Sunday, November 16, 2008

Kwame Nkrumah and the fight for independence


Page 2 of 3
(10 December 1947 - 6 March 1957)

The fog-filtered African sun on 10 December, 1947, witnessed Kwame Nkrumah's return to the Gold Coast, disembarking at Takoradi after an absence of 12 years. He found a country still very much under British colonial domination, but was soon aware that demand for major political change was fermenting just beneath the surface. Wallace Johnson's communist West African Youth League had infiltrated from Nigeria in 1937 and had stirred the political pot throughout the Gold Coast.

Johnson's star waned when he was convicted of sedition and deported in 1938. However, he left behind the residue of discontent with colonialism and a growing but leaderless demand for self-rule. The colonial government moved quickly and decisively to suppress every contentious political movement. Chiefs who showed any inclination towards independence were quickly destooled. Anti-tax movements were rapidly suppressed. Suspect civil servants were sacked and, in some cases, detained. Any challenge to British rule was abruptly terminated.

It was into this period of suppression that Kwame Nkrumah arrived home. Within days, he returned to his home at Nkroful for a brief family reunion. Word spread quickly that Nkrumah was home and after a fortnight, he began a series of speaking engagements and meetings in order to sense the level of unrest that lay just beneath the surface throughout the country.

A series of meetings with the leadership of the United Gold Coast Convention, (UGCC), founded on 4 August, 1947, and lead by Dr. J. B. Danquah, resulted, on 20 January, 1948, in the appointment of Nkrumah as General Secretary of the Party. From that moment at Saltpond, the die was cast. The Gold Coast had its' leader and was on a fixed and determined course towards independence from Great Britain.

Nkrumah began an intense speaking tour throughout the country, and with his unique, impassioned rhetoric, soon had the entire country seething with Pan-African enthusiasm and demands for self-rule. Boycotts of European goods were initiated, labor strikes became common place and work slowdowns began in all areas of the Gold Coast's commerce and industry.

The 28th of February, 1948, was a landmark day in the nation's history. A large contingent of former servicemen who were tired of unfulfilled promises by the government, drafted a petition seeking redress of grievances for presentation to H.M's Governor, Sir Gerald Creasy. As they marched, unarmed and defenseless, they were set upon by government troops at Christianborg cross-roads. When the smoke cleared, sixty-three former loyal soldiers lay dead or badly wounded on the streets of Accra. Gold Coast would never be the same. Rioting and looting lasted for five days.

On 1 March, 1948, the Riot Act was read and Governor Creasy declared a state of emergency. Strict press censorship was imposed over the entire country. On 12 March, the Governor issued Removal Orders and police were dispatched to pick up and arrest the entire UGCC Central Executive. Kwame Nkrumah, Dr. Danquah, E. Akufo Addo, William Ofori Atta, E. Obelsebi Lamptey and E. Ako Adjei were arrested, detained and exiled to the Northern Territories.

On 14 March, 1948, Cape Coast students demonstrated, demanding the release of the Party leadership. Once again, the government responded with great force, leaving the dead and dying in its wake.

Meanwhile, the Colonial Office in London, greatly upset by events in the Gold Coast, appointed a Commission, chaired by Mr. A. K. Watson, Recorder of Bury St. Edmunds, with a mandate to investigate the reasons for the disturbances and to make recommendations for the continued governance of the colony. They began their in-country interviews and deliberations on 1 April, 1948.

With the country in chaos, Governor Creasy finally acceded to demands and on 12 April, 1948, the Party leadership was released from detention. On 19 April, he lifted the 1 ½ month press ban. These actions served to superficially quiet the country, but it did nothing to suppress the now flourishing and rampant demand for self-rule.

On 26 April, 1948, the Watson Commission concluded its deliberations and shortly thereafter, presented its report to H.M.G. The principal recommendation was that a Constitution be drafted as a possible prelude to eventual self-rule. To that end, an all African Constitutional Committee was appointed under the Chairmanship of an esteemed African jurist, Mr. Justice Henley Coussey of the Gold Coast High Court.

In the meantime, Nkrumah toured the country addressing huge crowds of every persuasion, every tribe, every religion and every class of society. "Self Government Now" echoed throughout the land. The strength of the three words grew at each speaking venue until it became the heartbeat of the country. With adult public opinion rapidly falling into line, Nkrumah next moved to mobilize the youth of the Gold Coast. On 26 February, 1949, he announced the formation of the Committee on Youth Organization (CYO) designed to bring young people actively into the political fray.

At the UGCC Easter Convention at Saltpond, Nkrumah rebuked the membership claiming that they were not working hard enough, that they did not fully understand and support his vision of self-rule. In a highly tense and acrimonious exchange, Nkrumah tendered his resignation as General Secretary of the party. On 12 June, 1949, at a CYO rally in Accra, Nkrumah announced the formation of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP), calling for political unity and a nationwide unified demand for self-rule. "If the Coussey Committee does not find for self-rule now, we will shut this country down, we will strike, strike, strike!"

