Like most countries, Ghana immortalises its heroes and heroines on the face of its currencies. Popular among such people are the Big Six and Tetteh Quarshie.
Following the change of Ghana’s currency in July 2007, the new 50 pesewas coin has a new face.
Historians and public records have identified the lady as Rebecca Naa Dedei Ayitey (aka Dedei Ashikishan).
Naa Dedei was a feminist and political activist who was popular for being a pioneering Chief Financier of Nkrumah’s Convention People’s Party (CPP).
Born in 1923, Naa Dedei was the first daughter to Ataa Ayitey from Osu and Ga (Asere). She grew up in Ga (British Accra) prior to Independence and after her basic education ventured into flour business.
By age 30, she had was the queen of flour (Ashikishan) in the whole of Accra and pretty much the whole country.
Naa Dedei was wealthy and owned a huge house in Kokomlemle and later became the ‘Market Mammie’ of Accra’s Makola market.
The wealthy business woman was also a devoted politician who passionately campaigned for and funded the CPP to win in the Ashiedu Keteke, the nerve centre of the Ga-Dangme Confederacy.
This victory was crucial to Kwame Nkrumah’s chances of being the Prime Minister of Ghana as this would have been impossible if he had lost.
She was the leader of the market women who were mobilised by Gbedemah as the backbone off the CPP.
However, her life came to an abrupt end after she allegedly died from food poisoning at the party’s function at Ho in the Volta region.
Dedei Ashikishan was a single woman with no kids. There were reports that Kwame Nkrumah was spotted crying ‘like a baby’ in the cemetery when. she was buried.
When double-decker buses were brought to Accra, they were named ‘Auntie Dedei’ apparently after Naa Dedei.
Today, her image is imprinted on the nation’s currency and on a postal stamp by Ghana’s postal system.