Gold Coast to Ghana
FIRST FOR SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
Portugal which was determined to hang on to its colonies, Britain had by the
end of the war reckoned that running the Empire was more trouble than it was
worth. At the same time African Nationalists were increasingly vociferous in
their demands for self rule. But it was not clear how to dismantle the colonial
machine, or when to dismantle it.
In the event it was African nationalists who
took charge of events, starting in West Africa. People like K.B. Asante, former
teacher and diplomat, who were educated and ambitious, also put their weight
behind the independence movement.
to former teacher and diplomat K.B. Asante talk about pre-Independence Ghana
Gold Coast in the 1950's was a country with the highest level of education in
the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa. The Gold Coast supplied many of the civil servants
working in Nigeria. Gold Coast nationalists had campaigned for home rule before
the Second World War. But it was Kwame Nkrumah who harnessed his leadership
to the mood of the people.
Already in 1947 Nkrumah was a full time politician, installed as General
Secretary of the United Gold Coast Convention. He was imprisoned by the
British for inciting people to revolt against the British but returned
in 1948 and formed the more radical Convention People's Party, or CPP.
In 1951 he was imprisoned for inciting strikes. Later in the year, elections
were held for a larger and newer Legislative Council, with Africans in the majority.
The CPP won. Nkrumah was released. He negotiated a new constitution with the
British and in 1954 he became Prime Minister. Independence was now on the cards
and there was a sense of excitement abroad. Three years later he led his country
to Kwame Nkrumah's talk about Ghana leading the way for African colonies to
join the Commonwealth
to Kwame Nkrumah on Ghana's independence
The touch-paper had been lit for the rest of
Africa. In 1959 an independent Ghana hosted the Accra All African People's Conference.
Hastings Banda and Kenneth Kaunda, among others, were there, ready to be inspired
with the vision of a new political future for their countries: Nysaland (to
become Malawi) and Northern Rhodesia (to become Zambia) respectively.
The path to independence in the
Southern African states
proved more problematic. The black majority
was up against a white settler population who wanted independence. This minority
was, in the main, hostile to majority rule.
At the same time the Portuguese refused to negotiate with the nationalist movements
of Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau and Sao Tome.