On 7 November, 1949, the Coussey Committee Report was published. Contained therein, were a number of mechanisms for inclusion of Africans in government, but it stopped short of advocating or even suggesting self-rule.

While the Coussey report was comprehensive and generally accepted by political moderates, Nkrumah was furious because of its self-rule shortcomings. He announced formation of the Ghana Representative Council (GRC) as the principal body to initiate appeal against the report. Plans were announced for a nationwide Positive Action strike to begin 1 January, 1950. He renewed his nationwide tour, calling on "all men of goodwill, organize, organize, organize. We prefer self-government in danger, to servitude in tranquillity. Forward ever, backward never". The chant "Self-government now" was taken up in every corner of the country.

New Years Day, 1950, dawned with labor shutdowns in every industrial and commercial facility. Government responded immediately with a State of Emergency announced by the Governor. Flying squads of the Gold Coast Constabulary swooped down and arrested more than 200 CPP and CYO leaders, including Nkrumah.

Arrests and detentions did not stop the movement. Enough people stepped into the leadership void to perpetuate the movement. The "Gold Coast Leader" was initiated, first as a sub-rosa broadsheet and within a month, as a widely distributed CPP propaganda newspaper.

In the meantime, the government accepted the Coussey Committee report and began implementing its recommendations, beginning with municipal elections in Accra on 8 April, 1950, Cape Coast on 12 June, 1950 and Kumasi on 4 November, 1950. CPP won in a landslide, to the shock and chagrin of H. M. G. Although still in prison, Nkrumah recorded an extraordinary plurality of 22,780 votes out of 23,122 votes cast.

On 19 February, 1951, the new Governor, Sir Noble Arden-Clarke, signed the Bill of Release freeing Nkrumah and others from prison after 13 months of detention. An invitation to State House on the day of his release resulted in Nkrumah being asked to form a government and become Leader of Government Business in the first African dominated government of the Gold Coast and the National Assembly. Nkrumah accepted, but he warned the Governor that he considered the Coussey generated Constitution to be "bogus, fraudulent and unacceptable, as it does not fully meet the aspirations of the people of the Gold Coast". He added that he would not rest "until full self-government within the Commonwealth was achieved". With that statement, he announced his first cabinet of 4 Europeans and 7 Africans. The die was now cast. The sun would soon rise on a new nation, Ghana.

For the next year, Nkrumah focused his effort on the development of an equitable constitution and creation of massive nationwide self-help schemes. Work was begun on the enormous Volta River hydroelectric project and others of national importance.

On 5 March, 1952, Nkrumah was made Prime Minister. Work continued on a new Constitution. The country's first Five Year Development Plan was published and through its implementation, 9 Teacher Training Colleges, 18 Secondary Schools and 31 Primary and Middle schools were built. In the Northern Territories, 10 new hospitals were built. Major roads were constructed linking Accra and Cape Coast and Kumasi and from Tamale to Bolgatanga.

Nkrumah stepped up his pressure for negotiations for full Independence. Finally on 18 September, 1956, the Secretary of State for the Colonies announced a firm date for Gold Coast Independence, 6 March, 1957. On 12 November, 1956, a new Constitution was approved along with the nation's renewed name, Ghana, after the ancient traditional Ghana Empire, the oldest known state of West Africa, which flourished from the third to the seventeenth century.

On the appointed day, 6 March, 1957, the new nation was born. At midnight at Accra's Polo Grounds, Prime Minister Nkrumah announced that "the long battle is over and our beloved country Ghana is free forever". Always the Pan-Africanist, mindful of the rest of Africa, he said: "We again re-dedicate ourselves in the struggle to emancipate other countries in Africa, for our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the African continent

HOME <<< PAGE 1 TOP PAGE 3 >>>

© 2001

A Caveat Emptor On Okompa's Damaged Product!

A Caveat Emptor On Okompa's Damaged Product!
by Nana Akyea Mensah

A Rejoinder to: 'Political Prostitutes are also Citizens..., by Kwame Okoampa Ahoofe Jr. Ph; D., Feature Article of Sunday, 16 November 2008.

"I don't know, and I also don't see, why some Ghanaians feel so abjectly self-righteous as to demand that Ms. Frances Awurabena Asiam march according to their stereotypical, or conventional, notion of what constitutes consistent ideological integrity. In other words, for her most mordant critics, the former National Women's Organizer of the so-called National Democratic Congress (P/NDC) ought to have remained in the pay of Ghana's longest-ruling military dictator, even after the latter had sicced an unconscionable posse of P/NDC campaign thugs on, perhaps, the best-educated woman to have served as that pseudo-party's drum-majorette.

