Saturday, April 14, 2007
The men who flanked Nkrumah on Independence eve
*Dr. Kwame Nkrumah declaring Ghana’s Independence on 6th March 1957.
KOJO Botsio, Minister of State in the First Republic, was born in 1916, and educated at Adisadel College, Cape Coast, and Achimota College. He obtained his first degree at Fourah Bay University College in Sierra Leone, the only university in West Africa at the time, where he undertook a Bachelor of Arts degree, he went to Brasenose College, Oxford University, where he obtained a post-graduate degree in Geography and Education.
While in London, he became treasure of the West Africa National Secretariat. He returned to the Gold Coast to become the vice-principal of Akim Abuakwa State College, Kibi, and General Secretary of the CPP on its formation in 1949. He played a key role in the organisation of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), a political organisation under Dr. Nkrumah and became the first Minister of Education at independence.
He was, however, imprisoned for his part in “Positive Action”. In 1951, Mr. Botsio was retained unopposed to the Legislative Assembly and later appointed Minister of Education and Social Welfare in the First Republic.
As Minister, he introduced the Accelerated Education Development Plan (AEDP) in 1954 by which primary education was made fee-free and compulsory. During his tenure of office, the Ghana Education Trust built approximately 50 secondary schools all over the country. Mr. Botsio also headed the Commission on Higher Education that was instrumental in the establishment of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and the Cape Coast University.
Described as one of Dr. Nkrumah’s closest associates Mr. Botsio was with him when he declared independence and held a number of ministerial positions. These included Foreign Affairs, Social Welfare, Transport and Communications, Agriculture, Trade and Development.
As an educationist Mr. Botsio taught in a number of schools including St. Augustine’s College and London City Council Secondary School in the United Kingdom.
Among his students were Mr. Kofi Baako and Mr. P.K.K. Quaidoo, who were Ministers in the first government, Mr. H.P. Benyah, first Chief Inspector of Mines of Ghana, Mr. H.P. Nelson, a retired Principal Secretary and Mr. J.J. Mensah-Kane, a well-known educationist.
Mr. Botsio, a key player in Ghana’s Independence struggle and a close associate of first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, continued to play active parting political right up to the 4th Republic and was at one-time the Chairman of the CPP Council of Elders. He died at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital on February 5, 2001 and survived by a wife, Ruth Botsio (nee Whittaker) and two children, Kojo Botsio Jnr. and Mrs. Merene Botsio-Philips both barrister-at-laws.
KOMLA AGBELI GBEDEMA
ONE of the men who stood by Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah through the period of the fight for independence and after independence was Komla Agheli Gbedema; otherwise known as Afro Gbede. Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, an Ewe, a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Keta, and also Minister of Finance in the First Republic, was born in Warri, Nigeria, on June 17, 1912.
He was educated at Adisadel College and Achimota School. He completed his course in 1933. And by 1947, when he returned to the then Gold Coast, he was in business as an engineer’s contractor – sub contractor for sandstone, timber, aggregate, and all their requirements. However, after sometime, he gave up and later taught science at Accra Academy.
Komla Agbeli Gbedema was one of the founders of the CPP. He was first the Editor of the Accra Evening News which was an official organ of the party. Gbedema was later imprisoned for six months for publishing false news. On his release, Mr Gbedema was appointed deputy Chairman of the CPP when Dr Nkrumah was imprisoned.
He was elected MLA for Keta from 1951 to 1954. Mr. Gbedema was first appointed Minister of Health, Trade and Labour, and was later made Minister of Commerce and Industry.
He introduced the Prison Graduate Cap which was born by all members of the CPP imprisoned for political reasons. In 1954, he was successfully re-elected the MLA for Keta.
In 1969, Gbedema formed his own party known as the National Alliance of Liberals (NAL) that contested in the national elections of that year. He won 29 seats out of the total of 140, including all but one of the seats in the Volta Region and some few seats in the Eastern Region among the Krobos.
Komla Agbeli Gbedema fathered Ghana’s first VIP test-tube baby. He died of Prostrate Cancer on September 8, 1998.
ARCHIE Casely-Hayford, son of the late Ephraim Casley Hayford (a leading politician in the Gold Coast), was born in 1898 at Axim and educated at the St Paul’s Preparatory School, London, and Mfantsipim School, Cape Coast.
He later went to Dulwich College London, and Clara College, Cambridge, for his Masters degree. After being called to the Bar, he returned to the Gold Coast and practised for 15 years. In 1936, he was appointed District Magistrate and retired in 1948 as a Senior District Magistrate.
In 1951, Archie Casley Hayford was elected Municipal Member for Kumasi and was later made Ministrer of Agriculture and Natural Resources in the First Republic.
MINISTER of Works in the First Republic, N. A. Welbeck was born in 1915. He trained as teacher at the Wesley College, Kumasi, and taught for 12 years at Sekondi Methodist School. He was later appointed secretary to the Local Education Committee.
Mr. Welbeck joined the Convention People’s Party (CPP) during its formation; He was subsequently imprisoned for his part in “Positive Action”. After being released from prison, however, he became Propaganda Secretary of the CPP and subsequently its acting General Secretary. In 1951, he was appointed a member of the CPP Central Advisory Committee on Education and in 1953 he was again appointed administrator of the Tema Development Corporation.
Mr. N. A. Welbeck contested a by-election in Cape Coast in 1953, but was unsuccessful because of and election petition. His hobby is lawn tennis.
KROBO Edusei was born on December 26, 1915. He was educated at the Government Boys School and was for sometime a reporter and debt collector for Ashanti Pioneer newspaper.
He rose and became a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Sekyere East. In the course of time, he got appointed as Regional Propaganda Secretary and Chairman of Boycott Committee in the Ashanti during the anti-inflation campaign.
He was, however, imprisoned in 1950 for his role in the “Positive Action” campaign, and on his release, he was elected MLA for Kumasi North West from 1951 to 1954.
Subsequently, he was appointed Government Chief Whip and Ministerial Secretary, Ministry of Justice. Due to his hard work and unflinching spirit, he was again elected MLA in the 1954 general election, and in August of the same year, he was appointed CPP National Propaganda Secretary.
The Mirror - Saturday, April 14, 2007 Page: 27