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03.03.2005 Feature Article

The Tragic End of GA politicians

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... is it the result of fate or character or both? Psychologists and psychiatrists have long concluded that the factors that determine human behavior in life are genes and nurture; philosophers and mystics have shunned those factors. They instead ascribe different factors that they believe define a person's life. Some philosophers and mystics ascribe the course of one's life to fate. Yet another school believes it is character that determines how one?s life ends. The political events in Ghana in apropos Dr. Josiah Aryeh, the former General Secretary of the NDC and Mr. Peter Ala Adjetey, the former Speaker have forced me to reexamine that enigma. Dr Aryeh's and Ala Adjetey's fall from grace to grass seems to be the norm of Ga political leaders. What factors shape and define their respective ends, is it their fates or their characters or both? One cannot be certain. Cursory examination of some Ga national political figures would suffice to substantiate the conclusion

Commencing from the Ga characters during the dawn of Ghana?s independence struggle, the pattern has umistakably been the same. Of the group affectionately known as the "Big Six" in Ghana's political history two were GAS. These were Obestebi-Lamptey and Ako Adzei. Both were detained by Nkrumah. The former, it was rumored, was even buried alive while in detention. The saga of Ako Adzei who died less than five years ago is well known. A confidant of Nkrumah during their student days in the USA, Ako Adzei recommended Nkrumah for the position of the secretary of the fledgling United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC). When Nkrumah later left the UGCC and formed the Convention Peoples' Party (CPP), Ako Adzei a stayed with the UGCC. Rumors pervaded the political vines yard that he served as a mole for Nkrumah. As claimed by the rumors, when Ako was about to be exposed, he joined the CPP. The Machiavellian politician as he was, Nkrumah it was argued, never trusted Ako Adzei again. He was eventually detained after Kulungungu bomb outrage on Nkrumah's life in the early 1960's. The pattern set up by these two Ga pioneers has religiously been followed by most subsequent Ga politicians.

The first seven-member central committee of the CPP had two GAS. These were Ashie Nikoi and Dzenkle Dzewu. Nkrumah met Ashie Nikoi at the 5th Pan African Congress in Manchester in 1945. They became friends. When Nkrumah arrived in the Gold Coast, he relied on the generosity of Ashie, a prosperous cocoa farmer then. Ashie?s contribution to the CPP has not been adequately recognized. It was Ashie, who introduced the red rooster, the symbol of his native La to the CPP. In addition, it was Ashie who introduced the tradition of the CPP routinely holding the last rally on the eve of general election at La Kpeshie Lagoon. As matter of fact, the CPP never won an election without first 'consulting the powers that be' at Kpeshie Lagoon. Ashie Nikoi, like Dzenkle Dzewu was among the group of the first victims of the Preventive Detention Act (PDA). For some reason lost to history, Ashie was released earlier. On his release, he continued unabated and indefatigably his agitation against Nkrumah when it was suicidal so to do. Nkrumah ordered for his re-detention. Ashie fled to Nigeria, where he died in 1963. Ashie's family appealed to Nkrumah to have his mortal remains be repatriated for internment in Ghana. Nkrumah emphatically declined. Dzenkle Dzewu was released in 1966, after the successful military coup that toppled the autocratic regime of the CPP. Thus ended tragically, the lives of two founding members of the CPP. Like these two first generation stalwarts of the CPP, the pattern was repeated by later CPP politicians.

