Feature Article of Monday, 3 September 2012
Columnist: Osabutey, Kingsley
I am inclined to make a passing comment on a loose statement made by, Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (iUniverse.com, 2005).
I realize from his stated claim, to have written a book about JB Danquah that, he must obviously be one of those Danquaphiliacs who against the grain of common-sense and history, have persisted in trying to make sense and capital out of JB Danquah's conspicuous 'no-show' in the history of Ghana. In doing this, they have even tried – as futile as it may seem, to denigrate and vilify Nkrumah as some kind of oppressive tyrant so as to enable or project the image of Danquah – Kwame Nkrumah’s political adversary, to benefit from some sympathetic political credits. Stubborn and unyielding in their prejudice, has misled them to get bogged down in some kind of political and historical time warp from which there is no relieving succour. However considering the monumental and still unassailable achievements of Kwame Nkrumah, this illogical ploy has only ended up - and will continue to attract belittling and disparaging commentary about Danquah.
For whatever ethnic and perhaps subjective political sentiments, one may choose to adulate whoever and whatever, privately. There are people who glorify JJ Rawlings and compare him to Jesus Christ and there are people who choose to indulge in devil-worship and sorcery. I have no problem with that or with them so long as they mind their business and do not attempt to make their chosen fantasies everybody’s business. But when people unabashedly attempt to publicly vandalize the truth and distort history with the intent of foisting the hogwash of their hallucinations on the reading public - some of whom may not be adequately informed and therefore vulnerable, those of us who consider ourselves better informed and therefore not so vulnerable to such mischief, have the necessary responsibility to react appropriately with the aim of readjusting history and putting common-sense in its right perspective.
In the frantic effort to conceal their inhuman nature, the true history of Africa and indeed of Ghana has suffered enough from the persistent distortions and bastardization of those whose unsolicited and wicked incursions into the native innocence of Africa, has caused historically unprecedented misery to us the people of Africa to the extent that we have become genetically traumatized and inept as a people. Quite unfortunately and ironically, the architects of the misfortune of Africa are those to whom people like this Ahoofe chap and his political mentors, the Danquah-Busia tradition, traditionally owe unflinching and subservient allegiance to.
On behalf of their still unrepentant colonial masters, they defied and succeeded, in all manner of criminally disagreeable ways, to undermine and demoralize the extraordinary efforts by Kwame Nkrumah to advance the progress of the Black race. Indeed, in the absence of their colonial masters, they have always considered themselves as the legitimate heirs of the colonial destiny of Ghana.
In fact after that dastardly act in which by collusion with our historical oppressors, the Danquah-Busia-ists sneakily undermined and overthrew the most advanced and as yet, the highest level of developmental accomplishments that any African country, people or society has ever reached in human history, they have continued, obviously for petty mercenary reasons, to proceed along this path as dictated to them by our colonial oppressors. Evidently, it is a path which has not yielded any substantial dividends for any self-respecting people or peoples in any part of the developing world, much more, those of us in Africa.
For example, the many countries in the Caribbean and South American sub-continent, many of whom share borders with and are contiguous with the most ‘advanced’ capitalist nation in the world, have been practicing this same divisive and obnoxious master-and-slave-like system since most of them became independent nations over 200 years ago, without any evident success. On the other hand, the substance and the achievements of the mere nine years of the Kwame Nkrumah Govt is what Ghana – and indeed the entire African continent and her people, look to in retrospect, as salvaging grace to prove that we are also human and capable of managing our own affairs ourselves.
In an event which curiously conjures déjà vu sentiments of when the Danquah-Busia tradition sent a high-powered delegation to scuttle the granting of independence to the Gold Coast on 6th March 1957, a youth wing of that same political dispensation, have, 55 years on, threatened - just a few days ago, to demonstrate in London and present a petition to the British Prime Minister to intervene in a local election misunderstanding. How this British Prime Minister who has recently been threatening to impose the curse of homosexuality on Ghanaians, can assist us in the governance of our country, is a matter that needs to be seriously considered by well-meaning Ghanaians.
Having sufficiently given a background as to where the said Professor Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe is coming from, let me proceed to lay bare his attempt to vandalize another historical truth.
I am really at pains to decipher whether the following statement by Ahoofe was made out of ignorance or mischief – however, whatever be the case, it is unacceptable that a person claiming to hold a Phd, should be allowed to get away with such historical inaccuracies. Hear him in the second paragraph of his article of 2nd Sept 2012, titled ‘Hannah Bissiw is simply Pathetic’..... “Maybe Dr. Bissiw ought to be enlightened about the fact that the terms “nationalist” and “nationalism” did not exist in the vocabulary arsenal of modern Ghanaian politics until the August 4, 1947 founding of the Danquah and Grant-led United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC)”.
