History of Ghana

Ghana before Independence on March 6, 1957 was called the Gold Coast. The earliest Europeans to arrive here were the Portuguese in the 15th Century. On their arrival, they found so much gold between the River Ankobra and the Volta and subsequently named it "da Mina", meaning The Mine. In 1482, the first castle was built in the Gold Coast by the Portuguese at Elmina.

This was built to enhance their trading activities especially gold and slavery. By 1598, the Dutch were in the Gold Coast to also trade. They built forts along the coastal areas notable among them being the Komenda fort. In 1637, they captured the Elmina castle from the Portuguese and that of Axim (Fort St. Anthony) in 1642.


Many other European traders came to the Gold Coast to trade. These included the British, Danes and Swedes. These European traders built several forts along our coastlines. In 1872, the Dutch lost interest in the coast and ceded their forts free to the British.


Thus ended a period of Dutch occupation lasting 274 years. By 1874, the British were the only Europeans in the Gold Coast and thus made it a crown colony. This in effect gave them total control.The British government established their headquarters at Cape Coast Castle. This had been their headquarters since 1662 and is one of the greatest historical sites in the country.


The first political party was formed in August 1947 by Paa Grant, Dr. J.B Danquah and others. It was named the United Gold Coast Convention (U.G.C.C). Its slogan was "Self Government within the Shortest Possible Time". The U.G.C.C. therefore invited Dr. Kwame Nkrumah home from his studies to become the full-time General Secretary of the Party.


On 6th March, 1957, the curtain was drawn on the old order. The country emerged as the first country in Africa, South of the Sahara to regain independence from colonial rule. A new chapter was opened in the history of Ghana. On the eve of Ghana’s independence, Kwame Nkrumah (then Prime Minister) proclaimed at the old Polo Grounds in Accra: "At long last, the battle has ended and Ghana, our beloved country is free forever."

On 1st July 1960 Ghana became a Republic
In 1966, the Ghana Armed Forces and Police led by Lt. Col. E. K. Kotoka and Maj. A. A. Afrifa overthrew Nkrumah’s administration and the first Republican Constitution of Ghana. A National Liberation Council (NLC) took office, headed by a retired army officer, General J. A. Ankrah. Lt. General A. A. Afrifa, in 1969, succeeded General Ankrah as the Chairman of the NLC.

Second Republic:
Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia’s Progress Party (PP) took over from the NLC by winning the 1969 elections. The Progress Party Administration with Dr. Busia as Prime Minister and former Chief Justice Edward Akuffo Addo, one of the Big Six as President, was overthrown by a military coup in 1972 led by the then Col. I. K. Acheampong.

He formed and chaired a military junta, the National Redemption Council (NRC). General I. K. Acheampong became the Head of State and Chairman of the NRC. The name NRC was later changed to the Supreme Military Council (SMC). General F.W.K. Akuffo replaced General Acheampong in a palace coup in July 1978.

Third Republic:
The SMC II was overthrown on 4th June 1979 through a mutiny by some officers and men of the Ghana Armed Forces who established an Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) with Fit. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings as Chairman and Head of State. The AFRC was in office for only three months. On 24th September 1979, the AFRC handed over power to Dr. Hilla Limann leader of the People’s National Party (PNP) which won the 1979 elections.

The Limann administration and the Third Republican Constitution of Ghana were overthrown in yet another military coup in Ghana’s post Independence history in 1981. The coup was led by Flt. Lt. Rawlings who again became Head of State and Chairman of a Provisional National Defence Council, (PNDC) which he established. The PNDC ruled Ghana from 31st December 1981 to 7th January 1993. A combination of internal and international pressure factors led to a return to constitutional multi-party democratic rule in 1993.

In the Presidential election held on November 3rd 1992 Flt. Lt. Rawlings contested on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and beat eminent African historian and human rights activist Prof. Albert Adu Boahen, the flag bearer of the New Patriotic Party, into second place. In the Parliamentary elections the Progressive Alliance, made up of the National Democratic Congress, the National Convention Party and the Eagle Party won 198 seats out of the total of 200. Four other parties, the NPP, PNC, NIP and PHP boycotted the parliamentary elections on account of dissatisfaction with the electoral arrangements.

Fourth Republic:
The Fourth Republic was inaugurated on January 7th 1993 with the swearing in of H. E. Flt. Lt. Rawlings as President and his running mate, Mr. Kow Nkensen Arkaah as Vice President. On December 7th 1996, Flt. Lt. Rawlings was re-elected for a second four-year term as a President, with Prof. John Evans Atta Mills as his running mate. In the 1996 elections, President Rawlings beat Mr. J. A. Kufuor of the NPP to second place. In the Parliamentary elections, the NDC won 133 seats, the NPP 61 seats, PCP 5 seats and PNC 1 seat.

Kufuor Wins Two Terms In Office:
In the third Presidential and Parliamentary elections of the Republic, held on December 7th 2000, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) won 100 seats while the National Democratic Party (NDC) obtained 92 seats. The People’s National Convention (PNC) obtained 3 seats, independent candidates 4 seats and Convention People’s Party (CPP) 1 seat.

In the Presidential elections, none of the seven candidates had 50% plus one vote as required under the Constitution. Thus in the Presidential run-off on December 28th, 2000, between the two candidates with the highest votes, Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor (NPP) emerged the winner with 56.90% of the valid votes cast while Professor John Evans Atta-Mills of the (NDC) had 43.10%. In December 2004 President John Agyekum Kufuor won a second and final four-year term as President of Ghana.

John Evans Atta Mills wins 2008 elections
Professor John Evans Atta Mills (born 21 July 1944) who is currently the President of the Republic of Ghana won the Forth Presidential and Parliamentary elections of the Republic, on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). He was inaugurated on 7 January 2009, having defeated the ruling party candidate Nana Akufo-Addo by 50.23%–49.77% in the 2008 election.

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