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Opinions of Wednesday, 14 June 2006

Columnist: Asante Fordjour

The Fallacies Of J. B. Danquah?s Heroic Legacy

Gold Coast In Transition
THE FALLACIES OF J. B. DANQUAH?S HEROIC LEGACY- ON FOCUS
IN MEMORY OF DR J. B. DANKWA; PAA GEORGE GRANT AND NANI KOMLA GBEDEMA

It would be a mistake, perhaps ignorance, to assume there existed any solid ground in Gold Coast political culture. In Ghana today, everybody concerned lurches through the slush, unconsciously making a sight, always closer to falling over than to standing upright? Whenever we step, the earth gives way, leaving muddy holes where pledges disappear without trace- no matter whether money, desire or reputation are at stake?

No wonder Dr Dankwa, Paa Grant and Nani Komla Gbedema, who also enjoy the highest blessings of history, are now in danger of getting stuck in contentious lifestyles associated with most great men and women. Even Nani Gbedema, who did so much for the Osagyefo, while in prison, had to flee Ghana after he had spoken out in parliament against the amendment to the Preventive Detention Act that sought to increase the years of detention from five to ten, though the 1960 Republican Constitution provided for freedom of speech? Indeed history is written or told from class perspective so historians and biographers will continue to clash over great men.

The conspiracy theory we are advancing is, if Dr Danquah was on the C. I. A. payroll, then where was Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah? The KGB? Is it true that while in Guinea, the KGB advised the Osagyefo not to use made-in-Africa products but rather logistics from Kremlin because he could be poisoned but unfortunately, still contracted skin cancer that killed him? What happened to Finance Minister Gbedemah, whom our elderly statesman, R. R. Amponsah, in an interview granted to Journalist Sifa Twum, of Kasapa Radio, describes as an honest patriot for refusing to take up political power at the insistence of the obroni while Osaygyefo was languishing in the gallows? Did we not indict him for pocketing thousands if not millions of cedis meant to be burnt?

So, could the ?Fallacies of J. B. Danquah? be one of those unproven allegations? Dr. Botwe-Asamoah has just made, indeed, a provocative allegation against Abuakwa State and Dr Kwame Kyeretwie Boakye Dankwa?s patriotic credence of today. He purports to have learnt that those who build social movements to wage protracted national liberation struggles against colonial and imperialist governments, and settler regimes are the ones who attain the tag of national heroes. The motivations of such individuals, he asserts with gross hatred, must transcend the horizons of ethnicity. So where do we lay Nii Tetteh-Quarshie, who without such benchmarks, cunningly gulped cocoa beans and eventually plotted Ghana, on the fallacious world cocoa map?

With this narrow heroic definition, there is certainly a scope for ridicule. In defining patriotism, Andrew Heywood explains that the Latin word patria, meaning ?fatherland?, is a sentimental and psychological attachment or a love for one?s country and provides effective basis for belief that underpins all forms of nationalism. So, it is difficult to conceive of a national group demanding, say, political independence without possessing at least a measure of patriotic loyalty or national consciousness? Of course, as Heywood argues, not all patriots are nationalists because not all of those who identify with, or love their nation, even see it as a means through which political claims can indeed be articulated? (Heywood, A., (2003) Political Ideologies, p. 167)

Since our learned Professor?s edifice rails on post World War II, with catch-words such as fallacies, treason, imperialist, liberation, violent, non-violent, nationalist and hero, we shall consider these, by summarising in passing that Gold Coast, from 1874 to 1945, witnessed a steady constitutional growth that was characterized by power struggles between traditional rulers, educated elites and not to ignore the colonist? We know that a fallacy is an idea or argument which is incorrect or illogical in conclusion.

As imperialism means a system in which a rich and powerful country controls other countries, we accept that the struggle for its extrication, had required diverse tactics in different countries depending on the qualities of the country?s elite population? Whereas British West African independence strugglers embarked on constitutional changes, did nationalists in Southern Africa, for example, not wage guerrilla warfare?

