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Opinion | Sep 17, 2018

D. K. T. Djokoto - Royal, Pioneer Ghanaian Diplomat, Nationalist and Judge (1924 - 1972).

D. K. T. Djokoto - Royal, Pioneer Ghanaian Diplomat, Nationalist and Judge (1924 - 1972).

Early Life
Prince Daniel Kojo Tengey Djokoto was born in Anyako, Anlo State - a picturesque lagoon island situated at the peninsular of the Keta lagoon - on 27 May 1924.

He was the second son of Chief Tenge Dzokoto III who was installed as Dufia, or City Ruler, of Anyako and served as the Miafiaga (Commander-in-chief, left-wing division) of the Anlo State from the 21 of September 1921 until 1946, reigning for quarter of a century.

His mother was Mama Martha Agluma Gbormittah of Anyako, a trader at the port town of Simpa, now referred to as Winneba. She had assimilated the subtle influences of the Victorian style, as a result of a swift change in the social structure and behavioural patterns of the town, and was relatively more receptive to a western way of life as compared to his ultra-conservative, traditionalist and anti-imperialist father.

Daniel’s parents arrived at a compromise and decided to send the Prince to receive his elementary education at the African Methodist Episcopal Zion school (A. M. E) in Winneba, 1932. He was a student at the A. M. E. Zion school until the completion of his Standard VII certificate examination which he passed with distinction.

The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, of the Gold Coast was founded in 1898 under the patronage of Bishop B. J. Small, ‘a black as ebony’ West Indian who had previously voyaged to the Gold Coast as a sergeant in the West India Regiment, before moving to the United States. The mission was established in protest against the Weslyan Methodist Church and attracted ministers such as S. R. B. Attoh Ahuma and J. E. K. Aggrey to its separatist movement. These two ministers later travelled to the United States for further studies.

According to an account provided by The Gold Coast Aborigines, in its issue of February 1899, the organisation was reported as an “entirely negro church; organised by negroes for negroes, manned, governed, controlled and supported by negro energy, intellect, liberality and contributions”.

After two decades in the USA, Aggrey returned to permanently settle on the Gold Coast in 1924, and as a member of the Phelps-Stokes Commission on Education in Africa, toured south Sahara Africa advocating a form of education that retained and enhanced the indigenous cultural institutions. A man of destiny, Aggrey was appointed as Assistant Vice-Principal of the Achimota College in 1924, after the cornerstone for its foundation had been laid. This positioned him to influence the curricular of the school with the tenets of Pan-Africanism and carve out an entire generation for the purpose of statecraft. In January 1927, six months before the eternal rest of Aggrey, the so-called Prince of Wales College was formally inaugurated at Achimota.

Upon completion of his elementary education, D. K. T. Djokoto was awarded a scholarship and enrolled at the famous Achimota College to train as a teacher in 1939. In a nostalgic conversation with a childhood bosom-friend of his, Mr. Erasmus Alexander Kwabla Kalitsi recalled Daniel’s passion for rhetoric, poetry and art during his years at the green hill. An avid sportsman, he particularly enjoyed weightlifting and lawn tennis too.

During this period, however, Daniel’s father, Chief Tengey Djokoto III, faced political unrest and toppled an internal uprising against his authority as Dufia of Anyako through a series of intense litigation disputes. He emerged successful in the Anyako senior Chieftaincy dispute in 1937, earning the title “Defender of the Dynasty”. He further laid a firm foundation for the establishment of the Dufiafe to preserve the longterm political order of the City and the prestige of the stool. After his death in 1946, the family, threatened by the prospects of legal disputes to its stronghold, decided to have its own son as a lawyer, and with his qualifications, Daniel became the ideal candidate for the award.

Meanwhile, Daniel was retained at Achimota College as a pupil teacher for about a year before the A. M. E Zion school insisted he returned back to teach there. Daniel then remained a pupil teacher at the African Methodist Episcopal Zion school until 1950.

