The Government of Guyana is eagerly awaiting the State visit of the President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. The President will arrive in Guyana on June 10, and will spend his time deepening and strengthening the cordial relationship Guyana has shared with Ghana for the past 40 years. President Akufo-Addo, will leave the jurisdiction on June 12.
The Republic of Ghana, which is located on the western coast of Africa, almost directly across the Atlantic Ocean from Guyana, gained its Independence on March 6, 1957, after obtaining freedom from the United Kingdom. Ghana became a Republic on July 1, 1960.
Similar to Guyana, Ghana possesses a number of natural resources such as petroleum, gold, silver, timber and bauxite, as well as tropical forests and savannahs. In the political arena, the Government of Ghana acknowledges the looming threat of climate change and is party to international agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol as well as other treatises on biodiversity, desertification and the protection of endangered species.
Ghanaians make up a poly-ethnic, multi-religious society. As of 2016, the west-African nation boasted a staggering population of over 28 million people, most of whom reside in and around the country’s capital, Accra, located on the western coast, making it the 49th most populated country in the world.
Although Guyana officially established diplomatic relations with Ghana on May 14, 1979, Guyana’s Independence movement was greatly influenced by Pan-Africanist and first President of Ghana, Mr. Kwame Nkrumah. During the celebration of Ghana’s Independence in March 1957, Guyana’s political leaders, Dr. Cheddi Jagan and Mr. Forbes Burnham travelled to Ghana to attend the festivities. Throughout their years of leadership, both Presidents Jagan and Burnham maintained good relations with Ghana.
Guyana has long shared common interests with those of the Republic of Ghana. In 1970, Guyana joined Ghana and several other developing nations as a Member State of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). NAM was officially established in 1961 by President Nkrumah, and the presidents of Yugoslavia, India, Indonesia, and Egypt to govern relations between developing and developed nations.
Upon the opening of the 1972 NAM conference, which was held in Guyana for the first time, President Arthur Chung, unveiled the Non-Aligned Monument, to honour the founding fathers of NAM. The monument, located on the Avenue of the Republic, Georgetown features a bust of each founding father of NAM, each of which were sculpted in the home-country of each of the founding fathers.
The movement, now considered the largest political forum after the United Nations, boasts a membership of 120 States with an additional 17 observing countries and 10 observing intentional organisations.
Guyana has welcomed previous delegations from Ghana, including Flight Lieutenant, Mr. Jerry John Rawlings, then Head of State and Chairman of the Provisional National Defence Council of Ghana, from July 30-31, 1984. Ongoing cooperation between Guyana and Ghana include a 2012 visit to learn about Guyana’s Chainsaw Milling Project and Guyana’s methods of tackling the issue of illegal chainsaw logging. In 2018 a Bilateral Air Services Agreement was signed between then Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Ms. Annette Ferguson and Ghana’s Minister of Aviation, Mr. Joseph Kofi Adda.
Guyana and Ghana continue to invest in their long-standing diplomatic relationship through the office of the High Commissioner. Last month, Guyana received a delegation from Ghana headed by the Deputy Minister of Energy of Ghana, Dr. Mohammed Amin Adam. The delegation came to advance bilateral cooperation between Guyana and Ghana and, with that intent, met with Prime Minister, Mr. Moses Nagamootoo and other Government officials as well as representatives from the Department of Energy, the Guyana Office for Investment (GoInvest), Guyana Association of Bankers, the Forest Products Association of Guyana and the Private Sector Commission.
On May 29, President David Granger accredited the new Ghanaian High Commissioner to Guyana, Professor Abene Pokua Adompim Busia.
During the ceremony, President Granger noted that the 40th year of diplomatic relations provides the ideal opportunity to deepen and strengthen ties between the two countries, making President Akufo-Addo’s State visit a most timely and relevant one. Professor Busia recalled the cultural and political similarities of the countries’ past and outlined trade missions, business ventures, and educational exchanges as a blueprint for the future of Guyana-Ghana relations.
Professor Busia also extended an invitation to all Guyana’s citizens to participate in Ghana’s “Year of Return, Ghana 2019,” a birth-right journey back to Ghana to mark 400 years since the first arrival of enslaved Africans in Jamestown, Virginia.
President Granger and many Guyanese historians have documented the contributions of Africans in Guyana, highlighting specifically the contributions of the Maroon people. This African people group, who came to Guyana through the Atlantic slave trade, originated from the West African, Asante people group who lived in modern-day Ghana.
Mr. Alvin O. Thompson, Senior Lecturer in the Department of History at the University of the West Indies, in his monograph ‘Maroons of Guyana’ explained that the Maroons were responsible for many plantation disturbances throughout the Caribbean, particularly in Jamaica and Suriname. While the Maroons did not have a particularly deadly reputation in Guyana, they became a force to be reckoned with during the 1763 -64 and 1823 slave revolts in Berbice and Demerara respectively. The revolters deserted the plantations in such large numbers that their absence brought significant financial, manpower, and working hour losses to their white owners.
The Maroons would go on to create their own villages and communities throughout the country, some thriving in areas of uncultivated lands inaccessible to Dutch colonizers. This people group and their communities, Mr. Thompson said, would become symbols of the black resistance to slavery as they were seen by the colonizers as more than a nuisance, but a serious threat.
As the diplomatic relationship between Guyana and Ghana continues to flourish, so does Ghana’s cultural stamp on the Guyana. Earlier this year, on March 3rd, Guyana celebrated its ninth annual Ghana Day, organised by the Ghana Day Organisation. The Ghana Day festivities this year, focused on the resuscitation of African culture among African-Guyanese. The cultural day usually features a parade and pageant of traditional Ghanaian clothing and a fair of African food, clothing, accessories, and art.
Guyana also hosts an annual day of remembrance for our African ancestors who faced and perished during the cruellest of circumstances, the Atlantic slave trade or Maafa, which means African Holocaust. Last October, the African Cultural and Development Association (ACDA) hosted a ceremony on the Seawall bandstand to honour those who were mistreated and those who perished and were forgotten in passage to the New World. This rite allows observants to reflect on the significant contributions of Africans in Guyana.
Representatives and organisations of the African diaspora are active participants in Guyana’s cultural celebrations, namely the Department of Social Cohesion’s Harmony Village, which usually hosts a number of clothing and artistic displays, and Emancipation Day celebrations, which include ceremonial libations.
The Government and people of Guyana welcome President Akufo-Addo to this great nation. We are honoured to have you. May this State visit be a most encouraging and ambitious indicator of the next 40 years of relations between our two countries. Welcome!