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The Fallacies of J. B. Danquah's Heroic Legacy (I)

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paa.kwesi

(Introduction)


It is one thing adoring one’s kin and/or mentor regardless of his or her nefarious deeds and treasonable acts, and it is another thing trying to impose such an individual on a nation as a hero. Every nationalist, seeker of truth, sincere scholar and student of Ghana’s political history should have been deeply startled and traumatized by the sudden public utterances by President Kufour and the Okyehene Amoatia Ofori Panyin in February 2005, and the subsequent articles by Dr. Kwame Okoampa Ahoofe in a desperate attempt to turn Dr. J. Danquah into a “compatriot saint of Ghana.” In fact, the arguments they advanced in support of their mendacious claims suffer from a severe historical amnesia.

Criteria of National Heroes

An inventory of history shows that people who build social movements to wage protracted national liberation struggles against colonial and imperialist governments, as well as settler regimes are the ones who attain the status of national heroes. Out of the struggles emerge outstanding personalities who, by their visions, intellectual astuteness and exemplary personal sacrifices, effectively inspired and articulated the wishes and aspirations of the oppressed people. Such struggles in Africa after the Second Imperial War produced historical personalities as Eduardo Mondlane, Agostinho Neto, Nelson Mandela, Jomo Kenyatta, Amilcar Cabral and, of course, Kwame Nkrumah. Critical to their protracted non-violent and/or armed struggles was the active agency of the ordinary people—women and men alike. As such, they advanced nationalist agenda that embraced all people irrespective of their ethnicities, social classes, gender and religious beliefs. Furthermore, such historical personalities invariably committed revolutionary suicide towards the freedom of African people. These are the criterion that J. B. Danquah’s place in Ghana’s political history ought to be investigated and judged. Otherwise, dirty politics false claims and public pronouncements by President Kufour and the Okyehene, as well as Dr. Okoampa’s simple-minded articles regarding Danquah as a “great patriot” and his alleged “criticism” of Kwame Nkrumah can seriously lead to falsification of history to achieve a short-term gain, as has been the case of the traitor Emmanuel K. Kotoka.
Dr. J. B. Danquah: The Prime Minister Ghana Never Had?

What is shocking about the campaign was President Kufour’s ill-mannered rewriting of Ghana’s political history in order to adore, as well as honor his political ancestor, Dr. J. B. Danquah. The president’s melancholic statement that “Danquah was the best Prime Minister Ghana never had” was an insult to the dignity and integrity of Kwame Nkrumah who uncompromisingly championed the course of Ghana’s independence at his personal sacrifice (violent attacks). Also, the claim that Danquah was a “pathfinder, who blazed the trail for the country's independence” is out of sync with the facts of history. In Governor Burns’ constitutional reform in the late 1930s, Danquah pressed for the creation of an Office of Minister of Home Affairs for himself. But his prospect was jeopardized by his involvement in the barbaric murder of Odikro Akyea Mensah of Apedwa (one of the Amantoo-mmiensa towns) in February 1944. Odikro Akyea Mensah was one of the (over 80) children of Ofori Atta I, and had served as his personal clerk and tribunal Registrar. His murder was to supply blood for the “blackening” of the ceremonial stool of the deceased and providing companion for the Omanhene in his journey to the under world. This barbaric act brought Danquah into conflict with judicial and executive authorities, thereby making him a persona non grata with Governor Allen Burns.

Defending the convicted criminals (four) sons of the late Ofori Atta I and four other royal members to the hilt were J.B. Danquah and Edward Akuffo Addo. After repeated appeals before the Privy Council in London to overturn the guilty verdict, Danquah went to the extent of mobilizing his political connections in England to obtain execution of stay of the death sentences. Hereafter, any effort by Danquah to secure personal representation of the non-traditional groups (farmers, trade unions and the Youth Congress) in the Legislative Council was doomed to failure. What a compatriot saint!


