Why is Kwame Nkrumah memorial day celebrated? History and how it is celebrated

Why is Kwame Nkrumah memorial day celebrated? History and how it is celebrated

Public holidays remind people of the importance of a country's history. They guide people on various values associated with them. Those values include sacrifices in war, the lives and roles of leaders and gaining independence. One such significant holiday is the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day in Ghana.

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Kwame Nkrumah memorial day
President of Ghana Kwame Nkrumah with his wife Fathia Nkrumah. Photo: Popperfoto
Source: Getty Images

Kwame Nkrumah was a Ghanaian politician, political revolutionist, and theorist. He was famously known as the first Prime Minister and President of Ghana. He was one of the major driving forces behind leading the Gold Coast to independence from Britain.

Why is Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day celebrated?

The holiday is celebrated to commemorate the birthday of the first president of Ghana, Osagyefo, Dr Kwame Nkrumah. When is Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day celebrated? It is celebrated on 21st September in Ghana. However, if the 21st of September falls on Saturday or Sunday, the upcoming Monday is observed as a holiday.

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Before passing the Public Holiday Amendment Bill into law in March 2019, Founder's Day was celebrated on the 21st of September. However, after the bill was passed into law, Kwame Nkrumah's birthday became his Memorial Day on 21st September, while Founder's Day was moved to 4th August.

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Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day history

Britain took over parts of Ghana in 1874. They subsequently named these parts British Gold Coast. Later, Britain's rule started weakening due to World War II and the increasing desire for Ghanaians to regain their independence.

On 6th March 1957, the country became the first in the sub-Saharan African region to attain independence. Nkrumah played a huge role as he was the driving force behind the country’s independence. He founded the Convention People’s Party (CPP).

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Kwame Nkrumah memorial day
A portrait of Ghanaian politician and political revolutionist Kwame Nkrumah. Photo: Keystone-France
Source: Getty Images

During Independence Day, he delivered one of the most powerful speeches. He proclaimed that the country would be free forever. During the celebration, millions of Ghanaians gathered at the Black Stars Square, formerly Independence Square. His speech relinquished Britain's control over the Gold Coast.

Prime Minister Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah was sworn into office in 1960, becoming the country's first president. On 1st July 1960, Ghana officially became a republic. Almost six years later, in February 1966, the president visited Vietnam and China on state duties. While on tour, his government was overthrown in a military coup.

Since then, Nkrumah never returned to Ghana until his death in April 1972. In September 2009, President John Atta Mills declared Kwame Nkrumah’s birthday, 21st September, to be Founder's Day, a statutory holiday in the country.

Nkrumah designed the Ghana flag. The design was primarily inspired by Ethiopia's green-yellow-red Lion of Judah flag. However, the lion was replaced by a black star, and each symbol carries a different meaning as follows:

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  • Red symbolizes bloodshed and struggle
  • Green stands for beauty and agriculture
  • Yellow represents mineral wealth
  • The Black Star represents African freedom

How is Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day celebrated?

This important day is celebrated with speeches and events in remembrance of all the achievements and legacy left by the first president of Ghana, Dr Nkrumah.


  1. Who was Kwame Nkrumah? He was a Ghanaian politician and the first Prime Minister and President of Ghana.
  2. Why is Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day celebrated? The Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day is celebrated every 21st of September to pay homage to Ghana's first president.
  3. Is Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day a public holiday? Yes, Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day is a statutory Public Holiday in Ghana.
  4. Is Memorial Day a holiday in Ghana? Yes, Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day is a public holiday.
  5. How many public holidays are there in Ghana? There are more than 18 nationally recognized public holidays in Ghana.
  6. Why do Ghanaians celebrate Founder’s Day? It is celebrated on 4th August to commemorate the country’s struggle for independence.
  7. When did Ghana gain its independence? The Gold Coast declared its independence from the British on 6th March 1957.

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Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day is among the most important days in the Ghanaian calendar. The day is significant as it marks the birthday of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana and the country's founding father. He played a huge role in helping Ghana regain its independence.

Yen.com.gh shared an article about the Easter celebration in Ghana. Easter is an important holiday for Christians all over the world. The reason is that the holiday commemorates one of the Christian faith's central tenets: Jesus' death and resurrection.

Unlike in the West, the commercialised aspects of the holiday are conspicuously absent. Instead, the holiday is marked by a religious emphasis, with some cultural activities thrown in for good measure.

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Source: YEN.com.gh

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