On the eve of President Obama’s visit to Ghana, theGrio looks back to when the country first celebrated its independence from British rule.

On March 6, 1957 citizens of the new state of Ghana gathered for a celebration marking their freedom from colonialism. What was once the gold coast of a British colony became an independent common wealth. Then Vice President Richard Nixon and his wife represented the United States at the three-day festivities. Native dances and games marked an event of historic importance, as Ghana became the first African colony to gain its freedom.

Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah spoke with representative Adam Clayton Powell of the U.S. as Ghana’s new army passed before American-educated Nkrumah and former Deputy Secretary Ralph Bunche of the UN. Another feature of the occasion was a beauty contest which celebrated the splendor of Africa’s first democracy.

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