Ghana's history is being bastardised, with serious consequences for social cohesion, and no one seems to care. Not even the Historical Society of Ghana. Why?

For some time now, a self-styled "historian" has been polluting our airwaves with versions of Ghana’s history that range from mischievous exaggerations to vicious lies, needlessly exposing some tribes to ridicule and insults that threaten the very peace and love we need to forge ahead as One Nation, One People, One Destiny.

Consider the following account by the "historian" of Kwame Nkrumah’s supposed role in the 28th February 1948 demonstration by ex-servicemen against the colonial authorities that led to the arrest of the legendary Big Six and provided the spark for Ghana’s independence in 1957.

"We don't have anything like the Big Six in Ghanaian history," the “historian” declared confidently at a recent event to honour the Osagyefo. "What happened was that following the demo by the ex-servicemen, the white people suspected that some big men were behind it. Indeed, it was Nkrumah and his friend, Ako-Adjei, who met with the [unhappy] ex-soldiers at the beach, where they had been boozing, and encouraged them to organise a demo for their ex-gratia."

"Ako-Adjei, a lawyer, dictated a petition to Nkrumah, who wrote it on a pad that he placed on the back of one of the ex-servicemen. None of the UGCC leaders were involved. After the demo, the colonialists realised that the petition was in Nkrumah's handwriting. They arrested six leaders of the UGCC, five of whom denied knowledge of the demo. Only Nkrumah admitted it, and he was therefore sent [alone] to prison in the Northern Territories."

This is false.

For one thing, the petition was typed, not handwritten. More importantly, in his 1956 autobiography, Nkrumah stated only that he "was certainly aware of the general dissatisfaction of the ex-servicemen…[and] was fully aware that they intended to make a peaceful demonstration…but neither I nor anybody else could have possibly foreseen that this demonstration would have such tragic results."

He then recounts how news of the tragedy reached him in Saltpond and the executive committee of the UGCC ordered him to "proceed at once to Accra."

He refers to the arrest of "six members of the U.G.C.C." and states that, "'The Big Six', as we came to be known, referred to Danquah, Ofori-Atta, Akufo-Addo, Ako-Adjei, Obetsebi-Lamptey and myself." They were jailed together, first in Kumasi and later in the North.

So, clearly, there was a Big Six, and, no, Nkrumah did NOT draft the petition for the ex-servicemen’s demo, as claimed by our “historian.”

Who then did?

That credit goes to B. E. A. Tamakloe, general secretary of the Ex-servicemen’s Union, and seven executives of the Union (the Big Eight). He was later accompanied by five of them (The Original Big Six) to present the petition to the governor, and the governor's reply was addressed to Mr Tamakloe, as was the permit prescribing the route for the demo.

This was the account of the Watson Commission, which investigated the riots and the police shootings that claimed the lives of Sgt. Cornelius Francis Adjetey, Private Odartey Lamptey, and Cpl. Patrick Attipoe, among many others.

None of the Big Six, or the general leadership of UGCC, including Nkrumah, were ever involved in the planning of the demo, a fact that was confirmed by Nkrumah's political advisor, George Padmore, in his book, The Gold Coast Revolution, when he stated: "What happened in Accra on [28 February 1948] was not initiated by the UGCC. The leaders merely…exploited the situation."

There are numerous other examples of the bastardisation of Ghanaian history by our "historian" friend, but I'll cite just two more. Ghanaians should just be alert. And read more.

In a sit-down with Captain Smart on Onua TV, he said the following:

"…those of you who think J.B. Danquah was a big person in this country…the Asante realised that he had lost his seat in Kyebi, so he was chased out of politics in Ghana. So after the 1951 election, J.B. Danquah became politically redundant and superfluous in the history of Ghana. So with all the sectarian interests, the CPP won the 1954 elections. And the white people should have granted Ghana its independence. But they worried that the country would fall apart [due to agitations by the likes of the NLM]. They then urged them to put together all the parties to come together for another election in 1956. That brought together the United Party (UP). But UP was not interested in independence. It only wanted power to allow various groups - Ewes, Northerners, Asantes, etc - to break away and establish their own states…"

This story is also false for the following reasons:

