Today, July 1, marks the 43rd anniversary of Ghana becoming a Republic, severing the last vestiges of our colonial past by replacing the Queen of England with our own elected President as the Head of State of the sovereign nation.
When we declared ourselves a sovereign nation in 1960, the average wealth of our nation, measured as Gross Domestic Product per head of population (GDP per capita) stood at US$ 180.62 (in 2011 terms). That of The People’s Republic of China was US$92.01.
The latest GDP per capita figure for Ghana is US$ 1570(2011) while that of China is US$5445. We were twice as wealthy as China in 1960 and now China per capita wealth is more than three times that of ours.
Ghana’s economic development is being underpinned by Chinese money. China has offered loans of between US$10 -16 billion to Ghana to support mainly infrastructure projects of roads, power generation and supply, telecommunications, railways, health and gas gathering and transportation.
In the time-worn classical north-south trading arrangement, Ghana is paying back these loans through a barter arrangement in which our primary natural resources of cocoa and the recently discovered crude oil are given to China on very generous and advantageous terms.
The pattern does not end there. The Chinese have invaded and virtually taken over the small scale gold mining industry in Ghana, albeit illegally and are rather belatedly being chased out now.
The retail sector, especially in the rural areas, is slowly and inexorably becoming dominated by Chinese investors. Add all of this to the long established and expanding Chinese food industry in Ghana, and we can say that Ghana has been overrun and affected by the yellow peril of Chinese economic domination under a neo-colonialist paradigm.
It is almost 130 years after the 1884 Berlin Conference that brought together 14 European powers and the United States under the Iron Chancellor Bismark to divide the “Dark Continent” for the exploitation of Africa’s mineral wealth and at the same time create markets for finished goods.
The partitioning of Africa into colonial states of influence was to remain largely intact as Africa fought its political liberation and independence from the late 1950s to the early 1990s.
Indeed, the present 54 independent states that constitute the African Union, with the singular exception of the recently partitioned South Sudan, are the very identical colonial states that were carved out of the Berlin conference. The significant difference between then and now is that, Berlin produced specific spheres of influence and control for individual Western powers, while Beijing’s influence in Africa is now cutting across every single country and quickly dismantling the old post-colonial economic stranglehold which has largely remained intact and been a very retarding and negative impediment to Africa’s efforts to take charge of its own affairs
The opening words of our constitution boldly proclaim that, “The Sovereignty of Ghana resides in the people of Ghana in whose name and for whose welfare the powers of government are to be exercised in the manner and within the limits laid down in this Constitution.” In other words, we have given full and wholesome affirmation to our country as a modern republican nation as depicted in our name, The Republic of Ghana.
But what does our brand of republic mean in practical terms when those in whom we have entrusted our powers of governance are looking up to our ‘Development Partners” to set both the agenda and finance the activities that underpin our social and economic development, which actions our politicians proffered themselves as competent and able to handle on our behalf and for which we gave them the mandate of power?
Today’s reality is that the forcible possession of our people that came out of Berlin has given way to a voluntary return to the neo- colonialist arms of the Chinese, who ironically were only half as rich as us when we proclaimed the Republic of Ghana on July 1, 1960.
As we mark the 43rd anniversary of the Republic of Ghana, let’s stop to reflect on the meaning and import of exercising political choice at elections only to hand over the control of our life and destiny to the new colonial masters, both states and institutions.