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

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kwb

Dedicated to Major-General
C. Barwah, the then Acting Commander of the Ghana Armed Forces, Who
was Butchered for His Heroic Refusal to Betray the Black Race on February
24, 1966.

During a public forum at the University
of Ghana at Legon marking the 100 Days of Dr. K. A. Busia’s administration,
Dr Jones Ofori Atta, then Deputy Minister of Finance, in his presentation
repeatedly attacked and addressed the Opposition Leader, Dr. George
Agama as Mr. Agama. The Legon students, mostly Progress Party supporters,
booed Dr. Jones Ofori Atta to the extent that Nene Azu Marte Kole, a
leading PP member, walked out of the lecture hall. Sadly, Dr. Ofori
Atta’s kind of arrogance surfaced immediately after Mr. J. A. Kufuor
won the presidential election on January 28, 2001. As such, some NPP
fanatics have formed the habit of reducing MATTERS OF NATIONAL IMPORTANCE
to blind, ethnic chauvinism and name-calling. Instead of disputing facts
presented in articles, some would get into semantics and/or argue about
the style of presenting some straightforward historical data of national
importance to the general public. But, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
once said, “standing for what is right” and “telling the truth
may mean carrying the Cross.” Indeed, Kwame Nkrumah and his followers
were insulted, ridiculed, physically attacked and called all sorts of
names. Krobo Edusei and others in the Asante province, for instance,
were called “traitors, quislings, and fifth columnists,” for supporting
Nkrumah. After the birth of the NLM, the Kumawuhene and some CPP leaders
in Asante had to flee to the Colony, especially Accra for refuge (Awoonor,
1990). In Akyem Abuakwa, some “immigrant” farmers in some of the
smaller towns closer to Kyebi had to flee for their lives. In the March
6, 1956 edition of the NLM paper, “Liberator,” the CPP was referred
to as a group of “homeless tramps and jackals.” But, the more the
Danquah-Busia camp resorted to name-calling, brute politics and physical
attacks, the more the intelligent people of Ghana rallied behind Nkrumah’s
CPP and its nationalist agenda. Alas, after the Harlley-CIA conspired
coup of February 1966, Kwame Nkrumah’s eighty year-old mother (almost
blind) was dragged to the Commission of Enquiry in an attempt to force
her at gun point “to say that Nkrumah was not her real son” (Kanu,
1982). So, as my admiration for her bold refusal to yield to the heartless
acts of the Danquah-Busia acolytes, and as a salute to Major-General
Barwah, who was butchered for his heroic refusal to betray the Black
Race, I will not nor will other like-minded people be deterred by the
name-calling and harebrained personal attacks by a tiny minority from
writing on Ghana’s political history. 

 

Asamankese &Tafo Vrs. Ofori Atta I-Danquah Dynasty. As indicated
in my last article, it was during the reign of Osagyefo Ofori Attah
I that corruption and extortion in the tribunals became the most direct
form of exploitation the commoners had ever experienced; tribunal fees
and fines collected “were frequently excessive and divided on the
spot among the tribunal members” (Simensen, 1975). Hence, King Kwaku
Amoah of Asamankese revolted and declared his non-allegiance to Ofori
Atta in 1921 (Addo-Fening, 1975; Simensen, 1975). Having always “harboured
a spirit of independence in his relations with the Omanhene,” the
corruption and extortion also prompted the Tafohene, Adusei Peasah II,
to repudiate the validity of all leases bearing Ofori Atta’s signature;
this, in effect, challenged Ofori Atta’s political authority (Simensen,
1975). As Osabarima Adusei Peasah IV told me, Tafo attempted to create
an independent Akyem Awansa State, out of the towns and villages under
its authority (also see Simensen). Yet, in his February 4, 1952 letter
to Seth Appiah of the Akim Abuakwa Youth Association, the “nationalist”
Dr. J. B. Danquah bragged about Akyem Abuakwa as “the largest State
in the Colony (and so) must also be the greatest in the Land.” He
added, “I am determined to have the Abuakwa name rehabilitated and
make Abuakwa lead the nation” (Danquah, Vol. III, 1972). Nevertheless,
how or with whom were Ofori Atta II and Danquah going to turn Akyem
into a federal state or secede from the province, especially when Danquah
lost the 1954 and 1956 general elections? 

