Wednesday, March 7, 2007
NKRUMAH TO KUFOUR
· How far has Ghana gone?
Story: K.B. ASANTE
MANY do not know or fully appreciate or understand that before 1946 Ghana as we know it today, did not exist even as the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast, which became Ghana, did not legally comprise all the territories of the country as we know it today.
We read and hear about political advancement in the Gold Coast, which had African or local representatives in the legislative Council, which made laws for the country. But these laws strictly applied only to the colony made up of the coastal people and the immediate hinterland.
The laws did not automatically apply to Ashanti and the North. The Governor extended the laws to Ashanti, which bravely fought the British, but was defeated. The laws were also extended to the North, which was a protectorate, known as the Northern Territories.
Under the Burns Constitution of 1946, the Gold Coast became the first British colony in tropical Africa to have an elected official majority in the legislative council, the law making chamber. Ashanti was for the first time given representation on the council. The North had no representation. As a protectorate, the colonial government jealously protected it from the supposedly bad influences of the South.
It was the Coussey Commission which in 1949 recommended a representative government for the whole country, including the North.
The mandated territory of British Togoland became part of the Gold Coast in 1923, and this created a problem at independence. Some of those in the territory wanted unification of all Ewes. This meant that the Ewes of the Gold Coast and Togo should come together to form a State. Ewe unification was one of the major divisive issues which confronted the new nation of Ghana shortly before and after independence.
They displayed maturity in the
matter of political unification.
Ewe unification exposed the great problem of identity which faced the young nation of Ghana. How could territories and kingdoms come together and within 10 years weld themselves into one united country? Ghana should be proud that it evolved into a united nation. For that alone Ghana has come a long way since independence.
IT was not easy to pull the country together – there were movements for secession and federation. There were attempts to create power blocks on tribal or religious lines after independence. Entrenched positions resulted in strife which led to loss of life and bitter feelings. Thanks to the good sense of Ghanaians the country remained together and embarked on vital development schemes.
When one considers what has happened in other African and even European countries, Ghanaians should congratulate themselves that they have come this far since independence. But in congratulating ourselves over the quick cessation of maiming and killings in the early years, we should not forget the excellent contribution to unity made by the chiefs and people of the North. They displayed maturity in the matter of political unification.
The Northern Chiefs listened to and spoke through their few educated people and came together to form a party to promote their interests in a fairly sophisticated way. The political parties in the south responded with understanding and realized that it was in the interest of the country to give the North special attention in education.
The leaders of the country realized that education was of prime importance. Even before independence, statesmen like J.B. Danquah had advocated the establishment of a University for Ghana and had rejected the Elliot Commission’s proposal that one university at Ibadan in Nigeria should serve the British West African colonies of Nigeria, the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone and the Gambia. The people of Ghana responded to the call to establish their own university. The farmers supported the use of their funds to build the university at Legon.
Immediately at independence, Kwame Nkrumah embarked on an accelerated education development programme. All children were to go to school, and the plea of the experts and educationists that teachers were not available was disregarded, perhaps with the contempt it deserved. They should have suggested ways of enabling every pupil to go to school. Eventually, pupil teachers were employed and the results were not always satisfactory. But many young men and women had access to education and it is not much credit to our educationists, administrators and politicians that 50 years later the problem encountered by the accelerated education programme still persists.
Secondary education was greatly expanded during the First Republic. The Educational Trusts built secondary schools in all the districts, and teacher training was intensified. The university at Cape Coast was established to make graduate teacher training its primary aim.
Meanwhile a comprehensive development plan called for scientific and technical skills. The University of Science and Technology in Kumasi was therefore established whilst an Academy of Arts and Science was created.
Many ideas and projects which
Flourished during the First Republic
The many ideas and projects which flourished during the First Republic are a mine of experience of what to pursue and what to avoid. So far as economic development was concerned, it is necessary to point out that the new nation Ghana tried all the prevailing ideas: import substitution, adding value to exports, processing non-traditional exports, and so on.
The state spearheaded industrialization and scientific agriculture and attempted to take projects into the country to prevent exodus to the big towns. Nkrumah is accused of having an ideological bias, but unwise adherence to the free market ideology has led to the collapse of many enterprises established during the First Republic.
The NLC Government tried to rationalize industrial projects and institutions, and the programme was continued by the Busia Administration. But as happened during the latter years of the Nkrumah’s government, the international economic situation proved unfavourable. There was devaluation and Busia was removed by Colonel Kutu Acheampong.
Acheampong’s refusal to pay debt led to some interesting developments. People were rallied together to grow what they ate and to eat what they grew. Discipline and self-reliance were encouraged. Local rice largely fed the population, and fish ponds flourished in unexpected places. There was a smile on the face of Ghanaians inspite of the difficulties.
The economy was well managed, and there was hardly any corruption in the execution of the import licence programme for the first three years. Later, however, corruption set in, and personal ambition came to the fore. The regime was overthrown. The coup of Flight Lieutenant Rawlings had a limited salutary effect. Soon after, President Limann took over. There was perhaps unnecessary delay in dealing with the economic and other pressing issues. The second Rawlings coup was beset at the outset with a difficult economic situation. Despite efforts to avoid devaluation, it had to be undertaken without much preparation. It was in effect literally forced on the regime. The devaluation was massive, and the effect on many industries like fishing was catastrophic. Orthodox economic management was embarked upon and close co-operation with the IMF, World Bank and donors began in earnest. This policy has been continued by the Kufour Administration.
Ghana has, therefore, in the 50 years passed from the approach of state control to a policy largely based on free enterprise and market forces. But elements of the past persist. Moreover the economy relies greatly on donor assistance. Ghanaian self-confidence and self-reliance have been affected. The people, however, take every opportunity to assert their right to fashion and manage their destiny. Ghana has certainly come a long way from Kwame Nkrumah to John Agyekum Kufour.
Ghana under Kwame Nkrumah asserted her self-confidence and maintained that her people could do what others could do. Ghana established her own institutions like the Bank of Ghana, the Industrial Development Corporation, Ghana Commercial Bank, Volta River Authority, Workers Brigade etc. to spearhead the eradication of squalor, misery and poverty.
Today, after many experiments from which much must have been learned, Ghana has settled for consolidation and modest progress based on democracy, party politics, consensus and the demands of the global village. Ghana has indeed come far. How much further it will go need raise no doubts. It overcame the major disintegrating forces at independence. It has shown the will to learn. Ghana has certainly gone far, and it will go far.
Daily Graphic - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 Pages: 15, 16, & 33