Ghana was one of the African countries that attained independence by the use of peaceful methods or constitutional method. Ghana was initially called Gold coast.

Ghana’s mass African nationalism began in 1940’s with the formation of political parties which demanded independence through peaceful or constitutional method.

The Africans in Gold Coast pressed the colonialists with mass political moves, and the British colonialists decided to form a constitution called the Burns Constitution in 1946, which stipulated that the majority of members in the legislative council would be the Africans.

The Africans, however, realized two major weaknesses of the Burns Constitution:

  1. The legislative council was merely advisory and it did not have deliberative vote, the decisions were made by the British officials.
  2. Its representatives were very limited because out of the eighteen, thirteen were chiefs who were selected by their fellow chiefs who were supporters of the colonial system.

In 1947 United Gold Coast Convention (U.G.C.C.) was formed by J. B. Danquah, with Kwame Nkrumah being the General Secretary. The party was formed in opposition of the Burns Constitution. They started demanding for independence.

In 1948, the British government formed another constitution called the Coussey Constitution. A group of Africans opposed the constitution although it provided more chance for African representatives. Those who did not accept the constitution decided to break out from U.G.C.C. and formed Conventional People’s Party (C.P.P.) under the leadership of Kwame Nkrumah.

Nkrumah became very popular, with support mainly from youths, especially primary school leavers; workers in different fields, peasants and cocoa farmers. CPP protested not only against colonialism but also against the structure of authority in which the Ashanti Chiefs had immense power.

Nkrumah advocated for positive action through the following methods:
1.    Legitimate political action.
2.    Newspaper and educational campaigns.
3.    Constitutional application of boycotts, strikes and non-cooperation based on the principle of absolute non-violence.

He also started a newspaper called Accra Evening News which he used to propagate CPP views and to foster mass mobilization.

Nkrumah’s moves threatened the colonial government. He was arrested, charged with incitement and imprisoned.

The struggles of parties led to holding elections for independence.

The elections took place in 1951 while Nkrumah was still in jail. CCP won 33 seats against 3 seats of UGCC. Kwame Nkrumah was released from jail to form a government in 1952. He became the first Prime Minister in the Gold Coast.

In 1956 there were more elections.

CPP won 71 seats and 33 see were won by the opposition. On 6th March 1957 Gold Coast became independent, and the country took the name of the ancient empire – Ghana. In 1960 Ghana became a republic and Kwame Nkrumah became the president.

Reasons for a successful independence struggle in Ghana

There are various factors that account for a successful independence struggle in Ghana. It is one of the first African countries to attain independence. Ghana attained its independence in 1957.

Qn: Why Ghana was the first colony to get independence peaceful in Africa?

1. Good and strong leadership of the late Kwame Nkrumah. He was educated and very influential politician of the 20th century in Africa. He was able to form the nationalist political party CPP in 1948 which led Ghana to independence.

Strong leadership is one of the factors that enabled Ghana to acquire her independence peaceful earlier than any African countries, Kwame Nkurumah was a strong leader who was able to unite all Africans in Ghana and fight for one common cause that is independence.

2. Good and clear policies and slogans of the CPP party which were well understood by all Ghanaians for example the most popular CPP slogan were “Seek first the political kingdom and all things will be added into to it, self-governance now and independence now”.

The Convention Peoples Party that fought for Ghana’s independence had clear policies and elaborates programs. The party advocated for better prices for peasants’ products high wages to African workers and getting rid of colonial rule. This impressive idea managed to get support of the people in the struggle for independence.

3. Low Tribalism. Ghana did not suffer much from the problem of tribalism and ethnicity as opposed to other African colonies. There was low rate of tribalism in Ghana whereby the political party, Convention Peoples Party was not associated with any major tribe in Ghana.

The absence of tribalism made it possible for the nationalists to get enough support that was needed to present a common front against the colonial government.

4. The presence of few settlers in Ghana. The presence of few settlers in Ghana made it possible for it to regain its independence earlier than any African colony. There was absence of many white settlers in Ghana; the British had established a peasant economy thus they did not invest heavily. The absence of many white settlers made it easy for the British to grant independence to Ghana.

5. The role played by the ex-soldiers in Ghana. The ex-soldiers were promised good jobs and other amenities once they returned from the wars. Unfortunately, the colonial authorities failed to offer the ex-soldiers sufficient pensions and other benefits that they had promised them earlier.

These unfulfilled promises led to riots, as a result the ex-soldiers used the experience and exposure they had acquired during the war to organize and mobilize people to join the CPP towards the struggle for independence.

6. Good transport system. Ghana had relatively a good transport system which was helped by the small nature of the country. The transport system made it possible for the nationalists to move around the country campaigning to overthrow the colonial regime.

Ghana also was considerably a small country geographically, besides it had good transport and communication system, which linked people together.

7. The role played by English language (Common Language). Through this language, it was easy for the people to use this language to understand policy documents and slogans easily. The use of English as a common language helped greatly to the independence struggle in Ghana.

