There is no use screaming about how independent you are by driving away colonialist if you do not make independence meaningful
– Ama Ataa Aidoo
The above quote should make one reflect on the true meaning of independence. What does it mean to say a country has gained independence? Most people may have their own views on what independence means. Nonetheless, let’s take a flash back into the history of Africa, specifically, Ghana’s Independence.
gave to the people of Ghana on March 6th 1957;the day Ghana was “finally free” from her colonizer.Colonialism is the establishment, exploitation, maintenance, acquisition, and expansion of colony in one territory by a political power from another territory . During the colonial days, Africa was limited and had little or no say in their own personal lives. Colonization shuttered our freedom to speak as we desired, to discuss issues as we would have loved to and to make decisions for ourselves as we would have wanted. As Nkrumah cites in his book, Africa must unite, we were reliant upon the outside world and more particularly the United Kingdom for practically everything we needed.
Colonialism extracted most of Africa’s wealth (Gordon). On departure, colonial administrations left Africa with weak, mal integrated and severely distorted economies. These realities and others placed most of Africa into a multifaceted and tenacious dependency relationship. Africans were eager to wake up from the nightmare of being at the bottom and not the top. We desired to be our own bosses and joyfully shout on the streets of our motherland about how we feel and what makes us happy. But could we? No, we could not because we had rulers, bosses and caretakers who saw us as not more than servants.
However, Kwame Nkrumah came along and delivered us from these so called “monsters”. We were no longer under their manipulation and we could finally do things as we deem fit as a nation. So then can we say that we have been totally liberated? Nkrumah, in his independence day speech stated that our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of Africa.
This is because, Nkrumah’s vision was for a united Africa, a Pan-African continent. If one African country is suffering, we all suffer and our independence was supposed to be a liberation for the other African nations. The infrastructures that our colonizers built are being used now. The education system that they instituted improved a lot of lives and brought a lot of enlightenment to others. The health system they instituted, reduced the intake of herbs and concoctions which our forefathers used to make and consume.
Education-Achimota School and Infrastructure- Takoradi harbour
Nonetheless, the whole point of independence was so that we would be able to do things on our own and not have to depend on a foreign person to build our roads or schools. However, this is not the case for Africa. We are still dependent on most of these western nations for aid and still look up to them for help and support. Whenever we borrow money from the West, there are conditions attached to it and they tell us what to do with the money and how to use it so then we ask again, ARE WE TOTALLY INDEPENDENT? Independence is freedom from outside control or support.
However, this is not the case. Struggle and sacrifice does not cease with the attainment of freedom. We still find ourselves being controlled and told what to do by the West whenever we get support. For instance, the UK threatened to cut out aid in 2011 over the legalisation of homosexuality in Malawi, Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania. All these strings being imposed on us does not allow us to be free. Even the mere fact that we are borrowing from our colonial masters and they can still tell us what to do just emphasizes the fact that there is still some part of our lives that they are controlling. As such, Imperialism is still a most powerful force to be reckoned with in Africa. It controls our economies. It operates on a world-wide scale in combinations of many different kinds: economic, political, cultural, educational, military; and through intelligence and information services.
Africa now no doubt, is better than the Africa centuries ago that notwithstanding, can we say that we are totally independent? Can we say that we can finally do things on our own and we appreciate our culture and heritage? Does Ghana, being a part of Africa, have an identity? These and many other questions are what we as Africans need to ask ourselves.
Maame Kyerewaa Antwi