Tuesday, December 17, 2013

DR J. B. DANQUAH: GHANA`S GREATEST NATIONALIST, PAN-AFRICANIST, FREEDOM FIGHTER AND "THE DOYEN OF GOLD COAST (GHANA) POLITICS"

“[I]n planning the libertation of Ghana what our wise men of the ages, from Prince Brew of Dunkwa in 1871 to George Alfred Grant in 1947, sought was not merely ‘the political freedom’ in the hope that ‘other things’ would be added freely, but the total kingdom of modern nationhood, including even culture, literature and sports!” Dr J. B. Danquah, Ghanaian Nationalist and freedom fighter.
Joseph Kwame Kyeretwie Boakye Danquah, Ghana`s greatest Nationalist, Pan-Africanist and "The Doyen of Gold Coast (Ghana) Politics." Courtesy: Nana Ofori Atta Ayim of anoghana.org

Nana Joseph Kwame Kyeretwie Boakye Danquah (December 1895 – 4 February 1965) the man popularly known as the  "doyen of Gold Coast politics" was a Ghanaian freedom fighter, Pan-Africanist, Statesman, prolific scholar, historian, poet, journalist and a member of Ghana`s famous "Big Six" who were the architects of Ghana`s independence. “The Big Six” were Dr. Danquah, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Messrs Edward Akuffo Addo, Emmanuel Odarkwei Obetsebi–Lamptey, William Ofori Atta and Ako Adjei. It is imperative to make it “The Big Seven”  –  including George Paa Grant, who was then the backbone of the United Gold Coast Convention.
Dr Danquah was a protege of the celebrated and iconic God-father of West African nationalism and the pioneer Pan-Africanist, Joseph Ephraim Casely-Hayford. In his own words, it was at the feet of the eminent nationalist, “Ekra Agyeman, otherwise known as Joseph Ephraim Casely Hayford, that I was brought up, like St Paul under Gamaliel, and it was from Ekra Agyeman that I learned selfless politics as the sacrificing of one’s self totally for one’s own country. I sat under his feet from 1915 to his own death in 1930.”

The Big Six” from left to right Dr. Nkrumah, Obestsebi-Lamptey, Dr Ako-Adjei,  Edward Akuffo Addo, Dr Danquah, William Ofori Atta. Founding Fathers of Ghana.
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J. B as he is affectionately known by his supporters and contemporaries played a significant role in pre- and post-colonial Ghana as the founder of United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), pro-independence and the first political party in Ghana which Dr Kwame Nkrumah was at one-time a General-Secretary.
Dr Danquah was the first continental African to receive a doctorate in law from the University of London and also became the first president of the West African Students' Union which was the leading African organization involved in struggle against imperialism in Africa. Danquah became a member of the Legislative Council in 1946 and actively pursued independence legislation for his country. The Watson Commission of Inquiry into the 1948 Accra riots described Dr. J.B. Danquah as the "doyen of Gold Coast politicians; the man at the back of nearly all political movements; the man from a famous chiefly family who but for accident of birth might have been a notable chief himself." The report went further thus: "the man has great intelligence but suffers from a disease not unknown to politicians throughout the ages and recognised under the generic name of expediency."
Indeed though it could be said that he was master of expediency, what was equally striking about him was his lively intelligence and his unending commitment to the course of liberal democracy. These were the qualities which established him firmly as advocate of a liberal democratic political tradition in the politics of Ghana.
Dr J B Danquah, the nationalist, scholar, poet and journalist. Courtesy: Nana Ofori Atta Ayim of anoghana.org