 

J. B. Danquah: From UGCC to NLM. 

 

Because of his royal affinity, Dr. J. B. Danquah was able to improve
the apprehensive and discomfited relations between the intelligentsia
and the Joint Provincial Council of Chiefs. As a result, Danquah and
Rev. C. C. Baeta were, in 1946, elected as Provincial Members of the
Legislative Council, composed “of the elite and wealthy Chiefs”
(Reindorf, 1966). Meanwhile, two pressure groups, the Gold Coast League
and Gold Coast National Party surfaced to pressure the Colonial Government
for import licenses for the African merchants and power sharing. These
groups would later merge to become the United Gold Coast Convention
at Saltpond in 1947, under the chairmanship of George Grant, a wealthy
Merchant of Sekondi. The membership comprised lawyers (Danquah included),
merchants, conservative “chiefs” and wealthy cocoa farmers, whose
main interest was to advance their economic interest through the sharing
of political power with the Colonial Government (Awoonor, 1990; Krafona,
1986). This elitist group took politics to be a leisurely activity.
Hence, they needed Kwame Nkrumah’s kind of leadership to iron out
the differences between the two ethic groups and organize the movement.
But, while in prison for the 1948 uprisings, Danquah said that he would
not have endorsed the recommendation by Dr. Ako Adjei, had he (Danquah)
known of Nkrumah’s ideological persuasion. Danquah’s regret for
writing to invite Nkrumah to assume the office of the General Secretary
of the UGCC was to have a deep psychological effect on him, so much
so that he and his followers would resort to any means possible, including
violence, to eliminate Nkrumah from the political scene in the country.
So, when Nkrumah broke away from the UGCC and organized the 1950 Positive
Action, Danquah responded to it as follows: “It is obvious that the
law, as far as Kwame Nkrumah is concern, must go according to him. In
my opinion that those who go against [colonial] constitutional authority
must expect to pay it with their neck” (Nkrumah, 1957). Next, Danquah’s
instant joy over the arrest of Nkrumah and other CPP leaders ended with
the expression, “pataku (wolf) had been driven away” (Nkrumah, 1957).
Ironically, it was the same Danquah who, in 1947, happily assured the
people at a mass rally in Accra that “Kwame Nkrumah will never fail
you.” On this promise, Dr. Danquah was right. Kwame Nkrumah later
embarked on the motto: “One Nation, One People, One Destiny” in
order to unify the four fragmented territories as one country by 1951.
Henceforth, Nkrumah would successfully strengthen his nationwide political
party to defeat the forces of separatism and devolution, which were
launched against the CPP’s nationalist agenda. 

 

During the debate of the 1951 Local Government Ordinance, J. B. Danquah
argued that state control of the Cocoa Marketing Board was “in direct
violation of the full enjoyment of private property” (Danquah, Vol.
II, 1972). Similarly, the National Liberation Movement argued in 1956
that the money which the cocoa farmers were “pouring into Government’s
coffers was being used in developing the coastal region. The NLM’s
other complaint was that the CPP government had used the resources of
the Cocoa Marketing Board to give low interest loans to farmers. Obviously,
“the poorer farmers and those looking for government development that
would open up more land for farms,” backed the CPP. The government
policy thus deprived the wealthy farmers including some of the traditional
rulers in the Asante province who had for long run a lucrative “business
by lending (money) to the poorer farmers” (Bing, 1968). Accordingly,
the Asante “cocoa farmers would be better off if they would manage
their own affairs” (Ninsin, 1991). As such, “the wealthy farmers
lined up with the chiefs and to give the ‘Committee for Higher Cocoa
Prices’ a more ethical look, it was transformed into the ‘National
Liberation Movement.” They did not want their movement to be called
“Party,” since “party politics were contrary to the tenets of
traditional rule.” And “as a price for their support they insisted
it should embrace feudalism and also thus propose the redivision of
the country into its old provinces, which had existed as almost separate
entities in the heyday of the indirect rule” (Bing, 1968). Interestingly,
the biggest contributor to the cause of the NLM was Cadbury and Fryer
of Britain. I must add that “the Chief of Adanse alone gave £1,000.00
toward the third aeroplane that Ashanti Confederacy contributed as its
gifts (to Britain) for the prosecution of the war” (Busia, 1951).
Likewise, revenue from cocoa export and levy on the World War II fund
were voted by the Akyem Abuakwa State Council, with Danquah as the legal
advisor, to finance the Akyem Abuakwa contingent of the British Volunteer
Royal Force during the military occupation of East Africa. If, therefore,
there was nothing wrong with the Wealthy “Chiefs” of Asante and
Ofori Atta II to demonstrate their loyalty to the British Government
by generous contributions to the second imperialists War Fund, what
was wrong with the CPP government using some of the cocoa farmers’
money to develop the coastal region, especially the Tema Harbor and
its industrial city, University of Ghana, Akosombo Project etc.? The
question is, would the control of the cocoa industry by the foreign
companies like Cadbury and Fry have led to the building of the KNUST,
Okomfo Anokye Hospital or Ofori Panin Secondary School etc.? The answer
is, NO. 