He enrolled at the University College of the Gold Coast, as a founder member of the Legon Hall, together with contemporaries such as A. N. B. Andrews, E. N. Omaboe and J. H. Mensah, where he read a Bachelors of Arts in the Classics between 1952-1955.

As a student, Daniel was moved by the spirit of the political revolution which had been set in motion by Kwame Nkrumah. By 1951, Osagyefo had become the Prime Minister of the dominion of Ghana and Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, a confidante of Osagyefo who was elected to the Legislative Assembly, also from the City of Anyako, Anlo State, espoused the ideals of a modern fully autonomous democratic Republic to Prince D. K. T. Djokoto.

Djokoto embraced this vision despite his family’s decades-long, carefully orchestrated, agenda to overthrow British rule and return the Anlo State to its status as a fully independent Nation-state once more. In Daniel’s penultimate year, he was awarded a bursary scholarship to proceed on a three month study tour of the United Kingdom by the nouveau africanised Kojo Botsio-led Ministry of Education. Particularly inspired by his grandfather’s heroism and diplomatic prowess, Djokoto relished the opportunity of joining the struggle to topple British imperialism on the Gold Coast once and for all.

1889 - Tenge Djokoto II’s return home and visit to Christianborg Castle in Osu, Accra. (History of Ewes of West Africa by C. M. K. Mamattah, 1979) & (W. S. Chapman Klutse, The Keta Coast Erosion and Dredging for Development; and some landmarks of Anlo History, Accra, 1984)

D. K. T. Djokoto’s grandfather, Chief Tenge Dzokoto II, had also served as Dufia of Anyako and Miafiaga of the Anlo State between 1873-1911, after succeeding his great-Grandfather General Tenge Dzokoto I, who previously served in the same capacity from 1825-1866. Dzokoto I had notably led the successful Datsutagba war and the siege of the Keta Fort 1865 -1866. He was awarded by the Omanhene of Akwamu, Nana Akoto for his valour. Tenge Dzokoto II was pro-German and favoured Otto Von Bismarck’s foreign policy of non-interference in Anlo Affairs. Until the Berlin Conference of 1884-85, Bismarck was disinterested in Africa, yet felt it necessary to colonise Togo in response to British Aggression.

Djokoto’s grandfather had famously “disappeared into thin-air” after an assassination attempt by the Keta-based British forces, leaving just a cloth behind, which was presented to Queen Victoria for a museum showpiece. After the burning of Alakple, Kodzi, Fiawu and Dudu by the British, Tenge Dzokoto II was exiled in Notsie with his battalion, and members of his exclusive Yewe cult, for almost a decade. He later moved to the German-administered Togo, petitioned elders of Avedotui land and chose a site near Gafe. The elders named Tenge Dzokoto II's settlement Tenge Kpedzi at Gafe, Togo in honour the development.

Tenge Dzokoto II took this opportunity to reorganise his his battalion, posting Adabraga Preku and his regiment at Tsikalekope, the main entrance of the settlement. Tenge settled Kpogo and his battalion at Anyro to ward off enemies from the Adzanju end. He then embarked on visits to Assahoun and Tsevie to develop relations with other Anlo's settled there and in other parts of Togoland. Tenge was introduced to the German Governor-Resident in Lomé, then referred to as Bey Beach, and received the full support and patronage of the German Government. Representatives of the German Government later visited Tenge’s settlement regularly from Lomé especially over the weekends.

United by a common enemy, the Germans found in Tenge a faithful ally and built for him in his settlement a military training depot with a horse-stable. The British at Keta and Cape Coast heard of the rapid armament and influence of Tenge Dzokoto II and, in their view, the dangerous alliance he had formed with the Germans. They regarded this as a direct threat to their sphere of influence within the Gold Coast.

