The Aliu Mahama Stadium in Tamale came alive yesterday, with thousands of people braving the sweltering weather to fill every inch of space at the stadium to witness the 62nd National Independence Day Parade.
The temperature hovered around 40 degrees Celsius at midday, but that did not deter the milling crowd from being part of the historic event — the first time that the national Independence anniversary was celebrated outside the national capital.
And nothing was lost by moving the celebration from Accra, as the celebration in Tamale lived up to expectation.
Indeed, the day will remain in the minds of both the old and the young in Tamale and the Northern Region, by extension, for a long time to come.
The large crowd was treated to beautiful displays by personnel of the security agencies, schoolchildren and various groups during the march past.
Incredible renditions of patriotic songs by the mass band of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) and the police vibrated inside the 20,000-seater stadium.
A total of 61 officers and 602 men and women of the security services, comprising the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Police Service, the Prisons Service, the Fire Service, the Immigration Service and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, (GRA) took part in the parade.
In addition, 560 teachers, students and pupils from selected basic and second-cycle schools participated in the march past.
The smartly dressed officers, men and women of the security services received applause from the large crowd.
Another aspect of the excitement was the acrobatic display by GAF Physical Training instructors.
Also on display was the equipment of the GAF, the Police Service and the Fire Service to showcase their readiness to protect the country at all times.
The mass band of the GAF and the Police Service was not left out, as the bandsmen displayed their dexterity with their musical instruments.
The celebration was on the theme:” Peace and Unity”.
The five-hour parade came to an end after the Guest of Honour, President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, and his host, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, had delivered their speeches
Enter the President
The entry of the number one celebrant, President Akufo-Addo, to the stadium about 10.15 a.m. heightened the excitement among the crowd in the stands.
With cacophonous cheers, they waved the Ghana Flag as the President’s convoy made its way to a stop on the tartan tracks.
President Akufo-Addo, who is also the Commander-Chief of the GAF, accompanied by the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), Lieutenant General Obed Boamah Akwa, and the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr David Asante-Appeatu, reviewed the parade.
The President also lit the anniversary flame to give meaning to the national significance of the day.
Another aspect of the event that set the stadium agog was the beautiful display by a cultural troupe which depicted the dance and culture of the various ethnic groups in the Northern Region.
Among the dignitaries who graced the occasion were the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia; his wife, Hajia Samira Bawumia; former Presidents Jerry John Rawlings and John Dramani Mahama; the Chairman of the Council of State, Nana Otuo Siriboe; the Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye; the Chief Justice, Ms Sophia Akuffo, and the Chief of Staff at the Presidency, Mrs Akosua Frema Osei Opare.
Also in attendance were traditional rulers, including the Overlord of Dagbon, Yaa Naa Abukari Mahama II; the
Overlord of the Mamprugu Traditional Area, Naa Bohagu Mahami Abdulai Sheriga, and the Overlord of Gonjaland, Yagbonwura Tutumba Boresa.
Earlier in the day, the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) had issued an alert to the public to drink a lot of water to protect themselves against dehydration.
The hot and sunny weather in the north took a toll on some members of the security agencies and the schoolchildren who took part in the parade, with about 18 of them fainting on the parade ground.
The victims were carried away for medical attention by the emergency paramedics.