A Summary of Ghana’s History Since Independence

Ghana is a sub-Saharan African nation that achieved independence on the 6th of March 1957.


The truth and history

The Ghana Flag

Capital: Accra

Official Language : English

Largest Ethnic Group: Akan

Independence Day is March 6, 1957

Previously known as the Gold Coast, a British colony
The pan-Africanist movement is represented by the flag’s three colors (red, green, and black) and its central black star. This was a central subject in Ghana’s early history of independence.

At independence, there were high hopes and expectations for Ghana, but like all new countries during the Cold War, Ghana faced formidable obstacles. Kwame Nkrumah was removed from office nine years after Ghana’s independence. Ghana was governed by military regimes with different economic effects throughout the next 25 years. In 1992, the nation returned to democratic leadership and has since developed a reputation for a stable, liberal economy.

Pan-African Hopefulness


The 1957 independence of Ghana from the United Kingdom was heartily hailed throughout the African diaspora. African-Americans, such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, visited Ghana, and many Africans still fighting for their own independence viewed the country as a beacon of the future.
People in Ghana hoped they would finally reap the benefits of the wealth generated by the cocoa farming and gold mining sectors.
Kwame Nkrumah, the charismatic first President of Ghana, was also expected to live up to high expectations. He has extensive political experience. During the independence movement, he led the Convention People’s Party and served as the colony’s prime minister from 1954 to 1956 as Britain moved into independence. He was also a passionate pan-Africanist who helped establish the Organization for African Unity.

The Single Party State of Nkrumah


Nkrumah first surfed a tide of support in Ghana and around the world. Ghana, however, was confronted with all the formidable obstacles of independence that would soon be felt throughout Africa. Among these difficulties was its reliance on the West economically.
Nkrumah attempted to liberate Ghana from this reliance by constructing the Akosambo Dam on the Volta River, but the project left Ghana highly indebted and sparked fierce opposition. His party was concerned that the project will expand rather than decrease Ghana’s dependence. The project also necessitated the migration of over 80,000 individuals.
To pay for the project, Nkrumah hiked taxes, notably on cocoa farmers. This increased tensions between him and the powerful farmers. Ghana, like many emerging African governments, experienced regional factionalism. Nkrumah viewed the regional concentration of wealthy farmers as a danger to societal cohesion.

Nkrumah advocated for a constitutional amendment in 1964 that declared Ghana a one-party state and named him president for life in response to mounting dissatisfaction and fear of internal opposition.

1966 Coup


As opposition increased, people also argued that Nkrumah spent too much time creating networks and ties overseas and not enough time addressing the concerns of his own people.
While Kwame Nkrumah was in China on February 24, 1966, a group of officers led a coup to remove Nkrumah. In Guinea, fellow pan-Africanist Ahmed Sékou Touré appointed him honorary vice president.
After the coup, the military-police National Liberation Council promised elections. 1969 elections were held after the Second Republic’s constitution was adopted.

Years of the Second Republic and Acheampong


The 1969 elections were won by Kofi Abrefa Busia’s Progress Party. Busia became the Prime Minister, while Edward Akufo-Addo, the Chief Justice, became the President.
People believed that the new government would handle Ghana’s challenges more effectively than Nkrumah. However, Ghana still had substantial debts, and interest payments were killing the country’s economy. Cocoa prices were also falling, and Ghana’s market share was decreasing.
In an effort to right the ship, Busia instituted austerity measures and depreciated the currency, both of which were met with widespread opposition. Lieutenant Colonel Ignatius Kutu Acheampong successfully overthrew the government on January 13, 1972.


Acheampong reversed numerous austerity measures. Many people gained in the short term, but the economy suffered in the long run. As in the late 1960s, Ghana’s economy experienced negative growth (a drop in the gross domestic product) during the 1970s.
Inflation exploded. Between 1976 and 1981, the average inflation rate was approximately 50 percent. In 1981, the rate was 116%. For the majority of Ghanaians, life’s necessities were more difficult to get, and minor luxuries were out of reach.
Acheampong and his staff recommended the formation of a Union Government, which would be ruled by both the military and civilians. Continuing military rule was the alternative to the Union Government. Thus, it is perhaps not unexpected that the disputed Union Government idea was approved in a national referendum in 1978.
Prior to the Union Government elections, Lieutenant General F. W. K. Akufo replaced Acheampong and limitations on political opposition were loosened.

The Development of Jerry Rawlings


Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings and three other junior officers staged a coup in 1979, as the country prepared for elections. They first failed, but another squad of officers eventually broke them out of jail. Rawlings carried out a second successful coup and ousted the government.

