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« Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #20 of 54: Gambia | Main | Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #22 of 54: Guinea »

May 27, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #21 of 54: Ghana

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- 21. GHANA Flag of the Republic of Ghana

Formal Name: Republic of Ghana.

Term for Citizens: Ghanaians.

Capital: Accra. Population: 1,925,000.

Independence Achieved: March 6, 1957, from Britain.

Major Cities: Takoradi, Secondi, and Kumasi.


Geography:

Ghana is located in West Africa. It is bounded in the East by Togo, in the West by Ivory Coast, in the North by Burkina Faso and in the South by the Atlantic Ocean. Ghana’s south is in the Guinea coast; the south experiences heavy rainfall and is forested. Mangrove swamps mark the coastal region. The middle section of the country is savanna and the North is semi arid. The total area of Ghana is about 92,456 square miles.


Population:

Ghana’s population is currently estimated to be about 20,922,000. Roughly half of the population lives in urban areas, much of it concentrated in Accra, Takoradi and Kumasi.

Ethnic groups and languages:

The major ethnic groups in Ghana are the Akan peoples; they are composed of the Ashanti, Fante and Twi. The Akan people live primarily in the coastal and forested mid section of the country. Towards the Ivory Coast border are the Agni and Baule people, who are also found in the Ivory Coast. The Ga people live around Accra. The people bordering Togo speak Ewe. The people of Northern Ghana speak the different forms of Moshi-Dagomba language. Towards the border with Burkina Faso are Mamprusi and Dagati speaking groups.


Religion:

Ghana is about 60% Christian, 20% Muslim and the rest a syncretic mixture of African and other religions.


Education:

Primary education is mandatory and compulsory. About 25% of primary school graduates go to secondary schools. Less than 10% of secondary school graduates go to universities. Literacy rate is estimated at 74.8%.

Economy:

Ghana has a private enterprise economy. There is extensive government participation in the economy. About 60% of the population practice subsistence farming. Cash cropping on small plots of land is wide spread. (Cocoa, palm oil, bananas, coffee, maize and yam are the major cash crops.) The industrial sector is gradually taking off, with light manufacturing emphasized. GDP estimate: $42.5; Per Capita GDP: $2, 100. Monetary Unit: Cedi (GHC).


History and Government:

Ghana has a long pre-colonial history. The Ashanti were one of the more established African kingdoms with a centralized government and a king at its head. Beginning in the late fifteenth century, the various European groups established slaving posts at the coastal regions of Ghana. From these “Castles” slaves were exported to the new world. The Coastal peoples of Ghana had extensive contact with Europeans and were one of the first African groups to acquire Western education and initiate the struggle for independence from foreign rule. Ghana was the first black African Country to gain its independence from Europeans. Dr Kwame Nkrumah established the first postcolonial government in Africa in 1957 and was an inspiration for other Africans fighting for their liberation from European rule. Initially, the government of Ghana was modeled after the British, with a House of Representatives, political parties and the majority party forming the government with a prime minister and cabinet. This has since changed into American oriented presidential system of government. Ghana now has an elected president, an elected legislature and an independent judiciary. After a period of military interventions in government, Ghana is today one of the most stable African countries where elections are regularly held, and power smoothly transferred to the party that won the election.

CONTEMPORARY HISTORY AND POLITICS


The name Ghana is derived from the tenth century West African empire called Ghana. The area itself was the home of many African groups, including the Ashanti and Fante.

During the transatlantic slave trading, Europeans built forts on Ghana’s coasts and from there bought slaves to be sold to the new world. Gold was also bought.

In 1874, Ghana, then called the Gold Coast, officially became a British colony. Ghana gained independence from Britain in 1957; she was the first black African country to do so.

Between 1957 and 1966, Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana, ruled the country. In 1966 were a military coup and thereafter a series of military coups. The last of these military interventions in governance was by flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings in 1981.

In 1992, Rawlings wrote a constitution and was elected as a civilian President. He was reelected in 1996 and at the end of his second and final term, according to the new Constitution, relinquished power to his successor, John Kufuor. Mr. Kufuor was reelected in 2004 and all indications are that he would hand over government to a successor. Ghana appears to be on the path to true democracy.

Ghana is divided into ten regions which are in turn subdivided into 138 districts.

John Kufour appears to be managing Ghana’s economy rather well. Whereas subsistence farming still plays a key role in Ghana’s economy, the country appears to be making headways in becoming an industrialized nation. The economy is considered stable enough to attract international investors. The government seems very transparent and corruption is on the decline.

Ghana, of all the West African countries, probably has the most disciplined civil service. The country has produced a number of well known civil servants, including the current Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan.

Education is well developed in Ghana; in fact, Ghana, relative to other African countries, has produced many well educated persons. Elementary and junior secondary schooling is free to all children. Senior secondary schooling and university education is available to those who can pay for them. But the most important thing is that education is available and many Ghanaians have access to modern education.

On the whole, Ghana is one of the most stable African countries. The various ethnic groups appear to get along well with each other. However, in 1994/5, there was substantial ethnic unrest in the Northern part of Ghana that resulted in the death of over 1000 persons and the displacement of over 150, 000 persons. Nevertheless, ethnicity does not seem to play a major role in Ghanaian politics, as in some African countries.

The Press in Ghana appears relatively free and not muscled by the government. There is private ownership of many outlets of the media.

The future of Ghana looks bright: with a well educated labor force and non-corrupt leaders, Ghana appears finally poised for economic take off.

ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at May 27, 2006 11:47 AM

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