In a mere sentence, Ahoofe has either exhibited gross ignorance of the most execrable kind or employed the chicanery of a play on words leading to another historical mischief of the most felonious variety.
First of all the UGCC was definitely not a ‘Danquah and Grant led’ entity as Ahoofe puts it. The UGCC was solely founded, organized, financed and led by Paa Grant until he gave up the running of the organization to Danquah and co to enable him concentrate on running his then thriving global business concerns. Paa Grant personally and with the advice of other respectable colleagues, selected those who he felt were qualified to advance the cause of the UGCC. Danquah like other members, was also drafted by Paa Grant to take part in the organization.
Sadly, Paa Grant, the lead protagonist, the actual hero who founded the UGCC that spurred on the independence of Ghana, has been effectively isolated into the gloomy background of our national and historical affairs. Others have - as it were, stolen the limelight and assumed credit which does not belong to them. Likewise - and in the same vein, I do not wish to assume that the book which Ahoofe claims to have written on Danquah and which obviously other people made an input, can be referred to as an initiative of others or a joint effort and not an exclusive initiative of Ahoofe.
This obsession with Danquah and the untiring but futile effort by principally people of his ethnic orientation, to conspire to elevate him above his station in life and history, must cease forthwith. Yes the man, like many others, played some role of sorts in the independence movement but he faltered badly by ganging up with those who had ulterior aims other than the true values of genuine independence for the Gold Coast - and in that uncomplimentary pursuit, he fell on the wrong side of history. There are also many others natives of the Gold Coast, who played significant roles, some of which some academics describe of as being even more eventful than what Kwame Nkrumah played, before and during the brief lifespan of the UGCC.
The long and short of all this however is that it was Nkrumah who stepped up the struggle and finally won independence for the people of the Gold Coast from the British oppressors. One can describe this achievement as an incident of fate but later events proved that by all standards, the special characteristics and grand accomplishments by Kwame Nkrumah after independence must have been instrumental in the gaining of independence at the time that it occurred.
The greatest setback to the unending woes of the African situation is our negative attitude towards – or, our inability to assimilate and digest information. The basic hitch being that we do not read. Obviously due to the cumbersome elitist educational system that we enthusiastically inherited, lock stock and barrel from our much beloved colonial ‘masters’ education or anything that has to do with it, has become uninteresting and bland for the average African. Even when we do read, either we do not read to understand and therefore imbibe knowledge, or, we simply do not pay attention to detail. Otherwise how can a whole Professor make the utterly spurious claim that “the terms “nationalist” and “nationalism” did not exist in the vocabulary arsenal of modern Ghanaian politics until the August 4, 1947 founding of the Danquah and Grant-led United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC)”. How?????
Knowing where Ahoofe is coming from politically, this is not surprising. Clearly, due to their characteristic lack of historical knowledge and the subsequent lack of political sensitivities and vision for the African people, the Danquah-Busia clique continue to ignore the compelling concerns of Africa by looking elsewhere – at the unfeasible prescriptions and methods of our tormentors who have before and after independence, not, for obvious capitalistic reasons, shown any genuine interest in our development. I would advise Ahoofe to make a studious effort to go back into the history of Africa – even before the Whiteman landed on our shores and he will discover that we were, or, we are not as worthless and as lame as he seems to think.
To begin with, there was a Gold Coast and no Ghana before 1957 as Ahoofe stipulates. Nonetheless, contrary to Ahoofe’s assertions, it is interesting to note that the Aborigines Protection Rights Society of the Gold Coast was founded in 1897; the Fante Confederacy was formed long before the 18th century and was crystallized in 1868 as a movement for self-government; the African national Congress was formed in 1912; Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) was founded in 1912 and by 1922 had over 40 affiliate members from various nationalist organizations around the world; Henry Sylvester Williams organized the first Pan African Association in 1887 at which several Africans represented their countries which were then under colonial bondage. The Pan African Association later became the Pan African Congress.
All these organizations and many more evolved around the liberation and nationalist struggles against European and American slavery and colonialism in both the context of the colonial enclave or at the continental level. For all true Pan Africanists of which I do not think Ahoofe is one, the two levels of struggle are mutually exclusive and compatible with each other. Every struggle for liberation by any African anywhere is considered as part of the Black nationalist struggle. It is therefore not quite clear what Ahoofe means by the terms ‘national’ or ‘nationalism’ did not exist in the vocabulary arsenal of modern Ghanaian politics until the August 4, 1947.
Suffice it to say, it would be wise for Ahoofe and his likes to begin to see the world in its true colours and to take a firm position against their continued subservience to mental slavery.
Kingsley (King) Osabutey