Wednesday, March 21, 2007
From prison to premiership
Story: SETH DABI-DANKWA,
Director (rtd.) GES
Ghana @ 50 has offered a unique opportunity for fellow Ghanaians to attempt unraveling the political history of our country. And in this patriotic exercise, some of the writers have done this nation some disservice by misinforming the people, either out of ignorance or out of sheer deliberate distortion to serve their selfish political end. The unfortunate victims of the misinformation are fellow citizens aged about 50 or those who had not yet been born by 1957, the year of our independence declaration.
For example, there are two claims involving what Dr. Kwame Nkrumah described as the Motion of Destiny.
While some people say that the opposition party boycotted the Legislative Assembly when Prime Minister Nkrumah moved this motion which gave the Gold Coast our independence, others state that the opposition party did not boycott the House.
It is to enable fellow citizens 50 years old and below to know the reality that I thought it prudent to cull the following extract about Nkrumah’s release form prison to become the first African (Gold Coast) native to head, as ruler, the country’s legislative administration.
The newly formed Convention People’s Party (CPP) charting a different political course based on the slogan “Self-Government Now” (SGN), determined that if the British government did not accede to the demands for “Self-Government Now”, the party would achieve it by means of the Mahatma Ghandi principle of non-violent “Positive Action”.
Several weeks before the declaration of Positive Action, Dr. Nkrumah explained in the CPP’s Accra Evening News and at rallies at the West End Arena his concept of Positive Action. Not only did I read his views in the Accra Evening News, but I attended the rallies too; for all this happened during the Christmas vacation, which I spent in Accra. He emphasized that his Positive Action was based on non-violence, similar to that of his mentor, that Indian nationalist leader, Mahatma Ghandi, who won self –rule for India in 1948 without violence.
Dr. Nkrumah later on gave the British government a two-week ultimatum, warning that if they failed to give the Gold Coast a Constituent Assembly to discuss the Coussey Report, and thereafter come out with a constitution suitable for the chiefs and people of the country, the CPP would stage the Positive Action. The ultimatum was given at a rally at West End Arena, where I was present. The teeming crowd shouted in approval, which virtually shook the rally grounds.
On Saturday, January 7, the last day of the ultimatum, the crowd at the West End Arena could not be contained in the arena, which was as large as a football park (in fact, it used to be a football park in the Ayalolo area in Accra), so some of them stood outside on the nearby street, thus blocking traffic.
Earlier, Dr. J.B. Danquah, in his famous “Kwame, don’t do it” open letter, published in the newspaper, warned Dr. Nkrumah to stop his Positive Action intentions. It fell on deaf ears.
On that very day, a 6:00p.m. – 6:30a.m.
curfew was imposed on the country
So the Positive Action took place, This was declared on January 8, 1950, and the whole country was plunged into strikes and boycotts, resulting in some of the CPP leaders, including Dr. Nkrumah, being sent to jail. The UGCC was opposed to the action taken by the CPP and, therefore, virtually supported the colonial government’s action against the CPP, whom they had described as “Verandah Boy”. The teeming crowd that attended the West End Arena rally on the Positive Action eve (January 7) did not shout in approval for nothing, the whole of Accra came to a standstill as workers, traders and so on remained at home.
Positive Action took effect on January 8, 1950. On the following day, January 9, a young man in our house at Adabraka Official Town returned from Accra about 7:00 a.m. with the news that about 50 police officers were trying to arrest Nkrumah at the Metropole Hotel at Okaishie. This hotel was on the street that runs from the December 31 (the former Makola Market) to the Bonsu Bothers buildings, now occupied by a trading firm used as a store.
Some friends and I rushed to the place. We saw the police officers led by four European officer. We were very fortunate to get there before Dr. Nkrumah emerged from the hotel, where he lodged, followed by some senior police officers.
When he got to the police Jeep which was to take him away, he looked at the crowd which had gathered there. He smiled broadly and waved his white handkerchief at the crowd. We (the crowd) responded by shouting the CPP slogan “Freedom”, making the freedom sign with our hands. He entered the jeep, and was driven away, as the crowd continued to shout freedom.
On that very day, a 6:00 p.m. – 6:30 a.m. curfew was imposed on the country. The police issued a directive, prohibiting people not to move about in groups of more than four. Breakers of the order were prosecuted and jailed.
The CPP were organized under the leadership of K.A. Gbedemah, (just released from prison), when Nkrumah, Kojo Botio, Dzekle Dzewu, Krobo Edusei, N.A. Wellbeck, Nana Kobina Nketsia IV of Esikado and father Safa, a Pastor in Takoradi, and some women like Hannah Cudjoe (including Akua Asabea) were in jail.
