THE year 2007 was the golden jubilee year of the country with the celebration of 50 years of independence.
Two thousand and seven was a mix-bag of events, some good and some bad.
January 2007 began with the euphoria of the celebrating the golden jubilee year and a message from the President on New Year’s Day for unity and an expectation of the blessings of God in the course of the jubilee year.
The first month of the year saw the retirement of an illustrious son of the land, Mr Kofi Annan, from the United Nations after more than three decades of dedicated service to the organisation, 14 years of which he worked as the topmost official, that is, the Secretary General.
He joined the United Nations as a budget officer in 1962, and became the organisation's seventh secretary-general on 1 January, 1997.
Mr Kofi Annan was subsequently welcomed home on January 23, 2007, by an enthusiastic crowd at the Kotoka International Airport to begin his retirement.
The fourth day of January 2007 came with reports of disturbances in Yendi as a result of the burning down of a house at Zohi-Fong, a suburb of the town. No casualty was recorded, but several million cedis worth of property was lost. It led to the deployment of security forces to ensure calm.
What was planned to be a fitting burial for the first Ghanaian Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Michael A. Otu, turned bizarre when the helicopter which was carrying his mortal remains crashed and burst into flames at his hometown, Adukrom in the Eastern Region, on January 12, 2007.
The Ghana Air Force MI-17 helicopter crashed at about 1:00pm when family members, mourners and a cross-section of people from the Akuapem Ridge gathered at the Adukrom Methodist JSS Park to receive the body.
The late Ga Mantse, Boni Nii Amugi II, was laid to rest on January 27, 2007, with a rich display of Ga tradition and culture at the Ga Mantse Palace at North Kaneshie in Accra.
The funeral rites was witnessed by thousands of mourners from all walks of life including the Vice President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama.
The jubilee year of the country saw President J. A. Kufuor assuming office as the Chairman of the African Union (AU).
He was elected unanimously by his peers at the Eighth Ordinary Summit of African leaders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on January 29, 2007.
It was the first such continental role for a Ghanaian leader since President Kwame Nkrumah was elected chairman of the then Organisation of African Union (OAU) in 1965.
Journalists woke up to the news of the assassination of a colleague in Kumasi on Friday, February 9, 2007.
Mr Samuel Ennin, the Ashanti Regional Chairman of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), was attacked by assailants at a drinking spot at Old Tafo, near the Pankrono Estate and shot in the abdomen.
The police in Kumasi intensified a search for two gunmen suspected of killing him.
Dr Sam Esson Jonah, who formerly headed Ashanti Goldfields Company, also announced his resignation from the AngloGold Ashanti Board with immediate effect on Tuesday, February 13, 2007.
Dr Jonah, KBE, was elected as the chairman of the AngloGold Ashanti Board of Directors in 2004.
In a show of reconciliation, President J. A. Kufuor on January 15, 2007 sent a delegation of nine, headed by the Chairman of the Council of State, Professor Daniel Adzei-Bekoe, with a special message for ex-President Jerry Rawlings to attend the celebrations marking the country’s Gold Jubilee.
The Ga Traditional Council on Monday, February 26, 2007, started rites to induct King Tackie Tawiah III, known in private life as Dr Jo Blankson, as the King of the Ga State.
The performance of the rites by the Nai Wulomo, Numo Tete III, opened the flood gates of disturbances in the Ga State for most part of the year.
A landmark chapter in the life of Ghana’s foremast news organisation, the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), opened on Tuesday, February 6, 2007, with the launch of a hard cover book of newspaper articles that defined key times during the country’s 50 year journey after independence.
The 498-page Jubilee Ghana-a 50-year news journey thro’ Graphic, recollected key events of the past 50 years.
The highlight of celebrations of the year, was the independence day celebrations on March 6, 2007, marked by a smart parade of security forces and school children, as well as musical concerts and gymnastics.
President J. A. Kufuor used the day to call for a clear-cut vision and rational steps for the country’s development in the next 50 years.
The ceremonial avenue in Accra linking the 37 Military Hospital Junction to the Dimples Inn Junction at Achimota, was also on that day named in honour of the Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo.
The honour followed an earlier ceremony during which President John Agyekum Kufuor conferred on the Nigerian leader, the highest national award of the Companion of the Order of the Star of Ghana at a State Banquet.
The historic visit of President J. A. Kufuor to Britain at the request of the British Monarch, Her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was reported with pomp in the Wednesday, March 14, 2007 issue of the Daily Graphic.
