The Danquah versus Nkrumah unreconciled feud: A Ghana problem
Mr. President, this is a comprehensive political overview of our lopsided history. I write for posterity your Excellency. Dr. Danquah is part of a group of several actors in a joint and later split convention collaborating with others operating separately to create a ground swell movement of the chiefs, the youth, and peoples in an initiated collective process of freedom from colonial rule. Colonial notes from British archives inset, gives us a distinct perspective on Dr. Danquah’s political career to broaden our scope of his projected public profile,
Mr. President, on 9thJanuary 1960, Dr. J.B. Danquah made a controversial statement as follows: “WHEN INDEPENDENCE WAS ACHIEVED, THE CONVENTION PEOPLE’S PARTY “CPP” HAD NOT BEEN FORMED. THE INAUGURATION OF INDEPENDENCE TOOK PLACE WHEN CPP WAS IN POWER, BUT THE PRIEST WHO BAPTISES A CHILD, IS NOT BY ANY CHANCE THE CHILDS PARENTS”.
Mr. President, in this statement, Dr. Danquah was arrogating to himself and the UGCC, the achievement of Ghana’s independence as parents. Mr. President it seems Dr. Danquah’s proclamation is the operational script that you are following. The question is, is it justifiable to impose Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah on Ghana and reassert the supremacy of the UGCC by commemorating Aug 4th the day of its inauguration in 1947 to star as a national holiday to celebrate the ‘real’ and exclusive “Founders” of Ghana?
Mr. President, an insightful analysis of Ghana’s political history reveal that Dr. Danquah, envisaged the ambition of wearing a ‘Crown of happiness’ in a Unified nation equivalent to a “child” that was to be born from the existing territories of: 1. the Gold Coast Colony\Fante Confederacy 2. the Northern territories, 3. The British Togoland and 4. Ashanti territory with Brong Ahafo incorporated under his leadership as its First President. This was Dr. Danquah’s most endearing dream and focus in life. This is aptly captured in Dr. Danquah’s own words:
“Since my energy is dangerously limited and since my life is dangerously short, and since I would rather achieve a bit, however little, than attempt many things on a broad scale, I HAVE MADE IT MY AIM TO ATTAIN SATISFACTION, IF I WERE TO REALIZE MY DREAM OF A GOLD COAST NATION BEFORE MY DEATH. As we say in the vernacular: “Man is sent into this world to do a bit, not to do all” [onipa beyee bi wammeye ne nyinaa]’ Dr. J. B. Danquah 7th March 1952.
Mr. President, when Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and the CPP “captured or kidnapped’ so to speak, Dr. Danquah’s “Self-Government NOW” battle cry, this was in part Dr. Danquah’s response which sheds further light on his most endearing and dedicated dream .
“Sir Kwame….. The GHANA OF WHICH I DREAMT BEFORE YOU CAME, is not a hell of destruction but an earth of discontent and rational struggle and in the end A CROWN OF HAPPINESS ” Dr J. B. Danquah 25th December 1949.
Mr. President, Understanding the nuances and sensibilities of Ghana’s history from a Danquah premise is to grasp the deep wound of the story of a trusted compatriot and benefactor, Dr Nkrumah, ‘forcing a premature birth from a ‘mid to near full-term pregnancy’, ‘stealing’ the “child Ghana” from the parents -UGCC / Dr Danquah, officiating her baptism as a priest and then “causing the death of her expectant father”, Dr. Danquah.
Mr. President, it seems obvious that it is in anticipation of satisfying Dr. Danquah’s AIM of wearing ‘ a crown of happiness’ in a Gold Coast Nation which proved not just ‘achieving a bit in an onipa beyee bi sentiment’, but a herculean task, that Dr. Danquah as a proud “father to be”, researched what name that ‘child’ was to be christened at birth -“GHANA” i.e. at the attainment of independence. Intrinsic in the origin of the name “Ghana” though, is a trauma of divisive unhappiness for the country though it seems Dr. Danquah meant well, in his own words he “Slaved” over research to prove a hypothesis of his regarding the adopted name.
Mr. President, when I indicated previously that you considered yourself a successor to Dr. Danquah’s ‘hidden Presidency’ and not Dr. K. A. Busia’s actual leadership as Prime minister of Ghana, I was making a factual and not an idle unsupported statement. Indeed one could dare surmise that your own life- long ambition to be President, not unlike Dr. Danquah, stems from knife-edged ancestral wounds of his aborted Presidency entitlement.
The philosophy of Dr. Danquah, that Ghana’s Independence was achieved before the CPP was formed makes the inaugural date of the UGCC August 4th, the effective date of the achievement of independence and Dr. Danquah as the notional President whose inaugural speech becomes the imputed independence declaration, hence the August 4th Founders day celebration newly introduced.