Danquah was an intellectual giant of his day and earned greatest respect from his contemporaries. He authored several ground-breaking scholarly works which include "Gold Coast: Akan Laws and Customs" and "the Akim Abuakwa Constitution (1928)", a play entitled "The Third Woman (1943)", and "The Akan Doctrine of God (1944)." His works are still consulted by students of sociology, law, cultural studies, among others. As a journalist, Dr. Danquah was proprietor and editor of what is assumed to be the first daily newspaper in Ghana, which he christened [the] Times of West Africa. This was in 1932 [sic] and under the pen-name of ‘zadig,’ he maintained a column which he used to expose corruption and criticize the hypocritical practices of his day.
He was a great man whose giant celebrity status was overshadowed only by Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana`s first president after wining the 1956 elections against him. In fact, if J B Danquah had won that elections Nkrumah would never have been heard of again in Ghana or outside the shores of Ghana. Dr Danquah is credited with giving Ghana its name. "His historical research led him to agree with Dr Kwame Nkrumah's proposition that on independence the Gold Coast be renamed Ghana after the early African empire of that name".
It was Danquah who fought for the establishment of the Cocoa Marketing Board (CMB) in 1947.  It was Danquah who vigorously canvassed the people of Asante and the then Northern Territories to join the Gold Coast Colony to become what we know today as modern Ghana.  Of course, Nkrumah also did his bit by using the 1956 Plebiscite to annex Trans Volta Togoland to become modern day Volta Region of Ghana.
During J. B`s political career, he was one of the primary opposition leaders to Ghanaian president and independence leader Kwame Nkrumah. His ardent opposition to Nkrumah and falling afoul to the Nkrumah`s obnoxious Preventive Detention Act led to his incarceration at the Nsawam Maximum Security Prison several times. Particularly, in January 8,1964, he was arrested and detained after Police Constable Ametewee's attempt on the life of Nkrumah on the grounds of the Flagstaff House.  Danquah was the lawyer for Ametewee and he was accused of trying to assassinate the president, Kwame Nkrumah. On February 4. 1965 he suffered a heart attack and died in the condemned cells of the Nsawam Prison.
Just months before his death at Nsawam prison, Dr Danquah wrote to President Nkrumah pleading to be released. The letter of May 9, 1964 began: “Dear Dr Nkrumah, I am tired of being in prison on preventive detention with no opportunity to make an original or any contribution to the progress and development of the country, and I therefore respectfully write to beg, and appeal to you to make an order for my release and return home. I am anxious to resume my contru=ibution to the progress and development of Ghana in the field of Ghanaian literature (Twi and English), and in Ghana Research (History and Culture), and I am anxious also to establish my wife and children in a home, to develop the education of my children (ten of them) and to restore my parental home at Kibi (Yiadom House) to a respectable dignity, worthy of my late father’s own contribution to the progress of our country.”
The letter concluded, “I end as I began. I am tired of being kept in prison kicking my heels, and doing nothing worthwhile for the country of my birth and love., and for the great continent of Africa which was the first to give the entire world a real taste of civilisation. My plea and my prayer to you, Osagyefo, is that I be released to return home for the following specific purposes: (1) To pursue my vocation for creative work in Ghana literature; (2) To pursue my vocation for research into Ghana history and culture; (3) To promote a home for my wife and children and to promote the education of my children as befits their talents; (4) To restore my parental home at Kibi to a respectable dignity for use of the younger and older members of the family; (5) To pursue social and cultural life in Church and State; and (6) To practise my profession as a lawyer to obtain the wherewithal for the pursuit and promotion of the above interests.”
Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, the celebrated Nigerian first president averred in his tribute to Dr J B Danquah as a man who paid "The Price of Leadership" in Ghana and Africa.
Many of Dr. Danquah’s admirers wrote tributes to his memory and I quote a few of their captions as follows:
"The Price of Leadership," – by Dr. Nnamdi Aziiwe, former President of the Republic of Nigeria.
"The Goal you sought to Reach always eluded you," – by  Prof. K.A. Busia, former Prime Minister of Ghana.
"You were a great Nationalist," – by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, former leader of the Action Group in Nigeria.
"A man of Great Principles," – by  Bafour Osei Akoto, former Chairman of the National Liberation Movement.
"Destined to be Ghana’s un-installed President," – by  K.G. Konuah former Chairman of the Civil Service Commission.
"You did not seek after personal fame or riches," – by Sir, Robert Armitage, former Governor, Nyasaland, and former Financial Secretary of the Gold Coast.
'Champion of the People’s Rights," - by Nana Akyin I, former President of Central Region House of Chiefs.
"You were the unquestioned leader," – by Dingle Foot Q.C. Solicitor-General of the United Kingdom.
"An architect of the true Freedom and Justice," – by Nana Kwao Fraiku III, former President of the Western Region House of Chiefs
"You laid down your life for Ghana," – by Archie Casely – Hayford.
"Danquah: Akuafo Kanea," – by Koi Labie (Barrister-at-Law).
"Men of your caliber are rare in Ghana," – by R.S. Blay.
"You gave us the name Ghana," – by K. Brakatu Ateku, first Treasurer of the Gold Coast Youth Conference.
"You died a martyr to the rule of the law,' – by Prof. L.H. Ofosu-Appiah, Director, Encyclopaedia Africana.
Last but not the least, Lance Mallalieu Q.C. said, “It was you who led and achieved Ghana’s Independence for Ghana”.
In Ghana, many opponents of UGCC or UP tradition accuse J B of being CIA implant that was used  to disturb Nkrumah`s government and that his arrests and detention were very legal. But the truth of the matter is J B was a liberal democrat who espouses capitalist ideas. He was a pragmatist who believed that Ghana needs "independence within a shortest possible time," whilst Nkrumah was a radical socialist with strong conviction that Ghana needed "Self-Government Now." Nkrumah had his support from Russia and communist states and Danquah had his support from the West.  Dr Danquah saw in the American or Western model the path to Ghana’s prosperity. “For evidence,” he wrote, “there is to hand the incontestable fact that the three great nations which have achieved an industrial marvel after World War II, namely Western Germany, Italy and Japan, did so not on a Socialistic or State Capitalist economy, but on the basis of individual initiative and free enterprise, guided by the free and intelligent hand of their respective governments.”
Danquah and Nkrumah`s feud,therefore, was a product of their ideological differences, more than personal hatred for each other. Whatever, one may feel, Danquah was a patriot, Nationalist and freedom fighter.

                            Dr Joseph Boakye Danquah. Courtesy: Nana Ofori Atta Ayim of anoghana.org

Joseph Kwame Kyeretwie Boakye Danquah (better known as J.B.) was born on December 21, 1895 at Bepong-Kwahu. His father was Emmanuel Yaw Boakye who was the chief state drummer of Nana Amoako Atta II, Omanhene of Akyem Abuakwa until he became a Christian evangelist at 40. His mother was Lydia Okum Korantemaa of the Royal family of Adadientem near Kyebi. The couple had four other children: three girls and one boy besides J.B. Danquah. But Boakye had a son, by an earlier marriage, who was 14 years older than J.B. Danquah. This half brother was called Alexander Eugene Boakye Danquah and became popular as Nana Sir Ofori Atta I, Omanhene of Akyem Abuakwa. Nana Sir Ofori Atta I`s grand-son is British-Ghanaian born famous actor Paul Danquah.  His family connections made him grow up to accept the aristocratic order and this was to play a major role in his political life and work. At the age of six, J.B, began schooling at the Basel Mission School at Kyebi and later continued at the Basel Mission Senior School at Begoro. On successfully passing his standard seven examinations in 1912, he entered the employment of Vidal J. Buckle, a barrister-at-law in Accra, as a clerk, a job which aroused his interest in law.
Dr, Danquah and Paa Willie Ofori-Atta (member of the "Big-Six"). Courtesy: Nana Ofori Atta Ayim of anoghana.org

On passing the Civil Service Examinations in 1914, he became a clerk at the Supreme Court of the Gold Coast. The experience acquired here made his brother Nana Ofori Atta I, who had become chief two years earlier, decide to appoint him as secretary of the Omanhene's Tribunal in Kyebi. Following the influence of his brother, J.B. was later appointed as the assistant secretary of the Conference of Paramount Chiefs of the Eastern Province which was later given statutory recognition to become the Eastern Provincial Council of Chiefs. J.B.'s brilliance made his brother decide to sponsor him to Britain in 1921 to read law. After two unsuccessful attempts at the University of London Matriculation, he passed in 1922 enabling him to enter the University College of London as a philosophy student. He earned his B. A. degree in 1925 winning the John Stuart Mill Scholar in the Philosophy of Mind and Logic. This enabled him to enter for a Doctor of Philosophy degree which he earned in two years with the thesis, "The Moral End as Moral Excellence." He became the first West African to obtain the doctor of philosophy degree from a British University. While he worked on his thesis, he entered the Inner Temple and was called to the Bar in 1926.
Danquah’s private life was full of romance. While in London as a student from 1921 to 1927, he fathered two sons and two daughters from two women, none of whom he married. In London. J.B, also took time off his studies to participate in student politics, editing the West African Students' Union (WASU) magazine and becoming the Union's first president.
Back home in 1927, he was offered mastership at the Prince of Wales College (Achimota College) to succeed Aggrey of Africa but he declined the offer and rather chose to go into private legal practice. Alongside his legal practice, he found time for two other things: first, to establish a newspaper and second, to help found the Gold Coast Youth Conference (GCYC). The newspaper he established was called the West Africa Times later renamed the Times of West Africa. The paper became the most popular Accra daily from 1931 to 1935 as it fearlessly advocated Fundamental Human Rights and denounced foreign domination. One of the most interesting columns in the paper "Women Comer" was written by Mabel Ellen Dove, daughter of Mr.Francis Dove, a barrister-at-law. J.B. Danquah married Mabel (as first wife) in 1933 and with her he had a son, named Vladimir. Elizabeth Vardon was his second wife.

