The finishing touches are being put to preparations for the 50th anniversary of the independence of Ghana on 6 March. Heads of state and of government from all over the world have been arriving in the capital Accra for the celebrations, which begin at 09.00 with a parade in Independence Square involving the armed forces and school children. President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria is to be the special guest of honour at the event. The official programme for the day also includes a music concert at La beach at 13.00 featuring Rocky Dawuni, Batman Samini, King Ayisoba, Tic Tac and the best in Ghanaian music.
President John Kufuor has also granted amnesty to 1,260 prisoners on humanitarian grounds as part of the anniversary celebrations. In addition 36 prisoners on death row have had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment and a further three to jail terms of 20 years. In addition to the statutory 6 March independence day holiday the following day, 7 March, has also been proclaimed a national holiday.
The former British colony Gold Coast gained its independence on 6 March 1957 in what became the beginning of the end of colonialism in sub-Saharan Africa. Since then the country has widely been seen as an example in Africa due to its relative stability and economic growth. However, some argue that Ghana has betrayed the promise shown in the early years of independence and the 50th anniversary comes amid criticism that the $20 million allotted by the government for the celebrations could have been better spent improving the living conditions of the country