Saturday, April 08, 2006

Basic Ghana Facts (from afar)

Located in West Africa, Ghana is an very peaceful country often favoured by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) because of its stability and co-orperative government.

Ghana became the first country in its region where Europeans arrived to trade when Portugal set up a trading settlement in 1482. Several hundred years later, in 1874, Britain declared the costal area of Ghana as a crown colony. Ghana achieved independence in 1957, making it the first black African nation in the region to achieve independence from its colonial power. Kwame Nkrumah was made the first prime minister and became its first president when Ghana became a republic in 1960. A series of political and military coups followed in the following 20 years, as Ghana became a one party state.

The most influential coup leader was Jerry Rawlings, whose first coup, in 1979, was short lived. However, he re-took power in 1981 and remained in power until 2000. Rawlings was an interesting ruler who refused to subscribe to any ideology. His social policies and advisors were all extremely leftist, while his economic policies have been described as conservative. When the USSR went under he quickly turned to the West and became very friendly with the IMF and the World Bank, which has been a great source of criticism and praise. In 1992 he set up a referendum to approve a new constitution introducing a multiparty system, wherein he was elected president.

In 1994 a wave of violence broke out in the Northern Region over a land dispute, fostering an eruption of ethnic violence between the Konkomba and the Nanumba as 1000 people are killed and another 150 000 displaced. There have been several other disputes since that time but the country is relatively stable, especially by sub-Saharan Africa’s standards.

In 2000, power was successfully transferred to the new president, John Kufuor, who has been peacefully re-elected since then. I've been trying to read at least one of the Ghanaian newspapers ( regularly for the past couple months. The media in the country, from what I can tell, enjoys a high degree of freedom and can (and does) criticize the government.

And that's it for the boring details. I was going to write about the rich musical and cultural traditions, but I think that's something that I can only write about from the field when I'm fully immersed in them.

One important fact that I can't leave out is that Ghana is in the World Cup this year and that I'll be there when the excitement hits. Go Black Stars!


At 10:15 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hurray for soccer! I had a teacher last in who was in for good old Mr. Merks, and had actually taught in Ghana for a while. I learned a bunch about how they lived, were schooled and about some of their beliefs. It was really neat and i know that you'll really enjoy it.


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