On my first Fourth of July in the United States, I woke up in the morning, stretched and realized that my wife was still in bed.

I asked if she was going to work. She said, “Oh, don’t you know today is July Fourth?”

I looked through our window. Just about everybody in Fernley, Nevada, the town where we lived, was on their way to Main Street with chairs, umbrellas, drinks and snacks.

I was confused. What were they going to celebrate? I was curious, too, so I got our camp chairs and headed out to join our neighbors. That’s when my wife told me what was going on: “July Fourth is America’s Independence Day.”

I jumped out of my seat! This couldn’t be true. Who could have colonized a great country like America?

I thought colonization only occurred in Africa, where I grew up. I didn’t believe her.

That was in 2014 — the year I found out that America was once a British colony, just like my native Ghana.

I have had the privilege of seeing two ways of celebrating independence — and along the way have given a lot of thought to what independence really means.

George Mwinnyaa: Why I Love (And Question) Independence Day

Photo: Cristina Aldehuela/AFP/Getty Images