Rawlings and the other officers claimed that the new Union Government would be no more stable or effective than its predecessors in order to justify seizing power just weeks before national elections. They did execute numerous members of the military government, including previous commander General Acheampong, who had already been deposed by Affufo, but they did not halt the polls themselves. They also purge the military’s upper levels.

The new president, Dr. Hilla Limann, pushed Rawlings and his fellow officers into retirement following the election. Rawlings attempted a second coup when the administration was unable to fix the economy and corruption continued. On December 31, 1981, he, along with three other officers and a few citizens, again seized power. Rawlings remained Ghana’s leader for the following twenty years.

Era of Jerry Rawlings (1981-2001)


Rawlings, together with six other members, established the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC), of which he served as chairman. Rawlings’ “revolution” had socialist tendencies, but it was also a popular movement.
Local Provisional Defense Committees (PDC) were established around the country by the Council. The purpose of these committees was to establish democratic processes at the local level. They were responsible for overseeing the work of administrators and ensuring that power was decentralized. In 1984, Committees for the Defense of the Revolution superseded the PDCs. However, when it came down to it, Rawlings and the PNDC refused to decentralize too much power.
Rawlings’ populist appeal and charisma originally garnered him support from the public. However, opposition existed from the outset. A few months after the PNDC’s ascension to power, several members of an alleged coup plot were put to death. The harsh treatment of dissidents is one of the chief complaints leveled against Rawlings, and press freedom was severely restricted in Ghana at the time.
As Rawlings distanced himself from his socialist colleagues, Western governments provided Ghana with tremendous financial help. This support was also contingent on Rawlings’ readiness to implement austerity measures, which demonstrated how far the “revolution” had strayed from its origins. His economic initiatives eventually led to improvements, and he is credited with preventing the economic collapse of Ghana.
In response to foreign and domestic pressures in the late 1980s, the PNDC began investigating a shift toward democracy. In 1992, a referendum on Ghana’s restoration to democracy was successful, and political parties were once again permitted.
In 1992, elections took place. Rawlings won the election while running for the National Democratic Congress party. Thus, he was the first President of the Fourth Republic of Ghana. The opposition’s boycott of the elections undermined the victory. The subsequent elections in 1996 were deemed free and fair, and Rawlings won again.
The transition to democracy resulted in additional Western help, and Ghana’s economic recovery continued to gain momentum during the eight years of Rawlings’ presidency.

The Development of Jerry Rawlings
Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings and three other junior officers staged a coup in 1979, as the country prepared for elections. They first failed, but another squad of officers eventually broke them out of jail. Rawlings carried out a second successful coup and ousted the government.

Rawlings and the other officers claimed that the new Union Government would be no more stable or effective than its predecessors in order to justify seizing power just weeks before national elections. They did execute numerous members of the military government, including previous commander General Acheampong, who had already been deposed by Affufo, but they did not halt the polls themselves. They also purge the military’s upper levels.

The new president, Dr. Hilla Limann, pushed Rawlings and his fellow officers into retirement following the election. Rawlings attempted a second coup when the administration was unable to fix the economy and corruption continued. On December 31, 1981, he, along with three other officers and a few citizens, again seized power. Rawlings remained Ghana’s leader for the following twenty years.

Today’s Ghanaian Democracy and Economy


The ultimate test of Ghana’s fourth republic came in 2000. Term constraints prevented Rawlings from running for president a third time. John Kufour, the candidate of the opposition party, won the presidential election. In 1996, Rawlings defeated Kufour, and the peaceful transfer between parties was a crucial indicator of the new republic’s political stability.

Kufour devoted the majority of his administration to advancing Ghana’s economy and international reputation. In 2004, he was elected again. John Atta Mills, Rawlings’ former vice president who had lost to Kufour in the 2000 elections, was elected president of Ghana in 2008. He died in office in 2012 and was temporarily succeeded by Vice President John Dramani Mahama, who subsequently won the constitutionally mandated elections.
The rule of John Dramani Mahama ended in 2016 after New Patriotic Party nominee Nana Addo Danquah won his third presidential election for the first time. Consequently, he won the recently concluded 2020 elections.


Despite the political stability, the economy of Ghana has stagnated. New oil deposits were discovered in 2007. This increased Ghana’s resource richness but has not yet stimulated Ghana’s economy. The oil finding has also increased Ghana’s economic fragility, and the fall in oil prices in 2015 has reduced the country’s earnings.
Despite Nkrumah’s efforts to ensure Ghana’s energy independence through the Akosambo Dam, power remains one of Ghana’s obstacles more than 50 years after his presidency. Even though the economic situation for Ghana is uncertain, observers remain optimistic, citing the stability and strength of Ghana’s democracy and society.
Ghana is a member of the Economic Community of West African States, the African Union, the Commonwealth, and the World Trade Organization.

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