General News of Monday, 5 March 2007
Black Star flags flutter as Ghana celebrates 50th
Ghanaians hoisted their Black Star flag across the
country on Monday for the country's 50th birthday
party and authorities pledged a two-week respite from
power blackouts that have plagued them for months.
Tuesday's jubilee marks half a century since Ghana
became the first black African country south of the
Sahara to gain independence from colonial rule,
setting a pattern for the continent, but some see the
celebrations as a waste of money.
The red, yellow and green flag adorned with a black
star fluttered from palm trees, electricity poles and
"When you look how at our friends have suffered, by
God's grace, we are here. We have suffered, but look
at Liberia and Sierra Leone, we have reason to be
proud," said Nora Kattah, a flag wrapped round her
Thousands of people were expected to congregate in
Accra on Monday evening for a party with a
re-enactment of the Declaration of Independence and
fireworks at midnight to mark the precise anniversary
Singer Stevie Wonder and black American politician
Jesse Jackson were expected to join African leaders
including Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Zimbabwe's
Robert Mugabe and Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo, along
with Britain's Duke of Kent.
"The independence of Ghana was a landmark event with
global impact. They said the sun would never set on
the British empire and Ghana was a huge blow to
British colonialism," Jackson told Reuters.
Ghana's independence inspired a wave of liberation
struggles around the continent and the world.
The celebrations have not been without controversy.
Former President Jerry Rawlings, who led two coups and
ruled for nearly 20 of Ghana's 50 years of
independence before stepping down in 2000, will not
attend the celebrations.
A statement released at the weekend said Rawlings, a
vocal critic of President John Kufuor's
administration, refused to share a platform with "the
same people who have taken every opportunity to
denigrate us for the last seven years and see no good
in what we did for this country."
An Accra court has banned a demonstration organized by
the Committee for Joint Action, a gathering of
opposition politicians and critics, amid fears the
police would be overstretched.
Many still question the decision to spend $20 million
on the yearlong commemoration, including a hefty chunk
on cars for visiting presidents.
"We should have invested that money in other areas,
water and electricity," said office worker Emmanuel
Danso, a flag tied round his neck.
Rolling power cuts have become a daily annoyance for
those residents lucky enough to have electricity at
For some, any sense of patriotism is obscured by the
poverty that still exists in Ghana fifty years since
"Politically our leaders have failed us. Only
politicians or people who know people in politics live
well in this country," Emmanuel Amanor said on his way
to work in central Accra.The