If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.
In January 2020, the news went viral about brave firefighters in Fremont, USA who saved the US national flag from a burning building. They were celebrated and hailed as great men - heroes. One may ask what value this flag holds to these people? The flag of a country of the country is a representation of its history, its heritage, the culture of its people, and the hope for its future. In many countries, important individuals hoist their flags during national anthems to show their respect for the country. The story is no different with the Ghanaian flag.
History and origin of the Ghanaian flag
After years of colonization, the people of Ghana protested stubbornly against their colonial masters as they were in search of freedom. Freedom to rule themselves and control their administrative functions. The fight for freedom peaked after World War II when the citizens realized they had always been fit enough to manage their affairs. At this crucial time Dr. Kwame Nkrumah returned from a 12-year education in political studies in Great Britain and the USA. He led the people in the fight for freedom. After years of widespread riots, strikes, and protests by the people, Ghana gained independence on the 6th of March 1957.
After the success of gaining independence, the country yanked off the Union Jack of Britain. This was the flag of the British people; it represented the ideals of the British, not Ghana.
This created the opportunity for Ghana to design its own flag. An emblem that will embody the struggles of the nation, the freedom from slavery, imprisonment and bondage of the British. There was the need for someone to design the banner for a nation of resilient people who will proudly hoist it for eternity. This became the story of Madam Theodosia Salome Abena Okoh.
Born on the 13th of June on a Tuesday in 1992, Theodosia Okoh was the fourth of eight children. She attended secondary school and teacher training college at Senior and Teacher Training Schools in Agogo and then Achimota School, where she received three years of training in Fine Art. You can also find the Shai Hills reserve a few miles from here.
The design for the new Ghana flag was an incredibly competitive one. This was mainly because it would be the country’s immortal identity and it had to be perfect. Madam Theodosia however upon hearing the advertisement for a new flag made a leap of faith and tendered in four of her designs.
Surprisingly, one of her designs struck the eyes of the first president of independent Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. Not only because of its design but for what the colours stood for.
As explained by her the first color in the flag. Red stood for the blood of our forefathers who led the struggle and fought for independence. Through the journey to independence, notable personalities were killed and executed for their fight towards independent rule. Notable among them were the members of The Big Six.
The gold color that takes the middle of the flag stands for the mineral resources and the endowment of natural resources found in Ghana. Ghana is a country with many natural resources such as gold, diamond, bauxite, and crude oil on which it relies heavily for export to gain foreign exchange.
The green color stands for Ghana’s rich forest and natural wealth. These natural resources feed the nation with cash crops, food, and oil.
Last but not least, the black star on Ghanaian flag is in the center of the flag. Ghana is the first African country that gained independence from colonialism. It was through the works of Ghanaian leaders and other African countries who also fought for their independence. Ghana was the inspiration for the freedom for the rest of the African nations. Hence the president of Ghana is the head of the ECOWAS.
The Black star in the middle of the flag stands for freedom of Africa and unity against colonialism. The vision of Ghana is that Africa shall forever be free from oppressor's rule and will never be subjected to the will of anybody else. It is also the inspiration behind the nickname of the Ghanaian men's football team: the Ghana Blackstars. The Black star is the Hope of Africa. When you visit Ghana, make sure you also visit the iconic Blackstar at the Independence Square.
Mrs. Theodosia Okoh could not have done a better job designing the Ghana flag. She managed to put the history and the future of Ghana in a timeless design.
Mrs. Theodosia has not only earned her name as a designer of the Ghanaian flag but also as a stateswoman. She pioneered the playing of hockey in Ghana. She became the first female hockey chairperson and later the president of the hockey federation in Ghana. It was during her tenure as president that Ghana qualified for the world hockey tournament and the hockey Olympic Games. In the light of her immense contribution to the game, the first hockey stadium in Ghana was named after her.
Her patriotism and selfless attitude towards her country has been a good reason for several prominent people to pay her visits. Notable among them was the Duke of Edinburgh when he visited Ghana in place of Queen Elizabeth in 1959.
How do you sum up the life of a woman, a courageous woman who made a personal initiative to break creative bounds to bring to life a timeless design that will represent her country forever? What of a woman that made it her life’s mission to cement a sport in her country and create opportunities for the citizens to take part in international games?
On the 19th of April 2015, Mrs. Theodosia Okoh passed on after battling a short-term illness in Narh-Bita hospital in Tema at the ripe age of 92. The president of Ghana at the time ordered flags to be at half-mast as a sign of honor in her memory.
Theodosia Abena Okoh was a national icon, a stateswoman, a symbol of female empowerment, and a pioneer of Ghana's freedom journey. That is how you sum up the life of one of the greatest women in Ghana’s history.