By Kwesi Yankah

Ghana flag

There are rumors that we are celebrating our independence anniversary today. My fear is that the rumor may be true, in which case there is cause for alarm! And in which case one can also ask, Inde-when-dence?

I am afraid we may have been doing this in the past 65 years; and that it is a holiday, and that there is a march past by children; and that it is followed by a holiday for children and adults; and that when it falls on a weekend, being so unforgiving we still squeeze a next day holiday; thereafter we count our fingers for the next holiday, which could be Easter. It never occurs to us to insist, show me your sweat, and I will give you a holiday!

Those readers who are not yet in their fifties never got the chance to see Kwame Nkrumah. For even some of us who were born before independence, the sight of Osagyefo was a far-fetched dream. The man was a housefly. Indeed, Ghana’s first President was a housefly.
During my school days at Winneba Zion, we would put on our best and walk to Winneba junction whenever news came he would drive past to Accra, probably from Nkroful his hometown, where he had retreated to meditate at the cemetery. But long hours of waiting were often in vain. Nkrumah would transform into a housefly and hum past the school children. The man must have done the magic at Apam junction and used the town of Awutu to reverse to human before arrival in Accra.

Back home, same children would resume local parades, singing and marching to songs they little understood with the refrain:

One man went to mow, went to mow Amadu
Two man went to mow, went to mow Amadu
One man went to mow, went to mow Amadu
One man two man three man went to mow, went to mow Amadu

Whoever was Amadu must have been strong enough to endure daily mowing… whatever mowing meant. We finished school years later only to know that Amadu was safe after all, and that what was mowed or weeded was not Amadu, but ‘a meadow’ (meaning lawn or grass). Oh mine, Inde-When-Dence.

Today, whether we like it or not, we remember Nkrumah the housefly at independence anniversaries; but to avoid embarrassment, we manage to censor from airplay his words: ‘Ghana our beloved country is free forever….‘The black man is capable of managing his own affairs.’ One of these days, let Africa abolish celebrations of independence and reflect on things to celebrate and things to commiserate. This should come easy in periods of stress and hardship, like we currently endure. Fortunately a high government official is quoted as saying the cost of celebrations this year should no longer be borne by central government. This should be corrected to mean ‘we don’t have money to celebrate ideals we don’t value’. This should tell us, there are advantages in being broke after all; it compels wisdom in spending.

Let independence days be committed to the search for lost national ideals. Let children learn and sing songs against greed, corruption, forest depletion, and against galamsey. And let’s be bold to revise our outmoded national anthem to reflect 21st century ideals. I love the song Oye, but Oye mentality should give way.

On Independence days, let’s get used to the greeting:

Today is 6th March, Independence Day,
Ghana, please accept my condolences!


6th March 2022

Prof. Kwesi Yankah
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