Friday, May 25, 2007.
· First General Secretary of the CPP
Heroes of Our Time
With: A. B. CHINBUAH
MR. Kojo Botsio was an educationist, politician, member of the Legislative Assembly and Parliament, Minister of State for several portfolios, Political Agitator for ‘Independence now”, prison graduate for his part in the positive action declared in 1950, a member of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) and Secretary of the UGCC’s Youth Wing Committee of Youth Organisation. He was the first General Secretary of the CPP.
Mr. Botsio was born on February 21, 1916 at Winneba. His parents were Mr. James Edward Kojo Botsio of Elmina and Madam Diana Ama Amina of Apam. He was educated at the Catholic Primary and Middle Schools in Winneba and Cape Coast. In 1929, he entered Adisadel College for his secondary education. He sat for and passed his Senior Cambridge School Certificate in 1934. He then went to Achimota College to do a post-secondary teacher training course in 1935. After successfully completing Achimota College, he taught for some years at St. Augustine’s College, Cape Coast.
Mr. Botsio then entered Fourah Bay University College in Sierra Leone and obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree, and proceeded to Brasenose College, Oxford University, in 1944 where he obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Education in 1946. After his course, Mr. Botsio taught for some time at one of the London Country Council Schools. He resigned his post as a teacher in 1945 and took up another appointment as Warden of the West African Students Union (W.A.S.U.).
While in London, Mr. Botsio was a member of a group of West Africans who advised Dr. Nkrumah to set up a West African National Secretariat for the purpose of effectively executing the new Pan African Nationalism which had been discussed and agreed upon at the 5th Pan African Congress in Manchester in October 1945. Mr. Botsio, Mr. Mike Ashie Nikoe and the other West African nationalists felt that the West African National Secretariat could call a conference of West African National Congress to decide on ways and means of using constitutional means to attain independence for the West African countries. Mr. Botsio felt elated when the secretariat in London. In November 1947, when Dr. Nkrumah decided to return to the Gold Coast at the invitation of U.G.C.C., Mr. Botsio also quit his job and left London with him.
In December 1947, Mr. Botsio returned to the Gold Coast and he was made Vice Principal of Abuakwa State College at Kyebi. He joined the U.G.C.C. and became Secretary of the Committee of Youth Organisation (CYO), the youth wing of the UGCC.
Mr. Botsio teamed up with Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and Mr. K.A. Gbededah in organizing the CYO successfully. This popularized the U.G.C.C. among the youth of the Gold Coast and made them conscious of their responsibility to join the fight for self-government. In fact, it was Mr. Kojo Botsio and Mr. K.A. Gbedemah who used the CYO to persuade Dr. Nkrumah to break away from the U.G.C.C. and form the Convention People’s Party. Early in 1949, they organized a CYO meeting at Tarkwa and at that meeting the CYO decided that Dr. Nkrumah should break away from the U.G.C.C. and form the C.P.P. Consequently the CPP was launched in Accra on June 12, 1949. Mr. Botsio was appointed the First General Secretary of the party. He was also appointed a member and secretary of the first central committee of the party.
Mr. Botsio, Mr. K.A. Gbedemah, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and other founder members of the newly-formed party traveled throughout the country to open branches and spread their message of “self-government now” as opposed to the U.G.C.C.’s message of “self-government in the shortest possible time”.
Mr. Kojo Botsio was one of the leaders of the CPP who declared Positive Action on January 8, 1950 at Arena in Accra. He was arrested on January 17, 1550; tried, convicted. He was sent to James Fort Prison, just as happened to all the CPP leaders. In prison, Mr. Botsio was Chairman of a Sub-Committee formed by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, which met regularly to discuss and work out plans for the party outside. He was released from prison early enough to stand as a CPP Candidate for the Gomoa Constituency. After the 1951 general election, he and other member of the CPP Executive me the governor for Dr. Nkrumah’s release and the Governor agreed.
When Dr. Kwame Nkrumah formed his first government in 1951, he appointed Mr. Botsio as Minister of Education and Social Welfare. As Minister of Education, he revolutionized the educational system in the Gold Coast. He carried out the CPP government’s Accelerated Education Development Plan. This plan brought access to education to the ordinary Ghanaian, and increased teacher training and technical education. He also replaced the Standard Seven Certificate with a certificate which people called “Botsio Certificate”. He laid the foundation for the establishment of the Ghana Education Trust Fund out of which several secondary schools known as Ghana Education Trust Schools were established throughout the country.