The visit was reported as historic in many respects as it was the first by a Ghanaian Head of State and the 17th by any African (the first being President Bourguiba of Tunisia in October 1980 and Nelson Mandela of South Africa in 1995). The visit also came exactly a week after Ghana celebrated 50 years of independence from colonial rule with a colourful ceremony in Accra.
The death of two prominent Ghanaians shocked many, especially when the country was still in celebration over its jubilee year.
The Chief Justice, Mr Justice George Kingley Acquah died on Sunday, March 25, 2007, while Madam Hawa Yakubu, former Member of Parliament (MP) for Bawku Central, was reported dead in the Thursday, March 22, 2007 issue of the Daily Graphic.
The country was plagued challenges in electricity generation and supplies for most part of the year that leading to a load management exercise in which customer groups enjoyed electricity at intermitent periods.
The Volta River Authority (VRA) managers of the Akosombo Dam, the main hydro-electric source of the country and the government announced the closure of a unit of the dam to save it from collapse on Tuesday, March 27, 2007.
The first case of bird flu was reported on Thursday, May 3, 2007, in the Daily Graphic. H5N1 strain of virus causing the deadly bird flu was discovered at a farm near Tema after a diagnosis by the Accra Veterinary Laboratory. Tests carried out by the NOGUCHI Memorial Institute for Medical Reserch (NMIMR) confirmed that. The Tema municipality was then declared an Avian influenza infected area with a freeze on the movement of live birds. Other cases of bird flu were reported in issues of the Daily Graphic, on Thursday, May 10, 2007 at Adjei Kojo in Ashiaman, Sunyani on May 22 and Aflao on June 21.
On Thursday, May 3, 2007, the Bank of Ghana unveiled the new Ghana Cedi and pesewas in line with the re-denomination policy of the government for better fiscal administration in the country. Samples of the notes were out-doored a month before the actual circulation.
Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, a Justice of the Supreme Court was nominated by President J. A. Kufuor as Chief Justice of the country on Friday, May 4, 2007. She was subsequently sworn in as the country’s first female and 24th chief justice with the pledges of support from gender groups and the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) on Monday, June 11, 2007.
A highway accident involving seven vehicles, in which forty people perished at Okyereko was reported in the Saturday, May 12, 2007 issue of the paper as the worst in the country’s history of road accidents. Twenty seven other people were injured. Thirty six of the passengers were aboard a SRIF Mercedes Benz bus travelling fron Cote d’Ivoire to Togo when the accident occurred on Friday, May 11, 2007.
A refurbished Juapong Textiles bounce back to life under a partnership between the government of Ghana and the Chinese government and with a new name, Volta Star Limited. With the refurbishment of the company with new machinery and technology, the cost of the production of Greybaft material was reported to have reduced from 96 per cent per yard to 54 per cent per yard in the Saturday, May 12, 2007, issue of the paper.
Danny Whyte, the Executive Director and founder of the DWIB Lukaemia Trust was reported to have died in London on Wednesday, May 23, 2007. He succumbed to Lukeamia, a diseases he had fought and dedicated his life in setting up the first one marrow register of the black race.
Ghana lost Madam Fathia Nkrumah, the widow of the first President, Kwame Nkrumah, who passed away at the Badrawy Hospital in Cairo on Thursday, May 31, 2007. She was interred beside her husband, Ghana’s first President, at the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoluem after a state funeral on Tuesday, June 12, 2007.
Ibn Chambas, another illustrous son of Ghana, was sworn in as the first President of the ECOWAS Commission at an ECOWAS summit in Abuja, Nigeria, completing a process of transforming the ECOWAS Executive Secretariat to the ECOWAS Commission on Friday, June 15, 2007.
The Daily Graphic on Tuesday, June 19, 2007, reported huge oil finds at Cape Three Points in the Western Region after a 20 year search. A presentation of samples was made to the President by the Kosmos Energy of the USA in partnership with Anadarko, Tullow Ghana Ltd and the GNPC.
Talks for an African Unity government, christened the “grand debate”, begun prior to the summit of African Heads of State in the country was reported in the Thursday, June 28, 2007 issue of the Daily Graphic.
On Sunday, July 1, 2007, the Ninth African Union Summit opened in Accra with an agenda for the start of a Union government. Although all leaders endorsed the proposal for a continental union government, there were divergent opinions on the nature and timing for such an agenda.
