There was a great showcasing of culture when a cross-section of the Ghanaian society converged on the Volta regional capital, Ho, Monday to celebrate the country’s 66th independence anniversary.
The commemorative event held annually to acknowledge the day the country cut its umbilical cord from British colonial rule was yet another rare moment when Ghanaians from all walks of life put aside personal differences and political persuasions and rallied behind the national flag.
This year’s event was held on the theme: “Our unity, our strength, our purpose”.
Political leaders, traditional authorities, workers, security agencies and all citizens were joined in the celebration as they sang patriotic songs to thank God for the 66-year independence journey.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo led the charge in hoisting the flag of Ghana at the event, which was attended by many dignitaries, including members of the diplomatic corps.
Even before the official take-off, Ho and its surroundings were bustling with human activities, as many families and friends from that part of the region returned to take part in the historic hosting of the event in the region.
As early as 6 a.m., the atmosphere was already charged as hundreds of people made their way to the Volta Regional Youth Resource Centre at Adaklu Tsrefe.
The road leading from Ho to the parade ground was awash with the red, gold and green national colours, with members of the public also adorned in the national colours.
It was a bumper-to-bumper situation as drivers of the Metro Mass Transit buses that had been made available to transport patrons to the venue and private vehicles made their way to the centre.
Typical of such events, small businesses were on hand to cash in.
They mounted stands and pitched camps at strategic locations outside the Youth Centre, with many of them selling national paraphernalia ranging from branded caps, shirts, flags to bags, water and soft drinks, snacks and a variety of cuisines.
The security agencies, made up of the police, the military, the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Ghana Prisons Service, were positioned at strategic locations both in the town and the venue of the event to provide safety for patrons.
By 7:30 a.m., the 5,000-capacity Youth Resource Centre was filled as the spectators eagerly awaited the arrival of the chief host, President Akufo-Addo.
With its strategic location at the foot of the famous 580-metre Adaklu Mountain, the Youth Resource Centre gave patrons of the Independence Day Celebration the opportunity to see the imposing scenery of the land, which hosts many animal species and other biodiversity.
Some of the spectators at the event also discussed the African buffaloes, bushbucks, baboons, rainbow agama and other animal species that can be found in Kalakpa Resource Reserve, which is located just three kilometres away from the foot of the Adaklu Mountains.
The blend of royalty from the traditional rulers, uniformed security agencies and traditional dresses gave the event the a esthetic value it deserved.
Key political figures such as the wife of the President, Rebecca Akufo-Addo; the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, and his wife, Samira Bawumia; the Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare; the Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin Yeboah; the Ministers of Defence, Dominic Nitiwul; the Interior, Ambrose Dery, and Special Advisor to the President, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, were also present at the event.
Statesmen such as the Chairman of the Council of State and Omanhene of the Juaben Traditional Area, Nana Otuo Siriboe II, the Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State, Togbe Afede XIV, also graced the occasion with pomp and circumstance.
Regional ministers, metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) and other heads of government agencies were also present.
Euphoria at parade
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo led the charge in hoisting the Ghana flag when he arrived at the event at 10:20 a.m., with his special guest, President Umaro Sissoco Embaló of Guinea-Bissau, who is also the Chairman of ECOWAS.
When the flag was raised, the parade ground went agog as the patrons rose to their feet and waived miniature national flags and sang patriotic songs.
The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), Vice Admiral Seth Amoama, and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Dr George Akuffo Dampare, were the Aides de Camp that escorted the President around the parade ground to inspect the formed contingents on parade.
The celebrations reached a crescendo when President Akufo-Addo lit the perpetual flame to symbolise the spirit of independence and the need for Ghanaians to keep the flame of nationalism alive.
This was followed by an aerial tour of the national flag hanging down a military helicopter.
The colourful parade saw 20 contingents from the various security agencies dressed in ceremonial attire, and 12 from the basic and senior high schools (SHSs), participate in the match past, amid artistic displays.
Participating schools in the Independence Day parade were five SHSs, seven basic schools, one Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and special schools.
Other interest groups who took part in the match past were the Veterans Administration of Ghana (VAG), Workers of Zoomlion Ghana Limited, the 17-member Heads of State Award Scheme, Ghana Youth Federation and representatives from the 16 administrative regions.
Cultural troops from the various regions took turns to display their rich culture and also portray their heritage.
The five regions from the northern part of Ghana were at their usual best in their smocks while kente was the predominant attire worn by participants from the Eastern, Ashanti, Volta and other regions.
A dramatic display of prowess at war from Zangbetor, the warrior group from Aflao in the Volta Region, drew applause from the gathering.
Adorned in traditional outfits, the group performed war dances to the admiration of the crowd.
The anniversary was again brought to light when masqueraders took the stage to make incisive dance moves.