Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Ghana Celebrates its 50th

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Ghana's independence from Great Britain. They're partying in Accra as I write. Kwame Nkrumah, the father of the Ghanaian state, was the first in Africa to stand up and say: enough colonialism, it's time for Africans to govern Africans. Following his lead, other countries soon followed suit. In the West, we know Ghana as the home of the proud Ashanti people, their fine wood carvings and colorful Kinte cloth.
My Ghanaian friend, Osei Agyapong Kwaku, tells me there are currently 20 million inhabitants of Ghana - of which 12 million are children. Osei attends Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology. Five other schools: the University of Ghana; the University of Cape Coast; University of Mines & Technology; University of Education and the University for Development Studies comprise the government's system of higher education. Osei's father is "Big Alex," and his mom is called "Comfort." Osei tells me that in Ghana, boys and girls take one of their names from the day of the week on which they are born. For example, boys born on Wednesday like Osei, take the name "Kwaku." Former Secretary General of the United Nations, Ghanaian Kofi Annan, was born on a Friday - as all boys born on that day take the name "Kofi." And the founder of the country, Kwame Nkrumah was born on a Saturday, as Kwame signifies that day of the week.

So if you're looking for a good excuse to raise a glass, or to honor the human spirit, Ghana's independence day celebration rises to the occasion. To Osei and his countrymen, congratulations.

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