Author NeeLante Bruce
To most workers and students, Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day is just another day off to relax, do chores at home and catch up on homework. But what is the significance of this day?
21st September of every year has been a tradition in Ghana since 2009, when the then President, John Evans Atta Mills set it aside to honor the memory and legacy of Kwame Nkrumah – the first president of Ghana.
Even though admittedly, the independence of Ghana was a collective effort by various freedom fighters, it is worth acknowledging Nkrumah as being in the driving seat of this struggle.
After our Independence Day, it is arguably the most important day in the history of our nation; a day when we remember the founding father of modern Ghana, and honor his legacy. We are indebted to the great patriot who had the vision and tenacity that led to the social, economic, and most importantly political independence of Ghana back in 1957. None of the democratic freedoms for which Ghana has become known all over the world would have happened without the foresight of one of the original founding fathers, who set out with the express intention of political emancipation for Ghana and the whole of Africa. We owe Kwame Nkrumah a debt of gratitude – without him this fine nation of Ghana simply would not exist – and this is why we honour him on this Memorial Day each year.
1. In 1874, Britain took control over parts of Ghana, naming them the British Gold Coast.
2. Britain was weakened by the efforts of World War II and following a rising desire for independence, Ghana was the first sub-Saharan African country to achieve independence, on March 6th 1957.
3. Dr. Nkrumah was the driving force behind the independence of Ghana from British rule and founded the Convention People’s Party (CPP).
4. Nkrumah will always be remembered for the powerful speech he delivered on the eve of Ghanaian independence, when he proclaimed “Ghana, our beloved country is free forever”, from British rule. The speech was significant as it relinquished the British control over the Gold coast.
5. In 1960, Prime Minister Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was sworn into office as the first President of the country and the republic was proclaimed on July 1st 1960.
6. In February 1966, while on a state visit to Vietnam and China, Nkrumah’s government was overthrown in a military coup. Nkrumah never returned to Ghana and died in April 1972.
It is important as we celebrate Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day to remind ourselves that we should never take this day for granted or see it is simply as another holiday.
Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day is extremely important for Ghana for two reasons: firstly, it is a day on which we celebrate achievement – our many achievements, individual and collective that has made Ghana the beacon of democracy it is today. Secondly, it is an important occasion for the collective education of the population on Pan African issues pertaining to the true political and economic emancipation of the nation – that which Nkrumah preached about.
We need this occasion in the year just to remind us that we do not work, or live or play in isolation. We do it as a nation – a great nation, which has stood the test of time and which has a great, great history and potential to become one of the greatest nations in world.