They became more popular and Kwame Nkrumah became a hero as musicians like the EK’s Band and E.T. Mensah and his Tempos Band Composed songs in praise of Nkrumah, the tapes of which were bought like hot cakes and played in every nook and cranny of the country. A song which we sang at West End Arena was the popular Negro Spiritual “John Brown’s Soul Is marching On, adapted and sung as follows:
Kwame Nkrumah’s body is behind prison bars.
But his soul goes marching on
Glory! Glory! Alleluia, But his soul goes marching on.
It was at this time that prominent CPP overseas members like Victor Owusu, R.R. Amponsah, Kwesi Lamptey, etc., who arrived in the country from abroad, shook the West End Arena with their brilliant speeches, which made the crowded audience proud to hear their returned compatriots who had studied abroad and fully supported Ghana’s fight for independence.
It was the Lord who used
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah
Some bold and patriotic youths of the CPP always went tossing “Kwame Nkrumah’s body is behind prison bars” near James Fort Prisons, where Nkrumah and his people were jailed.
Meanwhile, the Governor, Sir Charles Arden-Clarke, unlike his predecessor, Governor Creasy, had good foresight. He noticed that if he should succeed, he must co-operate with the obviously most popular nationalist Kwame Nkrumah and his CPP in order to reduce political tension in the country. And the governor was waiting for an opportunity to implement this reconciliation plan. The opportunity came when the British government accepted the Coussey Commission Report. This called for a general election in the country. And nothing debarred jailed Nkrumah from participating as a candidate for election.
Under the astute leadership of K.A. Gbedemah, the CPP organized a strategically singular electioneering throughout the country with the campaign theme: “Vote to remove Kwame Nkrumah from jail in order to achieve Self-Government Now”. Kwame Nkrumah stood as a candidate at the Accra Central Constituency. A day before the general election, a mammoth rally was held at the West End Arena. Something strange happened as K.A. Gbedemah was addressing the teeming crowd. To the surprise of everyone present, we saw a number of white doves flying in a V-form in the skies around the Arena. Gbedemah shouted, “This is a divine sign to indicate the CPP has won victory in tomorrow’s general election”! The crowded audience shouted back in agreement.
Kwame Nkrumah won overwhelmingly, beating his political opponent Lawyer Obetsebi Lamptey, a Ga, who could not have a quarter of his votes. It has been said that, so far, no other candidate, who has won votes in that constituency, has obtained votes as many as Nkrumah has.
When Nkrumah and his team were about to be freed and released from jail, a CPP propaganda van plied Accra and its suburb.
“Go to James Fort”! It was later on reported that crowds were at the James Fort Prisons to welcome Nkrumah and his jailed team. Subsequently, at a crowded rally at the West-End Arena, Nkrumah and his friends were honoured and given their PG felt caps on the platform. Numbering about 20, they included Akua Asabea, Hannah Cudjoe, Emma Lokko, Paul Tagoe, Dzekle Dzewu, Kofi Baako, N.A. Wellbeck, Nana Nketsia IV of Esikado, Krobo Edusei.
Perhaps I must conclude the above story with the following divine realities about the Golden Jubilee of our independence in 1957, which some of our compatriots are not aware of, Ghana being God’s nation.
- It was the Lord who used Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Dr. Danquah and others to open the floodgates of colonial territories self-rule in Ghana in 1957 to enable other territories to obtain their self-rule.
- Since it was Nkrumah who pioneered the OAU, the Lord God has prompted the AU leadership to appoint Ghana’s President J.A. Kufuor as the AU President at this Golden Jubilee celebration to honour Ghana for their pioneering role.
- Similarly, the Lord has prompted the AU leadership to choose Ghana as their next place for their plenary session in the year independence in order to honour Ghana.
- As part of Ghana’s celebration of our independence in 1957, a soccer match was arranged between Ghana’s Black Stars and Nigeria Eagles team at the Accra Sports Stadium. Ghana scored Nigeria 7 goals to nil (7-0), thus spelling N-I-G-E-R-I-A-. The whole stadium roared as the Ghanaian crowd sang “Da na se, Da na ase, Da Onyame ase” in great jubilation as the players continued to score the goals. Osagyefo Nkrumah himself joined in the singing of the song merrily, as he clapped like us.
To honour our Golden Jubilee, the Lord has promised Ghana to defeat by Nigeria (after our being defeated by Nigeria for 15 years) in the UK, scoring them 4-1. If the foregoing realities are not clear to someone as a divine hand of there should be something wrong with the person.
Daily Graphic - Wednesday, March 21, 2007. Page: 34