02.02.2007 General News

Wereko-Brobbey: Nkrumah's properties are not state responsibility

02.02.2007 LISTEN
By The Statesman

The man in charge of the [email protected] anniversary project, Charles Wereko-Brobbey has reacted to newspaper publications that the state has neglected Nkroful, the place of birth of Ghana"s first President and left to disrepair Kwame Nkrumah's family properties in the town.

Dr Wereko-Brobbey told The Statesman yesterday that once the properties referred to in the stories are the private properties of Mr Nkrumah's family it cannot be the responsibility of the state to renovate them.

"The issue is should public funds be spent on private properties?” He referred people to the decision by the opposition to take the current President to CHRAJ on the false suspicion that 2001 renovation work on his private residence was sponsored by the state.

The Chronicle reported on Wednesday and Thursday that “not a penny out of the $20million (over ¢180billion) allocated for the [[email protected]] anniversary and the other several billions of cedis donated by corporate institutions so far had been made available for any new structure or refurbishment of any existing structure at Nkroful or the Nzema East District.”

The head of the [email protected] secretariat's response is that the state is spending money on the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum here in Accra. “The state is not doing anything [at Nkroful] because [the NDC] government went to Nkroful and brought his body over to Accra.”

Meanwhile, Nkroful might not be a great village but it certainly can't be said to be “a disaster and totally neglected,” is the view of Samson Lardy Ayenini, a journalist with Luv FM, Kumasi, and a BBC African Service Reporter, who writes in The Statesman today after a visit to the place of birth of Ghana's first President, Kwame Nkrumah.

He subscribed to Dr Wereko-Brobbey's view on private ownership of the Nkrumah's historic properties: “The Nyaneba House as shown in the frontpage of the Chronicle may be what is really is but is it the suggestion that government should frequent there to maintain a house occupied by responsible adults?”

The reporter who is obviously unhappy with the Chronicle piece, adds, “Either the Chronicle reporters did not do a thorough, representative, comparative job as far as the many and almost same places in Ghana are concerned or they were too enthusiastic to a fault, and their story too skewed with a great many inaccuracies,” says Mr Lardy Ayenini.

Below is his original script featured in the current edition of the BBC Focus on Africa Magazine, which he emailed to The Statesman, along with some pictures, featured on the back page of today's The Statesman.


Samson Lardy Ayenini

“Welcome to Nkroful the birthplace of Ghana's first President Osagyeefo (liberator) Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.”

This inscription is broadly displayed on a huge billboard as you enter the village of Nkroful.

It ends the 80 kilometre trek to the famous home of one of Africa"s greatest sons, which lies west of the port city of Takoradi, south of the highway leading to the Ivory Coast border.

The road to Nkroful wines through small villages, it snakes above the Ankobra River which flows about 190 kilometres south of the Gulf of Guinea. What captures your attention the most is the vast greenery at this time of the year; a thick jungle of tropical rubber and palm trees dot the coastal line.

Compared to most roads leading to remote villages in Ghana, this, undoubtedly, is one of the very best. It comes as no surprise though because Nkrumah's village attracts huge numbers of visitors. Locals and foreigners have treaded this path to Nkroful which still houses the original Nkrumah Mausoleum and monument.

Nkroful is home to at least three thousand people who are predominantly farmers cultivating staples like maize, cassava and yam mainly for family consumption. The indigenous language spoken here is Nzema.

“As far as I am concerned, I am in the knowledge that death can never extinguish the torch which I have lit in Ghana and Africa. Long after I am dead and gone, the light will continue to burn and be borne aloft, giving light and guidance to all people.” Who else could write the epitaph of a great and extra-ordinary author but himself?

These are the words on Africa's first black post colonial leader's tombstone. The plot sits next to his original home, a mud hut with a thatch roof dating back to 1909.

The house is becoming difficult to maintain as it falls apart bit by bit, year by year. The government has gone to its rescue building a new one in place of it. The modern contractor's major challenge is to leave the nineteenth century architecture intact. The project is expected to be completed ahead of the 50th independence anniversary celebrations in 2007.

Nkrumah inspired many especially and perhaps more directly, first and second generation leaders in the African continent; his home may continue to inspire many more people from all walks of life but are his own kith and kin so inspired?

The people of Nkroful seem to speak from the same song sheet during my interaction with them. They are very proud of Nkrumah and feel blessed. The belief is, it is the design of destiny that they should be special species of Ghanaians by virtue of their association to the Osagyeefo {liberator}.

The old and young alike want to identify themselves first as Ghanaians but feel incomplete without reference to Kwame Nkrumah. A woman in her 40s at the market, Adwoba Mensah, expressed this strongly “Yes I am a Ghanaian but I want anybody who comes close to me to know I am from Nkrumah's home, I feel proud that way.”

In many ways the community is endowed and in better financial shape than many villages in the country in terms of infrastructure and other developments. Yet typical of many a Ghanaian, they complain they have been neglected. “When a beneficiary of your benevolence fails to take care of your poor children after you are dead, there can only be one conclusion, he does not appreciate your benevolence.

This is exactly what is happening. We the people of Nkroful are thankful to the various governments for the efforts at immortalising the memory of my brother for his toils and sacrifices that gave us independence, even though we know Nkrumah does not need a grand mausoleum or grander busts in Accra to keep his memory alive. If nothing at all he has children.

He developed all other places while paying very little attention to his home. What we need here are jobs for our grandchildren, schools, good drinking water and better roads. Nkrumah is not happy.” Those are the words of 94 year old Eduku Arizi, the Nkroful chief's right-hand man and Nkrumah's cousin.

Arizi lives in a one-storey Nyaneba house which is fast deteriorating. The walls are cracked and longing for a painters' brush and repair.

The Nyaneba basic school and the Nkroful Agricultural Senior Secondary School continue to be centres of education since the 60s. Nkrumah had to go to school at a nearby village, Half Assini, because there were no schools in his village in his time.

The assistant Headmaster of the secondary school, Samuel Alexander Bervel, tells me the agricultural college now offers courses in Science, Business and the Arts. It's a bid to cater to the growing number of students who must be given the opportunity to pursue their career dreams in any field of learning.

A major worry, however, is that students have to spend a lot of time hunting for water to bath and for other uses. More facilities are needed including dormitories to enable increased enrolment.

A number of the women are engaged in petty trading at the village market to be able support the education of their children. The men work on the palm or coconut plantations. Others are also into fishing and local manufacture of alcoholic beverage made from the palm tree.

The youth in Nkroful may blame their idol for not being a little discriminatory in deciding to set up some of the industries he established in Tema and elsewhere, in his own village. But they will continue to be the backbone of support to his party.

Nkrumah's Convention Peoples Party - CPP still enjoys popular support not only in Nkroful but most parts of the Enzemaland, providing the 130 member legislature with the only CPP MPs.

The people are not only unhappy there are no manufacturing companies to add value to their produce being exported in their raw state, but they also think there is a certain luck in having Nkrumah's body returned to the village. The body was taken away to a grander mausoleum in Accra without regard to protestation by the elders.

The people are staying optimistic their town and hero will be honoured during and ahead of Ghana's 50th independence celebrations next year. The expectations of the people are high that emphasis will not only be given to Nkrumah in the cities but that something special will be done in the village which will attract many visitors.

Some local teachers are proposing his birth day, September 21, be declared statutory public holiday on the eve of 6th March 2007. Perhaps one gentleman described it best when he said, “We need to take a cue from South Africa and give the greatest Pan Africanist and Ghana's first President a befitting recognition as is being done for one of his admirers Nelson Mandela.”

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