As Minister responsible for higher education, he carried out the CPP government’s policy of establishing the College of Technology in Kumasi, which later on because Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, and planned the set-up of the University College of Cape Coast.
In the 1954 general election, he stood again in the Gomoa area and was elected to the Legislative Assembly. He was appointed Minister of State without portfolio. In this new assignment, he carried out a number of responsibilities for the Prime Minister mostly on matters pertaining to the attainment of independence. For instance, when it became clear that the British government would grant independence only when another election had been held in 1956, the Prime Minister sent him to Britain to meet the Secretary of State to drop the idea. He, therefore, flew to Britain to see the secretary of State on the matter but unfortunately he did not succeed.
Therefore general elections were held in July 1956. He again stood on the ticket of the CPP in the Gomoa Constituency and was elected unopposed. He was appointed Minister of Trade and Labour. In February 1957, he and Mr. K.A. Gbedemah visited London for last-minute talks with Mr. Lennox Boyd, Secretary of State for the Colonies, on the British White Paper setting out the proposed constitution for Ghana.
The white paper included safeguards for Ashanti and the Northern Territories. Dr. K.A. Busia and the opposition accepted the white paper and the way was paved for the grant of independence to Ghana on March 6, 1957. During cabinet changes, he became Minister of Foreign Affairs in November 1958 to April 1959 and again in 1963 – 1965.
In 1958, when Dr. Nkrumah decided to host the all African People’s Conference, the task fell on Mr. George Padmore and Mr. Botsio to organize the conference. They did a marvelous job and were able to bring together freedom fighters like Julius Nyerere, Nelson Mandela, Jomo Kenyatta, Kenneth Kaunda, Patrick Lumumba, Tom Mboya, Oscar Kambona, Kapwepwe most of whom became Presidents, Prime Ministers and Ministers of their country and obtained independence for their country.
Mr. Botsio led the Ghanaian delegation to Bandung Conference in Indonesia in 1955. this conference resulted in the coming into being of Non-Aligned Movement which provided a forum for former colonial countries to articulate their concerns on the world stage and also remain neutral on the East and West cold war.
In 1963, he played a vital role as Dr. Nkrumah’s representative in all the preparations in setting up the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). Together with his fellow African Foreign Ministers, the Council of Ministers for the OAU was established at Addis Ababa prior to the meeting of the Heads of State. Just before the meeting, he shrewdly and strategically launched Dr. Nkrumah’s book “Africa Must Unite”. His greatest achievement as Minister of Foreign Affairs was successfully managing to get the OAU Conference in 1965, to be held in Accra, in accordance with Dr. Nkrumah’s wishes.
As Minister of Foreign Affairs, he demonstrated his diplomatic skills by averting a collision course between Ghana and Nigeria when the Nigeria Marxist, S.G. Ikoku, who was a wanted man in his country, was being given VIP treatment in Ghana.
Mr. Botsio remained in the CPP government and held several ministerial portfolios until the overthrow of Dr. Nkrumah’s Regime in February 1966. He was Ghana’s Foreign Minister from 1963 – 1965 after which he became the Minister of African Affairs. Like many others, Mr. Botsio was arrested after the 1966 coup and was released in June, 1966.
In the latter part of 1973, Mr. Botio was charged with others for plotting to overthrow the NRC government. He was convicted and sentenced to death with others. But the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He was later released on January, 1977.
In 1979, he played an important role in forming the People’s National Party (PNP) that won the 1979 general election. The PNP government, headed by President Hilla Limann, was supposed to be a successor government to the CPP government. After its overthrown in December 1981, Mr. Kojo Botsio like most of his colleagues, played the role of a father of the party in attempt to bring the various faction together.
After his unsuccessful attempt to unite the Nkrumaist family when the ban on politics was lifted in 1991 he played a minimal role in politics. In 1999, he received the order of the Star of Volta for his services to his nation. He had the good fortune of having a loving sweet wife, Mrs. Ruth Botsio, who stood by him throughout his life and was his best friend and soul mate.
On February 6, 2001, after a very colourful, fruitful and full life he departed from this world and joined his Maker. He was the last of the CPP triumvirate leaders to make his exit out of this world on that day. Uncle Bee, as he was affectionately called, will be remembered for his dedication and devotion to the CPP would for the struggle for independence.
Daily Graphic - Friday, May 25, 2007. Page: 17