Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai and Gordon Crawford
Ghana is widely celebrated as one of the most stable democracies in Africa, after successfully making the transition from (quasi-) military rule to democratic government in 1992 and subsequent democratic consolidation. While Ghana has not suffered the civil wars experienced in many countries in West Africa, the first 35 years of independence saw a series of conflicts between and within political and military elites that led to political instability, with military rule interspersed with brief periods of civilian rule. This chapter provides the background to the transition in 1992 by examining the political struggles and conflict that occurred during decolonisation and in the post-independence period from 1957 onwards. It then analyses the factors, internal and external, that influenced the democratic transition and explores the resultant changes and continuities along political, economic, social and cultural lines. It concludes by looking at the lessons learned from the Ghana experience, as well as the lingering threats to democratic consolidation and political stability from past legacies.