Last week, more than thirty years after studying nationalist movements in west Africa, I finally got there. To Ghana. Just for 48 hours, but long enough to get a sense of the place. And a budding affection for the country, and its hugely warm-hearted people.
It's genuinely pluralist. The coastal road - a main regional highway - is impressively free of potholes and bullock carts. And while many people are clearly poor, in Accra and Takoradi, I saw little of the in-your-face urban poverty which is still evident in many Indian cities.
Accra didn't even have power cuts. At least, not so you would notice. That's in part Nkrumah's legacy - the independence leader who developed hydroelectric power. With the prospect of oil just off the coast near Takoradi, Ghana could make a giant leap in the next yew years.
Local radio is impressive - on the long journey from Takoradi to Accra, listening on FM, I heard one talk station and then another hold local politicians to account over somewhat intemperate remarks by a party leadership contender.
Still, there are gaps in the media scene. 'What the Ghanaian media doesn't do', a former government minister told me, 'is report on our Francophone neighbours. Look at the map. Ghana is surrounded on three sides by French speaking nations, and on the fourth by the sea.' The legacy of the European imperial carve-up of Africa is still all too evident.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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