Dr J B Danquah standing (first from left), Nana Ofori Atta I sitting with his kra (soul/little boy) in from his him when Akyem delegation visited England in 1940,s
The GCYC which J.B. helped J.E. Casely-Hayford to found in 1929 was to project him to become a leading spokesman of the Youth from the early 1930s up to the advent of Nkrumah, The GCYC, as a union of youth groups in the country, had its origins in the emergence of a host of clubs, societies and unions in the 1920s and 1930s. The first principal aim of the group was to heal the break between the chiefs and the intelligentsia that occurred in the 1920s and to bring those two groups and the youth together. Secondly, the GCYC was to inculcate in the youth the essentials of development and to exchange views on such matters affecting the vital interests of the country so as to ensure rapid development and progress on healthy lines, J.B. became the General-Secretary of the Conference in 1930. Other prominent members were: K. A. Korsah (later Sir). K Brakato Ateko, J.C. de Graft-Johnson. W.B. Van Lare and Edward Asafu-Adjaye, Under J.B., the GCYC held its first congress at Achimota College in April 1930 to discuss the Essentials in the Progress and Development of the Country, Subsequent congresses of the GCYC took place in Cape Coast (1938), Kumasi (April 1939), Akim Abuakwa (1940). It was largely through the work of the Conference that there was effective mobilisation against two bills: the Sedition Bill which extended the definition of sedition; and the Water Works Bill which sought to shift responsibility for the cost of water supply in the coastal cities from the government to the citizens. Later a delegation made mainly of members of the GCYC and led by Nana Ofori Atta I went to London to protest against the Bills. J.B. was secretary to the delegation.
A petition drafted by J.B. on behalf of the GCYC for presentation to the King of England protested against the two Bills and also asked for a larger number of Africans on the LEGCO. They also asked for representation on the EXECO and called for modification and improvement in such very important matters as the employment of Africans in the Civil Service, public health, medical services, dispensaries and hospitals. The delegation, however, failed to persuade the Colonial Office and returned home disappointed. J.B., however, stayed in England for some time to work at the British Museum, looking for evidence that the main Gold Coast tribes were descendants of ancient Ghana, the medieval empire Dr. Danquah with colleague members of the opposition which flourished between the ninth and thirteenth centuries. His research influenced the change of the country's name from Gold Coast to Ghana at the time of independence. It was also largely through the work of the GCYC, which sent a delegation to the JPCC in 1937, that the intelligentsia made common alliance with the chiefs and peopleto oppose attempts by 14 major firms to control prices in 1937.The Conference led by J.B, also led agitation which later secured the reversal of the Government's decision to close down the Esiama Rice Mills. In 1941, upon request by JPC, a three-man GCYC committee (J.B. Danquah. Arku Korsah and Kojo Thompson) prepared a 400-page draft constitution foi the Gold Coast. In this J.B. and his friends advocated the union of Asante Colony and the Northern Territories. They also advocated a central legislation of two houses: the JPC becoming the House of Chiefs and Legislative Council transformed into a Legislative Assembly. The central idea of the memorandun was having a ministerial system of government. In what is considered as on of his greatest diplomatic missions, J.B. in 1943 undertook to persuade the Asantehene and the Asante Confederacy Council to accept the Constitution which advocated the union of Asante and the Colony into a single council. He also got the Asante Confederacy Council to send a petition to the Secretary c State for the Colonies in 1943 on this stand.
When the Secretary of State, Oliver Stanley, visited the Gold Coast in the latter part of that year (1943), he presented to him the Constitution which had bee endorsed by the JPC, the Asante Confederacy and the. Municipal Members the LEGCO. As Richard Wight reports in his book, The Gold Coast Legislative Council, the memorandum and constitution took four hours read and that occasion marked "the zenith of Dr. Danquah's celebrity as the Sieves of the Gold Coast", The Secretary of State took Danquah) memorandum back to London with a promise of responding later.
 
  Shot of Dr. Danquah at the Supreme Coart, Accra. Courtesy: Nana Ofori Atta Ayim of anoghana.org

Two years after that epic performance, J.B. was on hand to prepare another memorandum to the Secretary of State, this time protesting against the Colonial Government's acceptance of the minority recommendation of the Walter Elliot Commission Dr. Danquah with colleague members of that Only One University the Legislative Assembly College was to be established for the states of British West Africa. He demanded a separate University for the Gold Coast. The protest by Danquah and GCYC which was later joined by the Achimota Council, the Central Advisory Committee of Education and the JPC compelled the British Government to agree to establish the University College of the Gold Coast in 1948.
In 1945, in response to J.B.'s 1943 memorandum, the Secretary of State endorsed a new Constitution for the Gold Coast. The Bums Constitution, provided for the representation on the LEGCO for the first time of Asante and also gave the Gold Coast the first African-dominated LEGCO. Each Provincial Council was also permitted to elect one non-chief. Dr. J.B.Danquah, with the active support of his brother, Nana Ofori Atta I, was elected to represent the Eastern Provincial Council. The Rev. C.G. Baeta, then moderator of the E.P. Church, was the other non-chief who represented the Ewe section of the Eastern Provincial Council. As a legislative member, J.B. exhibited great style in debates which gradually led to the transformation of legislative debates as a whole. His power of analysis was also formidable. He was interested in everything; not just the big fundamental issues. He pressed for various development projects and fought relentlessly for Africanisation of the Civil Service. His advocacy of the farmers' cause finally led to the establishment of the Cocoa Marketing Board in 1947. In recognition of all his contributions to the cause of farmers, a group of cocoa farmers' organisation and producers presented him with an illuminated commendation, calling him
Akuafo Kanea. This award was presented to him at Nsawam on July 13,1946. As J.B. worked in the LEGCO, he also sought ways to deal with the more fundamental issue of self-government. In January 1947, in conference with three friends, George Alfred Grant, a timber magnate, Robert Benjamin Blay and  Awoonor-Williams, both Sekondi-based barristers, they conceived the idea of forming a new movement to seek self-rule.
After months of preparations, the UGCC was formally inaugurated at Saltpond on August 4, 1947 with J.B. delivering the inaugural address. At that landmark inauguration, clouded by Clergymen, Chiefs, Professionals, lawyers, Business men, etc who were front runners of that movement, Dr Joseph Boakye Danquah, made a strong worded declaration, of which I quote, “We have come from all the corners of this country…(to decide) how we are to be governed, a new kind of freedom, a Gold Coast liberty. We left our homes in Ghana and came down here to build for ourselves a newhome: There is one thing we brought with us from ancient freedom. Today the safety of that freedom is threatened; has been continuously threatened for 100 years; since the Bond of 1844 and the time has come for a decision”.
The sole purpose of the Convention was ensuring that "in the shortest possible time the direction and control of the Government shall pass into the hands of the people and their chiefs." To ensure that the UGCC attained its goal, it became necessary to get a full-time general-secretary for the party. None of the professionals on the Council of the party were prepared to give up their job for that duty. Ako Adjei who J.B, suggested for that post also rejected it. He in rum suggested Kwame Nkrumah for (he post J.B. later wrote a letter to Nkrumah urging him to return to take up the post. True to Ako Adjei's promises Nkrumah within a few weeks, invigorated the UGCC. From a handful of branches in the Colony. UGCC began spreading throughout the country The rapid expansion of the UGCC came at a time when Nii Kwabena Bonne III, Osu Alata Mantse. launched a countrywide campaign to boycott goods of European shops, The boycott ended with the crossroads shooting incident of February 28,1948. When the riots broke out after the shooting. J.B, and other executive members of the UGCC who were then meeting at Tarkwa, quickly came down to Accra, and taking advantage of the situation, J.B. on behalf of the UGCC sent a long cablegram to the Secretary of State for the Colonies urging the recall of the Governor, the dispatch of a special commissioner, the establishment of an interim government which the council of UGCC would run and a Constituent Assembly. J.B. followed the cablegram with an address in the newspapers to the chiefs and people of the Gold Coast urging that The Hour of Liberation has struck.

