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Opinions of Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Columnist: Sarben, Aduako

A critical analysis of president Akufo-Addo’s speech on Independence Day

President Akufo-Addo President Akufo-Addo

By: Aduako Sarben

This article seeks to examine President Akuffo Addo’s speech on the occasion of Ghana’s 60th Independence Anniversary. This effort is being undertaking within the context of taking a critical analysis of the dubious undertones of his speech; and posit it in an attempt to bring out what the “Danquah/Busia” tradition, an avowed antagonistic anti-Nkrumaist cabal seeks to achieve in belittling the historical accomplishment of the Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah “Oseadeyie”, “Show Boy”, for our dear nation.

In his speech, the President made reference to so many personalities of whom; according to him, also took part in the struggle for independence; reminiscing the Bond of 1844, the Aborigines Right Protection Society, and so on and so forth. The President also appeared to have further projected J.B Danquah as the main architect whose dream gave birth to the nation Ghana. I seek to summarise and expatiate on key elements surrounding the bond of 1844; the aborigines’ right protection Society, the formation of the UGCC and the man Kwame Nkrumah himself, and how he achieved independence for this country.


The key element of 1844 bond was a negotiated agreement between the local Fante chiefs and a British Governor called H. Worsley Hill. The agreement defined clear conditions and responsibilities of the British authority over the protected areas. This agreement furthered the obligation of local chiefs to submit the adjudication of crimes such as bribery, murders etc. to the British authority in furtherance of the need to deepen British tyranny and the crime against humanity which has hitherto been referred to as colonialism of which; additional coastal states and other inland states also joined the bond.


The Aborigines Right Protection Society (ARPS) was formed by a diverse group of Cape Coast intellectuals and the gentry of southern Ghana mainly in anticipation to protect their traditional land tenure system and practices of the indigenous people against the British land bill of 1897. Its main goal was for every person to understand the implication of the land bill of 1897 for which; they advanced their explanation of the right of the local people through broadcasting in their own newspaper; which later became the voice to facilitate the understanding of the right of the native people. Again they realized that the bill of 1897 was not different and distinct in character from the previous bill of 1894, which failed; and therefore argued that such a bill had the tendency of dismantling family and societal ties and as a result kicked against it. One of such key leaders in this fight was John Mensah Sarbah.

Clearly, both the 1844 bond and aborigines right protection society were distinct elites groups of individuals, chiefs and indigenes who sought to negotiate their varying exclusive interests to protect their lands and properties with the British colonial rule of which; undoubtedly had no bearing on the struggle for a holistic national independence movement. Indeed, the various groups, chiefs and individuals who espoused different forms of rights and freedoms to protect their lands and properties from colonial domination were dispersal in focus and could not have been viewed as a national struggle for independence.

Therefore, these assertions by the President cannot be corroborated with any evidence that underpinned the national struggle for independence, and in this regard, the speech can only be viewed as an attempt to adulterate the history of Ghana and to neutralize the Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s outstanding achievement for national independence; which was bravely fought for against all odds, and was by no means delivered on a silver platter to Gold Coasters. All the boycotts and series of riots that happened during the era were all repercussions of oppressive and tyrannical rule from foreign oppressors.


There were other movements and organizations that had existed in the British colony before the formation of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC). The UGCC was single handedly founded by George (Paa) Grant in 1947. He invited other Gold Coasters such as J.B Danquah, R.A Awoonor-Williams, Edward Akufo-Addo, Ako-Adjei and Kwame Nkrumah as well as others to join him.
The aim of the movement was to oppose the oppressive rule of the British colony and called for the replacement of chiefs on the Legislative Council with educated persons which they believed the traditional governance of system only served the interest of the colonial masters which was fundamentally executed through indirect rule. They believed that it was their sole responsibility to lead the country into a new era and therefore demanded to occupy high positions within the colonial administration.

The movement also had the aim of self-government "in the shortest possible time," this vision however, lacked clear focus, substance and direction. Indeed, the movement was only known to small group of people in some areas. Many Gold Coasters across the length and breadth of the country were absolutely oblivious to the intentions of such a movement until Kwame Nkrumah who was already involved in freeing the whole black race and by extension, the entire African continent, set his foot on the soil of this land following the invitation by Paa Grant through Ako-Adjei, the then interim General Secretary of the UGCC.