Seventy eight people given national awards for their meritorious and dedicated services to the nation as was reported by the paper on Saturday, July 7, 2007.
Three persons received the Member of the Order of the Star of Ghana award, 16 received the Companion o the order of the Volta, 35 received the Member of the order of the Volta, 21 received the grand medal.
The Daily Graphic, on Friday, July 13, 2007, reported the arrest of two British teenage girls with narcotics at the Kotoka International Airport on July 2, 2007.
In Parliament, an NDC Member of Parliament for Yagaba/kubori, Ibrahun Abdul-Rauf Tanko slapped colleague parliamentarian Sampson Ahi, NDC MP for Juaboso on the floor of Parliament on the 26th day of the same month.
The nation had its share of natural disasters, begining with lighting in June that killed six Ghanaians and their Ukranian captain of the Atlantic Coast of Benin aboard a 30,000 tonne tanker MR North Sea. Four days earlier, lightning struck and killed a six-year old pupil of the Mallam D/A Primary School and was reported in the Saturday, June 2, 2007 issue of the paper.
In August, the country woke up to the horrors of floods in the northern and western regions of country, that claimed life and property.
People living in the area witnessed unprecedented torrential rains on from Friday, August 24, 2007, to Sunday, August 26, 2007.
The death toll increased to 15 and 31 in the Northern and Upper East Regions respectively, with hundreds of thousands of people being rendered homeless
The last quarter of the year turned out to be full of controversies, conflicts, disasters and initiatives. One of the initiatives was the new education reforms, which began in the month. Addressing the 12th congregation of the University of Education, Winneba, on September 9, 2007, President Kufuor urged all Ghanaians to do away with pessimism and scepticism about the new reforms, expressing confidence that with singleness of purpose and perseverance by all Ghanaians in the implementation of the reforms, “we shall succeed”
In the middle of the month, the anti-corruption campaigner and Member of Parliament (MP) for Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa, Mr P. C. Appiah-Ofori, enjoyed enormous media prominence but for negative reasons. A matrimonial dispute between the MP and his wife, Rebecca, spilled into the open and onto the pages of the Saturday, September 15, 2007 issue of the Daily Graphic when another woman appeared as his wife.
On the dark side of the month, the eruption of the protracted conflict between Konkombas and Bimobas in the Northern Region, which left three people dead and many others injured, was among the issues that gained prominence in the month in the Tuesday, September 18, 2007 issue of the Daily Graphic.
The Energy Minister, Mr Kofi Adda, announced the end a 13-month-old energy crisis that hit the nation in the Daily Graphic of Monday, October 1, 2007.
The Golden Jubilee year Overall National Best Teacher was conferred on Ms Faustina Gyeketey, a 29-year-old English tutor of the Gomoa Obokrom D. A. junior high school (JHS) in the Central Region. For her prize, she received a GH¢40,000 four-bedroom house, a computer and its accessories, and a hand shake from President Kufuor at a colourful durbar held in Tamale, the Northern Regional capital on Friday, October 6, 2007.
One of the controversial moments that emerged in the course of the month of October was the alleged demotion and transfer of Ms Helena Abrokwa, the headteacher of Padmore Street Primary (1) School in Tema captured in the Daily Graphic of Monday, October 8, 2007.
With respect to the grieving moments during the month, the gas explosion at the Engas Filling Station at Asokwa in Kumasi, which resulted in the death of the owner and two other persons, as well as the destruction of property worth millions of cedis, was one event that grieved the nation on Tuesday, October 2, 2007.
Another dark moment was a road accident in which a Ford mini bus ran into an abandoned articulated truck in the night at Asuoko-Assaman, near Shama Junction in the Western Region, resulting in the death of 15 people on board the bus - Daily Graphic, Monday, October 8, 2007.
Tidal waves were reported on Saturday, October, 2007 to have pummelled homes at Glefe, a densely populated community at Dansoman in Accra, displacing scores of people and destroying property in the process. In another moment of sorrow, one of the most powerful praise singers in the country, Olla Williams, died at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra after a short illness.
The music industry was dealt another blow when another giant musician of international repute, South Africa’s reggae legend, Lucky Dube, was shot dead by unidentified assassins in South Africa on Friday, October 20, 2007.
Other major issues that came up during the month included the first ever public hearing of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament on the Auditor-General’s Report for 2004/2005, which unearthed huge financial improprieties at the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and extensively carried by the Daily Graphic in the Wednesday, October 17, 2007 issue.
