Posted by: devonhamilton | August 3, 2010

Ghana Backgrounder

At the beginning of June I interviewed for an intern position with Youth Challenge International (YCI) in Ghana. YCI runs many programs to various countries in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. YCI programs are available to everyone! To learn more about YCI, visit their website here.

Several of the staff at YCI are alumni of my program at Humber College: International Development (up until this year known as International Project Management). As YCI are familiar with our particular skillset ranging from Project Design to Monitoring and Evaluation, they sent an email to our coordinator stating that they wanted to do a project with our graduates.

I have been interested in Ghana for awhile. Everyone I know that has been has nothing but good things to say about the country and the people. Often regarded as one of the more developed and relatively stable countries in Africa, it has been colloquially referred to as “Africa for Beginners”, making it a great choice for my first trip to Africa.
I have been asked a fair bit as to where exactly Ghana is located. Ghana is on the Western side of Africa, and is only four hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (a.k.a Ontario time). Ghana is bordered by Burkina Faso to the North, the Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) to the West, and Togo to the East. At present I am not sure where exactly in Ghana I will be placed so I am not sure what my personal proximity to these countries will be (although I am of course hoping to do as much traveling as possible).
Ghana Fast Facts

Population: ~24 million
Life Expectancy: 56 years (men), 57 years (women)
Language: Although several tribal languages are spoken, English is the official language and is therefore widely known and spoken.
Religion: Christianity, Muslim, Indigenous beliefs (animism)
Motto: “Freedom and Justice”
Interesting: Largest African peacekeeper contributor (6th largest in world)

Ghanaian Flag
Red: blood of those who died fighting for Ghana’s independence
Gold: representative of Ghana’s mineral wealth
Green: represents forests and farmland wealth
Black Star: symbol of emancipation and unity in struggle against colonialism
Evidence shows that Ghana has been inhabited by humans for at least 300,000 years, although it is probably much longer. The area that is now known as Ghana was a centre of European trade of West Africa, as its coast was close to gold deposits – so much gold that they began to refer to it as the Gold Coast. However, evetually this coast was eventually primarily used for slave trade rather than gold trade.
I wanted to post a brief history of Ghana but there is so much to summarize. I decided on a brief timeline instead but you can find a more detailed timelime courtesy of the BBC, here.
1482: Portuguese land at Elmina (on the coast). They set up trade in gold, ivory and slaves.

1598: Dutch arrive and build forst at Komenda and Kormantsi.

17th century: English and Swedish traders arrive.

19th century: Dutch and British the only traders left. Dutch leave.
                     British make Gold Coast a protectorate.

1957: Ghana gains independence – Kwame Nkrumah as Prime Minister.

1960: Ghana becomes a republic with Kwame Nkrumah as President.

1966: President Nkrumah overthrown by military coup.

1992: New constitution introduced.

2001: Ghana accepts debt relief scheme designed by World Bank and the IMF.

2007: Ghana’s Golden Jubilee of Independence.
2008: John Atta Mills elected President.



  1. well done Dev – good luck

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