Nkrumah was invited to join the UGCC in 1948 and he organized the movement from the status of an elitist club to the status of a large mass organization that spread to all parts of the country. He preached and sensitized the consciousness of the people about the need to free themselves from foreign rule and imperialism. This approach resonated well with the masses, which made him popular and an outstanding personality, which exasperated the relationship between him and some key members of the UGCC.

Though, the leaders of the UGCC seemingly opposed the colonial administration, their willingness to take positions in the colonial administration and their curious approach to solving the problems of the Gold Coast colony - in the manner of the imperialist oppressors, through negotiations, frustrated Nkrumah (
Their slogan of “independence in the shortest possible time” lacked a clear vision and completely devoid of tactical strategies to extricate the imperialist rule that has tyranised Africa for over 500 years for which; Gold Coast has become a repository of wealth for the growth of their nation; and any attempt to decolonize such a system needed a drastic revolutionary approach.

Kwame Nkrumah in his implacable determination to get the people of the Gold Coast out from the yoke of foreign domination, fell out with some elements in the UGCC in 1949 mainly because there was no consensus in the approach in dealing with national matters as far as the freedom for the Gold Coast was concerned. Nkrumah believed that independence would not be handed to us on a silver platter unless it was fought for.

Nkrumah, upon the instigation of the broad masses of the native people of the Gold Coast, was therefore compelled to break away and form the Convention Peoples’ Party (CPP) in 1949. The formation of the CPP was in fact and indeed the first political party that satisfied the whims and aspirations of the long oppressed and suffering people of the Gold Coast. It was at this point that Nkrumah demanded the immediate declaration of independence now with his new political party.

The effects of the 1948 riots spread throughout the country and got Nkrumah and the rest arrested because they were perceived to be the ones behind these riots which gave them the name the “big six”. Later the five of them were released and Nkrumah was kept in prison. The British government in an attempt to understand the reasons for these riots established the Coussey Committee to look into the matter and its report led to the 1951 constitution, which outlined the following:

1. Majority Africans in the Executive Council
2. Creation of 84 member -legislative Assembly of which 38 were to be elected by the people and 37 representing territorial council
3. 3 to represent commercial interest
4. 3 Ex-officio members appointed by the government

Clearly, this constitution had created an assembly where half the elected members came from the towns and rural districts, half from the traditional councils, which included Northern Territories for the first time. While this was a monumental step in the right direction, the new constitution failed to address the CPP's call for full self-government. The British still controlled the executive power, and the legislature was designed to give control to traditionalist and to interest groups.

The elections of 1951 was therefore conducted and Kwame Nkrumah and the CPP won 34 out of 38 elected seats in the assembly and also claimed all five seats which represented almost 95% of the vote’ with Nkrumah himself winning in the Accra Central seat whilst in prison with 22,780 of the 23,122 votes cast. In rural areas the CPP won 29 of the 33 seats, representing 72%.

The main opposition UGCC performed poorly and naturally scattered. ( coast legislative election 1951).
Some elements of the UGCC also went ahead to form another party called the Ghana Congress Party and together with the National Democratic Party contested the results and elections were held again and the result is indicated:

Party Urban areas
(direct election) Rural areas
(electoral colleges) Total
Votes % Seats Votes % Seats
Convention People's Party
58,585 91.3 5 1,950 71.9 29 34
Others 5,547 8.7 0 763 28.1 4 4
Total 64,159 100 5 2,713 100 33 38
Registered voters/turnout 90,725 – – –
Source: Sternberger et al. quoted in ( election1951).

Elections of 1951, 1952 were all won massively by the CPP. Indeed, the UGCC which transformed into National Congress Party has disappeared into the thin air.

It is interesting to note that Danquah himself never won an election in any part of this country at any time and not even in his own hometown. Then the real struggle for a united independent nation intensified and many political parties sprang up from several territories, the National Liberation Movement (NLM) from Ashanti, the Northern Peoples Party (NPP) from the North, and the Trans Volta Party (TVP) from Volta etc.

