72 different countries. There were 204 journalists, broadcasters, photographers and television men from 25 lands.
There were 108 official guests of the Prime Minister, among these were politicians and educationists, historians and youth leaders, priests and doctors, musicians and landladies. Everyone who had contributed to making of Ghana was invited. Nobody who had over given the Gold Coast a lift along the road to Independence was forgotten.
Never in the history of human emancipation had so many contrasting and divergent men and women converged to honour a unique achievement.
When, on the blue and gold morning of Saturday, March 2, 1957 they all gathered at Accra Airport to await the coming of Her Royal Highness (HRH) the Duchess of Kent, the full range and variety of the assembly revealed itself.
The variety of their clothes suggested a world tailors and weavers’ convention. The range of their voices and languages suggested an overflow debate in Babel. Their complexions were of all colours under the sun. But their object in coming here was one and the same – to salute t he final translation of the British colony into an independent sovereign State.
Out of a clear sky, with scarcely a whisper of engines, and as punctually as Independence itself, the Duchess’s plane appeared on the runaway. Forward to greet her went the two men who had worked hardest to bring Ghana to birth – Sir Charles Noble Arden-Clarke, the Governor, and Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the Prime Minister.
To Her Royal Highness were then presented the commanders of the country’s Armed Forces, the President of the West African Court of Appeal, the Chief Justice, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the Religious Leaders, the Cabinet Minister, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and the Leaders of Commonwealth delegations.
It was not yet 10:30 a.m. and the bloom was still on the morning when the Duchess of Kent stepped into her car and drove slowly out of the airport into a magical world of green and gold and scarlet bunting and waving flags and laughing faces.
To the hundreds of thousands of smiling eyes along the road into Accra, the physical presence of Queen Elizabeth’s special representative was the final and felicitous token that the people of the Gold Coast had not entered on the very last lap of their long, long road to Independence.
… Countries represented by delegations
· And some of the VIPs
Australia, Canada, Ceylon, The Gambia, India, Kenya, Malaya, Malta, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanganyika, Uganda, the United Kingdom.
The Belgian Congo, Ethiopia, French Equatorial Africa, French Togoland, French West Africa, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Spanish Guinea, The Sudan, Tunisia.
THE MIDDLE EAST
Iran, Irag, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey.
Afghanistan, Burma, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, The Philippines, Thailand.
Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Iceland Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, USSR, The Vatican City, Yugoslavia.
Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, the United States of America.
Dr. Ralph Bunche, representing the Secretary–General of the United Nations: Mare Veillet Lavalleer, the Secretary-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation; Dr. F.C. Cambournac, the Regional Director of Africa for the World Health Organisation; William Yalden-Thomson, the Assistant Director-General of the International Labour Office; Paul-Mare Henry, the Secretary-General of the Commission for Technical Co-operation in Africa, South of the Sahara.
Daily Graphic - Monday, March 5, 2007 Page: 23