Ghana Celebrates Independence Ahead of President’s US Visit

Posted March 6th, 2012 at 11:45 am (UTC-5)
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Ghana is celebrating the 55th anniversary of its independence from Britain with a traditional parade in the capital, Accra, and an address from President John Atta Mills.

The main celebration Tuesday in Accra's Independence Square will be replicated in the country's regional and district capitals.

Ghanaian Information Minister Fritz Baffour told VOA the date serves as a chance to renew the nation's mandate.

“The message is we have to be united. We have to sustain the gains we've made and we have to dwell on the things that unite us as well as separate us. And, so I think it's about a unity of purpose and the fact that it's important that if we're united we can develop faster.”

Following the independence celebrations, President Mills will travel to the United States where is scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama Thursday at the White House.

The information minister told VOA he expects the trip will deepen the relations between the United States and Ghana, and that such visits are meaningful to the Ghanaian people.

“The U.S. means a lot. It's one of our biggest and largest trading partners. We have a large population of Ghanaians in the diaspora living in the United States. The influences are here — we watch a lot of American films and American fare in terms of the media. And so in terms of economics, as I said, America has invested a lot in Ghana.”

Mr. Obama visited Ghana in 2009 on his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa as president. He said he went to Ghana to highlight its democratic track record.

Ghana was the first black African country, south of the Sahara, to gain independence from Britain. Ghana gained freedom in 1957. This year's celebration comes as the country prepares for a presidential election in December. Baffour told VOA that given recent turmoil in other African nations, leaders are aware of the political climate.

“I think all the political parties are working toward free and fair and peaceful elections. The rhetoric is coming down because of public concerns. Nobody wants what we had in Liberia and Ivory Coast, Somalia, for example, to happen. We're very much aware of that.”

President Mills, a former opposition leader, is seeking re-election after taking office in 2009.