Capital : Accra
Size: 9200 sq m Popn: 400 000
This member of the Commonwealth was the first African colony to win its independence in 1957. The original Ghana, a powerful monarchy, flourished from the C4th to the C13th hundreds of miles North West of modern Ghana. From the C13th to the C16th ancestors of the modern inhabitants arrived from the North and the area that became modern Ghana was made up of several kingdoms including the Fanti on the coast and the Ashanti, or Asante, inland.
Portuguese travellers in search of ivory, gold and spices arrived in the C15th. Various European trading posts were established on the coast to deal in gold and slaves. In 1800, the Ashanti began to invade the coast and helped the British to persuade the Danes (1850) and the Dutch (1871) to abandon their posts. Britain, helped by the Fanti, defeated the Ashanti in 1874 and made the coastal area the British colony of the Gold Coast. There was continued fighting but the interior to the north of Ashanti became a protectorate in 1898 and Ashanti itself in 1901. After 1917, the area was administered with part of the former German colony of Togoland
Some self-government was given to the educated African middle classes by the 1940s and Dr Kwame Nkrumah became Prime Minister of the Gold Coast in 1952, remaining in power after The Gold Coast and British Togoland became independent as Ghana in 1957. It was made a republic in 1960 and Nkrumah adopted his policy of 'African socialism'. He delcared a one-party state with the Convention People's Party in charge in 1964 and formed links with the USSR and other communist countries. Whilst on a visit to China in 1966, he was deposed by General Jospeh Ankrah who purged the CPP and released political prisoners. He was replaced by General Akwasi Afrifa in 1969 and civilian rule was re-established.
Dr Kofi Busia was elected as prime minister of the new national assembly with Edward Akufo-Addo as president but ecomomic problems ensued and the army under Lt.-Col. Ignatius Acheampong seized control in 1972. He promised to share power with the civilians but was this looked unlikely and he was overthrown in 1978 by his deputy, Lt.-Gen. Frederick Akuffo, who legalized political parties and scheduled elections. Junior officers led by Flt.-Lt Jerry Rawlings seized power 5 days before they were to be held and executed the former leaders. The elections went ahead and civilian rule was restored with Dr Limann as President in 1979 but his government collapsed in 1981 when Rawlings took over, retaining real power even after the elections of 1988-9. He survived several further coup attempts but did not manage to revive the economy. In 1992, a national referendum approved a new multi-party constitutuion and Rawlings was elected as president of a civilian government in November 1992.
Ethnic groups are the Ashanti, Akan, Ga, Ewe, Guan and Moshi-Dagomba, languages are English (official), Twi, Fante, Ga, Ewe, Dgbeni, Hausa and Nzima and religions are Christianity, Islam and traditional beliefs.
Children are given two names - the Akeradini or name of the deity upon whose day they were born which is given straight away and the Agyadini which is chosen by the father and given to the child in a naming ceremony on the seventh day after birth. Birthday names can be combined with birth order names to create new ones but the Agyadini is usually a traditional family name. If a child is named after an important or famous person, they have a duty to try to live as good a life as their namesake and to respect and honour their name.
|Gyamfua||Gzifa||Hola||Kaya||Kizzy, Kizzie, Kessie, Kessy 'healthy child'||Mawunyaga|
|Addae||Adeben||Adofo||Adom 'Gods' help'||Adusa||Anane|
|Adowa||Baako||Morowa||Thema, Tema 'queen'|
Last king 1969-99
1999- Nana Otumfuo Tutu II
This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.
Copies may be made for personal use only.
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