Dr J B Danquah with Obetsebi-Lamptey, a member of the "Big-Six." Two of them were imprisoned under Nkrumah`s PDA and died in imprison.

Sensing danger, the Governor declared a state of emergency, and brought in troops from Nigeria to crush the riot On March 13. 1948 J.B was among leaders of the UGCC who were arrested and detained on the orders of the Governor. Later he and the others were released and made to appear before the government. J B. emphasised the Colonial Constitution of 1946 was outmoded and the Government under it was only a window-dressing. He also submitted a memorandum. A Basic Constitution for Ghanaians in response to a request made by the Commission to supply them with a draft Constitution for the Gold Coast, This provided the Commission useful insights into the political thinking and aspiration of the leaders of the Convention and formed the basis of the broad scheme for constitutional reform which the commission finally recommended. J.B's contribution to the Commission was indeed great t      and this gave him the appellation the "Doyen of Gold Coast Politics".
When the Coussey Committee on Constitutional Reform was appointed. J.B. became a member and he signed the minority report that "the people of the Gold Coast should be given the opportunity to make the supreme effort for a stand now as a self-governing country within the Commonwealth." The Ewait Committee, which included Danquah and other members of the Coussey Commission undertook the task of setting up a ministerial form of government under the Coussey Constitution where there would be 11 African Ministers each responsible for mnning a ministry and each with an European Civil Servant to help him.
As a result of the Coussey Constitution, general elections were held on February 8, 1951 to fill seats in the Legislative Assembly. Though J.B was elected as first rural member of Akyem Abuakwa on the ticket of the UGCC, his party fared poorly against the CPR This gave J.B. a great shock for he had, before the launching of the CPP, spearheaded the nationalist movement and confidently expected to inherit the mantle of the colonial power when in due course the handover of power was accomplished. Before his own eyes, however, he saw (what he thought was) his leadership taken over by Nkrumah and his CPP which roused the consciousness of the people with fiery oratory. In bewilderment, J.B cried out that the elections were rigged Of course, what he failed to recognise was that a revolution had been achieved by the Coussey Report, And unlike previously where he and his political colleagues could \ expect dignified nomination from the Provincial Council, they now had to tl campaign in the towns and villages and solicit the support and votes of the , illiterate masses whom many of them viewed with condescension and £     apprehensive distaste.
Because of the poor performance of the UGCC, it was forced to merge with other minor parties to give creditable opposition to the CPP. A leadership struggle among top leaders on the Ghana Congress Party (GCP) was to further weaken the party. At the 1954 general election. J.B. contesting on the ticket of the GCP lost by 3,622 to 4,958 to his nephew Aaron Asante Ofori-Atta in the contest for the Akyem Abuakwa Central seat.
Almost immediately after the elections, he received a cablegram from New York with news of the conferring on him of the first Bryony Mumford writing fellowship to the UN. He spent three months at the UN as a result. On his return in January 1954 to Kyebi, he was made Twafohene (senior divisional chief of Akyem Abuakwa) with the stool name Barima Kyererwie Dankwa. He later joined the National Liberation Movement (NLM) which had beer formed while he was in the USA and became a member of the movement's Central National Executive Council. The path of violence which the NLM took to achieve its principal goal of federalism made the movement unpopular especially among the southerners who saw the movement as a tribal group. A general election called in July 1956 to determine which party would lead the country to independence and settle the issue of federation, saw J.B. standing on the ticket of NLM. He lost for the second successive time in contest for the Abuakwa North Constituency seat. He obtained 4,122 votes as against 4,671 by Charles Emmanuel Nimo of the CPP.
Though a passionate advocate of democracy, J.B. could not bring himself t accept his defeat. He accused the CPP candidate of rigging the elections. Wh£ he forgot was that he lost because of his elitist attitude and his ignoring the fact that, in a democracy, the votes of the masses were equally important with those of professionals live Committee member. From that position, he continued t fight relentlessly for respect for human rights in the country. He opposed the arbitrary deportation of Alhaji Amadu Baba and Alhaji Othman Larde Lalemic, two Nigerians living in Kumasi, which took place in 1957 and tried unsuccessfully to get the judiciary to stop them. He opposed the Preventive Detention Act (PDA) when it was passed in July 1958. When the PDA was used against some opposition leaders, he defended them and earned the battle to the Court of Appeal. His statement in the Re Akoto and Others Case (Ci\ Appeal No, 42161 of August 1961) remains to date a locus classicus amoi habeas corpus cases in the country. In 1960 J.B. was nominated as the United Party's presidential candidate to contest the April 1960 elections against Nkrumah, Though he lost he won a number of unexpected votes, receiving percent (124,623 by 1,016,076) of the votes and defeating Nkrumah in t Volta Region. The UP, after losing the elections, went into violent opposite against the CPP, J.B. the UP's presidential candidate was equally very virile in his attacks: "the country had been wrecked by the government incompetence and wasteful fiscal and administrative policies" he oft charged.The CPP responded by detaining Danquah and some MPs Victor Owusu, Joe Appiah, S.G Antor, D.K. Afedo, the Rev. Ametowobla - on October 3, 1961.The immediate grounds for his detention according to the detention orders served on him ware that on September 12, 1961 with two men, Ismaila Annan and Atta Border, he attended a meeting at which plans for subverting the CPP Government was made. It was also alleged that through him certain traders passed £ 10,000 to the workers of Sekondi-Takoradi to induce them to organise a strike against the 1961 Budget. From his Nsawam Prison, J.B. in his characteristic way, wrote several letters in protest against this detention. On June 22,1962 he was released. On January 8,1964 he was again arrested and detained after Police Constable Ametewee's attempt on the life of Nkrumah on the grounds of the Flagstaff House. J.B. was alleged to have been implicated in the plot to assassinate the President. In prison, his health deteriorated fast and on February 4. 1965 he suffered a heart attack and died in the condemned cells of the Nsawam Prison. Despite the adverse political atmosphere of the day, he was given a hero's burial at his hometown, Kibi.
A Committee of Inquiry that investigated conditions in prisons after the 1966 coup pointed out that J.B, was ill-treated and intolerable conditions were imposed on him. According to the Report he was chained and made to sleep on the bare floor. When he fell ill and suffered from asthma, he was refused medical attention,
For J.B's relentless struggle for democracy and human rights in Ghana, the NLC which overthrew the CPP organised a national funeral for him and rehabilitated him. In 1967, the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences of which J.B. was a founding member, instituted the J.B. Danquah Memorial Lectures which are delivered annually in February. The NRC also honoured him by naming a traffic intersection after him. A monument dedicated to him was erected at the Danquah Circle on December 29,1990. The 350 cm high bronze statue which shows him in traditional cloth standing with his left hand resting on a pile of books clearly reveals that the man J.B. Danquah by his life and works has traversed politics and today stands for ideals of learning, scholarship, and cultural heritage.

