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'We are the black stars!'

BLACK STAR: Founder of the MOBO's Kanya King

ME FIRI GHANA! here! The Voice spoke to a host of high profile British Ghanaians, who shared their sentiments on what independence and their African heritage means to them.

Nana Ayebia Clarke MBE, managing director of Ayebia Clarke Publishing Ltd

“Ghana made me. I love and treasure my nation Ghana for nurturing me to appreciate its culture, traditions and history, and for instilling in me a deep sense of patriotism. As we remember Ghana, we must also remember Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s vision not only for Ghana but also for the rest of Africa and the black race worldwide.

“Today, Ghana stands out proudly as a beacon of democracy in a conflict-ridden Africa; an oasis of peace and a safe haven to do business with a nation of warm and friendly people. I believe that my motherland Ghana will live on to achieve its highest dreams and objectives and make its cherished people proud and prosperous.

“Ghana instilled in me pride in my black, African and Ghanaian identity. Happy 56th anniversary to all Ghanaians and may God bless our homeland. Yen ara yen asaase ni! We are the Black Stars!”
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Sway DaSafo, MC

“Ghana has come such a long way, not only in the last 56 years but in the last five years, where I feel African culture is much more integrated into Western society."

“Before, as a West African or British born African, you were almost part of an outcast culture; we weren’t as accepted as the West Indian or Asian communities.

“But now we have more successful and prominent people of African origin coming to the forefront. Now, people are seeing Ghana as a place where another star is born. It’s good to get that recognition.”
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Teddy Osei of international band Osibisa

“I was a young man in then Gold Coast when Ghana had their independence in 1957. It was an amazing celebration; lots of joy throughout Ghana. I have followed the vision of our first president Dr Kwame Nkrumah and have always been in Ghana when possible during the celebration."

“I came to the UK to further my music education in 1962 and was very fortunate to get a scholarship from the then government of Ghana. The progress of the nation has been good bar a few years of hardships and so far, it’s heading in the right direction. I am always proud to be Ghanaian and African. God bless Ghana and Africa.”
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Adjoa Andoh, actress

“As a Fanti girl born on a Monday – the meaning of my name – I carry Ghana with me always and her continued thriving and development makes me immensely proud. Our recent elections have been an example of successful democracy in action."

“As a patron of Fairtrade, I am proud of the world's largest fairly traded cocoa cooperative Kuapa Cocoa, found in Ghana. Our tradition of 'palaver' where disputes are resolved following the example of the village sitting under a tree with the elders to talk, not to fight, is precious. And so is Nanny of the Maroons, Kofi Annan, Anansi the spider, Ama Ata Aidoo, the Boatengs, Casely-Hayfords, Tricky, Finley Quaye, Margaret Busby, the Black Stars... on we go!"

“Happy 56th birthday Ghana, your daughter, Adjoa.”
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Nana Afua Antwi, Top Model Of Colour 2010

“My heritage is Ashanti and it represents who I am as a true African woman. I embrace my heritage passionately as it also defines my culture, which attributes to my daily life.”
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E-Plus, Choice FM DJ

“Having being raised with both Zimbabwean and Ghanaian parentage, independence in general to me means and shows that anything is possible, only if we are willing to fight past the struggle."

“Ghana was the first African country to gain independence and now most of Africa is free of colonial rule. I can remember whilst growing up, not being confident in stating my heritage because of the wrong stereotypical image of Africa. Ghana, better yet Africa is a beautiful place, which I am proud to be an ambassador for.”

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Tinchy Stryder, MC

“Every year on independence day, you spend it with the family, you remember how long Ghana has been independent and it’s a proud moment. It’s a time when everyone comes together and goes to events; it’s a cool feeling. I think these days, young Ghanaians are key to the Ghanaian community. People are prouder now and want to represent where they are from, but at the same time you get that from home and your parents.”

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Akosua Annobil, director at Firemediauk.net

“In the UK, Ghana independence tends to be associated with a dinner and dance, or a rave."

“I don't think enough people reflect upon its true meaning at all. Kwame Nkrumah's vision was about uniting all Africans; but sadly, it seems the continent is still a long way off from achieving that goal.”

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Kanya King, MOBO (Music Of Black Origin) CEO

“I am very proud of my Ghanaian heritage. I lost my father at the age of 13 but not before he bestowed upon me a disciplined upbringing, and a strong belief that you have to strive and work hard for what you believe in. He helped to ensure that I was grounded and encouraged me to be the best I could be; advice that I have always tried to live up to as much as possible."

