13 April, 2007
GHANAIANS IN BRITISH COLUMBIA CELEBRATE NATION'S 50TH BIRTHDAY
IN GRAND STYLE
Surrey, BC, Canada, April 8, 2007
Two eventful days and two spectacular events have kept Ghana on
the lips of many here and it is likely to be so for some time to
A well-attended symposium and a sold out gala night organized by
the Ghana Canada Association of British Columbia (GCABC) to mark
Ghana's 50th independence anniversary kept tongues wagging about
what the West African nation's trailblazing independence 50 years
ago meant to people of African descent everywhere.
On March 23 a symposium jointly organized by the GCABC and Kwantlen
University College under the theme: Ghana and Canada-50 Years of
Friendship attracted more than 350 participants including local
dignitaries-members of the Province's Legislative Assembly, students,
professors and the members of the general public.
For more than three hours, the audience was treated to a lively
panel discussion of 50 years Ghana-Canadian relations, but also
Ghana's independence story by speakers from the Canadian Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, The Canadian International Development Agency
(CIDA), academia, Non-Governmental Organizations and Ghanaian-Canadian
Ghana's High Commissioner to Canada, Her Excellency, Dr. Margaret
Amoakohene delivered the keynote address. In her speech, Dr. Amoakohene
traced the history of the struggle for Ghana's independence and
paid tribute to leaders of Ghana's independence movement, particularly,
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah Ghana's first president, who she said linked Ghana's
independence to the liberation of the rest of Africa.
Dr. Amoakohene said Ghana's Golden Jubilee also marked 50 years
of post-colonialism in Africa. Ghana's 50th independence anniversary
"is a celebration not only for Ghana, but for the whole of
Africa." But she also criticized African leaders who "took
independence as an end in itself," and thereby leaving their
countries in economic ruin.
Dr. Amoakohene also observed that the anniversary also marked 50
years of Ghana-Canada relations. She said Canada, has since Ghana’s
independence, been consistent in its assistance to her country and
praised the Canadian government and people for their continued assistance.
Speaking under the theme, "Ghana and Canada: 50 Years of Friendship:
What Next?" eight panelists discussed the historic significance
of Ghana's independence, Ghana's role in the liberation of other
African countries from colonial rule, the singular and progressive
role of Ghana’s pioneer president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah , and Ghana-Canada
Dr. Charles Quist-Adade, Kwantlen University College professor
and organizer of the symposium praised Dr. Nkrumah and his fellow
compatriots, collectively called the "Big Six" for facilitating
the independence of Ghana from more than a century of British colonial
Speaking on the topic "Kwame Nkrumah, the Big Six and the
Fight for Ghana's Independence," Dr. Quist-Adade observed that
the Big Six discovered the mission of their generation and strived
to fulfill it. Dr. Nkrumah, he said, captured the essence of this
mission of the independence leaders in the following two noble sayings:
"We prefer independence with danger to servitude in tranquility,"
and "It is better to govern and misgovern ourselves than to
be governed by someone else."
"These sayings by Dr. Nkrumah are testimonies to the fact
that there's nothing greater and more precious than liberty. Indeed,
there is no price for liberty," Dr. Quist-Adade added. Dr.
Quist-Adade who doubles as Public Relations Officer of the Ghana-Canada
Association of British Columbia noted that "although Ghana
at mid-life may be suffering mid-life crisis" and that even
though "the price of freedom may seem so costly to some, Ghanaians
are better off as a free people to manage or mismanage our affairs
than to be ruled by someone else."
He deplored the military coup that ousted the Nkrumah's Convention
People's Party regime in 1966 and saying the coup, which was teleguided
by the United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was the
worst thing to have happened to Ghana and the entire African continent.
The coup not only "'prevented Ghana from becoming the Malaysia
on the West Coast of Africa,'" it also aborted Africa's march
toward Nkrumah's pet project, a continental union government, he
Dr. Francis Adu-Febiri, a Sociology professor from Camosun College
in Victoria, BC, acknowledged the youth, farmers, women, and workers
as the real heroes and heroines in the struggle for Ghana’s independence.
Speaking on the topic "Youth, Leadership and Grassroots Democracy
and Ghana's Independence," Dr. Adu-Febrir stated that the people
of Ghana had long been agitating and organizing against British
He said it was a mark of political acumen and great foresight on
the part of Dr. Nkrumah to have tapped into the existing freedom-fighting
spirit and energies of ordinary Ghanaians, notably the detached
youth or "Veranda Boys" in the fight for independence.
Without the grassroots, independence would have been impossible,
Mrs. Theresa Agbemenu, speaking on the role of Ghanaian women in
the struggle for Ghana's independence and national building, paid
glowing tribute to Ghanaian women, who she described as "the
unsung heroines" of Ghana's independence struggle and nation-building
effort. She singled out the "Makola market women" for
praise noting that they were the financiers and the real movers
and shakers of the Convention People's Party as it mobilized the
country toward independence. After, independence, the role of the
Ghanaian women became even more indispensable as they worked even
harder to build the foundations of the new Ghana.
