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March 6: Israel and African Decolonization

March 6, 2013

DSC_3082_waWhen Ghana became an independent republic on this date in 1957, after more than sixty years of British colonial rule, Israel had already opened its first African embassy in Accra, the nation's capital, and Golda Meir had made a very positive impression throughout the country during a five-day tour. Ghana was the first African country to decolonize, and within the year Israel was providing military assistance, helping to establish and train Ghana's Air Force, and had formed several joint enterprises. At a 1961 conference of new African nations in Casablanca, however, Ghana became a signatory to an anti-Israel document, lobbied for by the United Arab Republic, and relations between the countries began to deteriorate — despite President Kwame Nkrumah's assurances to Israel that, in the words of Ghana's ambassador, "We know what you have done for our young country" and "shall be the last to stand by and let Israel be destroyed." Diplomatic relations were severed by Ghana after the 1973 Yom Kippur War and were not restored until 1994; Israel then opened a new embassy in Accra in 2011. For an article about what Israel might learn from Ghana from an agricultural and environmental perspective, click here.

"Israel has two major brands in Ghana – Golda and Jesus. There is true religious love and friendship for Israel." --Ambassador Sharon Bar-Lee, 2011