SOURCE:http://articles.ghananation.com/articles/flagbearers-of-ghana/3016-dr-j-b-danquah-1895-1965.html

PRESIDENT AZIKIWE EULOGIZES THE LATE DR. DANQUAH
[“His Excellency, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in a eulogy in memory of the late Dr. J. B. Danquah, has said that he [i.e. Dr. Danquah] was a pioneer[ing] West African Scholar, Lawyer, Journalist, Poet and Fighter for human freedom, for which glorious cause he paid the supreme penalty”].

The following is the full text of Dr. Azikiwe’s eulogy: By the death of Joseph Boakye Danquah, the world has lost a valued ally in the crusade for human freedom and Africa has lost a great champion of fundamental human rights.

It is not universally appreciated [as it ought to] that Dr. Danquah was probably the first West African to obtain the doctorate in philosophy from a British University, when his dissertation on Akan Law and Customs was accepted for the Ph.D. Degree by the University of London in 1927-28.

As a journalist, Dr. Danquah was proprietor and editor of what is assumed to be the first daily newspaper in Ghana, which he christened [the] Times of West Africa. This was in 1932 [sic] and under the pen-name of ‘zadig,’ he maintained a column which he used to expose cant and criticize the hypocritical practices of his day.

The Times of West Africa advocated fundamental human rights and denounced the domination of man by man under the regime of imperialism. Dr. Danquah constantly reminded the colonial government that the Bond of 1844 did not transform the people of Ghana into chattels, but reserved to them their freedom until the time when they would be able to regain it.

When the Gold Coast Government introduced the Sedition Ordinance in 1934, Dr. Danquah was the secretary of the delegation, under the leadership of his brother, the late Nana Sir Ofori-Atta, which was sent by the Gold Coast people to the Colonial Secretary (Lord S. Winton, then Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister).

Two years later, Mr. Isaac T. A. Wallace Johnson of Sierra Leone and I [i.e. Dr. Azikiwe] were to make history by being the first persons against whom this Law was first tested. One of the Crown Counsel who prosecuted us was the late Sir Algermon Brown, who died in office as Chief Justice of Northern Nigeria, ten years ago [1955?].

In the latter part of 1947, when the NCNC [ the National Congress of Nigeria and the Cameroons] delegation was returning from London, Dr. Danquah joined “Pa” [George] Grant and Mr. R. S. Blay and other Ghanaian patriots to give us a grand reception in Sekondi. Dr. Danquah then informed me of what they had heard about a young Ghanaian who was then editing The New Africa in London, under the auspices of the West African National Secretariat with the collaboration of Bankole Awoonor-Renner. That was when I [Nnamdi Azikiwe] assured them that this budding leader was wasting his talent in London and that his services could be of invaluable help in the struggle of Ghana for a place under the sun. That personality happened to be Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, first President of the Republic of Ghana.

It is an irony of history that a great pioneer of Ghanaian scholarship should die in a detention camp, barely eight years after his country had become free from foreign domination.

During my brief stay in Ghana (1934-37), Dr. Danquah and I did not often see eye to eye politically, but we were sensible and mature enough to respect each other’s right to state his opinion as he sees fit, and our friendship has endured until his lamented death.

As one who fought side by side with Dr. Danquah in order to liquidate colonialism in Africa, I personally regret the circumstances surrounding his death. All who honestly believe in human freedom would have wished it were otherwise.

I fought against the colonial regime because, in spite of the material prosperity and protection guaranteed us, as colonial peoples, it denied us fundamental human rights. Consequently, my idea of independence is a state of political existence where every person shall enjoy human rights under the rule of law. This was what I meant when I spoke of respect for human dignity at my inauguration as the first African Governor-General of this country [i.e. Nigeria]. I am sorry that Dr. Danquah died in a detention camp. I wish that he had been tried publicly, told what offence he was alleged to have committed, given a fair opportunity to defend himself, and then either discharged or punished, depending upon the fact, whether or not his innocence has been established or his guilt proved beyond any reasonable shadow of doubt.

I am of the considered opinion that if independence means the substitution of alien rule for [with?] indigenous tyranny, then those who struggled for the independence of former colonial territories have not only desecrated the cause of human freedom[,] but they have betrayed their peoples.

