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Opinions of Sunday, 28 July 2013

Columnist: Amoo-Appau, Kwaku

Professor Busia His Legacy - A Rejoinder

This is a rejoinder to an article titled “Professor Busia His Legacy” written by Mr Kojo Tamakloe and published as a Feature Article on your website on 19 July 2013. This rejoinder is for the purpose of correcting some misinformation contained in Tamakloe’s article under reference and for the education of Tamakloe himself since he does not seem to understand some of the issues that he wrote about.

The author of the article, Kojo Tamakloe, makes a lot of fundamental errors and misconceptions. The article contains a lot of misinformation. I will attempt to correct some of them (not all).

I will give just a couple of examples. The author wrote (and I reproduce below in italics):

2. something from past: something that is handed down or remains from a previous generation or time. Here again I am not sure he left anything from the past for us , as a nation worth emulating . That leaves us with the last definition

One of Dr Busia's legacies, as Tamakloe does not seem to appreciate, is drawing attention to the rural and urban disparities in Ghana and trying to correct them; and in so doing reduce the rural-urban migration.

The other legacy of Dr Busia was his propagation of the philosophy of "Dialogue" with South Africa. This was vehemently opposed by the Opposition then led by Mr E.R.T. Madjitey who was obviously in favour of Dr Nkrumah's militant approach. It took other African leaders including Dr Nelson Mandela decades to appreciate the need to pursue the Dialogue approach instead of a military confrontation that Dr Nkrumah was advocating for. Dr Busia said a military confrontation with South Africa would be a blood bath that Africa could not afford. Dr Nkrumah wanted a military confrontation with South Africa and Ian Smith of Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) so much that he got Parliament to enact the necessary legislation to give him the power to mobilise the Ghana Armed Forces and put them (the Forces) on war footing in readiness for the defence of Africa. This was, to say the least, foolhardiness. Eventually other African nations refused to play ball and the military confrontation that Dr Nkrumah was seeking with South Africa and/or Rhodesia never came. The British Prime Minister, Dr Harold Wilson, rejected Dr Nkrumah's militant approach to the South African and Rhodesian issues. Eventually it was Dialogue that won the day.

Palestinians have been focussed on a military approach to resolve their long outstanding conflict with Israel, but now are seeing the need to talk. Last week the US Secretary of State, Mr John Kerry, secured an agreement with both Palestine and Israel to have a "Dialogue" in the US soon.

This is where Dr Busia was ahead of his time and it is one of Dr Busia's legacies. Dr Busia had courage to stand for what he believed in. May the souls of Dr Busia, Dr Nkrumah, Mr Madjitey, Mr A. L. Adu and Dr Harold Wilson rest in peace.

In fact some of the arguments put forward by Mr Tamakloe are not just misinformation but infantile. For example he wrote (and I reproduce in italics):

In 1952 he [Dr Busia] was Leader of Ghana Congress Party, which later merged with the other opposition parties to form the UP.. So one can see ,in everything, Prof Busia sought to be like people he viewed to be “ superior” .The GCP was actually the NLM controlled by an illiterate Baffour Osei Akoto. The DCs were the local face of the Queen ensuring the “locals or the “natives” did the bidding of the colonizers. Is it any wonder he could not see eye to eye with Dr Nkrumah? “1969, the PP won the parliamentary elections with 104 of the 105 seats contested. This paved the way for him to become the next Prime Minister. Busia continued with NLC's anti-Nkrumaist stance and adopted a liberalised economic system. There was a mass deportation of half a million of Nigerian citizens from Ghana, and a 44 percent devaluation of the cedi in 1971, which met with a lot of resistance from the public.” Correction , he won 102 of the 130 seats and devalued the cedi by 100% .

All the comments that I have highlighted above are all wrong or misinformation.

It is not true that the Ghana Congress Party (GCP) "later merged with the other opposition parties to form the UP". After the second general elections in the Gold Coast in June 1954, the GCP merged with the National Liberation Movement (NLM) in September 1954. Dr Busia founded the GCP and stood on the ticket of that Party. He was the only candidate to be elected on the GCP ticket to the National Assembly. The United Party (UP) was formed after the CPP Government had enacted an Act of Parliament in 1957 banning all opposition political parties founded on regional or religious lines. There was a Muslim Party and, of course, the Northern People's Party (NPP). With the coming into force of the new Act, the NLM and other parties like the NPP and the Muslim Party came to form the United Party (UP) of which Dr Busia was elected as its first leader. Before the unification of most of the opposition parties, Dr Busia had previously been elected as the Leader of the NLM. Note that long before the formation of the UP, the GCP was dead and buried.

