Yesterday marked the 55th Anniversary of Ghana’s Independence. It was a national public holiday and this year I attended the ceremonies at home in Nadowli. Pupils have been practising their marching for a few weeks and we awake to the sound of the drums keeping them in time.
The morning dawned and most children of all ages arrived wearing brand new uniforms, including girls in white gloves & pure white ankle socks (rarely seen in this dust!) and boys in smart black shoes that many had clearly borrowed from older brothers or fathers! This is a very serious annual competition between schools in the district. Everyone looked so smart and their determination to be the best team was overwhelming.
The dignitaries arrived only one hour late and took to the podium. We sat under awnings as shade from the sun as the teams stood ready in formation with their banners proudly displayed at the front. The band of trumpets, trombone and drums played good marching hymns and tunes in the middle of the parade ground. We were all ready to begin. The patience of the children, some as young as 4, was impressive throughout the preliminary speeches and prayers from all represented denominations, but then their anticipation was very high.
Finally, the first groups from the Kindergartens set off arms swinging high and some very nifty footwork, eyes front and such concentration. They were wonderful! All age groups followed on as they marched around 3 sides of the “park”. A salute for the dignitaries on the podium was expected as the teams passed by them.
Judges were on hand from the police, District Assembly and the Education Office to award marks for a variety of moves and the level of coordination of each team. There was far more to this than I had appreciated last year
when I attended the larger regional ceremony in Wa.
It took some time, at least 7 men and a few calculators to work out the winners at the end. The announcements caused major jubilation as the pupils collected their prizes of new books from the invited guests. All in all it was a lovely occasion and not over long. The rest of the day was free and the midday overcast sky brought unexpected heavy rain for a few hours in the afternoon which alleviated the heat for a short while.
Today is a holiday for schools only. These children deserve a rest following their efforts, not only yesterday but through hours of practice over the last month.