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FIFTY years ago this week I was in Ghana making a film for US television of the celebrations in the first of Britain's African colonies to achieve its independence.

In a way, I rather wish I could be there again now for the jubilee of that historic transfer of power; the Ghanaians know how to party and have spent more than two million pounds on this week's events which are being attended by the leaders of 24 other African countries. There has been criticism, of course, of such expenditure when many people in Ghana are still living close to the poverty line. But Ghana has a lot to be proud of and to celebrate.

The early years after independence saw a strong economy debilitated both by unrealistic internal projects and President Kwame Nkruma's ambitions for his country to be a leader in Africa. Although a charismatic campaigner for independence, Nkruma was autocratic and even paranoic in power, as I clearly saw when I interviewed him.

By the time he was overthrown by the army in 1966 Ghana was in serious economic and political trouble.
It was a pattern that would be followed in many other African countries but Ghana has managed better than most to regain its democratic base and put its economy in a stable condition. Many observers believe it is now well able to fulfil the promise it showed, but squandered, 50 years ago. If it does so it will again be a leader in Africa.