Ghanaians In Australia Celebrate Ghana's 61st Independence
Elegantly dressed in their beautiful traditional attires, Ghanaians in Australia and friends of Ghana celebrated in style Ghana's 61st independence day at the Hellenic Club in Canberra.
Canberra's very own DJ Juicy was in his element as he entertained the crowd with some sweet melodies from the motherland.
Ghana was the first country south of the Sahara to gain independence from British colonial rule and it was very significant in terms of the overall independence of Africa. As the great Dr Kwame Nkrumah proclaimed at exactly 12:00AM on 6 March 1957 at Independence Square: “ We have won the battle and again rededicate ourselves.
"We are going to demonstrate to the world, to the other nations, that we are prepared to lay our foundation - our own African personality. We are going to create our own African personality and identity. It is the only way we can show the world that we are ready for our own battles.
"Our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of Africa.”
The theme for this year’s celebration is building a 'Ghana Beyond Aid'.
A Ghana that is not dependent on others to do for the country what Ghanaians can do for themselves.
So how far has the country formerly called the Gold Coast come?
The High Commissioner of Ghana to Australia, His Excellency Mr Edwin Nii Adjei in his independence day speech said: “It is the desire of the President of the Republic and the good people of Ghana, to take charge of our own destiny and move the nation into an era of continued economic growth and development, where we depend on our own initiative , our God-given abundant natural resources and our sharpened human resource skills, to forge a future that is secure for ourselves and generations to come.
"The NPP Government has initiated a number of bold policies and programs to foster economic growth with the support of the private sector which includes the One District, One Factory, One District, One Dam, the Planting for Food, Youth and Jobs in Agriculture, the Free Senior High School, the support of the Private Sector to ensure economic growth, a sustained campaign to protect the environment from illegal mining and the establishment of a more efficient and reliable National Identification System.
"These bold initiatives and programs are being implemented against a backdrop of normalisation of the power situation in the country, a spectacular revival of Ghanaian industry and projected economic growth of 8.3% in 2018, making Ghana's economy the fast growing in the world," he said.
According to the I.M.F’s projection, only Bhutan with their tiny economy and Libya with their rebuilding after the war may have a higher rate of growth this year. Ghana’s projected growth for this year is expected to be between 8.3 and 9 percent outpacing even the almighty India with their booming tech sector. Bloomberg’s projection in January put Ghana’s benchmark stock index of 19 percent as the world’s highest rate of growth.
Mr Chris Tabi is a lecturer who has been in Australia for 7 years and prior to that has lectured in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Zambia and South Africa. He said the new Government’s vision of a 'Ghana Beyond Aid' is a welcomed one.
"Until recently, Ghana's independence had largely been political freedom as a result, there has been massive brain drain to date to other countries for financial and economic reasons, “ he said.
"Ghana with its stable democratic values and stable civilian governments in the 4th Republic has earned itself a better sovereign credit rating therefore, the current government need innovative ideas to attract direct foreign investment for rapid economic growth to alleviate poverty as well as create jobs to retain its workforce at home."
The High Commissioner admitted that there were still challenges in our institutions but believed that we have demonstrated beyond all doubt, that the African can move beyond an era of strong men, to an era of enduring strong institutions that underpin our fight against poverty, diseases, security risks. ethnic threats and corruption.
"We the Ghanaian people are determined to work towards improvement of the lives of present and future generations, create conditions that will make our young people have opportunities to develop and utilise their talents, be gainfully employed and stay at home, rather than risk their lives on perilous journeys across the Sahara or drown in the Mediterranean Sea, while chasing the illusion of seeking greener pastures in Europe," he said.
Mr Ebenezer Banful, community leader and a migration lawyer who specialises in drafting legislation, came to Australia 33 years ago but visits Ghana twice a year. He said Ghana has received a lot of commendations for its democratic credentials and congratulated Ghana on the occasion of the anniversary.
"We have had peaceful elections and change of government and have relative peace," he said.
But he added that the country faced numerous challenges in relation to its economy.
"We have many human and natural resources but we are underdeveloped ,” he said.
"No institution in the country functions...poor health system, very high unemployment, schools under trees or students without desks to sit on. Corruption is everywhere including the judiciary."
Mr Banful said that the president in his speech made reference to countries like Malaysia and Singapore which around the time of Ghana's independence had similar per capita income.
“But looking at those countries now...you will realised how badly Ghana as a nation has performed but despite all the hardships, Ghanaian hospitality is proverbial,” he said.
Ghana was the first country, where the British established oil plantations followed by Malaysia in the nineteenth century. The story goes that Mr Alexander Cecil Goff established the first oil palm plantation near the coast of Ghana in the early 1900’s. The Malaysians came to Ghana to learn about oil palm plantation cultivation, the production techniques and also took away seeds. Today Malaysia is the second largest exporter of palm oil and accounts for 39 % of world palm oil production accounting for over 10 billion USD of Malaysia’s gross national income. Ghana on the other hand saw a total collapsed of the palm oil industry.
Is there hope for Ghana? H.E Edwin Nii Adjei says yes.
“ I urge all Ghanaians to rededicate themselves on this occasion to hard work, integrity, discipline and patriotism, so that together we can build a Ghana Beyond Aid and keep flying high the flag of Ghana.” he said.
The High Commissioner in closing his speech said that Ghana remained committed to forging stronger ties with other friendly countries and stressed the cordial relationship between Ghana and Australia noting that Ghana's relations with Australia continue to be healthy, based on shared values and interests at both the bilateral and multilateral levels.
"We like Australia, have moved from the aid space to the commercial space. We will explore ways of establishing closer commercial links between private business sectors of our countries to our mutual benefit.” he said.
H.E Mr Edwin Nii Adjei in closing his speech said that Ghana remained committed to forging stronger ties with other friendly countries and stressed the cordial relationship between Ghana and Australia noting that Ghana's relations with Australia continue to be healthy, based on shared values and interests at both the bilateral and multilateral levels.
"We like Australia, have moved from the aid space to the commercial space. We will explore ways of establishing closer commercial links between private business sectors of our countries to our mutual benefit,” he said. .
Kofi Osei Bonsu
The service we render to others is really the rent we pay for our room on this earth. It is obvious that man is himself a traveler; that the purpose of this world is not "to have and to hold" but "to give and serve." There can be no other meaning - Sir Wilfred T. Grenfell