At the end of the Second World War, the Gold Coast was entering a period of economic, social and political malaise. The prices of imported goods were exceptionally high. The British Colonial Administration was attempting to have all disease-infected cocoa trees destroyed. And not forgetting the problem with unemployment. Elementary schools were producing only standard six school leavers as compared to pre-war period? With these, coupled with unfilled grievances of ex-servicemen, who had returned from the WWII, as describes by our learned writer Adigwe, were certainly enough to be political dynamite? (Adigwe, F. 1975, p. 107).

Besides all these, to the average educated Gold Coaster, as Adigwe puts it, the Burns Constitution (1946) left much to be desired. Its failure to establish responsible government and make the Executive Council responsible to the Parliament was, in the words of the learned Advocate, both a source of exasperation and a target for severe criticisms. Thus the colonial government?s failure to make room for our then educated Gold Coasters such as the Chiefs had been given to participate in the conduct of government, appeared as a brazen affront to their intellectual capabilities which on their part, were in no mood to succumb to that naked ploy or disrespect in good faith?

If Heywood?s assertion of sub-state consciousness is true, then what undermines Dr Dankwa as patriotic nationalist? Dr Botwe-Asamoah argues that true nationalists such as Nelson Mandela, Dr Nkrumah, advanced nationalist agenda that embraced all people irrespective of their ethnicities, social classes, gender and religious beliefs. But ignores the fact that even in Ghana today, most of us lean first and foremost, on our kingdoms, before the Republic itself- hence the creation of the National House of Chiefs? Dr Botwe?s effort at farce is so over the top that it falls on its face. In short, a misspent chance, at the more insufficient given the premise of his electioneering endeavour which is flanked with the biblical proverb that if a ?burglar? goes to a wealthy home to steal, he must first and foremost, capture the strongest in the house?

Patriot Botwe-Asamoah accuses Nana Ofori Panin Stool and for that matter Abukafuo for human sacrifice. That J. B. perverted justice via political connection at the Privy Council in London, England? But did John Cook, a low-born Puritan still not develop a close-reasoned when faced with the difficulties that all prosecutions emanate from the crown and so the king could not try himself? But prosecuted King Charles I, for crime of tyranny and beheaded? With such a powerful judicial precedent in English law, how could J. B have rigged the law in favour of said alleged convicted criminals- (four) sons of the late King Ofori Atta I and four other royal members to the hilt?

Yes, Akyem Abuakwafuo may be secessionists and xenophobic to their guests, in that the Abudus/Adanis, Tsitsoe/Awudomes, Kokomba/Nanumbas, for example, also have their differences? So why this ill-fated portrayal of J. B. and King Ofori Attas, like that blood-thirsty King Agorkoli, who tortured his kinsmen to an extent that they had to flee their prosperous homeland to become hewers of wood and drawers of waters in a gas-chambered state? What did we see when Otumfuo Nana Osei Tutu II, decided to build a palace in Accra? What was the reaction of Daasebre Akuamoah Boateng II, the Okwahumanhene, when President Rawlings, was alleged to have intended to reallocate farmlands at Afram Palins to the Ewes settlers there? So, we could all be fallible?

Thus, must Fante chiefs who were signatories to the Bond of 1844, and confirmed British jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases and promised to allow their customs to be ?moulded to the general principles of British law? be seen less patriotic in the eyes of Asanteman, where the ?kanun? foyer was weaker than the bush? Is it not fallacious for one to think that Professor Atta Mills has been rejected by Fantis in the Central Region because on three occasion, he has been defeated in general elections?

It truth, oppressed people cry freedom now, rather than in an uncertain future. In this context, Akyem Abuakwa acted with prudence. Many shall certainly see this light. So the purpose of juxtaposing President Kufour?s competitor for the 2000 NPP presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo and J. B. Danquah, both MPs ? also fails.

As one Dr Kwabena Akurang-Parry submits: ?I am a staunch Nkrumahist, but I believe that it is only scholars who have political axes to grind that would consign Danquah to the garbage of history of nationalism and decolonization in the Gold Coast.? (comments, The Fallacies of J. B. Danquah?s Heroic.., Ghanaweb, 2006-06-04 ).

