On June 12, 1949, at the Old Polo Grounds in Accra, a new political party was born – the Conventions People Party (CPP) – the pre-independence political party that will change the course of the fight for the political independence of the Gold Coast.
Before June 12, 1949, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was the General Secretary of the first political party, United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC). The history records that, Dr. Ako Adjei recommended Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to the leaders of the UGCC, who were then looking for a full-time General Secretary for the UGCC.
Upon arrival from London and the consequent assumption of the position of General Secretary on December 28, 1947, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s charismatic views led to the increase of the membership and the branches of the UGCC which was hitherto limited to a handful of branches in the larger coastal towns and Kibi (Kyebi). Some of the strategies Dr. Kwame Nkrumah implemented were the mobilisation of the youth through local youth societies such as Apowa Literary and Social Club, and the Asante Youth Association; and the organisation of mass meetings across the length and breadth of the colony of the Gold Coast.
The beginning of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s disagreement with the leaders of the UGCC, started after they were arrested on the basis of the allegation of their role in the 1948 riots that disturbed the peace of the colony. When the leaders of the UGCC appeared before the Aiken Watson Commission, there was a unanimous conclusion that Nkrumah was mainly to blame for the disorder: “The UGCC did not really get to business until the arrival of Nkrumah on December 16, 1947” – these were the words of the Commission.
Consequently, this led to the following: Nkrumah’s demotion to the position of Treasurer and later his resignation as well as the formation of the CPP. The CPP was birthed out of the Committee on Youth Organisation – an organisation that was seen to speed up Nkrumah’s determination for self-governance.
This was how the narrative of the political history of the Gold Coast now Ghana changed.
While the argument that political activities were growing in the colony of the Gold Coast before the coming of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah is valid, it is equally important to interrogate the issues then: what were the strategies and what was the nature of the political activities, especially of the UGCC? Even in the words of the Watson Commission, Nkrumah’s efforts took the hitherto dull and mundane strategies of pursuing self-government to the next level.
Today, there have been calculated efforts to re-write the political history of this country. There is a deliberate attempt to paint Nkrumah black and push him to oblivion. The attempts have been in various forms and shapes – for instance, the change of curriculum for study in schools that is to project Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah (JB Danquah) and consequent denial of the fact that Nkrumah’s effort gave an impetus to the fight for self-government, is evident for all to see.
It is important that the younger generation are told the real issues that happened then. In fact, the history should be told as to what the UGCC looked like before the coming of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, what the efforts were before the coming of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, what kind of attitude was shown towards Kwame Nkrumah’s strategies and then it will be understood that self-government was not won by sitting in the offices of the UGCC in the coastal towns of the Gold Coast; instead it took the travelling of one man across the colony to establish branches to expand the membership base of the UGCC. Of course, this effort became a reality due to the provision of financial resources from the leaders of the UGCC. But, the money without human beings to ensure their judicious use is meaningless.
The CPP of today is a pale shadow of what it used to be in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. It is one of the reasons that the current attempt to push Nkrumah to the background is seems to be going on since the CPP itself is not organised to speak for itself.
June 12, 2019 will be seventy years when the CPP was born. As the CPP celebrates, there should be a deliberate focus on rebranding and unity. Rebranding to meet the current demands of the political dispensation and uniting together with the People National Convention (PNC) so as to have a third force in the current political dispensation. Happy birth day to the CPP!!
The writer is a freelance journalist.