On March 6th Ghana celebrates its independence day. A big military parade and political speeches are being held at the Independence Square in Accra. Music and dance fill the beaches and everything appears to be in the national colors red-yellow-green in order to remember the independence of Britain 60 years ago.
The path to independence
In 1949, after 75 years of British colonial rule, the Convention People’s Party was founded by Kwame Nkrumah. In the first years of its existence the party organized numerous boycotts and strikes to raise awareness and protest against the mischiefs in Ghana. A year later, in 1950, the first cries for right of self-determination were being uttered (‚Self-Government Now!‘). As a result many party officials were incarcerated, one of the being Nkrumah. Nevertheless the CPP was able to achieve a vast majority in the following elections. Nkrumah was instantly released from prison by governor Charles Noble Arden-Clarke and was immediately admitted to the administration. After Nkrumah was being elected Prime Minister in 1952, it took another 5 tumultuous years for the country to gain independence from Great Britain. These troubled years are being reflected in the Ghanaian flag as well: the red color represents all the people that worked hard or even died for the independence of Ghana. The star on the other hand is a symbol for Africa’s emancipation and unity in the fight against colonialism.
The biggest African community in Germany
40.000 people with a Ghanaian heritage are currently living in Germany, which makes them the largest African community in Germany from countries south of the Sahara. Half of them still have Ghanaian citizenship. The main cause of migration from Ghana were the quick industrialization and modernization during the presidency of Kwame Nkrumah. Gaining independence was the start of a time period during which Ghana was considered the richest country of tropical Africa and president Nkrumah was building schools and universities. This time period ended with the overthrow of the president, pushing the country into a financial and economical crisis. Many Ghanaians’ plans to enter the middle-class was destroyed and they started migrating into other countries. Especially students that wanted to study abroad and people who already gained their education in Ghana started leaving the country. That’s why this period is also known as the „Brain Drain“. Today almost half of Ghanaian college graduates live abroad, dubbing them „elite-immigrants“.
One of them is Stephen Ampofo, a successful engineer who’s committed as the chair of the African German Network Association and came to study in Germany in 1989. The son of a cocoa farmer accomplished everything: He mastered the time intensive and expensive German courses, which he started attending in Ghana. He adjusted to a different culture and graduated from his studies. Now he can even afford to support his friends in family using money transfer services like MoneyGram. „I am extremely proud that I was able to give myself and my family an edge by migrating to Germany“. Still, Stephen Ampofo cannot imagine becoming a German citizen. He wants to go home. „My monthly transactions are also meant to secure my future. I am helping my parents pay off the mortgage on their house which I will own in about 12 years.“ he explains.
Akwasi Opoku Edusei from Mannheim has a similar story to tell. He was born in Kumasi, the second largest city in Ghana. He also came to study in Germany at the age of 28. Today he is living with his wife in one of Europe’s biggest metro areas, the Rhein-Neckar-area. Initially, Edusei had to adjust to the climate – the Ghanaian weather is what he misses most. To him Ghana still represents paradise, which makes him even more proud on its independence day.
Last year he spent the day in Berlin, attending the celebrations of the Ghanaian embassy. „It was very beautiful. Not only Ghanaians were attending. Many politicians and members of society were invited.“ Akwasi Edusei is member of the Ghana-Union Mannheim/Ludwigshafen, whose members are campaigning for the development in their home country. Additionally they are selling Ghanaians with the integration into the German system. Aiming to ensure that obstacles will be overcome and possibilities will be utilized the union organizes different projects, meetings and events. As a point of contact and multiplier of information about „immigrants as entrepreneurs“ this organization is one of the most active African unions in Germany. Its members will celebrate their independence day by conversing about their former life in Ghana, their new experiences in Germany and old memories of the independence day celebrations in Ghana.