This opinion had long been expressed by the former Advocate of Nigeria Supreme Court, Francis Adigwe, who writes: ?In August 1947, Dr. J. B. Danquah, acting together with Mr. George Grant, a businessman, launched the United Gold Coast Convention with the idealist objective of achieving constitutional progress through gradual and constitutional means. The Convention soon became the rallying point for educated nationalist and the spearhead of the nationalists. It attracted such people as Dr Nkrumah, its first Secretary(?), K. A. Gbedemah, and Krobo Edusei, and within a short time, truly became a hope to the man in the street(?)? (Ibid, p. 107)

So did President Kufuor err in suggesting that Dr. Danquah be named ?a compatriot saint of Ghana?? Dr Asamoah-Botwe, attempts to alter our historical goalposts by crying that it is one thing adoring one?s kin and/or mentor regardless of his or her nefarious* deeds and treasonable* acts, and it is another thing trying to impose* such an individual on a nation as a hero* and challenges Ghanaians to scrutinise Dr J. B. Dankwa?s nationalist endeavours? Without the formation of UGCC where would have been the focal point of the ex-service men, cocoa farmers who could not understand why the Cocoa Marketing Board was not paying the full world market price for cocoa and subsequent riot which led to the said arrest of the ?Big Six? which consequently brought about the Waston Commission of Enquiry and Dr Kwame Nkrumah to fame?

It worth asking ourselves whether heroic actions or people, are only brave and courageous, but not determined? The publication of the Waston Commission of Inquiry led to the setting up of an all-African Representative Committee headed by an African Judge, Sir Henry Coussey, with the mandate of recommending for constitutional reforms. The Arden Clark Constitution of 1950, which although, the Cabinet was still under the control of the Governor, had not only the advantage of enlargement of the membership of the Legislative Council but significantly, attracted membership from all the Colony, including the ?Great Asanteman? and the Northern Territories. Dr Dankwa never opposed this (Adigwe, Ibid, p.110)

It is said that when people have a self-interested reason for getting along, they are supposed to put aside their ancient grudges and do business. The same could be true of politics. But as veteran journalist Kofi Sarpong Akosa argues in his article, ?The Trouble With Patriotism?, there seems to be a massive hole in this assertion in Ghana.

According to the Canadian-based journalist, the idea of some Ghanaian elites talking ?The Role of Patriotism in the Affairs of Ghana Today- Public Scene?, resonates patriotism into the development process and demonstrates a deeper link between our inner values and progress. And that our long-running encounter with colonialism, patriotism, in terms of national development, has really become a complicated issue because of forced coalition of 56 ethnic groups each with its own heroes/heroines, history and culture at independence? (Africanecho, London, 13 January, 2006, p. 16)

Since our learned Asamoah-Botwe finds it difficult to accept that even our predestined Redeemer- Jesus Christ, in his triumph, also wept on the Cross, we enquire whether our spirited Pan African crusader- Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, who endured all trials till death, did not weep when Gold Coast was freed and in his disappointment, when Nani Gbedemah told him that our national purse was almost empty? Adigwe argues that the only difference between Dr Nkrumah and Dr Dankwa was that the Secretary found the ?wealthy leaders? too conservative in their advocacy for self-rule? But why did the UGCC leaders find Pan-Africanism too radical to accept? (Ibid )

The answer may be found from the UK?s stance towards the Treaty of Rome that was signed in 1957, to establish the European Economic Community? If not, perhaps, Brother Akosah may be understood when he argues that patriotism is stronger at the micro, ethnic level than the national level. So King Osei Tutu I, for example, who created the Asante Empire and is seen as a hero and a patriotic figure among Asantes, may not be seen in the same way by other ethnic groups in Ghana, say, Fantis or the Ewes? Thus in a heterogeneous country such as ours, patriotism or nationalism has largely being more or less love of one?s ethnic group first and any other one born out of the struggles to live well from threatening elements of both nature and humanity?

With these, it is good to have our national history researched. But had Dr Asamoah-Botwe really been fair in focusing solely on Dr J. B. Danquah and the Akyem Abuakwa people could not be the only Judases in Gold Coast in transition? If Yes, what does he intend to achieve? A Unitary Ghana where Akyem Abuakwa people must be extinct?



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