Sixty-six years ago on March 6, Ghana became the first country in Africa to gain independence from colonial rule.
With other members of the Big Six at the old Polo Grounds in Accra, Kwame Nkrumah declared this new freedom to the people of Ghana with a remarkable speech that would later become an iconic statement in the history of Ghana.
You’ve probably read or heard several conflicting versions of Kwame Nkrumah’s speech on that day. The first two lines seem the most quoted but beyond that is an important message that is still relevant to the Ghanaian citizen today.
Below is the full speech of Kwame Nkrumah on March 6, 1957:
“At long last, the battle has ended!
And thus Ghana, your beloved country is free forever.
And yet again I want to take the opportunity to thank the chiefs and people of this country, the youth, the farmers, the women who have so nobly fought and won this battle.
Also, I want to thank the valiant ex-servicemen who have so co-operated with me in this mighty task of freeing our country from foreign rule and imperialism.
And as I pointed out… I made it quite clear that from now on – today – we must change our attitudes, our minds, we must realise that from now on, we are no more a colonial but a free and independent people.
But also, as I pointed out, that also entails hard work.
Reshaping Ghana’s destiny
I am depending upon the millions of the country, and the chiefs and people, to help me to reshape the destiny of this country.
We are prepared to pick it up and make it a nation that will be respected by every nation in the world.
We know we are going to have difficult beginnings, but again, I’m relying upon your support, I’m relying upon your hard work.
Seeing you in this… it doesn’t matter how far my eye goes, I can see that you are here in your millions and my last warning to you is that you are to stand firm behind us so that we can prove to the world that when the African is given a chance he can show the world that he is somebody!
We have awakened. We will not sleep anymore. Today, from now on, there is a new African in the world!
| Our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of Africa.
Dr Kwame Nkrumah 6th March 1957
That new African is ready to fight his own battles and show that after all, the black man is capable of managing his own affairs.
We are going to demonstrate to the world, to the other nations, that we are prepared to lay our own foundation.
Our own African identity
As I said in the assembly just minutes ago, I made a point that we are going to create our own African personality and identity. It’s the only way that we can show the world that we are ready for own own battles.
But today, may I call upon you all – that on this great day, let us all remember that nothing in the world can be done unless it’s had the purport and support of God.
We have won the battle and we again re-dedicate ourselves … Our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of Africa.
Let us now fellow Ghanaians, let us now ask for God’s blessing and for only two seconds in your thousands and millions, I want to ask you to pause only for one minute and give thanks to almighty God for having led us through our difficulties, imprisonments, hardships and suffering to have brought us to the end of our trouble today.
One minute silence.
Ghana is free forever and here I will ask the band to play the Ghana national anthem.“
Editor’s note: Transcript from the BBC