All these groups were tribalistic inclined fighting for a federal state where they will have autonomy in their jurisdiction. Clearly, Nkrumah’s vision for a national independence under a united country was marred with complexity of diversity of tribes who rejected independence under a unitary nation.

The next hurdle for Nkrumah was how to appeal to these diverse ethnic groups which had metamorphosed into political parties, to buy into his vision of a united people and country. Against this background, elections were again held in 1954 and 1956 and Nkrumah and the CPP convincingly won the argument massively because the people of the Gold Coast had bought into his ideas.

The British government had given all indication that independence for Ghana was imminent. Just before this time, a delegation of the opposition had gone to London to seek audience with the British government for a last minute intervention to stop the British government from granting independence to Gold Coast. Again, this was justifiably rejected because the British government had already bought into the argument of Nkrumah.

In short, through consistent electoral defeat of his opponents and the demonstration of the larger population in support of his vision, the British government granted the country independence in 1957. Nkrumah further worked hard to make this country completely free without any interference from the British government and finally got the nation a republican status in 1960 that made us a fully sovereign state.

It will interest readers to note that JB Danquah and co who are wrongfully acclaimed to be the architects of the independence of Ghana, were nowhere to be found on that historic day that Kwame Nkrumah, his colleagues and a mammoth crowd in attendance, declared the independence for this country.

This is because the opposition boycotted this momentous event. And this alone speaks volumes to many of us who critically analyse issues without any political colorations. It could be deduced from the analysis so far, that their hatred for Nkrumah hailed back in 1948 when Nkrumah became popular and later formed his party the CPP. They had since sought to undermine, kill and disorientate his followers.

Fellow Ghanaians, I cannot comprehend that people will still try to neutralize the achievements of the Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. It is imperative to realize that people can start struggles in many ways to achieve a goal, but it takes leadership to define the vision and the trajectory to take you there.

That is why in all parts of the world big achievements and even small ones are attributed to a person not because nobody helped but because that person made it happen under his direction and leadership; and fellow Ghanaians I deem it fit to give you such examples:

1. The fight to free the black American people from slavery and also to gain their dignity and democratic right as human beings was started by many, long before Martin Luther King. But Martin Luther King is celebrated as the leading light of the black American people because it was his vision and ideas that finally brought the democratic and civil rights that they had struggled for, for centuries.

2. Lee Kwan Yu is the most prominent and celebrated figure in Singapore not because nobody helped him to make Singapore what it is today, but it is because his vision and ideas shaped the nation from obscurity into universal prominence.

3. Taking examples from the bible, many prophets came before Jesus Christ and even after him, but it is Jesus Christ that we Christians celebrate because of his unique characteristics and the distinct role and the final salvation that he bestowed upon mankind.

It is clear that in every situation a visionary leader gets us there and praise is given to that leader and not to the multitude. People can be praised in different capacities for doing different things but this should not be equated to a huge achievement such as freeing one’s people completely from foreign domination.

Fellow Ghanaians don’t let us be ungrateful for the good Lord himself hates ungratefulness. When Jesus healed the ten lepers, only one returned to thank him but Jesus asked the one, you were ten in number but where are the other nine. Ungratefulness itself is evil and the creator abolishes that.

Why are we still struggling as a country to put Nkrumah in his rightful place in history? He was the person who struggled to get a complete united independent state, and laid down the whole economic infrastructure for this nation. We have refused to appreciate his works, his vision and some of his plans he set out to achieve for this country for which; we could have continued to put this country in the right trajectory; and it is not surprising we are still wallowing in darkness, poverty and filth.

Opponents attack on Nkrumah demonstrating hatred and envy
The opponents’ hatred for Osagyefo dated as far back as 1948 when he joined the UGCC. They opposed his far reaching initiatives and obviously contended with his popularity and glory and therefore sought to destroy him through terrorist and bomb attacks as far back as 1951 when he was made the leader of the government business. The bomb attacks continued throughout his reign until the reactivation of the PDA law enacted in parliament to arrest treasonable characters.

Again, the hatred for Nkrumah finds its expression in the 1969 constitution where Kofi Abrefa Busia who won the general election became the Prime Minister and Edward Akufo Addo became the Ceremonial President, which clearly depicts some kind of peculiar arrangements to insipid the republican status Nkrumah obtained for this country.