On hindsight, President Kufour’s lamentation over J. B. Danquah’s rejection by the people in the electoral votes to become their “best Prime Minister” in the Gold Coast or Ghana is a serious indictment of the Danquah himself. After the birth and popularity of the CPP, the Working Committee of the UGCC meeting in Saltpond in 1949 passed a vote of no confidence of Dr. J. B. Danquah’s leadership. And shortly after the CPP victory in the 1951 election, the UGCC collapsed. The CPP won 34 out of the 38 seats. Even, Danquah’s election to the Legislative Assembly in 1951 was through the municipal election/electoral collage and not by popular vote. The 1950 Coussey Constitution, which Danquah wholeheartedly endorsed, was not designed for the Africans to take over the Government. It was formulated “as an adaptation of the principle of indirect rule,” whereby “change would come through and with the consent of the traditional authorities.” Furthermore, the office of Leader of Government Business had been set aside for the Attorney-General, an office for a British official. But through pressures from Nkrumah, the Governor, on March 5, 1952, addressed the Legislative Assembly that “the Leader of Government Business should disappear from the Constitution and that the Office of Prime Minister should be formally recognized.” Dr. J. B. Danquah not only opposed it, but he also characterized it as window dressing.


In his September 1, 1955 proposal to the Akyem Abuakwa State Council, Ofori Atta II warned that any stool heir in the state and royal member of Kyebi dynasty who supported the CPP would be committing subversive activities against the “chiefs and “Chieftaincy.” In the process, the Akyem Abuakwa State resources were mobilized in support of Danquah. The Okyeman’s great oath was also administered to 140 chiefs to declare their allegiance to Danquah and the NLM. Yet still, Danquah was defeated in the 1956 general election by his nephew, Kofi Asante Ofori Atta of Tafo. So, how could Danquah have become the best Prime Minister after the electorate in his Akyem Abuakwa Central constituency rejected him in the 1954 and 1956 general elections, including loosing the votes in his hometown, Kyebi? What a heroic legacy!
Danquah the Anti-Nationalist and Secessionist

Perhaps, the best way to show Danquah’s anti-nationalist and secessionist stance is to pose the following questions: First, aside from his loyalty and collusion with the unlawful British colonial government and imperial British crown, what drastic measures did J. B. Danquah take to end colonialism in the Gold Coast? Second, how was he a national hero when he collaborated with his brother “Sir” Nana Ofori Atta I and the colonial government to suppress the Aborigines Rights Protection Society (ARPS) and the National Congress of British West Africa? Third, in view of his total contempt for the ordinary people in the country, especially the so-called immigrant Kwahu, Ga, Krobo, Ewe, Northern, Juaben and Akwapim people in Akyem Abuakwa, how was he a nationalist? Fourth, was he not the one who called for Nkrumah’s neck and also rejoiced over Nkrumah’s imprisonment in connection with the Positive Action campaign in 1950? Fifth, did not Danquah and his brother, Sir” Nana Ofori Atta 1 use their convivial relationship with the colonial government to deport Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe from the Gold Coast in 1936, characterizing him as a nuisance in the country? Sixth, why would the “nationalist” Danquah form the Gold Coast Youth Congress, a loose organization of literary club to the exclusion of the radical Wallace Johnson’s Youth League, the coastal intelligentsia and ARPS under Kobina Sekyi? Seventh, how on earth would the “doyen of Gold Coast” politics weep in jail like a child in connection with the national uprising against colonial injustices, and then blame his comrade “Ako Adjei for his part in recommending” Nkrumah to the UGCC? Eighth, what were Dr. J. B. Danquah and his brother Nana Ofori Attah II doing at the Ga State Council where Nkrumah had been summoned to be reprimanded for his planned Non-Violent Positive Action against the British colonial government in June 1950? Ninth, notwithstanding his systematic campaign to banish Kwame Nkrumah from Accra as a “stranger,” as well as his repeated violent campaigns and collaboration with the CIA to overthrow the democratically elected government of Kwame Nkrumah between 1951 and 1964, how was Danquah a “compatriot saint?” Finally, how did the “great patriot” Danquah end up on the CIA payroll? The fact is, Danquah and his comrades did not only oppose everything that Kwame Nkrumah and his government proposed, did or stood for, but they also sought every means possible to deport Nkrumah from Accra as well as eliminate him physically from the political scene. Therefore, Dr. J. B Danquah’s so-called criticism of Nkrumah is a sham. As history shows us, the dreadful traditional ruler Nana Ofori Atta I was very instrumental in the creation and implementation of the draconian indirect rule system in the colony. And it was to legitimatize and entrench Ofori Atta’s despotic rule in the three Akyem states that he asked Danquah to write the “Akim Abuakwa Constitution.” In fact, all the political actions that Danquah took were at the behest of the Ofori Atta dynasty, for the benefit of few educated elite and his own selfish interest. On March 14, 1956, for instance, Danquah and his brother Ofori Atta II told a visiting parliamentarian delegation to Kyebi that “Party politics was an alien political form which” had “created civil strife and violent dissension between father and son.” Accordingly, if the British showed no understanding, Akyem Abuakwa would secede from the country “as a sovereign and independent state with the only rival of the Ashanti country.” A compatriot saint indeed!
Naming the University of Ghana after Danquah?