Mr. Richard Le Bars, Deputy Director for West Africa in the West
and Central Africa Division at the Department of Foreign Affairs
and International Trade stated that Canada recognized Ghana as a
role model for the rest of Africa.
Mr. Le Bars recalled that Canada has shared close relations with
Ghana since its independence and even before. In fact, 2006 marked
a landmark - the 100th anniversary of the first major Canadian presence
on Ghanaian territory. In 1906, Canadian missionaries from Quebec,
Les Pères Blancs, established a church in Navrongo, in what is now
Upper East Region. "Canada recognizes Ghana as a model for
Africa: a country with strong economic growth, a stable democracy,
with regular, free elections; a country that protects the freedom
of speech (including a vibrant press), and one that promotes a dynamic
civil society and private sector;" Le Bar said.
Ms. Marjorie Ratel, a Vancouver nurse and president of the Korle-Bu
Neuroscience Project focused on the role of NGOs in the socio-economic
development of Ghana with a particular emphasis on the Korle-Bu
Neuroscience Project, a joint international venture between the
Vancouver, British Columbia and Accra, Ghana-based Korle-Bu Neuroscience
Foundations. The joint venture is raising funds to build a world
class Neuroscience Centre of Excellence for Ghana and the West African
Appealing for support for the project, Ms. Ratel outlined the acute
need for a neuroscience hospital in Ghana and West Africa. "Ten
per cent of all hospital admissions in the region are for disease
of the nervous system, such as strokes, epilepsy, head and spine
injuries, brain tumours and childhood malformations including spina
bifida and hydrocephalus."
She appealed to Ghanaians in the Diaspora to pull together and
support their homeland. She also called on "all members of
society, as global citizens to financially and expertly support
the vision of our project and that of our predecessors." The
website for the foundation may accessed at: http://www.korle-buneuro.org/
Mr. Kwenu Turkson, for his part, observed that in spite of attempts
to demonize him and discredit his outstanding achievements, Dr.
Nkrumah is still recognized as one of the most respected leaders
in the history of Africa. Mr. Turkson who spoke on the topic "Ghana's
Independence and the African Diaspora" said Nkrumah is today
recognized as one of the most influential Pan-Africanists of the
20th century and in 2000, he was voted Africa's, "man of the
millennium," by the BBC.
Mr. Turkson, who is social activist took issue with Nkrumah's detractors
who charge that Nkrumah inherited the richest country in Africa
and left it the one of the poorest. Mr. Turkson chided those who
have criticized Nkrumah for his alleged one-party dictatorship,
the Preventive Detention Act (PDA) which jailed his political opponents
without trail by saying to the applause of the audience "What
do you do when your enemies spare no effort to unseat a democratically
elected government through bombs and bullets, killing innocent children
in the process?
"What is George Bush doing with alleged terrorists in Guatanamo
Bay? Nkrumah did not send his enemies, who threw bombs at him in
their bid to assassinate him to Guantanamo Bay," he said Nkrumah,
he said did not invent the PDA; he inherited it from the British
colonial government and it has not been repealed since."
To critics who accuse Nkrumah for allegedly squandering Ghana's
wealth on white elephant projects and on the African liberation
movement, Mr. Turkson said Nkrumah, unlike other African leaders,
spent Ghana’s money on meaningful projects in Ghana on a worthy
African cause, not on personal aggrandizement. "It takes time
for money invested in projects to bear fruits," he observed.
Other speakers were Mrs. Theresa Ohene-Asante who spoke on the
topic "The Ghanaian Canadian Woman: Contributions, Challenges
and Prospects" and Ms. Bon E. Cummings, Deputy Director of
CIDA's Ghana Program who topic was "CIDA and Ghana’s Socio-economic
L-R Hon. Dave Hayer, Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism
and Immigration , Her Excellency Dr. M. Amoakohene, Hon. John van
Dongen, Minister of State for Intergovernmental Relations and Hon.
Richard Lee, MLA, Burnaby North. In the background is Mr. George
Kyei Twumasi, GCABC Organizing Secretary
The Panelists: L-R Mr. Kwenu Turkson, Mrs. Theresa Ohene-Asante,
Ms. Marjorie Ratel, and Ms. Bon Cummings
Mr. Richard Le Bar Deputy Director for West Africa in the West
and Central Africa Division at the Department of Foreign Affairs
and International Trade speaking at the symposium
Dr. Adu-Febiri speaking at the symposium
L-R: Dr. Charles Quist-Adade, Hon Dave Hayer, H. E. Dr. Amoakohene,
and Dr. Skip Triplett before the symposium
Did you say hairless and hatless? Hatless yes, but Dr. Charles
Quist-Adade wears two hats. He doubles as Kwantlen University College
professor and GCABC Public Relations Officer