 

During the electioneering campaign of 1956, the NLM supporters in the
central Akyem Abuakwa constituency quoted the Omanhene Ofori Atta II
as saying that there would be no peace in the country if the CPP won
the election. In fact, fears were constantly put into the people (this
author, then a child, also heard it) that the CPP strongholds in Akyem
Abuakwa would be destroyed by the “oprem” (cannons) in front of
the Omanhene’s palace. In my village Ettokrom, twelve miles away from
Dr. Danquah’s hometown, his few supporters vowed publicly that if
the NLM emerged victorious, all “stranger settlers” would be chased
out of Akyem leaving their cocoa farms behind; in addition, they vowed
that the Akyemfoo CPP supporters would also be made to plant their plantains
inside their houses. We the children from Ettokrom, who had to walk
from Ettokrom to attend primary school at Osiem at the time would run
to hide in the bush, anytime we heard the resounding horns of the NLM’s
Peugeot caravans. All the same, the people in the Akyem Abuakwa Central,
comprising cocoa farmers, agricultural laborers, some traditional rulers
and scholars, saw Dr. J.B. Danquah as an arrogant, ethnocentric elite.
Consequently, my Grandfather, the Chief Cocoa Farmer in the area, admonished
us little children in 1956 for going to the Odikro’s palace to listen
to Danquah, whom he described as “a black-white man that boasts of
his eloquence in the white man’s language and wears suits whenever
he visits the area.” In fact, the Odikro’s Okyeame proudly introduced
Danquah to us children and two adults present as a highly British-educated
black man, “who speaks the English language (brofo) for the white
man to nod his head.” In fact, Danquah’s elitism was manifested
in his distaste and contempt for “this thing of masses,” whom he
viewed as “only individuals” and dismissed their aspirations as
“emotions” (Wright, 1954). Just before the 1956 election, the NLM
gave a strong warning to the British government of the dire consequence
if Ghana should attain independence under the CPP administration (Botwe-Asamoah,
2005). Hence, after losing the election, the Danquah-Busia’s parochial
“NLM and Northern People’s Party sent a resolution to the Secretary
for Colonies” in Britain, “demanding separate independence for Asante
and the Northern Territories” (McFarland and Owusu Ansah, 1995). But
after Dr. Busia’s fiasco in London to halt the independence of Ghana,
the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Agyemang Prempeh II reconciled with Nkrumah
for the good of the country, and became an “open supporter of the
CPP” (Bing, 1968). That, to me, was a mark of a great King. Nonetheless,
judging from the threats of Danquah and the NLM, the 1966 coup was the
culmination of the Opposition’s long struggle to topple the Kwame
Nkrumah government by any means possible. Certainly, the coup was designed
to return Ghana to the claws of its former imperialist Britain and its
allies, as desired by Dr. J.B. Danquah. In his March 6, 1944 speech
marking the centenary of the infamous Bond of 1844, Danquah expressed
his unflinching desire to place a self-governing Ghana under the British
empire. He said: “I AM SOMETIMES MUCH SURPRISE WHEN I SEE MANY OF
MY COUNTRYMEN TERRIFIED BY THE USE OF THAT WORD, ‘SELF-GOVERNMENT.’
THEY ARE TERRIFIED OF IT BEACUSE THEY THINK IT MEANS THE DESIRE TO BREAK
AWAY FROM THE [BRITISH] EMPIRE AND BECOME INDEPENDENT OF THE BRITISH.
IF IT COMES TO THAT, IF IT COMES TO A DECION TO BREAK AWAY FROM THE
BRITISH CONNECTRION, I WOULD BE THE LAST [PERSON] TO EXPRESS SUCH A
TERRIFIC WISH” (see the Historic Speeches of J. B. Danquah). This
was why Danquah would later condemn the 1948 uprising following the
ex-servicemen’s march as “an act of treachery.” His telegram to
the British Government concerning the same uprising ended with the words,
“God Save the (British) King” (Awoonor 1990). What a Compatriot
Saint of Ghana! 

 

Indeed, imposing Dr. J. B. Danquah on the nation as “A Compatriot
Saint of Ghana” is justifying the shooting of Sgt. Adjeitey and his
comrades on February 28, 1948.

Correction in Part II. Sub-Heading: “The
Tyrannical Rule of Ofori Atta...” Line 24-25 should read: “major
uprising in Asamankese” and not Akyem Kotoku.

Kwame Botwe-Asamoah,
Ph. D.  

Professor of African and African American History
 

University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260