To Mrs. Elizabeth Danquah and the members of the mourning families, I send my condolences and those of Nigerian fighters for human freedom. If the lessons of history mean much, then the sacrifice of West Africa’s pioneer[ing] scholar, lawyer, journalist, poet, statesman and fighter in the cause of human freedom will not be in vain. Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah has paid the price of leadership. May his soul rest in peace”

A statement by the Danquah Institute
DANQUAH WAS A GREAT PATRIOT, THE LIE ABOUT BEING A CIA AGENT MUST STOP!

On Friday, February 11, during a current affairs programme on Peace FM, a leading member of the ruling National Democratic Congress repeated the posthumous smear campaign that Joseph Boakye Danquah, the ‘doyen of Ghana’ and co-founder of Ghana’s first political party, the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), was a CIA spy.

To support this false allegation, the NDC man stated categorically that declassified CIA files of Ghana’s First Republic name Dr Danquah, then the leader of the United Party (UP), the main opposition party to Kwame Nkrumah’s Convention People’s Party (CPP), as a CIA spy.

The Executive Director of the Danquah Institute called into the radio programme to correct the false information by saying that nowhere in any declassified CIA files of the period (or any other period) is it recorded that J B Danquah was a CIA spy.

The next day, Saturday, February 12, the NDC man was on another radio station, Citi FM, repeating the untruth but this time pointing to a different source, a book, he claimed was written by a former US ambassador to Ghana, Mr Mahoney. (We have chosen to leave the NDC man’s name out because the lie was not generated by him but one that has been told over and over again, especially by people on the so-called left side of Ghana’s politics, particularly the NDC.

This lie, which has been repeated over the years, has been competently dealt with in an article on our website (www.danquahinstitute.org).



WHAT STARTED THE LIE?

What was the basis of this serious allegation against one of the greatest nationalists of the 20th century who made the ultimate sacrifice by dying under political detention for defending liberty and democracy in Ghana? Opponents of the Danquah-Dombo-Busia political tradition in Ghana have in the last decade or so seized with glee and relish on a dubious information that came out of the book, “JFK: Ordeal in Africa”. This book, written by Richard Mahoney, son of the late William Mahoney, US Ambassador to Ghana (1962-65), in a paragraph mentions that Dr Danquah’s family, which at the time included 13 dependent children, allegedly received stipends from the American Embassy in 1961 during his first period in jail under the Preventive Detention Act. The issue was that this was done without the knowledge of the Ambassador. It is this third hand information that has been used to damnify Dr Danquah as a traitor.

The author claims that during one meeting with his father, the US Ambassador after Dr Danquah’s release from detention, Danquah, who presumably assumed that the Ambassador was aware of the arrangement, asked Ambassador Mahoney how come the stipends that the American Embassy opted to give to his wife to support the family was stopped after Dr Danquah’s release! It is rather a curious query in logic. Supposing the stipends were being given to his family because the Americans, touched by the circumstances of the family losing its breadwinner temporarily, decided to offer some support to a man who was pro-American in the dual global politics of the Cold War era, was it not just logical for that support to cease after his release from detention?

Also, spies, informants or double agents usually have their handlers. Why didn’t Danquah go to his ‘handler’ to complain but to the Ambassador who, as it turned out, knew nothing about the apparent arrangement? Or, are we not allowed to scrutinise the logicalities of claims made by so-called chroniclers of our history? Nowhere in that book or anywhere else, for that matter, has it been alleged that Danquah personally received money from any foreign power or agent.

On January 4, 1964 Dr Danquah was once again detained under preventive custody. He died on February, 4, 1965, a year before the CPP was overthrown. The 69-year-old asthmatic patient, afflicted with hypertension, liver complaint and heart attacks, was locked up in chains and leg irons and left to die in a cell for condemned prisoners of about six by nine feet.

It must be noted that the 1964 detention took place before the coup which was supported by the CIA. Yet, just months before his death at Nsawam prison, Dr Danquah wrote to President Nkrumah pleading to be released.

The letter of May 9, 1964 began: “Dear Dr Nkrumah, I am tired of being in prison on preventive detention with no opportunity to make an original or any contribution to the progress and development of the country, and I therefore respectfully write to beg, and appeal to you to make an order for my release and return home. I am anxious to resume my contru=ibution to the progress and development of Ghana in the field of Ghanaian literature (Twi and English), and in Ghana Research (History and Culture), and I am anxious also to establish my wife and children in a home, to develop the education of my children (ten of them) and to restore my parental home at Kibi (Yiadom House) to a respectable dignity, worthy of my late father’s own contribution to the progress of our country.”

The letter concluded, “I end as I began. I am tired of being kept in prison kicking my heels, and doing nothing worthwhile for the country of my birth and love., and for the great continent of Africa which was the first to give the entire world a real taste of civilisation. My plea and my prayer to you, Osagyefo, is that I be released to return home for the following specific purposes: (1) To pursue my vocation for creative work in Ghana literature; (2) To pursue my vocation for research into Ghana history and culture; (3) To promote a home for my wife and children and to promote the education of my children as befits their talents; (4) To restore my parental home at Kibi to a respectable dignity for use of the younger and older members of the family; (5) To pursue social and cultural life in Church and State; and (6) To practise my profession as a lawyer to obtain the wherewithal for the pursuit and promotion of the above interests.”

The question must be asked: as his family had at this time had to rely on his extended family to survive, had the Americans at the time stopped looking after Danquah’s family, as they allegedly did in 1961 during his first detention? Had he stopped being a spy, with the coup less than two years away? Or did the value the Americans put on Danquah not sufficient enough to sustain his family?

Really, what the book of the politician son of William Mahoney sought to portray was that the CIA used to do things without necessarily the knowledge of the political heads. The Ambassador, who was a member of the Irish circle of friends that President Kennedy appointed, according to his son, went to complain to the US President who then issued a directive which compelled CIA operatives in foreign nations to work directly under their various ambassadors.

Thus, if Danquah was a spy the new arrangements from Washington ought not to have fundamentally disturbed whatever existing arrangements he had with the CIA before 1962, if indeed it was an espionage engagement.

If indeed, there was any such stipends to the detainee’s family it might have come from the ‘heart’ of a system that sympathised with the political cause of Dr Danquah. Danquah’s life was characterised by sacrifice. He was not rich and did not die leaving a legacy of material wealth. His was the ultimate self-sacrifice for country. And he paid the ultimate price for it -- with his life.