The pertinent question, though, is that even assuming that, indeed, Ms. Asiam were a "political prostitute," or harlot, as her teeming detractors claim, what ought to prevent her from being the very best political prostitute that she could ever be? And, by the way, has not the glorified mantra always been that in order for Ghana to progressively accelerate as fast as is humanly possible, all her citizens and residents need to exert their maximum efforts at whatever good it is that they do best? In any case, didn't Ms. Asiam offer the best riposte to her critics when she poignantly observed to novices of the trade that those who deem her purely pragmatic decision to truck with the winsome and fetching New Patriotic Party (NPP) "do not understand contemporary politics"? (Ghana Election 11/14/08).

"Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr. Ph. D., 'Political Prostitutes are also Citizens... Feature Article of Sunday, 16 November 2008,

In the first place, I wish to strongly condemn the use of "political prostitute". The word "prostitute" or "harlot" is pejorative and therefore not an appropriate terminology to apply if we want to be politically correct. Being mindful that our national political debate must be devoid of insults, some of us have carefully preferred to use the politically correct terminology of a "political sex worker".

That said, what surprises me is the quality of this rumbling piece of writing which begins with a justification of the role of political sex workers like Ms. Frances Awurabena Asiam and attempts to glorify "political prostitution" on the alter of "Realpolitik", yet childishly accuses Prof. Atta-Mills, as though the writer had agreed all along with the critics of Ms Asiam on the despicable nature of her trade! Okoampa writes:

"Indeed, far, far more than Ms. Asiam, it is Prof. Atta-Mills who is the veritable and shameless political prostitute of Election 2008!"

If anyone is looking for instructions on the fine art of how to eat their their cakes and still have it intact in their hands, eureka! The address of this master of tautology, of the ranks of Shadwell, son of Flecknoe, is given at the end of his articles!

Caveat emptor:
Potential buyers are kindly requested to beware, Kwame Okoampa is a well-known charlatan and asking for a free demonstration first before paying a cent to him is strongly recommended as the rule of the thumb!

Okoampa dares to ask:

"And how better to do so than to truck with the party that has demonstrated by its sterling performance, within just two electoral terms, that it is the best and most progressive of all postcolonial Ghanaian political parties and governments?"
Quite regularly, one does not get used to getting completely lost and wondering which political party Okoampa is talking about when such words like "progressive" are used to describe the NPP, a party that is in competition with past military dictatorships to beat their records on impunity, on cold-blooded murder, on political persecution by means of judicial imprisonment of people associated with the opposition, the right to assembly, interference in chieftaincy disputes for short-term political gains, sale of any conceivable national resource, including our telecommunications, national gold reserves, and are now focusing their attention on our national forests preserved and reserved by successive colonial and post-colonial governments since Guggisberg in the 1920s! What is so progressive about freeing cocaine and heroin traffickers to enable them carry on their normal activities because they are important financiers of the NPP? What is so progressive about the President mentioning only a single case of "sniffing" corruption and citing a minister who was not even a member of his party, when even party officials like Dr. Arthur Kennedy have visibly dipped deep into our national coffers right under his very wide nostrils? What is so progressive about a whole Minister of the Interior, Dr. Kwame Addo Kufour, the president's big brother, running away from Mr. Will Ross, BBC West African Correspondent currently investigating the role of drug money in Ghana-Election 2008, and not being bothered to even attempt to clear the air concerning allegations of drug traffickers and barons behind the Akufo Addo campaign? Why did not the honourable Minister take advantage of this interview, two weeks ago, to clear the air? Is he not mindful of the implications on our reputation as citizens of a "narco state"? If Okapi's idea of progress includes our arses being torn apart to be peeped into at all international airports because our government is in bed with drug barons, I will have none of it! And I am ready to "YES-WE-CAN!" the NPP for this!

What is so progressive about the wanton interference with the judiciary to ensure appropriate verdicts? As if it was not enough to promote judges favourable to the government whims and caprices to the Supreme Court in order to reverse earliar decisions on the Tsatsu case, we have also been treated to a prosecutor of the case attempting to sit as an Apeals Court judge even though when he used to work with Nana Akufo Addo at the Attorney General's Department, he had accompanied Nana Addo several times before Justice Abban? Why does Justice Abban and all keading members of the NPP keep referring to Tsatsu's association with the PNDC as a basis of the justification of their high-handedness?

Okoampa's Feature Article of Monday, 13 October 2008 on the Daily Graphic eloquently states: The 'Graphic' Has Been Entrusted to the NPP, as Simple as That! What could be a better example of undemocratic governance when even the pretences of inclusion and the non-political use of the tax payers money for the promotion of one political party at the expense of other voices representing the next government of Ghana?

Okoampa asks:

"Anyway, what makes Ms. Asiam any more of a political prostitute than, say, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, the chameleonic flagbearer of the rump-Convention People's Party (CPP), who has not hesitated to shamelessly spotlight his 7 years of service under the tutelage of President Kufuor and the New Patriotic Party, even while also cynically presuming to impugn the performance and integrity of the latter party and government?"

My answer is simple: One political prostitution does not excuse the other!
Nana Akyea Mensah