Feature Article of Thursday, 10 January 2013
Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
In the 1950s, when the politically seminal Dr. J. B. Danquah suggested the establishment of a bicameral parliamentary system in order to organically incorporate, while at the same time modernizing, our traditional system(s) of governance – chieftaincy, in the main – one of the two representatives in the Legislative Council for the Accra municipality, Mr. Nii Armaah Ollennu, vehemently impugned the motive behind such proposal and even cynically attributed it to a veritable act of mischief on the part of the putative Doyen of Gold Coast and Ghanaian politics.
Dr. Danquah would, however, be staunchly backed by the other Accra representative in the Legislative Council, namely, Dr. Nanka-Bruce, who had also been described by Dr. Danquah himself as the best-dressed gentleman in the entire legislative assembly. Other supporters of the Danquah proposal for the establishment of a bicameral parliamentary system included Dr. Asafu-Adjei, the representative for the Asante Federation. On the other hand, Mr. Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, the then-Prime Minister Nkrumah’s right-hand man in the Legislative Assembly, would sardonically question the real motive of Dr. Danquah. In the end, when the proposal was put to a vote on the floor of the House, Dr. Danquah and his supporters lost dearly and miserably.
Needless to say, that was the very first time that any remarkably serious and significant attempt was being made to organically, constructively and progressively mesh the country’s traditional political institutions with the more modern, albeit culturally distorted, British colonial heritage. In essence, that was Dr. Danquah’s all-too-constructive and progressive approach of bringing the imperative need of “statesmanship” to bear on modern Ghanaian political culture. That the Doyen of Gold Coast and Ghanaian politics had the future success of the country’s political culture foremost up his mind cannot be gainsaid. It is also rather pathetic and sad that many a Ghanaian political commentator and/or critic, especially the most vociferous, almost invariably has absolutely no knowledge, whatsoever, that the currently largely otiose institution of the Council-of-State is the veritable brainchild of Dr. Joseph (Kwame Kyeretwie) Boakye-Danquah.
The original proposal by Ghana’s foremost constitutional lawyer of his generation and age entailed the establishment of the Ghanaian equivalent of the British House of Lords, whereby cardinal Ghanaian chiefs, or Amanhene, could be productively incorporated into our national politics in a process that also insulated these chiefs and/or their designated representatives from partisan politics and the ignoble public rhetoric that comes with the same. This upper-chamber of chieftains and other distinguished Ghanaian citizens from a diversity of professional endeavors would also have served as a salutary check, or restraint, on the powers of the executive branch of government.
Today, we are wistfully witnessing the bitter fruits of the kind of political cynicism, largely advocated and propagated by the Nkrumah-led Convention People’s Party, that prevented the incomparably foresighted Dr. Danquah and his venerable and pioneering associates from putting Ghana on the road to accelerated sociocultural and political advancement, as opposed to the incredibly facile political approach of the legendary “African Show Boy” that visionlessly, albeit well-intededly, entailed the blind and wholesale importation and transplantation of Marxian socialism into a culturally divergent Ghanaian society. Needless to say, the functionally and morally stultifying results of this wrong-headed approach to our national development have been there for all to see and regret the same for sometime now.
Recently, I came across an interesting news feature on Ghanaweb.com titled “Should Former Presidents in Ghana Be Party Members?” (1/6/13). The author, a Mr. Otchere Darko, who fairly regularly posts his writings on the aforementioned website, painfully lamented the fact that the executive membership of the main opposition New Patriotic Party would be in vehement disagreement with former President John Agyekum-Kufuor’s widely “multicast” decision to attend the presidential inauguration of Mr. John Dramani Mahama who, by the way, conspicuously boycotted both two presidential inaugural ceremonies held in honor of Mr. Kufuor as a two-term president of the Democratic Republic of Ghana.
In the opinion of Mr. Otchere Darko, not to be confused with the head of the Accra-based Danquah Institute, Mr. Kufuor has every right to break ranks with the party that made it possible for the latter to accede to the presidency because as a retired or former premier, the former Chief Executive Officer of the Kumasi City Council no longer has any purposeful use for the New Patriotic Party. The latter observation is tantamount to saying that having acquired the highest academic and/or social status in life, one’s illiterate or economically under-privileged parents immediately cease being perceived and/or recognized as one’s biological and cultural parents. Now, isn’t such trend of thinking rather absurd for anybody to maintain?
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Department of English
Nassau Community College of SUNY
Garden City, New York
Jan. 6, 2013