12.08.2006 Feature Article

When Dancers Play Historians And Thinkers Part 1

When Dancers Play Historians And Thinkers Part 1
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Not long ago, an obituary that was published in the New York Times on the life of the famous Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, who had died in Los Angeles, California, noted that the deceased was fond of the dictum: “Some of us have a right to be stupid; but, for me, being stupid is a luxury that I can ill-afford.” The preceding was in riposte to those cynical Jews who thought that meticulous and unrelenting Nazi-hunting survivors of the Holocaust were, literally, out of their minds.

The preceding quote, which is more of a paraphrase, aimed at poignantly capturing the essence of Mr. Wiesenthal's motto, came to mind as I began reading an unpardonably vicious, desultory and rather shameful article titled “The Fallacies of J. B. Danquah's Heroic Legacy” that was published by on June 4, 2006. In the latter article, the writer, a Mr. Kwame Botwe-Asamoah, sought to summarily impugn the sanity of substantive Ghanaian president, Mr. J. A. Kufuor, as well as the integrity of His Royal Majesty, The Okyenhene, Osagyefo Nana Amoatia Ofori-Panyin II, Paramount King of Akyem-Abuakwa.

The writer also, rather puerilely and sophomorically, presumed to question my scholastic integrity on twentieth-century Ghanaian historiography, notably my representation of the formidable personalities of Dr. J. B. Danquah, putatively and indisputably dubbed “The Doyen of Gold Coast and Ghanaian Politics,” and Mr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first prime minister and, subsequently, president of Ghana.

For Mr. Botwe-Asamoah, who described himself as “the author [sic] [recipient?] of the Cheikh Anta Diop Award for Excellence in Scholarship book [sic], Kwame Nkrumah's Politico-Cultural Thought and Policies, published by Routledge,” the most “traumatic” moment in Ghanaian history dawned when President Kufuor, on the 40th Anniversary Commemoration of the Brutal Assassination of Dr. J. B. Danquah by President Kwame Nkrumah(see Nsawam Prison Inquest Into The Detention And Death Of Dr. J. B. Danquah), suggested that it would not be wholly inappropriate if conscientious Ghanaians were to honor the memory of Dr. Danquah by naming the latter “Patron-Saint of Ghana.”

Interestingly, in his barely readable article, for someone who claims to have “earned” a doctorate on Nkrumaism from Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Mr. Botwe-Asamoah erroneously has President Kufuor suggesting that Dr. Danquah be named “a compatriot saint of Ghana.” Of course, the sitting Ghanaian premier had irreproachably cogent reasons for issuing his statement. For starters, the statutory renaming of the erstwhile Gold Coast as Ghana was the indisputable brainchild of the indomitably erudite Dr. Danquah. The irony here, however, is that for most of Ghana's history as a politically self-governing state, the landmark renaming of the erstwhile Gold Coast as Ghana has been deliberately and mendaciously credited to Mr. “Osagyefo” Kwame Nkrumah. Thus, when Mr. Botwe-Asamoah infers that any attempt at delineating Dr. Danquah's unbested legacy to both Ghana and the greater global community constitutes a flagrant violation of scholastic integrity, it is not quite clear just what the writer means. Then again, nobody really ought to expect much from Mr. Botwe-Asamoah whose professional métier, until his recent overnight “earning” of a doctoral degree in Nkrumaism from Temple University, lies in the kinesthetic or theatrical discipline of African Dance.
Further, the writer defines in highly unquotable, mixed tenses what he deems to constitute the criteria for determining the selection of national heroes, among which is what the writer terms as entailing “historical personalities [who] invariably committed revolutionary suicide [sic] towards the freedom of African people.” As to exactly what is “revolutionary suicide,” the writer does not expatiate; not that anybody expected a philosophical treatise from one who has proven himself to be more nimble with his feet than with his brains. But, of course, needless to say, those of us who are fairly well-trained in political theory understand “revolutionary suicide” to imply “class suicide.” For, did anybody witness Mr. Jeremiah (Jerry) John Rawlings publicly “committing revolutionary suicide,” in the proverbial Japanese mode, anywhere in postcolonial Ghana? I didn't! And neither did President Nkrumah (the over-celebrated “African Show Boy”) who, together with Mr. Rawlings, Mr. Botwe-Asamoah envisages as a demi-god.

Furthermore, Mr. Botwe-Asamoah writes: “What is shocking about the campaign was President Kufuor's ill-mannered [sic] rewriting of Ghana's political history…” as well as “the president's melancholic statement that 'Danquah was the best Prime Minister Ghana never had' was an insult to the dignity and integrity of Kwame Nkrumah who uncompromisingly championed the course of Ghana's independence at his personal sacrifice.”

