Why does Ghana have to be independent
Ghana is located on the Gulf of Guinea: where the Atlantic Ocean meets the coasts of the West African countries in the north and east. The country borders on Ivory Coast to the west, Togo to the east and Burkina Faso inland.
In comparison, Ghana is roughly the size of Great Britain, with whose history it is closely connected through the colonial era. The country has about 29 million inhabitants and is divided into ten administrative units, comparable to the federal states in Germany.
In the south of the country, on the coast, is Ghana's capital Accra. It was founded by an African merchant people, the Ga. As arable farmers, they operated on the coast and wanted to trade with the Portuguese seafarers who were then exploring the west coast of Africa.
Today Accra is estimated to have a population of more than three million. The city is growing rapidly, as many people are moving from the villages to the capital with the hope of finding work.
Language and education
The official language in Ghana is English, a legacy of the British colonial powers. English is spoken by all school-educated people in Ghana, all in all by around 60 percent of the population. Schooling is compulsory in the country and that explains why most of the skilled foreign workers in West African countries are from Ghana: engineers, doctors, pilots, teachers, nurses, bricklayers, mechanics and many more.
The most famous Ghanaian is Kofi Annan. Until 2006 he was Secretary General of the United Nations. For his work to improve human rights and for world peace, Annan is revered as a folk hero by many people in Ghana. He was born on a Friday - you can tell from his first name Kofi. In Ghana people are named after the day they were born and so there are basically only fourteen first names: seven for men and seven for women.
Rich in landscapes ...
Ghana is a tropical country that is climatically influenced by the nearby equator. There are no four seasons in Ghana, just a dry and a wet season. The dry season is very hot, the rainy season warm and humid.
The landscapes in Ghana change quickly: there is thicket, grassland, savannah and also rainforest. In the tropical forests in particular, much is still largely unexplored. There are ancient huge trees and exotic plants.
Originally the rainforest in Ghana was much larger than it is today, but after World War II, Ghana's colonial power Great Britain needed money. The precious woods were felled, extensive cocoa and coffee plantations were created and large areas for pineapple farms were cleared.
Even today, Ghana still exports coffee, tea, rubber, sugar cane and cocoa to the West. The country on the west coast of Africa is the second largest producer of cocoa in the world after the Ivory Coast. Processed products are imported back: chocolate, but also, for example, soap and car tires. As a result, Ghana, like many other African countries, can develop poorly economically.
... and natural resources
Ghana is now trying to break away from the colonial monocultures and is focusing more on its native products such as shea butter, cotton and cola nuts. Livestock is also growing in size, with sheep, cattle and goats being raised across the country.
With its fertile soils, Ghana is an agricultural country and over half of the population is employed here. Fishing is also a major industry in the coastal area.
Gold is and will remain the country's most important export. It accounts for over 30 percent of all exports. Ghana has a large number of different mineral resources, the reserves of which have so far been taken out of the ground little or not at all.
This is why some experts call Ghana a "geological miracle": lead, tin, copper, tantalite, columbite, mercury, oil, natural gas and iron ore are still hidden and waiting for costly investments.
Slave trade on the coast of West Africa
The history of Ghana goes back a long way. The first settlements were there 40,000 years ago. In the Middle Ages, reports are made of the great kingdom of Old Ghana, where today's republics of Mauritania, Senegal and Mali are located. At that time it was one of the most influential powers in West Africa.
The first Europeans came to Ghana in the 15th century. You must have been quite surprised. Because instead of the savages, cannibals and monsters who lived south of the Sahara according to gruesome fairy tales, they met the Ashanti people, who made no move to eat them.
The Ashanti traded and were famous for their gold, their craftsmanship and above all their martial arts. It took the British colonial power 70 years and seven wars to defeat the proud people in the hinterland of the Gold Coast.
The Portuguese initially focused on the peaceful trade in gold, pepper and ivory. But with the discovery of America in 1492 a great need arose for them in the new country for cheap labor for the tobacco, cotton and sugar industries.
The slave transports began in 1505. Ghana was the largest slave hub in Africa for more than three centuries. Portuguese merchants kidnapped people, put them on ships and sold them to North America. Soon more and more other Europeans were involved in the trade in slaves and goods.
According to historians, some Ghanaians themselves participated in the slave trade and earned money from it. Ibrahima Thioub, for example, Senegalese historian and university rector in Dakar, argues that the slave trade would not have been possible without the cooperation of African elites with Europeans.
To this day, the slave castles along the west coast of Africa are a reminder of this dark chapter in Ghanaian history. The captured Ghanaians were locked up here under inhumane conditions until they were shipped to America as slaves.
Many castles are well preserved to this day, some have been converted into political or cultural institutions. Christiansborg is the seat of today's government in Ghana in the capital Accra.
Path to independence
In 1820 the British declared Ghana their colony under the name "Gold Coast". Despite local resistance, the Ghanaians were initially powerless against the superior occupying power.
The history of independent Ghana began with the politician Kwame Nkrumah. He sat at the head of the resistance movement, organized strikes and boycotts and was thus instrumental in the fact that Ghana became the first black African country to liberate itself from colonial rule on March 6, 1957. Nkrumah was elected Ghana's first president, but he was controversial.
As Prime Minister of Ghana, he supported many liberation movements on the continent, went on a course of confrontation with the Western powers and sought proximity to the Soviet Union. He increasingly assumed the features of a dictator and led the country to ruin with his socialist policies.
Falling cocoa prices and poorly funded large development projects created chaotic economic conditions. In 1966, Nkrumah's rule was ended by a coup. Then there was a switch between military rule and democratically elected governments.
The black gold determines the future
Ghana is one of the few functioning democracies in Africa and is therefore a role model for the entire continent. Politically, the country is considered stable, and the economy is also relatively broad. Nevertheless, Ghana is one of the poorest countries in the world. Like every developing country, it has to contend with debt, little capital, falling world market prices and high unemployment.
Since 2007, however, the Ghanaians have had a new perspective. Oil fields have been discovered off the coast. A law is supposed to guarantee that local companies are sufficiently involved. But the majority of the license rights have already been secured by foreign companies. The future of the country will probably depend on oil, or rather on those who benefit from it.
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