IF I believed in numerology, I would think that our 63rdanniversary of independence was quite special.
6 & 3 occurs 3 times in one equation? Oh Einstein, where are you when we need you?
The younger members of our populace may justifiably get bored with our endless talk about achieving independence sixty-three years ago. After all, independence or no independence, a human must breathe, eat, relieve himself or herself, walk, sit down etcetera.
The one word I didn't include in that list is think.
If you think, then what happened here on 6th March 1957 was special, in that it affirmed to the world that all the peoples on Planet Earth are equal. It wasn't decreed from above that people with one skin colour (black) should be used to serve the interests of those of a different hue (white).
No-one, in other words, had the right to annex for his own people, the labour, lands and minerals found in another human being's
Yes, guns had been used to enforce the desire of white people to seize our wealth for themselves. But thinking, by us, did bring an end to the robbery in many other parts of the world (such as India). And we in Ghana also adopted thinking to wrest our country back from foreign domination.
Now, what was foreign rule all about? It meant all the trees
surrounding our villages being at the mercy of foreign companies. You woke up one morning to go and fetch water from the stream. But you found the road to the stream blocked off Why? Because a timber company had felled some logs near the stream, and needed to make the road free for the logs to be pulled along the ground to timber trucks waiting to take the logs to Takoradi harbour!
Or you got up to hear the gong-gong being beaten, telling you that that year's “land-poll” (or “basic rate,”) would be three shillings per person, instead of two shillings and sixpence. You would not know how the rate was arrived at. But if you didn't pay it, you could go to jail for three months.
You hear, on another occasion, that the price of a “load” of cocoa – the product from which your family derives its main income – would be two pounds that year. Your father cries: “But I have been paying my labourers two shillings per day! I need at least three pounds per load to recover my costs!”
But to whom is your father going to complain? To the white “District Commissioner”, whom the villagers only see when his car blows dust on them, flying a British “Union Jack”? Or the Provincial Commissioner who flies a bigger “Union Jack”? Or the Governor, who lives in a stone castle in Accra, and is never ever seen, even by school headmaster who takes the “salute”on behalf of the Governor on “Empire Days”?
Gradually, thinkers begin to ask: Why did some of our villagers go to get killed in a place called Burma, to prevent the Germans (whites) from coming to take our land away from the British (also white)? Why are Indians being allowed to rule their own country whilst we are still being ruled by whites, even though some Indians are quite black like us?
Why were the soldiers who were conscripted from our villages to go and fight for the British in Burma, not paid the same pension as British soldiers, although they both faced the same risk of death or injury during the war? Why did they shoot ex-servicemen on 28 February 1948 when they demonstrated in support of their demand for their rightful pensions?
Didn't the British promise, in the “Bond of 1844”, to leave our country after ruling it for 100 years? Didn't the Bond of 1844 expire in 1944?
Why were the British cutting down cocoa trees affected by the swollen shoot disease, instead of finding a chemical cure for it? Would they do this if the swollen shoot had broken out on British farms?
For a thinking being, asking questions is the beginning of learning about things. There might be wrong answers to some questions, but wrong answers can be corrected. And once the correct answers emerge amongst an oppressed people, that is the end of deception, cheating and injustice. At least in the short term.
I say “short term” because – ahem! – sadly, oppression and deception are vices practised by all humanity alike, in one form or another!
In our case, the years 1948 to 1957 were the end of asking questions and the beginning of our finding answers. I repeat – humankind cannot grow without finding out for itself whether it has got the right or wrong answers.
Well, our questioning of foreign rule had reached a crescendo by the year 1948. Within nine years, we'd got the answers.
In other words, we accepted the reality of being fully human on 6 March 1957. And we've been acting like humans ever since. We have, like other humans, often acted stupid. But (also like humans) we are capable of correcting our mistakes and acting to advance our collective interests.
Long may we realise that at 63, no human being can expect others to thinkfor him or her. We must face the fact that our generation is the only one that faces the question: was it worth while for Ghana to become independent any you its people to become fully human, in the political sense?
Think, Sir/Madam, before you dismiss that question, which, I assure you, I pose with the greatest reluctance.
Meanwhile, please accept my very best wishes on our 63rd anniversary.