Ghana History

By | June 1, 2022

With the name of Ghana or Gana, one of the most important Sudanese-type states that flourished in West Africa went down in history. The word defined the capital and the Kingdom and was perhaps a title due to the sovereign. The apogee of Ghana, whose wealth depended on the gold extracted in the ‘land of Wangara’, was reached between the 8th and 9th centuries, when it controlled more or less permanently, also through taxes, a vast region between the Senegal and Niger rivers, thriving thanks to trade along the caravan routes that crossed the Sahara. The interaction with the Berber Senhaja tribes led, among other things, to the conversion to Islam; but the Almoravids at the end of the 11th century. they carried out a military expedition which ended with the destruction of the capital. The geopolitical space occupied by Ghana subsequently passed under the power of the new Empire of Mali.

According to localcollegeexplorer, the first Europeans to come into contact with the coast corresponding to the modern Ghana were the Portuguese, who landed there in 1471 and called this stretch of the coast Costa d’Oro (Costa de Ouro). To protect the exploitation of the mines and their trade, the Portuguese founded the forts of São Jorge da Mina (Elmina), Axim, Shama and Accra, with military functions and political domination. Between 1637 and 1642 the factories in Portugal were taken over by the Dutch West India Company: mining was gradually supplanted by the slave trade, which continued until the early 19th century.

Great Britain in 1821 established the nucleus of the future colony, gradually taking over all the European strongholds. The opportunities offered by trade on the coast helped to enliven the development of African kingdoms in the interior, such as Denkera and Akwamu, who succumbed, however, to the emergence of the Ashanti Empire. Once the British settled on the coast, the clash with the Ashanti (1873), competing for sovereignty and commercial outlets, produced bloody wars and only in 1900 the Ashanti territories were added to the colony, giving rise to the possession of the Gold Coast (Gold Coast). Here, as in all its possessions, Great Britain applied the methods of indirect administration, favoring the customary authorities, especially in the interior regions, where a feudal infrastructure survived; but colonization also led to the growth of an elite among the urban classes, immediately in contact with European administration and education. The presence of two elites who moved in cultural spheres, administrative and territorial different turned out to be an obstacle on the road to the independence of Ghana; it fed, however, a more regional than ethnic division, since the state created by the British was endowed with historical and cultural if not linguistic unity.

The decolonization process accelerated after the Second World War. The Nationalist Party, the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), called for leadership Kwame Nkrumah, which aimed to mobilize the middle and lower classes and soon after founded a new party, the Convention People’s Party (CPP). Having obtained internal autonomy in 1950, the transition was crowned on March 6, 1957 by the proclamation of independence and the merger with British Togo. Nkrumah, whose party had won the 1954 elections, was made prime minister; he adopted for the new state, the first colonial possession in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence, the name of Ghana. According to the Constitution, Ghana recognized the English sovereign as head of state, but in 1960 it became a republic, while remaining in the Commonwealth. Nkrumah tried with little success to apply a program inspired by ‘African socialism’, and isolated himself, despite the proclamations in tune with Pan-Africanism, for the openings to the communist world which aroused the mistrust of both Western powers and moderate African governments. Heavy investments and the collapse of the price of cocoa on the world market dried up the state coffers. The CPP in 1964 became the single party and the authoritarianism of the government and the cult of the personality of the president reached a peak.

In 1966 the military overthrew the regime with a coup d’état: the powers were assumed by a National Liberation Council chaired by General J. Ankrah, with General A. Afrifa as the ‘strong man’. The following years, with two brief constitutional interludes in 1969-72 (with K. Busia, staunch opponent of Nkrumah, prime minister and Akufo-Addo head of state) and in 1979-81, saw the succession of military coups (1972, IK Acheampong, replaced in 1978 by General F. Akuffo), until the seizure of power in 1981 by J. Rawlings, who already in 1979 at the head of a group of lower-ranking officers had overthrown Akuffo and executed many members of the army, an intervention hailed as a revenge of the humble against the corruption of the powerful. Constitution suspended and political parties banned again,

The presidential elections of 1992 represented for Ghana, 11 years after the coup, an important test, the first after the approval of a new Constitution that reintroduced multi-partyism in political life. Rawlings, leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), was elected, thus legitimizing his position at the top of the country and was then confirmed in office in 1996, albeit in decline in popularity due to the increasingly degraded social climate of the country also due to the serious Inter-ethnic tensions erupted in the northern regions. The simultaneous legislative consultations, although won by the NDC, saw the emergence of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), which then led the opposition to victory in 2000. With the new majority, led by President J. Kufuor (re-elected in 2004), the Ghana has made progress in combating inflation, creating the conditions for an economic recovery. In the presidential elections of 2009, the NDC candidate, J. Atta-Mills, once again established himself in the office until his death in July 2012, succeeding his deputy JD Mahama, whoat the consultations held in December of the same year he was reconfirmed in the presidential office with 50.7% of the votes. The opposition leader N. Akufo-Addo won the presidential elections in December 2016, defeating the outgoing president receiving 53.8% of the preferences against the 44.4% awarded by the opponent; the politician was reconfirmed for a second term at the consultations held in December 2020, in which he obtained 51.5% of the votes against the 47.3% went to challenger Mahama.

Ghana History