In memory of Nii Kwabena Bonnie III
Story: By J. K. Theodore Taylor
No great man lives in vain
The history of the world is but
The biographies of great men
November 8, 2010, marked the 42nd anniversary of the death of Nii Kwabena Bonnie III, Osu Alata Mantwe and Oyokohene of Techiman, (nee Kwamla Theadore Taylor) with the cognomen of Boycothene.
Nii Kwabena Bonnie III’s successful nationwide mobilization of the people of the then Gold Coast for his 1948 Boycott served as ‘the bridge’ for Dr Kwame Nkrumah to cross to the reach his ‘Independence goal’ for our country.
This spectacular action also turned out to the world’s first positive defiance by the totality of the people of a colony against their colonial government.
‘…1947 is gone and we must have courage and confidence that 1948 will bring us prosperity and make our country a place worthy to live in, as God has blessed Africa. The strangers are here, not because they love us, but only to take away our gold and silver by any means so that our country can be a place where we cannot live I pray that Gad may help me in my understanding and that all of you throughout the Colony should assist me to make our country a free Nation and a place to live in.
After I received my mandate from the JPC, I gave them up to January 24, 1948, to reduce the prices of their goods, especially textiles so that event the poor man on the street can afford some to cover his nakedness. Now, if this my ultimatum fails, we must regard ourselves as one body and one unit to demonstrate in the streets, in every town, at every village…… WE CANNOT BUY YOUR COODS: your prices are too high, if you cannot reduce them close down your stores and take your goods away to your countries. No one is to enter any of their stores…. the whole country from Keta to Half Assini comprising all the natural rulers are with you and you need not be afraid. Be ready to fight and die for liberty and freedom of our country. Wishing You All A Happy New Year.’
This was Nii Kwabena Bonnie III’s 1948 New Year message to the people of the colony to invigorate them on for total participation in his planned nationwide Boycott of imported goods. (Culled from the January 2, 1948 issue of the Gold Coast Observer)
…’He was a champion of the under-dogs and a good citizen who never liked anybody to take mean advantage of another. His spirit of nationalism and patriotism moved him to organize the famous 1948 boycott of imported goods, especially textile. In this enterprise, he awoke the entire nation at his own initiative. He challenged the scandalous advantage that was being taken by the commercial firms for selling these articles at extortionate prices Single handedly, he aroused the entire nation to realize their plight. The response to his call was spontaneous. The whole country boycotted imported goods and refused to buy unless the prices were reduced. This incident was one of the sparks which lighted the touch of nationalism which eventually culminated in the granting of independence to the Gold Coast, now Ghana by the British Government. He played such important part in our nationwide activities to merit him a worthy place in the new history of Ghana. He was a real son of Africa and his passing was a great loss to our nation’
The above was the tribute by His Excellency, Mr. A. M. Akiwumi, the Speaker of Parliament (1958 to 1960) at Nii Bonnie’s final rites in 1971.
As a pathfinder, Nii Bonnie also pioneered a number of ventures which proved very beneficial to the country, e.g. in February 1925; he became the first Gold Coaster to earn the British Royal Couple’s invitation to tour the Burkigham Palace.
At the time of Europe’s great Depression in 1931, he successfully campaigned throughout the Colony for reduction in prices of foodstuffs, peace and tranquility reigned among the people, though there was the general anxiety of total destruction of the cocoa industry through the scourge of the swollen shoot disease, Consequently, during that period, the colonialists dubbed the Gold Coast Colony the Ideal Colony.
In 1946, he hosted the Asantehene, Sir Osei Agyeman Prempeh II, and his 500-strong retinue at his residence, the Royal Castle and its precincts when they were in Accra at the invitation of the Colonial Governor for the inauguration of the 1946 Constitution.
Daily Graphic Page: 37 Wednesday, December 8, 2010