Mr. President, whether the late former President Prof John Attah Mills’ enunciation of a public holiday on 21st September to honor Dr. Nkrumah’s birthday as sole founder’s day was a political ploy to entrench NDC Western region gains and NDC takeover of CPP votes nationwide or a genuine appreciation of the Osagyefo, it was an unnecessary gesture which opened up a deep gnashing unhealed Danquah / UGCC wound that was as non-representative and divisive of a collective independence effort as your founders’ day equalization of August 4th to put a balm and bandage over a “malady without cure”.
Mr. President, in my view, Dr. Nkrumah who has been variously honored and had “a work and happiness for beautiful Ghana” adage does not need an idle holiday to his credit when that vision of a working happy Ghana is in disarray. We should Hashtag drop both 21st Sept and 4th August’ founder/s day as futile bitter holiday pills’.
Mr. President, The founder/s day is an unnecessary distraction of national life. A not so happy and haphazard, rather than a beautiful Ghana, has been duly celebrating an all-inclusive Actual Independence Day of 6th March 1957 for at least 50 years prior to the founder/s day advent without much ado.
The opposition United Party “UP” that merged comprised: THE Northern Peoples Party “NPP”, THE Togoland Congress “TC”, the Federation of Youth Organizations “FYO”, Ga -Adangbe Shifimo Kpee “GASK”, and the National Liberation Movement “NLM” The“U.P” was ably represented by the official opposition leader Dr. K. A. Busia who seconded the independence motion with an acclaimed” impressive, brilliant, reasoned and objective’ speech albeit without a UGCC component because the UGCC was non- existent.
Mr. President Dr. Danquah’s “gospel” is that Dr. Nkrumah was merely a baptismal priest of the already “born child” “Ama Ghana’s independence”. But is this the Truth? Is this factual?
#1. Was independence achieved or born at the inauguration of the UGCC on August 4th 1947?
# 2. Can the accomplishments of Dr Danquah /UGCC be deemed as per se, equal to the attainment of independence?
#3. Does Dr. Nkrumah’s role as the known campaigning insignia and UGCC General Secretary qualify him as integral to UGCC parenthood or was he equivalent to a “problematic foster child’ peripheral to the UGCC?
# 4.What about Dr. Nkrumah’s joint arrest and imprisonment with Dr. Danquah and others; the “Big Six” after the 28th February disturbances prior to the CPP “evil” split? Does the joint imprisonment and communist charges make Dr. Nkrumah a “vagabond” infiltrator?
#5. Why did Dr. Danquah invite a “misfit’ into his “empire” and who takes responsibility for the Nkrumah “anomaly” that Dr. Danquah seeks to denounce?
# 6. Mr. President, are we classifying UGCC membership as sole qualification for the birth of Ghana? I should respectfully think not: whereas laying a foundation for a building is the significant first step in the structural process, it cannot be equated to the completion of the building. In particular when the “would be owner” of the building is rendered incapacitated by extraneous factors, or dies prematurely at foundation level, no matter how tragically.
While credit is due to those who lay the foundation, those who make contemporaneous as well as prior and subsequent conceptual as in architectural drawings which predate the foundation as well as material contribution to complete the building, become the Co-Owners and in some circumstances even sole owners!
Mr. President, Unless of course someone to whom the foundation was not bequeathed in a testators will or without purchase documents, an usurper or a ‘serpent’ so to speak according to Dr. Danquah, becomes a dominant player in the completion of the building to displace the original intended owners. Then when relatives have POLITICAL POWER they can play Founder/s Day chess Games of re-orientation. They can unofficially ‘litigate’ the notion of Dr. Nkrumah’s ‘illicit’ ownership of the “child called Ghana’s independence”.
Mr. President, They can overturn Parliamentary birth records and popular affirmations using a Parliamentary majority, in a ‘pseudo due process’ to Equalize their counter claims. They can even attempt to exclude qualified claimants in the independence and Ghana “founding” struggle such as Kofi Abrefa Busia, a UGCC/ Danquah support pillar and chief cornerstone of the independence and democracy building who cannot be unhinged….And this political gamesmanship also does not connote freedom or justice.
Mr. President how is using NPP’ parliamentary majority to ratify an August 4th Founders’ day or bulldoze an infamous Busia University of Energy at fiapre for unconvincing reasons of getting rid of Prof Busia to make the University of Ghana available for a Dr. Danquah uplift and equalization with Dr. Nkrumah’s KNUST different in principle from Dr Nkrumah’s use of CPP parliamentary majority to rubber stamp and declare a One Party State to get rid of the comparatively minimal opposition from the Legislative Assembly Or even pass a PDA Act.?
We should be wary of parliamentary majority misadventures regardless of the party in power Mr. President. Let us revisit Prof Busia for a relational analogy before our focus on Dr. Danquah.
