Modesty and moderation replaced flamboyance and extravagance as thousands of Ghanaians from all walks of life on Friday congregated at the Independence Square to mark Ghana’s 52nd Independence Anniversary.In line with the policy of cutting down expenditure at the State Protocol Department and with an eye on environmental concerns, the miniature Ghana flags distributed at the function were made from paper, which is bio-degradable rather than the ubiquitous plastic. Only two dispatch riders instead of the previous more than a dozen escorted President John Evans Atta Mills, apparently to cut down on fuel consumption.
The national colours and symbol, the Black Star, adorned the Independence Square, where a parade of the security services and school children took place to commemorate the day. The parade was the first to be mounted by the security services for review by the new Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces – President Mills.
The parade, which was peaceful and without any security breaches, involved officers and men from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Prisons Service, Police Service, Customs, Excise and Preventive Service, Ghana Immigration Service and school children. Under the command of Group Captain Emmanuel Obeng Onwona the contingents dressed in their colourful ceremonial outfits marched briskly to the tunes of a massed band of the security services.
The school children were selected from Ayawaso, Okaikwei, Ablekuma-South, and Ashiedu-Keteke sub-metro schools, as well as four public senior high schools, two private basic schools and one private second cycle institution. Also in attendance were Cadet Corps of Labone Senior High School and O’Reily Senior High School, representing the Navy and the Air Force, respectively.
The massed band of the security services gave renditions of patriotic songs to match the brisk movements of the contingents as President Mills took the salute. President Mills was chauffeured to the square in a black BMW car accompanied by personnel from the Police Constabulary and other security details at 0830 hours.
Spotting a three-piece cream “Agbada” (African attire) and acknowledging cheers from the crowd, President Mills mounted the rostrum and took the national salute. He inspected the parade and lighted the Perpetual Flame and stood up for almost one-and-a-half-hours to review the parade.
The security services started the parade with the trooping of colours after which the crowd was thrilled to the “Akwaaba” – welcome – formation that unfolded as the security services marched past the dais to salute the President. The Independence Square vibrated to a barrage of mortar fire in a 21-gun salute by the security services, who displayed their weaponry and equipment to assure Ghanaians of their preparedness to defend sovereign Ghana always.
Air Force planes flew past the parade grounds while a naval vessel displayed the national colours. Ministers of state, Members of Parliament, Chiefs and Queenmothers dressed in their traditional attire, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Service Commanders and leaders of the opposition political parties attended the parade. A cross-section of the people interviewed by the Ghana News Agency lauded the modesty with which the occasion was marked.