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Opinions of Friday, 6 August 2010

Columnist: Asante-Yeboah, Joseph

The joy of UGCC fills my heart

As a follower of Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition, I am delighted that the holding of NPP national congress on 7th August 2010 to choose a presidential candidate and the sixty-third anniversary of the launching of the United Gold Coast Convention are happening in the same week, whether they are by design or they are coincidence. It was on 4th August 1947 that the UGCC was launched at Saltpond.

The anniversary and the holding of the congress coming together have presented NPP with an opportunity to go back to its roots and reflect on the noble ideas of our ancestors that took our motherland forward. Sadly, the hard work and personal sacrifice of the noble men to continue the march towards independence is gradually being forgotten. I look back with regret that, in the eight years of NPP administration, the Party did not appear to have made much effort to halt or even reverse this trend. One notable achievement, though, was when the NPP Government immortalised the names of the Big Six on new currency notes. It was the Big Six who made the final push for our independence and reclaim our birth right from the British colonial Government. They were incarcerated by the colonial Government as a result and later released.

The leaders of the UGCC were men of intelligence and integrity who were disciplined, cultured and tolerant. They had respect for authority, law and order. But they were also humble. That is why the joy of UGCC lifts my heart. The men I am talking about were no less than George Alfred (Paa) Grant, Dr J B Danquah (the Doyen of Gold Coast and Ghanaian Politics), Obetsebi Lamptey, William Ofori-Atta (Paa Willie) and others.

The overriding principle of the UGCC, as propounded by Dr J B Danquah, was to harness the energies of the people for the development of a property owning democracy to enrich life, property and liberty of every individual. The emphasis was on the liberty of the individual. They held that the resources of state must be geared towards improving the quality of life of every individual and upholding his or her liberty at the same time.

The fight for nationhood started several years before the UGCC was launched. Human dignity was paramount in that struggle. For that matter, I consider the fight for our individual liberty and nationhood to be evolution. The UGCC was an important part of that process.

The early scholars did not abandon our traditional values and structures. Dr Danquah in particular tried to persuade parliament at the time to fuse the western system of government into our traditional system but, sadly I think, he failed. What we have now is predominantly the western system of government in which numbers are the game. The numbers game has morally sunk many countries, and African countries should take a cue from them.

Last month, I wrote in a brief article entitled “Free speech under siege” on Ghanaweb that I consider the Attorney General as being the custodian of the human rights and civil liberty of each individual. Equally, in the olden days, before the arrival of the white man, I consider that the traditional ruler was the custodian not only of the human rights of each individual but of our values. I feel that we must go back to our roots and acknowledge the leadership that the traditional ruler gave us to hold morality in high esteem. We must develop and refine our traditional institutions to bring back community discipline and values. My wish is that the honourable men of UGCC continue to give NPP enduring inspiration to have discipline and community values at the centre of its policies all the time.