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Page last updated at 17:58 GMT, Monday, 21 September 2009 18:58 UK

Ghana marks leader's centenary

Dancers perform under a statue of Nkrumah
Some see Kwame Nkrumah as a visionary, others as a tyrant

Ghana is marking 100 years since the birth of Kwame Nkrumah, the country's first president and a founding father of Africa's independence movement.

The governing National Democratic Congress designated the day a national holiday and organised celebrations.

Hundreds of Ghanaians gathered in the capital, Accra, for a vigil.

Nkrumah led Ghana to independence from the British in 1957 and served as president afterwards. He was eventually overthrown in a coup in 1966.

President John Atta Mills called for the nation to show "collective pride" on what he has labelled Founder's Day.

He described Nkrumah as the man who "lit the flame that blazed a liberation struggle of the African continent".

Radio and TV have been filled with sights and sounds from Ghana's independence struggle in the run-up to Founder's Day.

Kwame Nkrumah pictured in 1957
Nkrumah was a champion of black pride

Ghanaians are celebrating with concerts, processions and ceremonial gatherings.

The BBC's David Amanor, in Accra, says the decision to dedicate a national holiday to the former leader has raised controversy.

Our correspondent says many Ghanaians have mixed feelings about Nkrumah.

By the time he was overthrown, he was an isolated and authoritarian leader presiding over a flagging economy and a population disillusioned with him.

Ghanaian women celebrate in Accra
The theories of Nkrumah have become popular again in his home country

He had outlawed trade union strikes, indoctrinated the youth and concentrated more on foreign affairs than domestic concerns.

After a bomb was placed in a bouquet of flowers in a botched assassination attempt, he introduced a the Preventive Detention Act, allowing him to jail his opponents at will.

The military eventually overthrew him while he was on a foreign trip.

But our correspondent says many of his ideas have made a comeback in recent years.

Many Ghanaians now remember him as a champion of education, industrialisation and black pride.



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