The next prominent Ga politician to have ended tragically was Tawia Adamafio. 'TA' as Nkrumah fondly called him, started his political career as an opponent of Nkrumah. He later, very adroitly and equally admiringly, rose not only to be the General Secretary of the CPP but the heir apparent of Nkrumah as well. Like Ako Adzei, after Kulungungu bomb outrage, TA was arrested, tried and acquitted but remained in detention. The military coup of 1966 gave him his freedom. There were other less known Ga politicians who met the same fate as their more nationally known ethnic brothers. Some of these were, Kweku Akwei, MaGranaky Quaye, Cofie Crabbe, Bortei Doku and Kwatelai Quartey all apparatchiks of the CPP; Attoh Quarshie, Attoh Okine, Nai Tetteh and Yoomobi Akrong Nabi represented the Busia-Danquah tradition. Their collective stories could be illustrated by that of MaGranaky Quaye. It was Quaye, in an article in the Evening News, the mouth piece of the CPP who argued for the idea of establishing an ideological institute. Naturally, Nkrumah made him the first head of the Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute. After an ephemeral tenure, he was abruptly fired by Nkrumah. He did not fare well until Kutu made him the Electoral Commissioner, during the ill-stared Union Government fiasco. Mr. Quaye life ended unlike somebody who had headed the Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute. The phenomenal tragic end of Ga national political leaders is not only limited to civilians.

The tragic end of many 'abongo' boys and top police officers who became politicians more strikingly illustrates the point. What make this group's fall more dramatic are the meteoric rise and the depth of their fall. This group includes Gen J. A. Ankrah, Gen Robert Kotei and Gen Odartey-Wellington. Gen Ankrah was a career soldier. At the time of independence, he was the second highest ranking military officer. He was retired by Nkrumah and given an executive position in one of the state controlled banks. For strategic reasons, Gen Kotoka offered him the Chairmanship of the National Liberation Council (NLC) after the overthrow of Nkrumah regime. Ankrah thus became the head of state and the only Ga to have occupied that position. Ankrah aspired to become an elected leader. He commissioned, for the first time in Ghana, pools to be conducted to assess his chances. He solicited funds from businesses to finance that clandestine exercise. He was once photographed accepting a check for the exercise. That act spelled his doom politically. In less than 3 years, Ankrah was catapulted to the top most position in Ghana and just fizzled away. He went down with Oko Nunoo. Oko, a top brass in the police service, was second Ga in the seven-man membership of the National Liberation Council (NLC). Oko Nunoo defiantly defended Ankrah and hinted that the whole episode was a set up.

The next military rule initially ushered in Gen Robert Kotei and later Gen Odartey-Wellington as the leading Ga 'abongo' boys. The former was executed with Kutu and the latter lost his life during Rawlings?s ?first coming?. Kotei, until his execution, was one of Kutu's most trusted confidants. He was the source of information of planned coups against the National Redemption Council (NRC) regime. Odartey-Wellington, like many Gas, served his master Kutu diligently. When Rawlings was released from detention, it was Odartey alone, as a member of the Supreme Military Council (SMC) who had the guts to fight for what he believed in. Odartey's gallantry was the acme of heroism. In recognition of this character, Rawlings offered to be one of the pallbearers at Odartey's burial. Had fate or character anything to do with these ends.

It is in the light of the above illustrations that one has to examine the recent tragic ends of Josiah Aryeh and Peter Ala Adjetey. Was this their fate or their character? Your guess is as good as mine

Admittedly, not all Ga political leaders have ended tragically. Among the exceptions group were E. C. Quist, Nii Amaa Ollenu and Justice Annang, Speakers of Parliament in the First, Second and Forth Republics respectively and Harry Sawyer. It is note worthy that the only cabinet minister to have lost his life on February 24, 1966 was a Ga politician, in the name of Norte Dowuona.

Men, to a great extent, believe what they want to believe. What is your belief? Has fate anything to do with the rise and fall of Ga politicians or it is their character that determines their destiny. Are Ga politicians victims of circumstances beyond their comprehension?

Laplace, a 19th Century deterministic philosopher wrote in his 'Theorie analytique des probabilities' in 1812 about the demon. He argued for the belief that every event, including the actions of human beings, is the singular and inevitable consequence of a chain of antecedent events in which chance does not play a role. Events in themselves, to Laplace and his disciples are not chancy. Are Ga politicians wired to rise and fall like a clock-work? Let us and cross our fingers and watch the next set of dramatists on the stage i.e. Jake and Ibrahim Quaye.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Nikoi Kotey
Nikoi Kotey, © 2005

The author has 23 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: NikoiKotey

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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