PROF BUSIA AS AN EXAMPLE OF PARALLEL INDEPENDENCE CONTRIBUTORS
Mr. President, in Prof Busia there was no contradiction. He stood for the pride of Africa, taught Africa to the world and announced Africa’s readiness for a negotiated colonial exit that did not leave Africa uprooted from its democratic source as part of the essential processes leading to Ghana’s independence on 6th March 1957 as epitomized in his epic speech that fateful day.
Mr. President, I am saying, without equivocation that Kofi Busia is also a legitimate ‘key’ founder of Ghana as the victorious universal symbol of Democracy and African intellect and Political thought in concrete form. An idyllic Africa’s African who played the role of the forecaster and conceptual architect of not just Ghana but African independence and beyond. Furthermore before the formation of UGCC in 1947, Prof Busia had already served Ghana as a game changing competent District Commissioner from 1942 – 1946.
Mr. President, in advocating and sensitizing Europe to the psychological approval that Africa was not just capable of managing its affairs as asserted by Dr. Nkrumah in 1957 but that Africa’s management of its own affairs in a democratic governance module predated her colonization, Prof Busia had this to say: “the wisdom of our ancestors lay in their ability to devise political institutions which reconciled sectional interests. Multi interest representation was a fundamental principle of our traditional political institutions. —-The case for monolithic one party rule cannot be based in our tradition.
It should be noted that the traditional systems provided alternatives from which to choose, and heads, whether of families or tribes or chiefdoms, could be changed by those whom they represented. If we care to learn from our past, we shall find pointers to the solution of our contemporary problems of government, central as well as local. We had foundations for a democratic system of government”
Mr. President, During his speech to inaugurate the United Party: Prof Busia stated: “It is our firm resolve to resist these dictatorial tendencies and to unite for the achievement of sound democracy and social harmony in Ghana not only for the happiness and freedom of the citizens of Ghana, but also in order to aid the fulfillment of the aspirations of those colonial peoples in Africa and elsewhere who look to the success of Parliamentary government in Ghana for the early achievement of their own democracy”.
Thus, the visionary Prof Busia on whose horizon democratic rule was a ripened matter, undertook the challenge of preparatory independence for the continent as an intellectual antidote to the incredulity of western thoughtlessness of ingrained African inferiority of the “ Black” man who should be ruled.
Mr. President, Prof Busia’s principal FOCUS was not when will independence be achieved? Achieving independence was a foregone conclusion in a Gold Coast African majority parliament under the Burns constitution. Prof Busia’s cardinal issue and matter of principled intervention was democratic rule. The African democratic welfare ideology he had presented to Europe was affronted by the Dr. Nkrumah dogma of one party socialism.
The concern was WHAT SYSTEM OF GOVERNANCE IS SUITABLE, CULTURALLY COMPATIBIE, and SUSTAINABLE AND ETHICAL? Prof Busia’s focus was thus building on the foundation of his cherished conviction of an ENDURING DEMOCRATIC AFRICA TO BE EXEMPLIFIED IN HIS NATIVE GHANA.
Mr. President, the colonial struggle for independence found convergence in a Prof Busia who after serving as D.C, with first hand firsthand experience and knowledge of colonial strategies fought a lateral independence battle in imperial Europe in the 1947/48 timeframe, by demonstrating the incongruity of colonial racist rule with his thesis and subsequent seminal Book “The Position of the chief in the modern political system of Ashanti”.
This singular work was a succinct reminder of Africa’s traditional democratic governance structure, its checks and balances and its adaptability to post-colonial modernism. He also effectively portrayed to Europe the hypocrisy of unjustifiable self-proclaimed European democracies acting as despots lording it over African pre-existing indigenous democratic societies.
Prof Busia lectured and tutored Europe on the tenets of genuine democracy which was contrary to colonial policy including at the London School of Economics to amazed acceptance and respectability while Dr. Danquah’s criticisms of Europe did not earn him any favors.
Mr. President, Kofi Busia was thus both a conceptual architect, contributory builder and Chief Cornerstone of the material components of Ghana’s democratic independence with an objective lens consistent with UGCC anti -colonial rule goals. After years of Dr. Nkrumah’s one party rule that he opposed, Prof Busia after being exiled as official opposition leader, ultimately succeeded in forming a government and projected “Ghananisation of the economy” albeit regrettably short lived with visible repercussions to Ghana’s progressive well-being.
Thus, Mr. President, Prof Busia was not merely an academic who became an accidental or incidental politician, Prof Busia was a rare Political Academic who believed, lived and espoused the philosophy and ethics of African democracy from the outset of his academic career by purposeful designation and divine orientation as an exemplary dignified humble Public Servant.
Mr. President, Please let us now review colonial ‘Notes” below on a summary of Dr. Danquah’s political career from colonial government political files at the United Kingdom Records office, Kew Gardens as introductory to our focus on Dr. Danquah.