Speaker Stirs Controversy– Over Founders’ Day?
“I will not condemn actions that will pitch one citizen against the other as a way of settling political score. That is unacceptable and will not be the Ghanaian way of doing things…..( it should) be fair, balanced and right in the sight of God!
Professor John Evans Atta-Mills
WHAT! What controversy did the Speaker, Prof Mike Oquaye stir? Over Founder's Day? Some of us believe that there exists voluminous sociological, historical and political literature that suggests that Nkrumah did not found Ghana; he could not have founded Ghana- as a single person. Nkrumah founded the Convention People's Party (CPP) and not Ghana! Just as J.J. Rawlings founded the National Democratic Congress (NDC) – but in the case of the New Patriotic Party, the founders are many, and it traces its roots to the United Party (UP), National Liberation Movement (NLM), and the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) founded by political stalwarts like Paa Grant, J.B. Danquah, R.S. Blay, Awonnor- Williams, J.K. Tsiboe and Kwabena Kessie. Ghanaian political history is being turned 'inside out, upside down' to quote Jimmy Cliff.
On Friday, 4th August this year, President Nana Akufo Addo and leading members of the New Patriotic Party congregated at Saltpond- their mission: to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC). Most Reverend Emmanuel Asante-Antwi, former Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Ghana urged Ghanaians to be guided by the modesty, self – sacrifice and commitment which led to the country's independence in all they do; they should never do anything that would tarnish those images, quite unlike what the Invincible Force are doing.
June Milne, the long-time personal secretary of Nkrumah writes in 'Kwame Nkrumah –A Biography' …”in December, he (Nkrumah) left Britain to return to the Gold Coast to become general secretary of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), the organization directing the national liberation movement, which had been inaugurated at a meeting in Saltpond on 4th August, 1947. Paa Grant was elected Chairman. Leading figures were J.B Danquah, William Ofori Atta, Akufo Addo, J. W. de Graft Johnson and V.B. Annang. In his opening address at the meeting, Danquah declared that the UGCC demanded changes which would give 'the reality of power' to the chiefs and people. “We must fight with the weapons of today, constitutional, determined, persistent, unflinching, unceasing, until the goal of freedom is obtained! The letter inviting Nkrumah to accept the position of general secretary of the UGCC was written by Ako Adjei…followed by another, this time from Danquah. He urged Nkrumah to take up the post. By inviting Nkrumah to be general secretary, the UGCC hoped to widen their support among the people. Nkrumah had acquired a reputation as a skillful political organizer who appealed to the ordinary people and particularly to the youth. The UGCC needed his expertise and charisma”. This is Nkrumah's own personal secretary speaking, not me, but she could have added that J.B. Danquah and R.S. Blay were elected Vice- Presidents to Paa Grant.
A political scientist of the caliber of Professor Mike Oquaye will know and tell us that Nkrumah was provided with accommodation, a 'working' vehicle, food and a salary by the UGCC to take up the mantle of general secretary, after his passage from England had been funded by Pa Grant. There is no need to challenge Bernard Mornah, the National Chairman of the People's National Convention (PNC) for arguing that “there is nothing like the Big Six”(J.B Danquah, Ako Adjei, Obetsebi Lamptey, Akufo Addo, Kwame Nkrumah, William Ofori Atta). Bernard Mornah argues that Pa Grant” solely founded and financed the UGCC''. We can leave him to form that opinion.
There is equally no need to challenge the academic records of J.B. Danquah and Kwame Nkrumah; whilst Danquah earned his doctorate degree after writing his thesis for PhD on the topic” The Moral End as Moral Excellence” at the University College of London and called to the Bar in 1926, Nkrumah received an honorary doctorate degree of law from the Lincoln University on 5th June, 1951.
Again, there is no need to match the record of achievements of the two men (Nkrumah and Danquah) in terms of providing physical infrastructure to the nation; one was President; the other was never a President; or would one think if Danquah had been President he would have folded his hands and supervised the decline of the country into an abyss?
It is ironical that the party which traces its origin to UGCC and made Saltpond its place of pilgrimage has little showing in the town of Saltpond. A lot of work has to be done to uplift the image of the town- at least, “Hammond Hall,” where Paa Grant's remains lie needs a rehabilitation to give the old patriotic son of Ghana a sublime repose.
President Kufuor did well in putting the effigies of the 'Big Six' on the Ghanaian currency notes- one cedi, five cedis, ten cedis, twenty cedis and fifty cedis. President John Evans Atta Mills who had had an ideological stint in the Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute in Winneba surreptitiously got the effigy of Kwame Nkrumah on the two –cedi note. One was reminded of the ensign on the currency of Nkrumah's time: Civitatis Ghanensis conditor (Founder of the state of Ghana)Nkrumah, a President who did not have a Vice-President had turned Ghana into a one- party state, and he was 'President for life' in Ghana, and the 1960 Ghana Constitution recognized him as such. First President – KWAME NKRUMAH is hereby appointed first President of Ghana, having been chosen as such before the enactment of the Constitution in a plebiscite conducted in accordance with Article ONE of the Constitution.
Perhaps Nkrumah did not intend it, but his followers made the whole thing appear as a 'personality cult'; 'Nkrumah never dies'; 'Nkrumah is our messiah'! In the end, all around him fell or fell out- Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, Tawia Adamafio, Ako Adjei, Coffie Crabbe… there was excessive fussing and adulation – perhaps more than he deserved.
Joseph Attah Quashie in a TV3 interview recently noted; Historians are cowards. I don't blame the people who have read the history of Ghana differently… people must speak the truth…. It is absolutely wrong to make 21st September a 'founder's day'….(who founded Ghana?) Paa Grant number one, J.B Danquah, number two, Obetsebi Lamptey, number three.. It is a disgrace to mention Nkrumah as the founder of Ghana…”
What Professor Mike Oquaye did was to “correct a fundamental fallacy”; the young men and women of our time have been fed with untruths, and there is no way their getting at the truth. Political Science, History and Sociology lecturers choose to lecture their students on the so-called dandy and dapper nature of the likes of Danquah – spending five minutes to spruce up their faces and their hair; hardly referring to the academic achievements, including the fact that Danquah was the first West African to earn a PhD in two years from a British University in the 1920s; renaming Gold Coast as Ghana ; research into Akan Laws and Customs'; 'The Akan doctrine of God' It is a truth that never dies , it stands. Kwame Nkrumah, as a human being had died.
But on the lips of many a Ghanaian is the question; how would a government newspaper choose a front page caption; 'Speaker stirs controversy; over Founder's Day? Who said it is a Founder's Day; should the day not be “Founders' Day?
Already, people are arguing that this issue is over –flogged… we have other important things to discuss! No, l disagree; the issue is relevant. Cancel the Founder's Day as a public holiday. Declare a day for all the 'Founders' including Paa Grant, Kwame Nkrumah and J.B Danquah.