The call by the Okyehene to rename the premier university of Ghana after Dr. J. B. Danquah is the most absurd of the public statements. In 1951, it was Danquah who vehemently and steadfastly opposed the 1951 Local Council Ordinance Bill and the establishment of Cocoa Marketing Board introduced by Nkrumah’s internal-self government. Thus, if Danquah had won the debate, the Kwame Nkrumah government would not have generated the requisite revenue for the first five-year development plan, containing the construction of the Volta River Project, Tema Harbor and City, Adomi Bridge, Okomfo Anokye Hospital, democratization of education, the Medical School and the planning and construction of the University of Ghana at Legon. In fact, the prerogative to rename the premier university of Ghana after any Ghanaian of repute, if necessary, belongs to the people of Labadi via their king and the Ga State Council and NOT the Okyehene Nana Amoatia Ofori Panyin and his Chief of Staff of Akyem Abuakwa. It was the king of Labadi who gave the land, La Goon (La Hill) to Kwame Nkrumah’s Government to construct the University of Ghana at its current site. On my list of such great persons of national importance are: 1) Nii Ayi Kushi, the founder of the Ga State by 1500; 2) Nii Kwabena Bonne, (by tradition the Oyokohene of Takyiman) who, in 1948, organized a nationwide boycott of European goods and the colonial injustices; 3) Sgt. Adjetey, a martyr and the leader of the Ex-Servicemen, who marched in 1948 to the Castle to demand the promises given them by the British government before the Second Imperial War; 4) Nana Dr. Kobina Nketsia, the Omanhene of Asikado, who was jailed for his protest against the imprisonment of Kwame Nkrumah in connection with the 1950 Positive Action campaign. Furthermore, he served as the first Vice-Chancellor of the newly restructured University of Ghana and its separation from the University of London; and 5) Nana Akumfi Ameyaw of Takyiman, the leader of the Bono-Kyempem. It was due to his fortitude that saved the country from a bloody civil war, which was manifested in the declaration of secessionism by the NLM and the Northern Peoples Party (NPP) on November 20, 1956. We must bear in mind that President Kufour’s competitor for the 2000 NPP presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo and J. B. Danquah, both MPs representing two Akyem Abuakwa constituencies are directly or indirectly related to Dr. J. B. Danquah. So, the sudden public adoration of Danquah at the beginning of President Kufour’s second term comes as no surprise to some of us. For instance, after the CIA inspired military coup that overthrew the government of Kwame Nkrumah on February 24, 1966, this same Danquah-Busia camp via the military junta named the uncompleted Ghana’s international airport after Africa’s traitor Col. Emmanuel Kotoka. Later, honorary doctoral degrees were conferred upon Major Afrifa and the Police Commissioner Harley for their traitorous act on behalf of the NATO block (read John Stockwell, Opoku Agyeman works and Komer’s report for details). In addition, Obetsebi Lamptey (partly responsible for the rapid bomb explosions in Accra between 1961 and 1962 that killed over three hundred children) and J.B. Danquah were named after two circles constructed by Kwame Nkrumah. What an Irony?

Indeed, imposing Dr. J. B. Danquah on the nation “as a compatriot saint” is a mockery of Ghana’s unitary government that Kwame Nkrumah fought so hard to achieve.

▲Dr. Botwe-Asamoah is the author of the Cheikh Anta Diop Award for excellence in scholarship book, Kwame Nkrumah’s Politico-Cultural Thought and Policies, published by Routledge.

Kwame Botwe-Asamoah, Ph.D.
Professor of African/African American History
University of Pittsburgh, PA 15260