The reliability of the information in the younger Mahoney’s has certainly been interrogated. Since the author was at the material time barely 10 years old, we must assume that the information came to him much later from his father. This is because no declassified CIA records of the period contain any such reference. Indeed, we would still have defended him even if CIA files were to name Danquah as a collaborator in efforts to oppose the Nkrumah dictatorship of the First Republic. But, would it have been treacherous for Dr Danquah or any other opposition politician of that period of uncompromising dictatorship to collaborate with any sympathetic foreign power? Since when has that been unpatriotic in the history of liberation struggles across the world and, especially, during the Cold War era?


CHOOSING BETWEEN SOVIET-STYLE DICTATORSHIP AND WESTERN-STYLE DEMOCRACY

Dr Danquah made no secret about his preference for the Western-style democratic model and free market. Nkrumah’s sympathy and affinity for the Soviet system, right from his student days, was equally well known and documented. A turning point in the history of Nkrumah’s controversial rule was his celebrated trip of that same year, 1961, to the Communist states of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Already highly sympathetic to all things Soviet – he tells us in his autobiography, titled with his usual modesty ‘Ghana’, that he was [sic] “a Hegelian-Marxist, non-Denominational Christian.” The visit impressed him highly with the efficiency of the Soviet model: state enterprises, state farms, central planning, the command economy, rule by the “vanguard party” – this was the wave of the future, the irresistible force of history, so he thought. Ghana, the first colonial nation in sub-Saharan Africa to escape the clutches of imperialism, was required to be in the forefront of that history.

So with considerable vigour, a systematic effort was made to transform the Ghanaian economy into a replica of the Soviet model. Between 1961 and 1966, the economic landscape became littered with a multiplicity of state enterprises and state farms. We even had our own equivalent of the ‘Gossplan’ - the Seven Year Development Plan. The state enterprises and farms of the Nkrumah era proved to be no more efficient in Ghana than they were in their country of origin. Far from being the wave of the future, they have become synonymous with economic failure and have been repudiated almost everywhere they have been tried. Even in China, where the vanguard party continues to hang on to power, the rulers have seen the wisdom in reviving private property rights and letting the market take an increasingly central role in the allocation of resources. The Chinese boom of the last two decades is the direct result. Deng Xiaoping – he of the “it doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice”– not Mao Tse-Tung, is the architect of this dramatic development, which has led China towards a market economy and the second largest economy in the world today.

Now, let us put Dr Danquah’s position during that heated period of defining which path the new nation should choose. It was no secret that Dr Danquah’s preference in the titanic twentieth century struggle of the Cold War was for the Western democracies, whose democratic systems of government and open societies appealed very much to his freedom-loving spirit. He was horrified by the violent, crude, anti-democratic methods of governance in the closed societies of the Soviet-style states.

For example, on April 30, 1962, Dr Danquah, in a letter to the Clerk of Parliament stated, what he called, the “inadequacy, fatuity and wastefulness” of the Soviet model. He condemned the Soviet model, “which rejects religion and any kind of idealism or humanism from its materialistic interpretation of man’s long history.”

He saw the Western model to, at least, evidently have the capacity to enhance the dignity of the majority of the people of the West because, in his words, “It is clear that Socialism” does not pay “any heed to man’s permanent motive forces or commitments – the commitment to his God, to his country, to his family and to the dignity of man as man.”

Beyond that, Dr Danquah saw in the American or Western model the path to Ghana’s prosperity. “For evidence,” he wrote, “there is to hand the incontestable fact that the three great nations which have achieved an industrial marvel after World War II, namely Western Germany, Italy and Japan, did so not on a Socialistic or State Capitalist economy, but on the basis of individual initiative and free enterprise, guided by the free and intelligent hand of their respective governments.”

Dr Danquah was firm in his belief in the principles of liberal democracy, democratic accountability, the rule of law, human rights, individual liberties, free enterprise and social justice. He criticised the Soviet Union, China and Cuba for showing great deficiencies in allowing their people to freely exercise the above values and virtues of human dignity. For the patriot that he was, he wanted Ghanaians to be freed to excel and be in charge of the country in its wholeness.

He wrote, “[I]n planning the libertation of Ghana what our wise men of the ages, from Prince Brew of Dunkwa in 1871 to George Alfred Grant in 1947, sought was not merely ‘the political freedom’ in the hope that ‘other things’ would be added freely, but the total kingdom of modern nationhood, including even culture, literature and sports!”


A HISTORY OF SMEAR CAMPAIGNS AGAINST DANQUAH

Dr Danquah suffered smear campaigns during and after the struggle for independence. In fact, what inspired the above quote is a story best told by himself (his letter of 30th January, 1962 to the Speaker of the National Assembly):

“In 1949 certain three men, wishing to climb to the top of Ghana politics over my dead body, spread a vile campaign against me that in asking Sir Sydney Abrahams at a tea party in Lancaster House, London, at the African Conference of 1948, to come back to the Gold Coast, as Ghana was then called, to reorganise our sports for us, a visit which led eventually to the first Gold Coast Sports Ordinance and the construction of the present Accra Sports Stadium, I did so upon a corrupt basis at the instance of the British Government for a bribe of £25,000 for me to abandon Gold Coast politics for Gold Coast sports!

“The men who set this vile rumour in motion against me pointed at Sir Sydney Abrahams, a former Attorney-General of the Gold Coast Athletics Association, as the man who brought me and my colleagues of the United Gold Coast Convention a bribe of £25,000 each to turn the people’s mind from politics to sports.”

Now to appreciate how effective this smear campaign was, continue to read Danquah’s own account: “At that time the evil campaign spread by the three men was made the plank upon which the new party, the Convention People’s Party, now the caesarian or imperialist party of Ghana, was founded, the original leaders of the UGCC being those thus sought to be discredited by the fabulous story of their having accepted British money to ease off from politics to sports.”

Another smear campaign was invented 69 days after his arrest to justify his detention of October 3, 1961 that foreign capitalist firms used him with £10,000 to bribe the workers to go on strike against the Government’s Budget.

His words from his condemned cell speak of how the system abused this great patriot. Danquah wrote: “It is perhaps my fate that, once again, even when I am behind prison bars, a similar evil campaign should be started against me in 1961, twelve years after the first!!! In this plight I can only call upon the Ghana nation and its august National Assembly to apply their capital mind to the facts, to let the truth prevail, and, as Milton said, ‘to justify the ways of God to man’... I cannot at this stage expect the nation to offer me any thanks for my 34 years of single-hearted devotion to the national cause, to have been able to give Ghana not only the clarion call to liberation ‘when the hour struck’, but also to have discovered, after 16 years of research, the glory of our ancient Ghana name... But although I do not expect any kind of thanks now for giving our country’s several tribes the basic foundation of a common nationhood – GHANA – of which the people first became fully conscious during the March 6, 1944 nationwide centenary celebrations of the Bond of 1844, I entertain the hope that my country men -- and the women – too, -- will leave me alone to enjoy quietly my poverty in my ripe age of six and sixty years, and not again seek to pile grief upon grief on to the glory of my greying hairs.”

