1st July: The History of Ghana’s Republic Day

On 1 July 1960, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah declared Ghana a republic and became the country’s first president. Up until 2019, the day was considered a national holiday. Now, it is only commemorative.

Kwame Nkrumah et al, during the Declaration of Independence

After Britain took control of the landmass now called Ghana in 1874, they named it the British Gold Coast. This was after centuries of jostling with other European countries to gain control of the area due to its rich resources, resources that were and still are crucial to production in Europe.

About a century later, reeling from the effects of the Second World War and rising unrest among colonies for freedom and independence, Britain began to retreat from around the world, gradually withdrawing its presence from countries and colonies in Asia and Africa.

Kwame Nkrumah et al, during the Declaration of Independence

Ghana was the first sub-Saharan African country to gain independence, on the 6th of March 1957. This feat by Ghana, led by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and the Big Six escalated the fight against colonial rule across the entire continent of Africa, gaining Ghana the nickname of “Black Star of Africa”.

Three years later in 1960, then Prime Minister Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was sworn into office as the first President of Ghana and proclaimed the country a republic on the 1st of July 1960. Since then, the day has served as a reminder of the fight for freedom from colonial rule.

Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah

Though the day is not met with as much fanfare and celebration as the 6th of March Independence Day, it holds a very important place in the socio-political history of the nation of Ghana, signifying the beginning of the First Republic, a period in which the foundations for the Ghana we see today were laid.