Along the road from Tamale to Wa.

Along the road from Tamale to Wa.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Independence Day

In March of 1956, Ghana became the first African Nation to become a democratic free nation.  March 6 is the national holiday to remember its independence.  Unlike holidays in North America, here the festivities are in the mornings and focus on school children and marching. No fireworks or picnics.   In every community all around the country, schools are selected to march in the Independence Day celebrations.  They wear their best pressed uniforms, gloves, images of national pride and stern faces.  The students practice for weeks before hand and compete for prizes and prestige.  From the smallest of nursery school students to the police and army cadets, all are invited to participate.

Women move through the crowd selling water, candy, fruit balls (similar to donuts but without the hole), frozen juice, ice cream and many more treats.  Due to the heat the marching starts before 8 am and is finished around 10.  Early arrivals will get a coveted plastic chair under a canopy and officials have a large bandstand area on one side of the open stadium.  Most of us are crowded around the perimeter being pushed from behind or if you are luck sitting on the ground at the edge of the rectangular route of the continual marches.  Babies were even passed forward to sit on the laps of strangers who got the best seats in the front.

 School children have the day off school so they are present by the hundreds cheering on their selected classmates as they march.  A fun morning for all but I do miss the fireworks of Canada Day.