I am happy to be able to speak to you this evening. Today, the Republic of Ghana is born and with its birth, the Convention People’s Party and the Government have successfully brought our country to the end of its struggle for freedom.
In order to acquire a clear picture of the significance of this event, it is necessary to take a quick glance back to a few years ago when I arrived from the United States and the United Kingdom. At that time, the nationalist effort had just started and the people were tense with excitement and expectation. What was needed was the right type of leadership which could properly channel the forces of nationalism so as to obtain the best results. I wasted no time at all in getting down to work. The mobilisation of the youth was my first concern and, difficult as it was, the plunge was taken with a dedication of energy and idealism. Then came the moment of decision when the Convention People’s Party was formed to grapple with colonialism and imperialism in their concentrated strength of suppression, oppression and repression.
The tribulations through which some of us passed, the discouragement and towering difficulties ending in imprisonment and suffering, the scorn of some of our own people and the violence which ensued as a result of a last minute attempt by our detractors to defeat the achievement of our objective, all this is now history, as we look on the revolution which has just ended with the passing of yesterday. Today, we have entered upon a new life and a new revolution: the national revolution for economic and social reconstruction, and the national effort to build Ghana into a beautiful and prosperous nation.
But what do we mean by economic and social reconstruction? Is it just a hackneyed phrase, a stock-in-trade, meant to lure the people into a state of lethargy and complacent existence? Far from it. By economic and social reconstruction, we mean the development of our potential wealth and the cultivation of our social relations in such a way as to eradicate the causes of poverty and squalor, degradation and unemployment, depression and want; so as to raise the living standards of our people, ensuring economic and social security for everyone from birth to death.
This, Countrymen, is a prodigious task which calls for the total mobilization of our human and other resources, and for an iron determination on the part of each and everyone of us to see the job through. It calls for great sacrifices by all of us for the sake of our nation and for unity and co-operation among all the people.
What are our prospects? As you know, we are one of the wealthiest countries in Africa. For our size, our potential wealth is immense. We have a wide variety of minerals including gold, diamond, manganese and bauxite. Our undeveloped agriculture is stupendous and our soil is extremely fertile. Over seven million Ghanaians with these possessions have a glorious opportunity for building a first class nation comparable to the best in the world. Our plan therefore must be to build up industries, heavy and basic, and to diversify and mechanise our agriculture, and we must do this with the utmost speed, if we are not to be overtaken by events. The pace at which the world travels today is so fast that no loafer nations can survive the rate of change. That is why our nation must throw in everything into this economic and social revolution and make sure that Ghana comes out a winner. We must fight; relentlessly to uproot backward conceptions and negative phenomena in order to eliminate waste, extravagance, bureaucracy, laziness and similar manifestations harmful to our community. We must eliminate illiteracy completely from our midst.
In this regard, I am determined that every able-bodied man and woman shall have a part to play. I will exert every endeavour to have our human resources trained technologically and I can even now see before my mind’s eye our women technicians in the factories, our women doctors in the hospitals, our women engineers building our bridges and even our women in overalls driving thousands of tractors in the fields.
Countrymen, the future ahead of us is full of promise but not the sort of promise which ensures the exploitation of other men’s labour for the enrichment of a few individuals. Ghana has a duty to her people; a duty to prevent the exploitation of man by man. I personally do not and cannot believe, that all our efforts have been undertaken for the purpose of enabling a few persons to enrich themselves at the expense of the majority. For that reason, our approach to this new life shall be a socialist pattern of society and it shall be based entirely on Ghanaian conditions and circumstances, in order that our endeavours shall result in the greatest good for the greatest number of our people. We must develop our country to meet the needs of our people so that the ordinary man and woman may be well fed, well clothed and well housed. We must operate a planned economy for use and abundance.
I am sure that you will all tighten your belts and seize this glorious opportunity for service to Ghana in the final assault on the bastions of want, disease, poverty, degradation and indignity. And now I know that you would wish me to say a few words concerning our international relation. Well, I can only say that Ghana’s policy of non-alignment remains unchanged. I believe that it is the best for us in our circumstances. We want to be friends with all and enemies to none. We shall not relax in our efforts to foster the concept of African Unity and the creation of real political union of African states and I feel confident that in time, our African compatriots will come to see our line and know that Africa’s salvation lies only in a political union of African States.
The Conference of Independent African States, the African Peoples’ Conference and the All-African Trade Union Federation are three forces which, on the initiative of Ghana, have been created to help in achieving this grand objective of African Unity. Real and genuine independence must, however, precede the attainment of this aim. For this, we are sure that the current now flowing is strongly, in the direction of absolute liberty. Those African leaders who are attempting to temporise by arranging behind the backs of their people undercover links with the former Colonial Powers will surely fail. For, the force of the mass movement towards freedom will not tolerate reactionary and double-dealing politicians.
Finally, I wish to state clearly that I do not by any means underestimate the gravity of the responsibility laid on me as the First President of the Republic. I am confident, however, that you will all co-operate with me in the discharge of that responsibility to build a prosperous nation for our people. I wish everyone of you, great happiness in the years that lie ahead and trust that together we shall go forward to our destiny and build a majestic monument to the name of the Republic of Ghana by the measure of the success we achieve.