British Empire
The end of the British empire - Ghana
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Extract from a report on democracy in Ghana in 1959
(Catalogue ref: CAB 21/4571)
  • This report was produced for the British government in 1959. It was part of a very long document looking at how well democracy was established in countries which had been part of the British empire.
  • Many of the countries which had been part of the empire were independent. Britain and the USA hoped they would become democracies.
  • However, leaders of the newly independent countries did not always follow the way democracy was supposed to work. For example, Dr Nkrumah in Ghana used the police and army to make life difficult for his political opponents.
  • This report shows that the British government was concerned about the situation in Ghana. It could be interpreted in different ways.
  • Some might say this document shows that the British should have carried on ruling Ghana. The country was disunited and that the different peoples who made up the country were finding it hard to work together. They preferred British rule to being ruled by each other.
  • Others might say that the British did not give Ghana’s people enough chance to rule themselves while Ghana was part of the empire. Democracy struggled because the British never really practised democracy when they ruled the country. The British also created many of the problems by carving up the map of Africa in the 1800s and ignoring the different peoples, languages and religions that the British boundaries cut across.
  • Nigeria suffered with this issue even more severely than Ghana.
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