This language was known to almost all the people in Ghana hence they became aware about the objectives of the Ghanaian nationalists and gave them the much-needed support against the colonial government.

8. The role played by mass media. Such mass media including newspapers for example the presence of the Accra Evening news. Nationalist leaders and writers wrote different articles in it to government through this, newspaper the CPP messages, policies and slogans reached the majority poor.

9. External forces. External forces such as the United Nations Organization rise of USSR and the USA contributed greatly to the independence of Ghana. The UN put pressure on Britain to grant independence to Ghana. The USSR pledged to assets all African countries in their struggle for independence.

10. Strong unity and support of the mass. CPP got Unity and strong support at a national level to struggle for independence of Gold Coast. The CPP got great support from cocoa growers (farmers and peasants) who subscribed material support such as funds to engineer the struggle in Ghana.

11. The use of peaceful means. CPP used nonviolent method in the struggle against colonial government. Nkrumah successfully organized political rallies, demonstration, strikes, Boycotts, sit-ins and nonwhite cooperation to weaken and unpopularize British colonial administration


Role of Ghana to African Nationalism

The independence of Ghana in 1957 marked a turning point in Africa, it played a great role in ensuring the rest of the continent is liberated from colonial rule and this cause was led by Kwame Nkurumah.

By its virtue of being the first colony south of Sahara to dismantle the chains of colonialism, the first President of the independent Ghana, the late Kwame Nkrumah uttered:

“The independence of Ghana would be meaningless if the rest of Africa remained in the shackles of colonialism.”

To affect this, Ghana championed the decolonization of other African colonies

1. Ghana become the Headquarters of the pan African movement and conferences. Following the independence of Ghana in 1957, Accra the capital city of Ghana became the headquarters of the pan African movement. The Pan African movement played a significant role in the independence of Ghana.

In 1958 all independent states such as Libya, Egypt, Ethiopia, Morocco, Tunisia and Ghana met in Accra where they laid strategies on how to help other African countries to attain independence. This conference had agenda on how best the decolonization process could take place. It laid down methods and tactics to be employed in the liberation process.

2. Inspiration. The independence of Ghana in 1957 inspired many African countries to fight for their independence as well. Kwame Nkurumah acted as a limelight to other African states that were still under colonialism to fight for their independence. This is one of the reasons that encouraged Africans to use armed struggle so as to attain independence.

3. Encouraged African unity. Kwame Nkurumah contributed to the independent of many African countries by encouraging unity in the continent. He convened a meeting for all African trade unions in 1959 with the aim to unite all African states into a confederation. African unity was a crucial factor if African was to succeed against colonial rule.

4. Put pressure on France. Kwame Nkurumah exerted a lot of pressure on France to grant independence to Algeria. In 1959 to 1960 a team of delegates from Africa, Britain and America went to monitor the situation in Algeria. It was Nkurumah who took initiative of such a visit. Ghana also pressurized France to end her dominated in West Africa.

5. Ghana became the model. Ghana under Nkurumah became the model for all African countries to emulate (cope). Nkurumah once said that if he could, he would have delayed the independence of Ghana until a time when other Africa countries are independent.

The position of Ghana encouraged many African countries to struggle for independence. This made many African countries to go for vigorous campaign against colonialism and get sovereignty like that of Ghana.

6. Establishment of ideological college. Ghana under Nkrumah, established an ideological college in Accra named after his name, which was responsible in teaching Ghanaians and other African teenagers the socialist Ideology and the struggle for independence.

Many African leaders attended the training for example Robert Gabriel Mugabe attended the training where he harnessed a well of knowledge and skills on how best to struggle for the independence of Zimbabwe.

7. Provision of Financial and moral support. Ghana under Kwame Nkurumah provided financial support to most of the nationalist movements in Africa that were fighting for independence. The financial and moral support given by Nkurumah inspired many African countries to fight against colonial rule.

8. Ghana influenced the Formation of OAU. Nkrumah championed the formation of the Organization of African Unity, which both materially and morally supported the decolonization process in Africa.

Ghana under Nkrumah pled other African countries, which were independent by 1960’s to form the OAU decolonization committee, which could work hand in hand with the UNO –Trusteeship council to end colonialism.

The Nkrumah’s dream came into a good fruition on 25th May 1963 when the OAU was officially founded with its headquarters in Addis Ababa-Ethiopia

9. Invitation of the countries. Ghana campaigned for the invitation of the countries, which were still under colonialism as they were given methods and plans as to how to paralyze (end) colonialism in their respective countries.

10. Strengthened Pan – African movement. Ghana under Kwame Nkrumah strengthened Pan – African movement which opposed colonialism. In April 1958 all independent states like Libya, Ethiopia, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia were invited to meet in Accra. In 1960 there was another meeting in which the countries laid down plans which could be used to help other countries get their independence.

11. Ghana became the headquarters of ant colonial groups of Africa. Following her independence all issues pertaining independence in Africa were discussed in Accra Ghana.


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