The British lured a few Anlo Chiefs with bribes and presents, and they in turn, provided their embassy with information about Tenge’s Bate clansmen: James Ocloo I and William Henry Klutse Kobla Chapman. W. H. K. Chapman, a former District Commissioner of Keta, later travelled to Togoland to meet Tengey at his settlement. He assured Tenge Dzokoto II that the motive behind the ardent request for his presence in Anlo was not sinister but complimentary. Tengey Dzokoto II was needed to lead an Anlo delegation to Accra to sign a treaty of peace and friendship with the British who were now supposedly desirous to help the Anlo’s become a great nation. James Ocloo remained behind at Tenge Kpedzi to deal with any mails and other confidential matters relating to Tenge Dzokoto II.

W. H. K. Chapman cautioned Tenge not to ride triumphantly with pomp and pageantry but to ride in unannounced as the official guest of the British Government. He was to be lodged at the Keta Fort and boarded a vessel from the Keta Beach to Accra leading a delegation consisting of Anlo elders.

On reaching Kedzi, the news had spread and all Anlo flocked to welcome their idol and great hero. Tenge was forced to address the gathering. He was brief as brevity is the soul of wit - “I have denounced all wars and hostilities against the British. Everyone must return to his base camp. I am bound for Accra and shall return unharmed shortly. Tengey sailed for Accra with Chapman, Fomenya, Kwasi Ahiakonu and District Commissioner Mr. Obrien was in escort.

A report was made to the Governor that Tenge had arrived at the Castle. The Governor ordered that Tengey should be locked in the cell. No sooner had the officer-in-escort locked the door of the cell before he came to find Tenge seated outside of the cell with is snuff-box in his hand, in his typically composed manner, stroking his beard. Tenge Dzokoto II was thrice locked up in the cell but thrice came out. Tenge Dzokoto II and the Anlo leaders were graciously received into the Official Residence at Government House, Osu. After some days of relaxation and round-table diplomatic activity, a conference was convened.

Tenge led the Anlo delegation during the peace talks. The British regretted and apologised for all the blunders of the past, on both sides, and referred to the past as a trial of strength between two brave fighting cocks. They heaped encomiums upon Tenge and assured him that he was the greatest warrior they had met among the Anlo's. Tenge at that meeting was declared paramount ruler from Volta estuary down to Ave Afiadenyigba. The British offered to build for Tengey Dzokoto II a royal palace from the ruins of buildings they had destroyed at Anyako.

He was recognised as the Supreme Ruler in Anlo with authority to adjudicate in all matters civil and criminal within the State. Tengey Dzokoto thanked the British Government and replied - “your hospitality to me and to my team has been wonderful. I am deeply grateful for your fund of goodwill and for your recognition of me as paramount ruler of the Anlos.”

The Awomefia (Paramount Chief of Anlo) delegation discussed and agreed to the peace terms. After 21 days at the Castle, the British Governor ordered that an escort of 50 soldiers and carriers be laid on to escort Tenge and the Anlo deputation back home. Tenge was carried in hammock all the way by the beach through Anloga to Anyako. The Tengey party was seen off with 21 Kegs of gunpowder, 21 cases of stork gin and 21 rifles. The journey took 7 days. On reaching Anloga, a great durbar of Chiefs and people was held at the instance of the British Government to welcome Tenge back home. Awomefia Amedo Kpegla was in the chair. The British handed Tenge over to the Anlo’s and, in the report of proceedings at Accra, mentioned Tenge is now the supreme traditional ruler. The peace terms were read over to the Anlo’s.

After the durbar, amid the firing of musketry, Tenge was given a hero’s welcome and escorted from Anloga to Keta down to the full length of his journey back home to Anyako across the Keta Lagoon. At the Keta lagoon crossing too, Tenge gave a display of supernatural powers. The convoy successfully reached Anyako and slept. Next morning after serving the convoy with a meal and rum, Tenge bade them farewell. On his return to Anyako, Tenge erected a three-storey block with a court attached. The building was his residence, his Courthouse and his guesthouse. It was the first of its kind in Anlo history.”

