An impressive parade of security services and school children in splendid colours inspected by President J.A. Kufuor marked the climax of a year-long celebration of the 50th independence anniversary of Ghana on Tuesday.
Ghanaians of all walks of life, including a retinue of traditional rulers dressed in rich Kente, ministers of state and parliamentarians, leaders of opposition parties and the cream of the world's media, thronged the Independence Square venue of the celebrations to be part of the national celebrations.
Also in attendance were dozens of Heads of State and freedom fighters from far and near neighborhoods, including Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Others included the Rev. Jesse Jackson, South Africa's Thabo Mbeki, immediate past UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the Duke of Kent, Prince Edwards.
Such was the huge crowd at the parade grounds that tens of thousands others who simply could not find space at the official ceremonies had to make due with splashes in the cold Gulf of Guinea, lying just at the base of the Square.
And their sheer numbers, as they lined the coast from Osu as far as to James Town, draped in the national colours of red, gold green from any imaginable adornments, could easily refill the Independence Square.
Waving miniature flags, thousands yet simply breached protocol arrangements as they scaled barricades to lodge themselves on any available space on the bare floors just to be part of the occasion, often against the desires of a helpless security detail.
Even the media, particularly cameramen, virtually run over each other as they schemed to get the best of shots from the unfolding events.
On display also were military ware, and as the programme neared its crescendo, flag bearing helicopters and military aircraft with goodwill messages flew past the grounds to wild cheers from the crowds.
Presidents Kufuor and Olusegun Obasanjo later addressed the parade.
Let's approach next 50 years with clarity of vision-Kufuor
President John Agyekum Kufuor in his address rallied the nation to set its sight higher and to approach the next 50 years with clarity of vision and sustained national steps.
"Our destiny is with the most advanced in the human community and we must pursue it."
He said it was important for Ghanaians as they celebrated the Golden Jubilee of political independence, to be reminded that freedom was a living flame that needed to be constantly fuelled and not a monument to be saluted and revered occasionally.
"Ghana's freedom, indeed Africa's freedom must be an eternal flame to be continually fuelled by all Governments and peoples, because it defines our humanity."
President Kufuor used the celebration to call on the youth in the Continent to use their energies, dynamism, creativity and dreams for development to serve Africa.
"The future of this Continent is yours, it is your heritage and you must stay and be part of building the well-governed, economically vibrant nations we all aspire to."
He noted that Africa and many of its nations were making progress and said what they achieved together back home would be far more fulfilling and satisfying than anything they could do elsewhere in the world.
He paid homage to the many young people who bring honour and joy to Africa's image in their daily endeavours, excelling in the fields of information technology, finance, sports, fashion and dance.
President Kufuor, who chairs the AU pledged Ghana's commitment to work with the rest of the Continent to develop Africa and its peoples to gain respectable and dignified place in the mainstream of the emerging global village.
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was the Guest of honour said it was critical for Africans to properly understand and appreciate the mistakes of the past so that they did not condemn their collective posterity to repeating the vicious cycle that only perpetuated underdevelopment, poverty and instability.
He noted that the biggest bane of the Continent had been enduring instability engendered by a stark leadership conflict.
"We substituted military rule for colonially-handed down democracy and socialism for capitalism without a productive base. At the height of the Cold-War, we became pawns and we toyed with ideologies that we half-understood.
At the end, we lost out but the fall-out-conflict, violence, poverty, under-development remains with us."
President Obasanjo said what was refreshing was the fact that the rejuvenated AU through the instrumentality of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), has established a structured platform for ensuring democratic good governance across the Continent.
He congratulated Ghana for being the first country to be peer reviewed with useful lessons to the rest of Africa and said this was key to any meaningful permanent reversal of the Continent's undignified negative antecedents.