Friday, August 17, 2007
DR. AKO ADJEI
· Founder member of UGCC
AKO Adjei was born on June 17, 1916 in Adjeikrom to Mr. Samuel Adjei and Johannah Okailey, both from Accra. He was to become a lawyer, teacher, civil servant, politician, nationalist, minister of state and one of the Big Six.
He started school at the Presbyterian Primary School in Bosuso and completed it at a Presbyterian School in Labadi. For his secondary school education, he got admission to Accra Academy in 1933. He sat for the Cambridge School Certificate in 1936, passed and got exemption from London matriculation.
He then got a scholarship to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in USA. There, he met Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and Professor K.A.B. James-Quartey. The three of them being Gold Coasters in a foreign land, became very close to each other and met regularly, sometimes with students from other African countries.
While at Lincoln, he won a Phelps-Stokes scholarship to complete his BSc degree in Hampton University in 1942. On graduation from Hampton University, he went to do a graduate course in the Columbia University School of Journalism on another scholarship and graduated in 1943 with an MSc degree.
He then left for Britain. In May 1944, he enrolled at the Inner Temple as a law student and was called to the Bar in June 1947 at the Inner Temple.
While in London, he participated in African Students politics and became President of the West African Students Union (WASU).
Dr. Nkrumah also joined him in London in 1945 and became an active member of WASU.
The two of them worked together with other Africans in the diaspora to organise the 5th Pan-African Congress in Manchester in 1945. He was overwhelmed by Dr. Nkrumah’s capacity to work at the Pan-African Congress secretariat and his political organizational abilities.
He also observed that with Nkrumah’s admission to Wasu, the union suddenly became more animated than before. Mr. Ako Adjei left London in May 1947 for the Gold Coast but before he set off he had, at the request of Dr. Nkrumah, Promised to be in touch whenever he, Mr. Ako-Adjei, heard of any suitable job for him in the Gold Coast.
He set up his own chambers and practised Law. He also took very great interest in politics.
He arrived in the Gold Coast in the nick of time to participate in the formation of the UGCC. He was a member of the planning committee of the UGCC, and became a leading member when it was formed on August 5, 1947 at Saltpond.
The expansion of UGCC called for a full time general secretary to run the organization but because all the leading members were busy people none of them was prepared to take on that assignment.
It was at this point that Mr. Ako Adjei suggested Dr. Nkrumah to the leadership of the UGCC for the post. They agreed, and Mr. Ako Adjei wrote to Dr. Nkrumah about it. Dr. Danquah also wrote to him to offer him the job. Mr. George Alfred Grant provided money for his journey home.
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah arrived in December 1947 and met by Lawyer R.S. Blay at the Takoradi Harbour. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah assumed duty in January 1948 and within a short time, the membership of the UGCC had shot up tremendously.
Mr. Ako Adjei felt very proud that he had got the right for the job. When the 1948 riot broke, Mr. Ako Adjei was arrested together with leading members of the UGCC on March 12, 1948 in Accra and imprisoned in the Northern Territories. Mr. Ako Adjei found himself in a Navrongo prison.
He was released together with his colleagues in April 1948. They became known as the Big Six.
After their release, Mr., Ako Adjei observed that differences had arisen between Dr. Nkrumah and the rest of the leaders of the UGCC. This eventually led to the demotion of Dr. Nkrumah from his post as general secretary to that of treasurer. Dr. Nkrumah broke away from the UGCC to form the Convention People’s Party (CPP).
Mr. Ako Adjei remained with the UGCC and became one of the critics of Dr. Nkrumah and the CPP.
When the Coussey Constitution came into being and general elections were held in February 1951, Mr. Ako Adjei stood on the ticket of the UGCC as one of the candidates in the Accra Central Constituency and lost miserably.
He remained undaunted and continued to oppose the CPP to such an extent that when a new party emerged from the UGCC in 1951, that is the Ghana Congress Party (GCP), Mr. Ako Adjei joined and became a leading member.
However, in the course of time, he became disillusioned with the members of the GCP and resigned from it.
In March 1953, he joined the CPP and his old friend, Dr. Nkrumah welcomed him into its fold.
The CPP put him up as their candidate in the Accra East Constituency during the 1954 general elections. He won his seat hands down.
When Dr. Nkrumah formed his all African Cabinet in 1954, he included Dr. Ako Adjei and made him Minister of Trade and Labour. He stood again on the CPP ticket in the 1956 elections, was re-elected and again appointed a cabinet minister-Minister of the Interior.
In 1959, Dr. Ako Adjei was appointed Foreign Minister; he held this post until August 1962. As Foreign Minister, he had to pursue Dr. Nkrumah’s foreign policy vigorously and powerfully in the UN and in international conferences.
In July 1962, he accompanied President Nkrumah on a visit to the Upper Volta, now Burkina Faso. They met President Yameogo and had discussions with him. As Foreign Minister, he had to oversee all the diplomatic work involved in the visit. Everything went well. However, on their return journey, President Nkrumah and his entourage, including Dr. Ako Adjei, made a stop at a small village, Kulungugu, at the Ghana-Upper Volta border. A young school girl presented a bouquet to President Nkrumah and a bomb hidden in it exploded. His bodyguard died and the President was injured baldly in the back.
He was rushed to the nearest clinic for first aid and then to Accra for treatment. Dr. Ako Adjei, who was unhurt, did all he could to ensure that the President was medically attended to and brought to Accra as quickly as possible.
Almost a month after the incident, he was going about his normal duties as a Foreign Minister when he was arrested and detained. Others such as Mr. Robert Otchere, Mr. Yaw Manu, Mr. Tawiah Adamafio and Mr. H.H. Cofie Crabbe were also arrested and detained at the same time.
In 1963, they were tried for treason. Mr. Robert Otchere and Mr. Yaw Manu were found guilty and sentenced to death. Dr. Ako Adjei, Mr. Tawiah Adamafio and Mr. H.H. Cofie Crabbe were acquitted and discharged. The government accepted the verdict on Mr. Robert Otchere and Yaw Manu but rejected the judgment on Dr. Ako Adjei, Mr. Tawiah Adamafio and Mr. H.H. Cofie Crabbe.
The panel of the special court which tried them was dismissed and a new panel was formed to retry Dr. Ako Adjei, Mr. Tawiah Adamafio and Mr. H.H. Cofie Crabbe. The new Panel was made up of only Chief Justice Sarkodee Addo and a jury who were selected from the ideological institute, Winneba. They found them guilty and sentenced them to death.
The government, however, commuted the death sentence to 20 years imprisonment. They were released from prison in September, 1966 after the coup which overthrew Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
Dr. Ako Adjei withdrew from politics and public service. He concentrated on his law practice and devoted himself to God until January 12, 2002, when he was called by his maker.
Daily Graphic - Friday, August 17, 2007 Page: 11