“Independence day encourages us to look forward to a better tomorrow; teaches the next generation about the challenges Africa had to overcome; and allows us to celebrate and commemorate our achievements.”

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Nii Ayikwei Parkes, author

“I'd say Ghana's independence is an abstract thing because many of our ‘educated’ people shy away from our heritage; our indigenous cultures. For me, that signals enduring dependence. We must engage with what we were, discard what doesn't work and embrace what does, otherwise there is no point in pointing at the number 55 and saying we're independent. The truly independent were independent long before March 6, 1957."

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Eva Simpson, features writer at The Times

“It is one of the world’s fastest growing economies and has been hailed by the Financial Times for leading the pack in “winning independence… establishing democracy, and now in its potentially transformational growth.”

“If you didn’t guess, they are talking about Ghana – a small country that continues to punch way above its weight. Am I proud of my Ghanaian heritage? You bet I am.”
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Henry Bonsu, director of Colourful Radio

“Each year is a milestone on a path towards true emancipation. It’s one thing to have independence but it is another to say that we are economically independent in Ghana. People like me in the diaspora and others at home are looking forward to the day when we can say we have fulfilled the promise given on March 6, 1957, when Kwame Nkrumah said the whole of Africa has to be united."

“When countries like Ghana and Nigeria demonstrate a complete political and economic independence then we can walk with more pride. When all of the continent is raised and fulfils the promise, then we can all walk tall and proud.”
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Lethal Bizzle, MC

“Both my parents are Ghanaian and I’ve been to Ghana quite a few times. The food, the culture, the people; it’s all got a big part to play in my life and even in my music. A lot of Ghanaian music is very upbeat, energetic and uplifting, and my signature style is very energetic and uplifting. It’s a great time to be Ghanaian, and African."

“We’ve come a long way and a lot of other people are embracing our culture now. When I was at school, the West Indian kids were the cool kids; it was like being African was a crime! In earlier years, Caribbean culture had some massive ambassadors like Bob Marley, whereas the international view of Africa was one of poverty and skinny, starving kids. So if you were from Africa, people thought you were nothing. There was no-one in the public eye really showing Africa in a different light."

“But now, thanks to the many African musicians, footballers and other professionals who are being noted for their achievements, things have changed and it’s a beautiful thing. But now, from the food, to the music, to the Azonto dance taking over the world, it’s a proud time for Ghanaians and Africans on the whole.”

“Our heritage is rich, multi-layered, sensitive to the natural world and imbued with humour. The music of our languages enriches my writing; our community structures inform my engagement with the world and my sense of self.”
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Dr Margaret Busby OBE, publisher

“I’m Ghana born and proud to Ghanaian. Ever since we became the first Sub-Saharan African country to get independence, it led the way for a lot of African countries after that."

“Dr Kwame Nkrumah tried to unite Africa and I think Ghana continues to play a significant role in terms of showing how a democracy can work.”

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DJ Abrantee, Choice FM presenter

“Ghana’s 56th independence marks the great achievement of not only being the first black African country to gain independence from colonial rule and power, but also independence, freedom and justice, which has helped to increase the prosperity and significant development of my people and my country Ghana. For me, this warrants the biggest celebration forever more.”
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Juliyaa, GUBA (Ghana UK Based Awards) winning singer

“Ghana’s day of independence is about unity. It’s people coming together to celebrate a day in history and remembering great people like Dr Kwame Nkrumah and the people who came before us, who helped to forge a nation."

“We are honoured to be a part of it and we should never forget that and it is something we should always be proud of. I will be dressing in traditional attire and eating as much jollof rice as humanly possible!”
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Ras Kwame, DJ

“My Ghanaian heritage means everything to me. It’s definitely the root of who I am. On an ancestral tip, independence means freedom, so let’s celebrate a free Ghana to the fullest.”
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Joanna Abeyie, staff writer at Virgin Media magazine and founder of Shine Media

“My mother is English and my dad is from Kumasi in Ghana and if I'm honest, I was quite confused about my cultural identity as a child. I remember being around five or six years old and asking my mum ‘when am I going to get my proper hair?' meaning straight, Caucasian hair like hers. As I got older, I did wise up and came to understand what being mixed race meant."

“It wasn't until I was 23 and took my first trip to Ghana that I truly realised what my heritage meant to me. Knowing about my Ghanaian heritage means that I now know more about who I am and where I am from. My heritage is a part of my identity and my experiences in Ghana made me feel like I was learning a little more about myself, and that in turn makes me proud.”

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