Reflecting on 1st July Republic Day: spotlight on Komla Agbeli Gbedemah in the attainment of Republican Status

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CDS Africa

Administrator . Updated July 17, 2024


Ghana, a beacon of independence and democracy in Africa, celebrates its Republic Day on 1st July each year. This day marks the transition from a constitutional monarchy under British rule to a republic within the Commonwealth. On 1st July 1960, Ghana adopted a new constitution and Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was sworn in as the first President of the Republic of Ghana. This transformation was the culmination of the efforts of several key personalities who played pivotal roles in ensuring Ghana's attainment of republican status.

Though the country obtained independence from the British in 1957, it was not until 1960 that it became a fully functioning, sovereign republic. A republican system of governance allows citizens to directly elect political leaders and other representatives to rule their country.  In Ghana, the day is known as Senior Citizens' Day recognizing senior citizens who played key roles in the war for independence and nation-building.

Republic Day was a national holiday until 2019 when it was changed to a 'commemorative holiday by the Nana Addo Dankwa-led government.

The Road to Attaining Republican Status

The Political History of Ghana details the history of Ghana's many political systems before colonialism, during the colonial era, and after independence. Pre-colonial Ghana was made up of various states and ethnic groups, with three main administrative models: centralized, non-centralized, and theocratic states.

During the colonial era, the British Empire used various types of governance across its four territorial possessions on the Gold Coast. Indirect control was introduced in the late nineteenth century following its success in Northern Nigeria.

Before the invasion, Ghana, a sub-Saharan country, was home to the mighty Ashanti Empire in its southern region. Ghanaian soil was rich in natural resources such as gold, which drew various colonial powers to its doorstep. Though the Portuguese were the first invaders to arrive in Ghana in the 15th century, it was the British Empire that eventually took control following a series of skirmishes with the Ashanti Empire in the 1900s.

On March 6, 1957, Ghana became the first country in the area to attain independence from the British, ending decades of exploitation and persecution. The next three years saw the establishment of an independent republic. Following a constitutional referendum and presidential election on July 1, 1960, Ghanaian President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah declared the country a republic and took office.

Undoubtedly, the most prominent figure in Ghana's journey to republican status is Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. As the leader of the Convention People's Party (CPP), Nkrumah was the driving force behind Ghana's independence movement. His vision extended beyond mere independence; he sought to establish Ghana as a republic with a homegrown governance structure that reflected the aspirations and values of its people.

Komla Agbeli Gbedemah

Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, born on 17th June 1913 was a prominent Ghanaian politician who served as Minister for Finance in Kwame Nkrumah's government from 1954 to 1961. Known as "Afro Gbede," he hailed from Anyako, Volta Region. Gbedemah was pivotal in Nkrumah's rise to power, organizing his campaign while Nkrumah was imprisoned.

Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, another stalwart of the independence movement, was instrumental in organizing the political machinery that facilitated Ghana's move towards republicanism. As a founding member of the CPP and a trusted lieutenant of Nkrumah, Gbedemah's organizational skills were crucial in mobilizing support across the country.

Gbedemah's role extended beyond mere organization; he was a key architect of the policies and strategies that underpinned the republican agenda. His work in building a cohesive and effective political party structure ensured that the CPP had the grassroots support necessary to implement its vision.

He later held key ministerial roles but fell out with Nkrumah, leading to his forced exile in 1961. Gbedemah continued to advocate, notably for the Akosombo Dam project, and formed the People's Movement for Freedom and Justice in 1991. He also played a significant role in international organizations promoting world federalism. Gbedemah passed away at 85 years on 11th July 1998.

Significance Of Republic Day

Ghana celebrates Republic Day as the day the nation formally declared itself independent of British rule and became a republic. It serves as a poignant reminder of Ghanaians' sacrifices and struggles for independence, as well as the rich traditions and practices that define Ghanaian culture.

Ghana Republic Day is commemorated with parades, flag-raising ceremonies, and other cultural events that bring together people from various areas and backgrounds. It acts as a unifying force, reminding Ghanaians of their common identity while instilling a sense of national pride and unity.

 Additionally, it is a moment to consider and make progress. Ghanaians consider the nation's accomplishments since achieving independence on this day, as well as the obstacles that still need to be overcome. It acts as a prompt to keep pushing for national advancement and development while working toward a better future for all Ghanaians.


The attainment of Ghana's republican status on 1st July 1960 was the result of the collective efforts of several key personalities, each contributing their unique skills and vision to the cause. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah's visionary leadership, Dr. Ebenezer Ako-Adjei's diplomatic acumen, Komla Agbeli Gbedemah's organizational genius, and Justice Kofi Adumua Bossman's legal expertise were all instrumental in shaping the path towards a republic.

As Ghana celebrates Republic Day, it is essential to remember and honor these individuals whose dedication and hard work ensured the nation's transition to full sovereignty. 

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CDS Africa

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