Ghana at a Glance
Ghana Before Independence:
Ghana before Independence on March 6, 1957 was called the Gold Coast. The earliest Europeans to arrive here were the Portuguese in the 15th Century. On their arrival, they found so much gold between the River Ankobra and the Volta and subsequently named it "da Mina", meaning The Mine. In 1482, the first castle was built in the Gold Coast by the Portuguese at Elmina.
This was built to enhance their trading activities especially gold and slavery. By 1598, t h e Dutch were in the Gold Coast to also trade. They built forts along the coastal areas notable among them being the Komenda fort. In 1637, they captured the Elmina castle from the Portuguese and that of Axim (Fort St. Anthony) in 1642.
Many other European traders came to the Gold Coast to trade. These included the British, Danes and Swedes. These European traders built several forts along our coastlines. In 1872, the Dutch lost interest in the coast and ceded their forts free to the British.
Thus ended a period of Dutch occupation lasting 274 years. By 1874, the British were the only Europeans in the Gold Coast and thus made it a crown colony. This in effect gave them total control.The British government established their headquarters at Cape Coast Castle. This had been their headquarters since 1662 and is one of the greatest historical sites in the country. It has numerous dungeons which were used to keep slaves before being transported to the Diaspora.
There had been many wars fought between the people of the Gold Coast and the British over governance. In 1874, an army under Sir Garnet Wolseley crossed the Pra River into the Asante territory. The Ghanaians referred to this War as the "Sagrenti War" because they could not pronounce Sir Garnet’s name correctly. The British force, this time proved too strong for the Asante who, after a long and brave fighting, agreed to sign a peace treaty at Fomena. At about the same time the British defeated the Anlo people in the Volta area. On the 12th of September, 1874, the whole of Southern Ghana including Anloland became a British colony. The Capital was removed from Cape Coast to Accra two years later.
After the Second World War (1939-1945), things began to change in the then Gold Coast. The discrimination against educated Ghanaians in the civil service was on the increase and high positions were reserved for white men while Ghanaians became "hewers of wood and drawers of water". The European and Asian firms were also seriously exploiting the Africans. The Ex-servicemen (Ghanaian soldiers who fought in the World War), helped in another way to expose the weakness of the British.
They realized that they performed better than the whites on the battlefield. These Ex-servicemen again saw the struggle for independence in India and Burma where most of them went to fight. They were therefore inspired to struggle against the same British in Ghana after their return from the war.
The first political party was formed in August 1947 by Paa Grant, Dr. J.B Danquah and others. It was named the United Gold Coast Convention (U.G.C.C). Its slogan was "Self Government within the Shortest Possible Time". The U.G.C.C. therefore invited Dr. Kwame Nkrumah home from his studies to become the full-time General Secretary of the Party. The U.G.C.C. had earlier on criticized the Burns Constitution of 1946 introduced by Governor Sir Allan Burns.
In January 1948, Nii Kwabena Bonne III, a Ga Chief organized a general boycott of all European imports. A series of riots followed the boycott in early February, 1948. The last straw that broke the camel’s back was the famous February 28, 1948 incident. Unarmed ex-servicemen marched to the Christiansborg Castle on that day to submit a petition to the Governor about their poor conditions. Superintendent Imray, a white police officer, ordered the policemen at the castle to shoot. When the police refused to do so, Imray himself opened fire on the unarmed soldiers at the Christiansborg crossroad. Three of the leaders namely; Sergeant Adjetey, Private Odartey Lamptey and Corporal Attipoe fell dead. Thereafter, riots broke out in Accra. European and Asian stores were looted by the angry mob. The rioters forced open the Central Prison and set free its inmates.
The National Pledge
I promise on my honour to be faithful
and loyal to Ghana my Motherland.
I pledge myself to the service of Ghana,
With all my strength and with all my heart.
I promise to hold in high esteem our
heritage won for us through the blood
and toil of our fathers;
And I pledge myself in all things to
uphold and defend the good name of Ghana.
So help me God..
||The National Anthem
God bless our homeland Ghana.
And make our nation great and strong
Bold to defend forever,
The cause of Freedom and of Right
Fill our hearts with true humility
Make us cherish fearless honesty
And help us to resist oppressor’s rule
With all our will and might for evermore.
Hail to thy Name, O Ghana
To thee we make our solemn vow
Steadfast to build together
A nation strong in Unity;
With our gift of mind and strength of arm
Whether night or day, in mist or storm,
In every need whate’er the call may be
To serve thee, Ghana, now and evermore.
Raise high the flag of Ghana
And one with Africa advance
Black Star of home and honour
To all who thirst for Liberty;
Where the banner of Ghana freely flies
May the way to freedom truly lie
Arise, arise, O Sons of Ghanaland,
And under God march on for evermore.
(Composed by: Philip Gbeho).