And now talking of “personal sacrifices,” perhaps somebody ought to apprise this thoroughgoing nitwit that during most of the period that Mr. Nkrumah served as General-Secretary of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), his “paycheck” came directly out of the pocket and legal practice of Dr. J. B. Danquah!

And as I matter-of-factly noted elsewhere (see's SIL-chat-room conversations of June 4, 2006), Mr. Botwe-Asamoah is an unconscionable and impudent Ewe Nationalist who uses his adopted Akan name as a camouflage to conveniently mask his inveterate animosity towards Akans, particularly his natal hosts of Akyem-Abuakwa sub-extraction or sub-ethnicity. And here, of course, it bears pointing out more clearly that the writer was born, some sixty years ago, on a cocoa farm near Akyem-Tafo, in the Eastern Region of Ghana. He is also a card-carrying member of the Rawlings-Tsikata Butchers' Congress, otherwise known as the Provisional National Democratic Congress (P/NDC).

And so when the writer vitriolically implicates Dr. Danquah in the brutal, allegedly ritual, murder of Nana Akyea-Mensah, of Akyem-Apedwa (1944), without sourcing his authority for such blatant act of libel, one need not look any further. More so, when the writer also roundly, cavalierly and summarily desecrates the memory of Osagyefo Nana Sir Ofori-Atta I (1880-1943) by falsely claiming that “Odikro Akyea-Mensah [(1895-1944)] was one of the (over 80) children of Ofori-Atta I.”

Indeed, it is this kind of malicious but quite characteristic CPP/PNDC dumb propaganda tactics that ought to be promptly exposed by all well-meaning Ghanaians. And here, also, our readers may do themselves a lot of intellectual and historiographical good by reading Professor Richard Rathbone's book “Murder And Politics In Colonial Ghana” (Yale University Press). And, here again, as I noted earlier elsewhere, it is very, very dangerous when a cultural and ethnic outsider with no scholastic training or standing in a particular discipline presumes to wield authority in the same. And I make the preceding observation partly because both Nana Sir Osagyefo (the real “Osagyefo”) Ofori-Atta I and Nana Akyea-Mensah are my forebears. But, perhaps, even more significantly, I have creditably done my homework in this critical area and era of Ghanaian history, out of which was produced my book titled “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (, 2005).

Again, characteristically, Mr. Asamoah-Botwe seeks to gratuitously upend common sense by fatuously asserting: “Defending the convicted [indicted?] criminals [i.e. suspected murderers of Nana Akyea-Mensah] (four)[sic] sons of the late Ofori-Atta I and four other royal members [sic] to the hilt were J. B. Danquah and Edward Akuffo-Addo. After repeated appeals before the Privy Council in London to overturn the guilty verdict, Danquah went to the extent of mobilizing his political connections in England to obtain execution of stay [sic] of the death sentences. Hereafter, any effort by Danquah to secure personal representation of the non-traditional groups (farmers, trade unions and the Youth Congress) in the Legislative Council was doomed to failure. What a compatriot saint!”

For starters, not only does Mr. Botwe-Asamoah not reference his sources – the putative trademark of a congenital liar – he also presumes to readily fool his readers into believing that the mere professional defense of a criminal suspect by a lawyer, logically implies that the criminal defense attorney concerned is also, willy-nilly, criminally culpable! What chutzpah! What stupidity! Then again, how does one blame a dancer who cannot differentiate between the legal terminologies of “stay of execution” and “execution of stay”? And also, one who pathetically confuses an “electoral college” with “electoral collage,” whatever the latter means in Mr. Botwe-Asamoah's lexicon, if, indeed, he has any.

On the question of Aaron (Kofi Asante) Ofori-Atta's defeat of Dr. Danquah, the latter's nephew, that is, we prefer that the reader consult both Richard Rathbone's referenced work as well as Aaron Ofori-Atta's own autobiography and duly draw his or her own conclusions. Suffice it to note here, at least in passing, that had it not been for the avuncular intercession of Dr. Danquah, and appositely so, Kofi Asante would likely have ended up in life in a far, far less flattering cubbyhole in postcolonial Ghanaian history and politics (see also R. Rathbone's “Nkrumah And The Chiefs”). More significantly must be highlighted the fact that Dr. Danquah's bewildering electoral defeats were far more predicated on Nkrumah's, admittedly, quite steady and effective propaganda diet of half-truths and outright lies to a largely illiterate and unsuspecting Ghanaian electorate, such as the Akyea-Mensah cause celebre. And here, the well-meaning reader ought to bear in mind that as General-Secretary of the UGCC, Nkrumah was the sole salaried and “motorized” Party executive, other than the senior-most members, entrusted with mobilizing and organizing the largely rural masses for the independence struggle.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., teaches English and Journalism at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is the author of twelve books, including “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (, 2005). Email: [email protected]

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