Nkrumah had gained a sovereign state for Ghana in 1960 before he was overthrown in 1966; and there was absolutely no interference from British government and by extension Queen Elizabeth was no more Ghana’s ceremonial president. Again, you will realize that the same opponents who were instrumental for getting Nkrumah ousted out of office, had now assumed the leadership of governance and clearly sought to undo everything Nkrumah did specifically, to have a governance system to reflect a west minister system of governance with the Queen or a person as the ceremonial president when indeed this country was not a monarchical state.

Nobody in this country has looked beyond the underpinnings of this peculiar arrangements for which; Kofi Abrefa Busia was voted for in general election to steer the affairs of this country. However, the head of state was strangely obscured with two heads of state, which made it difficult to acknowledge the one or the other.

The question is how can we have two leaders at the same time? Undoubtedly, this peculiar arrangement sought to compensate one of the “big six” Edward Akuffo Addo by elevating him to the status of ceremonial president which was very inappropriate for a sovereign state. But this was one of many other attempts to equate non-performers to the unassailable status of Kwame Nkrumah.

Again another element of ungratefulness and hatred for Nkrumah in this country finds its expression in the naming of the international airport in Accra, the gateway to Africa, after Col E.K Kotoka who overthrew Nkrumah. Nobody sees the need to correct this abnormality and this continues because of the effective vile distortions of facts smeared against this great man Nkrumah by his opponents.

After sixty years down memory lane, it seemingly looks like the country is still battling with who made the greatest contribution and sacrifice to put this country together from foreign domination. The current NPP comes from the “Danquah Busia” tradition whose ancestors opposed Nkrumah till death and it is not surprising that their focus is to defame Nkrumah. However, unlike president J.A kufuor when he celebrated the 50th anniversary he gave much recognition to Nkrumah’s role in making that day a reality. Bail boards were erected with Nkrumah’s pictures and Kufuor pictures besides him. That was a mark of a leader who stays the cause of truth and principle to give praise where due.

Unfortunately, this current President is a direct congenital extraction from J.B Danquah family and for that matter his agenda is to denigrate Nkrumah’s achievement and change the history of Ghana; intending to push through parliamentary majority to accomplish their longtime dream of their ancestral mirage. This creates serious credibility problems for President Akuffo Addo.

For him to have belittled no other person but the founder of this nation who created the platform for him to have the ability to rule this country, sought to use the same platform to belittle him and equated him to other people including treasonable characters. The president’s speech smacks of dishonesty and undoubtedly indents on his image as a truthful and honest person, and his ability to focus on important issues in Ghana is undeniably in disarray.


Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah remains the founder of modern Ghana for which; all available evidence point to this fact. He remains the greatest and most illustrious son of the land and the greatest president we have ever had in Ghana - and for that matter in Africa. He was a man full of purpose, vision and absolutely a selfless leader who we cannot point a single property or ill-gotten wealth to his name.

Nkrumah is undoubtedly one of Africa’s foremost freedom fighters, nationalist, writer and thinker who was to influence a generation of Pan-African nationalists and freedom fighters. He remains the man who lit the fire for the liberation of the African continent, he remains the greatest African who ever lived in the millennium, and his intellectual prowess was exhibited in the numerous political and philosophical books of international acclaim that he wrote during and after his presidency.

Nkrumah himself was a democrat par excellence and every act and deed that he undertook in this country was in conformity with the law. And I cannot understand why some people can refer to him as undemocratic and dictatorial, which does not make sense at all.

“I am in the knowledge that death can never extinguish the torch which I have lit in Ghana and Africa. Long after I am dead and gone, the light will continue to burn and be borne aloft,
giving light and guidance to all people.”

Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.

1. ( election1951)
2. "The Gold Coast Experiment", The Times, 17 February 1951, p7, Issue 51928
3. McLaughlin & Owusu-Ansah (1994), "Colonial Administration".
4. McLaughlin & Owusu-Ansah (1994), "The growth of nationalism and the end of colonial
5. Owusu-Ansah (1994), "The Politics of the Independence Movements"

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