  1. Danquah was politically active in the Legislative Assembly between 1951, when he won his Abuakwa seat, and 1954, when he lost it (and lost again in the 1956 election). In fact, he was one of the most active members of the Assembly from 1951 to 1954, calling for a major corruption probe at one point.
  2. Danquah had a very cordial relationship with the Asantehene. He thus was able to convince the Asantehene to reject a proposal by the colonialists to further separate Ashantis from the colony with the establishment of the Advisory Council for Ashanti, and instead join the single Legislative Assembly for what would eventually become the parliament of modern Ghana. "Only a few of Danquah's close associates knew of the midnight trips that he had made to Asante to implore the Asantehene and the Asanteman Council to join forces with the colony," wrote Dr. Kwame Donkoh Fordwor in his book, "The Danquah-Busia Tradition in the Politics of Ghana." There was no enmity between Asante and J.B. Danquah. They got along well.
  3. The National Liberation Movement (NLM) was formed AFTER the 1954 election and therefore could not have participated in the election of that year.
  4. The United Party (UP) did not exist in 1956 and therefore could not have participated in that year's election. The main parties in the 1956 election, and the seats they won (in brackets), were:
  • Convention People’s Party, CPP (71) – 8 in Ashanti
  • National Liberation Movement, NLM (12) – All in Ashanti
  • Moslem Association Party, MAP (1) – in Ashanti
  • Northern People’s Party, NPP (15) – all in the Northern Territories
  • Togoland Congress, TC (2) – in Trans-Volta Togoland (TVT)
  • Federated Youth Organisation, FYO (breakaway from the Anlo Youth Association) (1) in TVT
  • Wassaw Youth Association (0)
  • Independents (2) - TVT
  1. The following parties had contested in the 1954 elections:
  • CPP (72)
  • NPP (15)
  • Togoland Congress (3)
  • Muslim Association Party (1)
  • Ghana Congress Party (led by Busia and Danquah) (1)
  • Anlo Youth Organisation (1)
  • GNP (0)
  • GAP (0)
  • Independents (11)
  1. The UP was formed AFTER independence and launched at Bukom Square, Accra, on 3rd November 1957, just as the CPP government was finalising a new law, the Avoidance of Discrimination Act (December 1957), to prohibit the formation of political parties or groups based on ethnicity, religion, regionalism, etc.
  2. The founding parties of the UP were the NLM, NPP, MAP, TC, AYO, and the Ga Shifimo Kpee. Ashie Nikoe, formerly of the CPP, chaired the launch at Bukom, and Attoh Quashie of the Ga Shifimo Kpee, was the first speaker at the event. The Kumasi branch was inaugurated on 1 December 1957.
  3. The UP's officers were the following:
  • Dr. J. Hutton-Mills, national chairman
  • J. A. Braimah, deputy chairman
  • R. R. Amponsah, general secretary
  • Dr. K. A. Busia, Parliamentary leader
  • Mrs Nancy Tsiboe, treasurer
  • Working committee members; Dr. Busia; S.D. Dombo; E.O. Obetsebi-Lamptey; M. K. Apaloo; Joe Appiah; Attoh Okine; Bankole Awooner-Renner; K. Y. Attoh; Ashie Nikoe; Kwesi Lamptey; Dr. I. B. Asafu Adjaye; and Dr. J. B. Danquah,

The UP, represented by Danquah, took part in only one national election, the 1960 presidential election, and lost to the ever-popular Nkrumah by 90%.

  1. Despite popular perceptions, and a name like “Matemeho”, the NLM never asked to break away to form a separate country. It demanded instead a federal form of government, in the same country, inspired, if only naively, by discussions of federalism in Nigeria, a much larger polity, at the time.

These are indisputable facts that can easily be verified in any reputable book on Ghanaian history, notably Dennis Austin's Politics in Ghana: 1946-1960. There is no need to make up stuff and create needless hostility towards some tribes or groups.

And then there were the other sit-downs between the "historian" and veteran Ghanaian journalist, Kafui Dei, known for his laser-sharp interviewing skills. After listening to the “historian” tell a long-winded and fragmented story about the origins of the National Liberation Movement (NLM), Mr. Dei asked him, pointedly, when the NLM was formed.

Caught off guard and befuddled, the “historian” hesitated and then blurted out: "Oh, that was 1951…50..51…52.” In fact, the NLM was formed in 1954 – specifically, September, after the elections of June 1954.

The NLM had emerged from the Council for Higher Cocoa Prices pressure group, which was formed in August 1954 with Mr. Kofi Buor, a cocoa farmer, as chairman, to oppose Nkrumah's efforts, through the Cocoa Amendment Ordinance, to stabilise cocoa prices by paying a fixed price to farmers, irrespective of the world price, and applying any surplus to national development but also bearing the cost of paying higher prices when world market prices were lower. The measure was also meant to contain inflation.

The other tales by the “historian” were:

  • “the independence of Ghana triggered the Civil Rights Movement in America.” Fact: The US Supreme Court’s decision in 1954 to integrate schools in America marked the beginning of the modern Civil Rights era, which had much older roots dating back to the late 1800s, before Nkrumah was even born.
  • Black Americans were “third-class human beings”, right behind “second-class human beings…the Asians…[like] Indians and Sri Lankans…because their skins were closer [to those of white people]. Fact: Indians and Sri Lankans are recent immigrants to America and have never been classified as “second class” anything ahead of Black Americans. Never!
  • the Apartheid system in South Africa had “white people on top, the coloured people in the middle…being the Asians and Malaysians…and then the Black people…were third, like animals”. Fact: Under apartheid, the racial classification system was white, Indians, coloureds, and “native”, or Black Africans.

But the question remains as to why someone with such obvious deficiencies in both Ghanaian and world history would be placed on a pedestal to pollute the minds of the public with such impunity. Nkrumaists in particular should be worried as his stories seem to aim to hail Nkrumah but end up doing more harm than good to the legacy of the man, the nation he built, and his ideals of peaceful co-existence.

Meanwhile, the Historical Society of Ghana’s website attributes a quote to J. B. Danquah in 1968, when he died in 1965.

Who will save us from ourselves?

Nii Moi Thompson
Accra, May 28, 2024

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.