To the average person it is probably any other day, but March 6th is probably the most important day in any Ghanaian’s year. Despite this wonderful country being so deeply religious, there is something else which Ghana values above the rest, her independence and young heritage as a Republic.
March 6th 1957 marked the day that this nation’s people, led by National hero Dr Kwarme Nkrumah, won its’ freedom by the British Empire. Before this date, Ghana had been known as the Gold Coast and was most notable for her brutal history involving centuries of exploitation from the land and people, through taking of gold and mineral reserves and also the taking of the people. The greatest crime against humanity in history emanated from Ghana’s beautiful coast. European forts were utilised for the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the horrors of the Middle Passage were not much worse than the conditions people from West Africa were kept in at Castles such as Cape Coast and Elmina in Ghana’s Central Region.
Volunteers came to spectate, whilst Ghanaians came not only to celebrate, but to remember the struggles their forefathers went through for their right to freedom. The national slogan of ‘Freedom and Justice’ stands proudly above the Black Star Arch in Accra’s Independence Square, opposite to where yesterday’s celebrations commenced.
For nearly everybody in the United Through Sport Ghana entourage this was their first chance to experience Ghana’s Independence Day in the capital. Our residential Academy players come from all over Ghana. We have representative players from the far North much closer to Burkina Faso than Accra. Several players emanate from the Eastern and Volta regions touching Togo,whilst large contingent have arrived from Ghana’s second city, Kumasi and the surrounding ‘Ashanti’ region, an area deeply affected by Ghana’s centuries of toils and tribulations with Colonialism.
An ominous morning greeted the crowd. Grey skies threatened and nearly succeeded in turning a proud day to one of farce. The UTS representatives were amongst the capacity crowd that witnessed the other side of Ghana’s hot tropical weather, the deluges of rain that descend in an instant. The relentless rain and wind tried its best to mar the celebrations of this special day.
The experience Ghana imposes on her visitors is something that leaves its mark. The strength and honour shown by the schoolchildren, armed forces and emergency service representatives that marched on behalf of their people in Black Star Square was a true sign of patriotism. These marchers, [upon receiving a standing ovation on their exit from the square] responded in the most Ghanaian fashion one could imagine. In no way deterred by hours of withstanding ferocious gales and rains, they happily danced for the thousands that had packed into the stands of the square. Together the servicemen in an outrageous display of patriotism and comradery absorbed the force of the storm and used the energy to entertain their wet and admiring onlookers.
The United Through Sport Ghana players, staff and volunteers did not witness a typical Independence Day comprised of proud speeches and order [the public address could hardly be heard over the winds]. The day epitomised the other facet of Ghana that its’ visitors come to love, the ability that all Ghanaians have to improvise something that seems ruined into something special and memorable in its own way. Whether this is small children using a ball made of trash and string to play football on wasteland or the serviceman standing tall and dancing together to salvage and savour a National Day of memorial and gratitude. The citizens of this young country really embody everything that people come to love and admire in Ghana.