It is preposterous for Tamakloe to suggest that: "The GCP was actually the NLM controlled by an illiterate Baffour Osei Akoto". This is absolute rubbish. It is not true. Tamakloe is confusing issues that he hardly understands or knows very little about.

Again to claim that: "The DCs were the local face of the Queen ensuring the “locals or the “natives” did the bidding of the colonizers" is not quite right. In any Administration, Regional Commissioners and District Commissioners (DCs), are there to see to the implementation of Government's (not the Queen’s) policies and initiatives. The work of a DC is not to enslave the people but to represent the Government at that local level. Only two DCs were appointed in the Gold Coast (of course, now Ghana) by the Colonial Government. Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia was one and the other was Mr A. L. Adu. Mr Adu was appointed as Cabinet Secretary of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) Government in the 1960s, though he was originally an NLM supporter. Mr Adu later served in East Africa as an international Civil Servant and eventually appointed as the Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth. This goes to say that these two personalities were not nonentities or stooges to do “the bidding of the colonizers” as wrongly claimed by the author.

For the author to describe such distinguished personalities as Dr Busia and Mr Adu, who were the only indigenous persons in the Gold Coast to be appointed to the high office of District Commissioners in the colonial era, as stooges of the Queen and doing “the bidding of the colonizers” is, to say the least, offensive, demeaning and disrespectful.

If Dr Busia and Mr Adu were really stooges of the Queen do you think Dr Nkrumah would have been happy to appoint Mr Adu to the high office of Cabinet Secretary of his CPP Administration? No.

Yes, it is true that Dr Busia did "not see eye to eye with Dr Nkrumah" but it was not due to anything as inferred to or ascribed by the author at all. According to the eminent scholar Dr Dennis Austin, Dr Busia, Dr Danquah and the other intellectuals of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) did "not trust" Dr Nkrumah. It was because of this same lack of trust that Dr Nkrumah’s campaign for an immediate unification of Africa countries fell through. The other African leaders became wary and suspicious of Dr Nkrumah's intentions and motives.

As a result of the current research that I am doing on contemporary Ghanaian history, it has become apparent to me that Dr Nkrumah wanted to be crowned as the first African President. To achieve that ambition he devoted and wasted a lot of the resources of our newly independent nation, Ghana, to its economic demise. At the time of the military coup that overthrew Dr Nkrumah and his CPP Government on 24 February 1966, Ghana which had all the potential of being a prosperous nation had become a highly indebted country.

Let me elaborate a little further on this issue of trust, which may surprise you. On 16 January 1965, in an Open Letter Number 2 to Dr Nkrumah, while he (Dr Nkrumah) was still in office, Mr Komla Agbeli Gbedemah (may his soul rest in peace), a one-time Finance Minister of Ghana, accused Dr Nkrumah of being a deceitful (Gbedemah said: “…your usual deceptive moves”) and ungrateful (Gbedemah said: “Your ingratitude has become proverbial”) person. This Open Letter was published after the 24 February 1966 coup in the Ghanaian Times on 19 May 1966, page 5. In this Letter, Mr Gbedemah reminded Dr Nkrumah “...have you forgotten that I brought you from George Clements Press, where you were sleeping on the floor, into my home at Farrar Avenue, Adabraka, as my guest, sharing my bed with you from September, 1948, till I was sent to prison in October, 1949, for being the author and the editor of the ACCRA EVENING NEWS, of an article supporting your bid to lead us, the youth?”

Apparently at some point of time, when our first President Dr Nkrumah returned to the Gold Coast from England in December 1947, he was or became homeless, only to be rehabilitated by Mr Gbedemah for 14 months (inclusive).

From the above, it goes without saying that Mr Gbedemah did not trust President Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah either. Among the CPP top echelon I doubt if anybody else knew the true character of Dr Nkrumah better than Mr Gbedemah. Obviously our first President had some serious flaws in his character; no wonder Dr Busia and the other intellectuals of UGCC did “not see eye to eye” with him.

In his Open Letter Number 2, Mr Gbedemah also accused Dr Nkrumah of pursuing “reckless policies” to the detriment of the economy. He also described Dr Nkrumah as “the CANCER of the body politic” of Ghana.

Lastly, Tamakloe says Dr Busia "devalued the cedi by 100%". This is completely wrong. The Cedi was never devalued that much. You know what no currency could be devalued at 100%, because 100% devaluation means the currency is absolutely of no value, i.e. worth zero, nothing. The December 1971 devaluation of the Cedi, was not 100% devaluation at all. I cannot remember the percent devaluation now (as we computed it at the Ghana Statistical Services under the auspices of a UN Statistical Consultant) but it was never 100%. Of course, I do not expect the author, Mr Kojo Tamakloe, to understand anything of the mathematics of devaluation.

Thank you. Kwaku Amoo-Appau Canberra, Australia 26 July 2013.