Sunday, April 15, 2012

African Liberation Day

"Today we are one.  If in the past the Sahara divided us, now it unites us..." 
 Osageyfo Kwame Nkrumah
Conference of Independent African States, April 15, 1968

Ghana achieved independence from Britain on March 6, 1957 but Prime Minister (later President) Osagefyo Dr Kwame Nkrumah believed that; "Ghana's freedom would be meaningless if it was not linked with the total liberation of the entire continent of Africa," or as Sekou Toure later put it "the liberty of Africa is indivisible."  For Nkrumah,

Africa was not, "and can never be an extension of Europe."  

"Africa must unite," Nkrumah concluded and, therefore, within a year of his country's Independence, proceeded to organize a meeting of African independent states to consider African liberation.  The states included Egypt which attained independence in 1922, Ethiopia (date unknown), Liberia (1847), Libya (1951), Morocco (1956), Sudan (1956), Tunisia (1956), Ghana (1957), which Nkrumah referred to as the "only eight independent truly African states.
On April 15, 1958, in the city of Accra, Ghana, African leaders and political activists gathered at the first Conference of Independent African States. It was attended by representatives of the governments of Egypt (which attended as part of the United Arab Republic), Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, and representatives of the National Liberation Front of Algeria, and the Union of the Peoples of Cameroon. The conference was significant in that it represented the first pan-African Conference held on African soil.
"After 500 years of the most brutal suffering known to humanity, the rape of Africa and the subsequent slave trade, which cost Africa in excess of 100,000,000 of her children, the masses of African People singularly, separately, individually, in small disconnected groupings for centuries had said, “enough”! But in 1958, at the Accra Conference, it was being said in ways that emphasized joint, coordinated and unified action. "

 The Conference called for the founding of African Freedom Day, a day to “mark each year the onward progress of the liberation movement, and to symbolize the determination of the People of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation.”

"African Liberation Day for us is only an instrument to help organize our people..." 
Kwame Ture

Five years later, after the First Conference of Independent African States in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, another historic meeting occurred. On May 25, 1963, leaders of thirty-two independent African States met to form the Organization of African Unity (OAU). By then more than two thirds of the continent had achieved independence, mostly from imperial European states. At this meeting, the date of Africa Freedom Day was changed from April 15 to May 25, and Africa Freedom Day was declared African Liberation Day (ALD). 

About Nkrumah 
The Rt. Hon. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was the leader of Ghana and its predecessor state, the Gold Coast, from 1952 to 1966. Overseeing the nation's independence from British colonial rule in 1957, Nkrumah was the first President of Ghana and the first Prime Minister of Ghana. An influential 20th-century advocate of Pan-Africanism, he was a founding member of the Organization of African Unity and was the winner of the Lenin Peace Prize in 1963.

About Ghana
The word Ghana means Warrior King and was the title accorded to the kings of the medieval West African Ghana Empire.   There is archaeological evidence showing that humans have lived in present-day Ghana since the Bronze Age.   By the early 11th century, the Akan were firmly established in a state called Bonoman. From the 13th century, numerous groups emerged from what is believed to have been the Bonoman area, to create several Akan States, mainly based on gold trading. These states included Denkyira, Akwamu, and Akyem. The Ga and Dagomba states were established by the 16th century.  By the 19th century, most of modern Ghanaian territory was included in the Empire of Ashanti, one of the most influential states in sub-Saharan Africa prior to colonial rule. The Ashanti government operated first as a loose network, and eventually as a centralized kingdom with an advanced, highly specialized bureaucracy centered in Kumasi.
Flag of Ghana

Trade with European states began after contact with the Portuguese in the 15th century, and the British established the Gold Coast Crown colony in 1874 over parts but not all of the country.     The Gold Coast achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1957, becoming the first sub-Saharan African nation to do so from European Colonialism. The name Ghana was chosen for the new nation to reflect the ancient Empire of Ghana, which once extended throughout much of west Africa.  The Flag of Ghana, became the new flag in 1957. Designed by, Theodosia Salome Okoh, the red represents the blood that was shed towards independence, the gold represents the mineral wealth of Ghana, the green symbolizes the rich agriculture, and the black star is the symbol of African emancipation.


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