The Birthplace of Ghana's Independence

Revisiting the history and site of the 28th February Road Cenotaph

By Heritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation

28th February Memorial Road Signage (2020) by HACSA FoundationHeritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation

A peaceful march becomes fatal

The 28th February Road Cenotaph marks the crossroads where three unarmed veterans -- Sergeant Cornelius Adjetey, Corporal Patrick Attipoe and Private Odartey Lamptey -- were shot dead by a British colonial police superintendent, Major Colin Imray, as they marched to the Christiansborg Castle to present a petition to the colonial Governor of the Gold Coast, Sir Gerald Creasy, about unpaid end of service benefits promised to them after fighting in Burma on behalf of the British, during World War II.

The 28th February Road Cenotaph (1948) by HACSA FoundationHeritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation

Martyrs of independence

Three World War II veterans were shot while protesting peacefully and 60 others were wounded on 28th February 1948. It also marks the beginning of a series of events that triggered the liberation struggle, culminating in Ghana becoming the first colonized  African country to gain independence.

The aftermath

After the killing of the three veterans, there were riots and boycotts of shops selling European goods. There were arrests of the ‘Big Six’ who led Ghana’s first political party, the United Gold Coast Convention, and the Watson Commission began an investigation into the riots.

Bust of Private Odartey Lamptey, HACSA Foundation, 1948, From the collection of: Heritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation
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Bust of Corporal Patrick Attipoe, HACSA Foundation, 1948, From the collection of: Heritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation
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Bust of Sergeant Cornelius Adjetey, HACSA Foundation, 1948, From the collection of: Heritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation
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Sergeant Cornelius Adjetey, Corporal Patrick Attipoe and Private Odartey Lampte are remembered as heroes of Ghana's struggle for independence.

By Mark KauffmanLIFE Photo Collection

Nkrumah wins first general elections

Nkrumah was rearrested and sentenced to one year in prison. In 1952 he was elected to Parliament while in jail. When his party emerged as winner of the general elections he was released from prison to become Head of Government Business and the de facto Prime Minister of the Gold Coast.

By Mark KauffmanLIFE Photo Collection

The struggle for independence

Nkrumah broke away from the UGCC to found the Convention People’s Party (CPP) which demanded ‘Self Government Now!’ and led an overwhelmingly popular campaign of non-violent ‘Positive Action’ which included strikes, boycotts and non-cooperation which paralysed the country.

Independence at last

On March 5, 1957, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first President, delivered his first speech to the new country as the thousands of  free Ghanaians.

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah's Independence Speech (1957-03-06) by LIFE via GACHeritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation

Seen here are (from left to right) Archie Caseley Hayford,  Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, Kwame Nkrumah, Kojo Botsio and Krobo Edusei celebrating Ghana's independence at the Polo Grounds in Accra.

The Birth of a New Nation

The new nation of Ghana was born on 6th March 1957, ushering in a new era of independence for the rest of Africa. Nkrumah supported and funded liberation movements in other African countries including Namibia and South Africa.

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