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Career as a Pioneer Diplomat.
Upon his return to the Gold Coast, D. K. T. Djokoto disclosed his intention to read law to the family who fulfilled their pledge to finance his education abroad. He enrolled at the Inns of Court School of Law, University of London on 6 May 1955 and gained his Bachelor of Laws in 1958. While at the Inns of Court School of Law, D. K. T. Djokoto was appointed by Kwame Nkrumah as Second Secretary of Foreign Affairs at the Ghana High Commission, United Kingdom shortly after Ghana’s independence, which graced him with the honour of serving as a pioneer diplomat under the distinguished citizen Sir Edward Okyere Asafu-Adjaye who was appointed by Osagyefo as Ghana’s first High Commissioner to the United Kingdom in 1957.

He subsequently enrolled into the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple and was admitted to the Bar of England & Wales in 1960. He then served as First Secretary for consular affairs and Minister-Counsellor at the Ghana High Commission, United Kingdom between 1961 - 1966.

As part of a delegation led by Mr. Theo O. Sowa, Consular-General in New York, D. K. T. Djokoto, together with Mr. T. R. D. Addai of the Ministry of Interior, was an adviser to the Republic of Ghana at the United Nations Conference on Consular Relations at Vienna, 1963. A consummate diplomat noted for his erudite negotiation skills, he insisted on liberal and progressive consular functions. At the Fifteenth Meeting of the First Committee, he strongly expressed that no State needed to communicate its reasons for refusing an exequatur.

A former teacher, he also took a keen interest in education too as a representative for Ghana at the Third Commonwealth Education Conference, 1964 led by Susanna Al-Hassan, Ghana’s first female to be appointed as a Minister.

In 1965, Djokoto represented the Republic of Ghana, together with Mr. Y. K. Quartey, Shipping Commissioner as a member of the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation - a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for the regulation of shipping.

By 1966, he became the Director, Legal and Consular Division, Ministry of External Affairs. During his short stint as Director, Djokoto served as a member of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee together with Mr. K. Gyeke Darko, Principal State Attorney, Ministry of Justice which, at the eight session of the committee in Bangkok, Thailand worked on the rights of refugees; relief against double taxation and fiscal evasion; the codification of the principles of peaceful coexistence and the Judgement of the International Court of Justice on South West Africa Cases.

He then served as Chargé D'affaires at the Ghana Embassy in Cairo, Egypt between 1966-1970 and was domiciled there with his family during the June War/Arab-Israeli Six day War in 1967. He frequented the Republic of Ghana as a result of an appointment to a four-member commission which had been constituted to probe the affairs of the State Fishing Corporation in 1967. According to the Daily Graphic: Issue 5,843, July 15 1969, the committee, chaired by S. A. Wiredu, held 258 sittings, heard 243 witnesses and examined 256 exhibits which was presented to Chairman of the National Liberation Council, A. A. Afrifa.

He was to serve as an Ambassador to Italy but set his sights on the bench and as a ruler of his traditional state. He, therefore, returned to the Republic of Ghana to settle and was called to the Ghana Bar Association, 1971. D. K. T. Djokoto was subsequently appointed as a judge to the Judicial Service of Ghana shortly before his death at the A. L. Adu Lodge - an official government residence close to the Osu Castle - at the age of 48. He was married to Agatha Bentuma Djokoto and they had 5 children together. Before his death, D. K. T. Djokoto requested that a poem by Robert L. Steveson should be inscribed on his tomb. The poem is as follows:

“Under the wide and starry sky,
dig my grave and let me lie,
Gladly did I live and gladly die and,
I lay me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me,
Here he lies where he longed to be.
Home is the sailor home from the seas,
And the hunter home from the hills.”

Vincent Letsa Kobla Djokoto
Vincent Letsa Kobla Djokoto, © 2018

This author has authored 59 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author column: VincentLetsaDjokoto

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