Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Ghana @ 50

Ghana celebrated it's 50 years of Independence from Britain yesterday. Thousands of Ghanaians took to the streets to celebrate. Mark and I made our way to Independence Square early in the morning, but not early enough to find a seat in the immense stadium. Many people grabbed seats as early as 5:30 a.m. and others spent the night there.

Once we realized it would be nearly impossible to see the proceedings, we headed to the back of Independence Square and down to the beach. Here we found hundreds of people enjoying the cool breeze while still feeling part of the festivities. The loud speaker from the stadium squawked out political speeches and marching tunes, but few seemed to pay much attention. We watched children and teens play soccer, splash in the surf, and wander along the water's edge. The breeze coming off the ocean was also a welcome air conditioner.

There's been much talk about the $20 million US spent on the celebrations, and heated discussion on exactly what Ghana has to celebrate, but yesterday, it seemed Ghanaians just wanted to party. They flooded the streets decked out in national colours. Mark and I even let one aggressive entrepreneur paint the country's flag on our toe nails.

There are good reasons to question the money spent on the festivities. Villages in northern Ghana still don't have eletricity. One journalist told us yesterday people in these same villages didn't even know Ghana was celebrating 50 years of Independence. The celebrations have little impact on their isolated lives.

For today, however, we'll leave political discussions behind. Yesterday Ghana seemed proud. It was nice to see people dancing in the street, and smiling as we passed. Last night at around 10 p.m. as we wearily headed home after 14 hours in the heat, we saw a young man stick his head out of a taxi window and yell in our direction "Ghana is 50!", he said. We smiled and waved back in a sign of unity.


Below you can find the day in pictures...

A young girl squats on the beach behind Independence Square

An aggressive entrepreneur convinces us to paint
our toe nails with the Ghanaian Flag

Hundreds of people flood onto the beach as Independence
Square fills to capacity

A few young boys enjoy playing soccer while decked out in national colours

Soldiers relax as they provide security during the proceedings

A patriotic woman watches her child on the beach

Mark's height allows us to catch a bit of the activity
inside Independence Square on camera

People dance in the streets to celebrate Ghana's Independence Day

A young girl watches as I take her picture,
half hiding behind the safety of a pole


Anonymous said...

It seems that since the beginning of time humans have had a need to celebrate and have always been willing to use scarce resourses to do it, in old times, the best food etc and now money. We come up with all kinds of reasons, religion, victories, milstones. Whichever we choose, celebration just seems to be a human need. (even when outsiders may not see anything to celebrate)

Janet & Mark in Ghana said...

Hi Catherine,

Thanks for your comment. You're right. Some times people just need to be happy and have fun. We all love parties and need to find excuses to celebrate. This week Ghana has chosen to celebrate. We'll all get back to work next week :)

- Janet

Anonymous said...

I agree too. We all need time to celebrate. We are coming into my favourite tme of year. St. Patrick's Day. I begin on Friday and plan to celebrate all week. Love, Mummy Daddy plans to celebrate with me at the Irish dinner on Saturday night.

Anonymous said...

Mark and Janet,

Beautiful photos! Enjoy the celebration!


Janet & Mark in Ghana said...

You'll be happy to know, mom, that we found an Irish bar in Acrra! That's where we'll be Saturday night. We'll be sure to toast you! - Mark