A collaboration between a Ghanaian journalist, Mr Anas Aremeyaw Anas, and the Ghana Police Service led to the arrest of two Ghanaians who allegedly trafficked women to Europe for prostitution. The incident was reported in the Daily Graphic of Friday, October 26, 2007.
In what was described as a ‘miraculous escape’, President Kufuor escaped unhurt in a horrific accident when a black Mercedes Benz saloon car, driven by Thomas Osei, a businessman, ran into the Presidential convoy causing the President’s car to somersault three times at the Silver Star Traffic Intersection near the Kotoka International Airport on Wedneday, November 14, 2007.
Another dark spot was the Anloga chieftaincy disturbance in the Volta Region where the attempted installation of Torgbui Sri III as the new Awoamefia sparked violent clashes in the town leading to the death of three persons on Thursday, November 2, 2007.
Just as traders in Accra were taking new stocks for the Christmas season, tragedy hit hundreds of them at the Makola Market as fire gutted their shops, destroying goods worth billions of cedis on Friday, November 9, 2007.
One major issue that generated controversy during the month was the Pastoral Letter issued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference on the educational reforms calling for the re-introduction of Religious and Moral Education (RME) among other demands. Reacting to the demands of the Catholic Bishops, the Ghana Education Service (GES) damned the Bishops describing their stance on the appointment of teachers as unacceptable (Daily Graphic, Tuesday, November 20, 2007).
Other highlights of the month that attracted enormous attention included the trial of Kwabena Amaning, alias Tagor, and Alhaji Issa Abass. After 366 days of what could be described as one of the most sensational cocaine trials in the country, the Fast Track High Court in Accra sentenced the two persons to 15 years imprisonment each with hard labour, after they were found guilty on their self-confessed admissions of dealing in narcotic drugs at the residence of Assistance Commissioner of Police (ACP) Kofi Boakye in May 2006 (Daily Graphic, Thursday, November 29, 2007).
The month of December was awash with intense political activities as three prominent political parties - the NPP, the Convention People’s Party (CPP) and the People’s National Convention (PNC) - elected their flag-bearers for the 2008 elections. The most intense of all the political activities was the NPP national delegates congress at the University of Ghana during which Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was elected the flag-bearer of the party ahead of 16 other aspirants in a keen contest - Daily Graphic, Monday, December 24, 2007.
Before then, the National Executive Committee of the party had disqualified one of the aspirants and MP for Berekum, Mr Nkrabea Effah-Darteh, on the grounds that he did not satisfy all the requirements of the national constitution, especially Articles 62 and 94 Clauses (2) (c) and (5) - Daily Graphic, Saturday, December 1, 2007.
Meanwhile, at Bolgatanga, the Upper East Regional capital, delegates to the PNC national congress, renewed their mandate in Dr Edward Mahama for the fourth time as the party’s flag-bearer - Daily Graphic, Monday, December 3, 2007.
Just a couple of weeks after the PNC congress, the CPP also elected former Minister of State and MP for Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem (KEEA), Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, as its flag-bearer, beating Pathologist and former Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Prof Agyeman Badu Akosa to second position. At the same congress, Dr Edmund Delle lost his chairmanship position to Mr Ladi Nylander - Daily Graphic, Tuesday, December 18, 2007.
Highlights of other prominent events during the month included the crowning of 54-year-old farmer at Manhyia in the Ashanti Region, Alhaji Abdul Salaam Akati, as the National Best Farmer for 2007. At the award ceremony held in Wa, the Upper West Regional capital, President Kufuor announced an agricultural revolution that would facilitate all-year-round production in the country (Daily Graphic, Saturday, December 8, 2007).
The perennial frustration associated with the organisation of the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca to perform the Hajj manifested once again this year as 2,700 pilgrims got stranded at the Aviation Social Centre near the Kotoka International Airport for many days before they were finally flown to Saudi Arabia at the 11th hour - Daily Graphic, Monday, December 10, 2007.
As the world prepared to bid good-bye to 2007 with all its ups and downs and usher in 2008 with all the challenges and prospects, it woke up last Thursday to the shocking news of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, former Pakistani Prime Minister. She was killed in a suicide bomb attack, together with 20 others, after she had addressed a rally at Rawalpindi (Daily Graphic, Friday, December 28, 2007).
COMPILED BY ALBERT SALIA, CAROLINE BOATENG AND EDMUND YEBOAH
DAILY GRAPHIC, DECEMBER 31, 2007