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06.03.2007 General News

Day Of Jubilee

Day Of Jubilee

A historic assembly of African Heads of State and other high profile personalities at the Independence Square in Accra this morning will provide the high point when Ghanaians converge in their thousands and millions to celebrate 50 years of independence.

It is the climax of months of rigorous preparations and high expectations, lectures and symposia, regional parades and funfair, all organised by the Ghana @ 50 Secretariat.

President J. A. Kufuor presides over the Accra parade, with Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo as the Special Guest of Honour.

About 14 Heads of State, Government and Delegation arrived in the country at press time yesterday to participate in the Golden Jubilee celebrations.

South African President, Thabo Mbeki was among others expected to arrive late last night.

Most of the Heads of State who spoke to the press briefly before leaving for their hotels, described the day as “a freedom day for Africa” which every African must be proud of.

The President of Mali, Mr Amadou Toumani Toure, Dr Ali Mohammed Shein, Vice President of Tanzania, Mr Benard Mukaza, Prime Minister of Rwanda, President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia, President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo and President Joao Bernardo Vieiri of Guinea Bissau were among some of the leaders who arrived yesterday.

The others are Mr Pedro Pires of Cape Verde, who told journalists that he was trained as a freedom fighter by the late President Kwame Nkrumah, Mr Amando Emilo Guebuza, President of Mozambique, Mr Festus Mogae of Botswana, President Dr Bingu Wa Mutharika of Malawi and President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

The US delegation was led by Secretary Alphonso Jackson while Dr Ali Abdulsalaam Treiki, Libyan Minister for African Union led the Libyan delegation.

The Duke of Kent, representing Queen Elizabeth II and President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, arrived on Sunday.

Citizens from the various countries also thronged the Kotoka International Airport to welcome their Heads of States amidst drumming and dancing.

In the days leading to today's climax, Ghanaians had been in an ecstatic mood as they prepared for the country's Golden Jubilee.

Everywhere one steps in the capital, Accra, there is something to indicate that a historic occasion is being celebrated.

The red, gold and green colours of the national flag, with the Black Star in the middle, are flying on buildings, trees, electric poles, vehicles and everywhere.

Some corporate institutions have so beautifully decorated their office buildings in the national colours that it appears they are in a competition of some sort.

On the Independence Avenue, Barclays Bank, Cal Bank and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints stand tall in the decorations along that ceremonial street, while on the Ring Road the La Paloma Restaurant seems peerless.

On the Graphic Road, the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL) has also demonstrated its knack for finesse with a spectacular decoration of its frontage which begs a look. The Gold House near the Kawukudi Junction is also sparkling with beautiful decorations of the national colours.

New statutes of two members of the Big Six, Dr J. B. Danquah and Obetsebi-Lamptey, have been unveiled at the roundabouts named after them in Osu and Kaneshie respectively to add a touch of beauty to the capital.

In the morning of yesterday sounds of old highlife and patriotic songs, as well as the speeches of Ghana's first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, boomed from vehicles in traffic on the Kaneshie-Mallam Road.

The spontaneous sound of siren from police dispatch riders and vehicles as they escorted dignitaries through some of the principals streets with cheers from the people also spiced up the exciting mood.

Commercial activities in the capital also peaked as the hours ticked towards the Golden Jubilee Independence Day.

People from all walks of life rushed to buy T-shirts, polo shirts, Ghana flags and other paraphernalia in the national colours to celebrate the occasion.

At about 11.00 a.m. yesterday, the Daily Graphic spotted a crowd around a saloon car parked in front of the Audit Service offices within the Ministries and the attraction was to buy anniversary T-shirts, polo shirts and polo caps.

The polo shirts had gone up from its previous price of ¢60,000 and ¢65,000 to ¢70,000, but that did not affect high patronage.

The Daily Graphic also observed long queues at some commercial banks, both in the banking halls and at the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). Ostensibly customers wanted to withdraw money for the celebrations.

Vehicular traffic in town was bad, especially on roads leading to the central business district of the capital. The absence of the police to direct traffic did not help the situation much.

For many street hawkers, the traffic situation was a good omen, since it came with brisk business.

The enthusiasm of Ghanaians for the celebration seems to have set the tone for the mass street parties scheduled to take place after the anniversary parade today.

The street parties are to be organised by the various district, municipal and metropolitan assemblies and they will involve floats, masquerades and brass band processions.
Stanbic Bank yesterday took the lead in ushering in the country's 50th anniversary with the cutting of a cake designed in the national colours.

Meanwhile, a Daily Graphic survey carried out in the Tema municipality yesterday revealed widespread excitement and great expectation.

A Daily Graphic tour of the municipality revealed that offices, shops, factories, residences, kiosks and some church buildings had been bedecked with the Ghana flag.

Three large Ghana flags mounted on the roof of the storey block housing the Tema Main Branch of the Ghana Commercial Bank attracted a lot of public attention.

A Daily Graphic reporter spent nearly 20 minutes driving from the Tema Stadium Junction to the Harbour, a distance normally covered by motorists in about five minutes.

All over the municipality many people were clad in the national colours, which were either worn as shirts, caps or headgear. At least two out of every three motor vehicles had one or more Ghana flags in them or on their roofs and bonnets.

Many residents the Daily Graphic spoke to said the Golden Jubilee had a great significance for the people of Tema because, as one of them put it, “Tema is the great city Dr Kwame Nkrumah built.”

Story by Graphic reporters