Saturday, March 10, 2007
March 6, 1957 at KNMP
By: ISAAC M. QUIST
A SYMBOLIC ritual performance by the Ghana Actors Guild on the eve of the Jubilee Anniversary was staged at the Old Polo Grounds (now refurbished Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, Accra) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Ghana’s Independence from British Colonial rule.
Nkrumah’s status at the park is said to be the very spot he stood to declare Ghana an independent, sovereign state after 100 years of British colonial rule which had been preceded by 400 years of Trans Atlantic Slave Trade and Trans Sahara Slave Trade, a shameful, horrendous experience where modern Ghana was centrally positioned.
The enactment which drew tears of patriotism and expiation was also a spectacle of spell-binding proportions. The Guild has annually enacted this ritual mostly on emancipation Day but this year it ushered, in the Ghana @ 50 and 200th anniversary of the Abolition of Slave Trade by British Parliament. The enactment took the form of a dance drama in which the various tribes and regions were drawn into a nation state under the colonial treaty of Gt. Britain.
Each tribe or region climaxed under the cameras and a limelight’s before the status of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah as they became visible on a wide screen as they crossed in a professional dance.
Each region was applauded as it was identified. It was nothing like adowa, agbaza or damba but very authentic characterization of each tribe.
The Ashanti/Brong Ahafo danced as usual in how we know them as Chauvinistic, the Northern tribes as very athletic, the Fantis as Humorous and the Ga-Adangbes as rather gravely rascally.
The climax was the processional dance drama from Malawi called Beni dance. It told the story of this people, Africa in the two world wars. The dancers were in colonial or military uniforms as they danced this neo-traditional lively dance. It was amazing.
What I did not know was whether the troupe was from Malawi or whether they were a detachment from the Ghana Actors Guild. Some of the foreign dignitaries who had come to join us in our celebration were present.
These included presidents and heads of states from some African countries including the President of Nigeria, General Olusegun Obasanjo and a large representation of diplomats mostly sincere Europeans and Americans.
At midnight, Osagyefo, played by David Dontoh, delivered the great speech of independence.
There was loud applause as he read the memorable line, “at last, the battle has ended, and Ghana, the beloved country is free forever”, “the independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked with the total liberation of the African continent”.
He recounted Marcus Garvey’s dream that “Africa is for Africans” and that his fear that there was not going to be a Black Africa ruled by Potack people has been deluded.
A lot of fireworks went into the skies rocketed from the park signifying pure joy eclipsed into the dawn of March 6, 2007 to usher in the Jubilee year.
THE SPECTATOR - Saturday, March 10, 2007 Page: 21