DANQUAH TO CIA AS NKRUMAH TO KGB?

It has been argued that both Nkrumah and Danquah, the two great politicians of the time, made no secret about their preferred ideologies, in the competition of ideas between the East and West and yet they both rightly saw themselves as patriots, whose formula for Ghana was in the nation’s interest.

“Sir,” Danquah told the Clerk of Parliament, “I personally see nothing traditional in the idea that Ghana should with her eyes open, or her eyes half-closed, repeat this soul-searing experiment in Marxist-Socialism, by leaving Ghana’s big business in the hands of foreign privately owned firms, aided and abetted by a Ghana Capitalist Government in no way experienced in trade or business, whilst the Ghanaian himself... is to be restricted and confined to ‘small trade’ or ‘small business’ in a ‘small way’. Surely it ought to be evident that to confine or limit the energies of a people to ‘small business’ as a general economic policy is to sterilise instead of energise the people’s economic capacities. The purpose of a government is not to block or control but to liberate its people’s energies – economic, intellectual, moral and spiritual.”

But, Danquah was no stooge. “The wisest solution, to my mind, is for each country to build mostly upon its own foundations. Ghana’s foundations are to be found in what has always made Ghanaians what they are – Ghanaists to the backbone, that is to say, they are a people remarkable for their belief in God, their love of country, their devotion to family, their choice of personal freedom, and their faith in humanity.”

Indeed, most political figures of the day, especially in the so-called Third World, were required to make a choice between East and West. For instance, Caculama, the main training centre of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in the town of Malanje, Angola, was known to have been sustained by the KGB. MK soldiers were trained by the KGB. Joe Slovo the chief-of-staff of the ANC army and Chris Hani, the army commissar, were known as devout Communists, but could these gallant ANC heroes be described as KGB spies because of their ideological belief and their collaborations with the KGB?

Back home, Soviet security personnel were known to give critical support to Nkrumah’s security. What about the charge that the battle of Flagstaff House on February 24, 1966 involved Soviet security personnel fighting in defence of the Nkrumah government? Should we question Nkrumah’s patriotism merely because the KGB might have played a role in Ghana’s security arrangements? In those now distant days choices were the order of the day.

The KGB was for many people, especially those who valued the democratic way of life and individual freedom, a greater danger to life and liberty than the CIA. The shredding of the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe and the emergence of multiparty democracy in Africa today is a vindication for Danquah and his choices. He has, thus, the merit of at least having been on the same side as the victorious forces in the Cold War. The KGB, like the rest of the Soviet system, has deservedly disappeared into history.

THE CIA AND THE 1966 COUP

Reducing Danquah to a traitor fits well with the people who bash the coup of 1966. The coup happened 12 months after Dr Danquah died under Nkrumah’s PDA. The biggest bone of contention is of the alleged involvement of the CIA in the event. It would have been very strange, when the Cold War was at its height in the 1960s, with Ghana very much in the forefront of African politics, if the intelligence agencies of the ‘Great Powers’ had not concerned themselves with the affairs of Ghana. They were all concerned, the Soviet KGB equally with the American CIA.

The issue that is of greater interest is this: with a Life President of a One Party State, whose rule was backed by a preventive detention law that was in constant usage, and where elections had become nonexistent, how could lawful, peaceful change have been effected in the Ghana of 1966? Regrettable as the intervention of soldiers in our politics became, especially because of subsequent events, the question still cannot be avoided. The Ghanaian people instinctively recognised that there was no other way.

Ghana may not be worth dying for if great nationalists like Danquah can be posthumously dismissed with the lie of being branded spies of a foreign country. Try as they might, Danquah’s detractors cannot run away from one crucial point. Even though he never occupied any executive position in independent Ghana, the party and tradition that he fathered with Paa Grant, which Dombo and Busia helped build, remains a formidable force in the Ghanaian polity.

Indeed, Dr Danquah’s legacy can be seen in the kind of political system -- multiparty democracy, rule of law, individual freedom and free enterprise – which the Fourth Republican Constitution re-introduced to Ghana in 1992. Again, the emergence of the New Patriotic Party over the last decade as, arguably, the largest political party in Ghana, is also a testament to his vision and greatness. Danquah’s set of ideas continues to be extremely relevant to the resolution of our nation’s problems.

In his own words, it was at the feet of the eminent nationalist, “Ekra Agyeman, otherwise known as Joseph Ephraim Casely Hayford, that I was brought up, like St Paul under Gamaliel, and it was from Ekra Agyeman that I learned selfless politics as the sacrificing of one’s self totally for one’s own country. I sat under his feet from 1915 to his own death in 1930.”

Danquah and Nkrumah both have their detractors but the respective contributions that the two contemporaries made to our history – Danquah in particular to the kind of democratic culture growing in Africa and Nkrumah to the Pan-African dream of a united Africa which still agitates the minds of those who seek Africa’s wellbeing -- can never be washed off by false propaganda. Let us hail our heroes.

This article was published by the Danquah Institute, a think tank dedicated to the philosophy and works of Danquah.
source:http://www.ghanadot.com/commentary.Danquahinstitute.danquah.021411.html

Tribute to J.B Danquah
By kwesi atta sakyi
16th January 2013
Joseph Boakye Danquah has been described as the doyen of Ghanaian politics. This accolade was given to him by that Watson Commission of 1948 which was set up following the riots in the Gold Coast. Danquah and Busia belonged to the Dombo or Matemeho conservative and federalist school of thought in Ghana’s political history.  J.B. Danquah was an Akyem from the royal family of Kyebi (Kibi). In 1921, he was sponsored by the Abuakwa State to go and read law in the UK.  Before then he had completed and passed his standard seven  examination. He was apprenticed to a renowned lawyer in Accra, where he worked for some time before being assigned to the Supreme Court, and later to the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs.  In the UK, he earned his first degree from the University of London and upon passing with flying colours, he went on to earn his Phd in Moral Philosophy and Logic, the first West African to do so. Danquah was a maternal uncle of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo. When Nkrumah was invited by Ako Adjei from the UK to become the Secretary General of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), the UGCC was led by stalwarts like J.B. Danquah, Paa Willie or William Ofori Atta, Pa Grant and others like Casely Hayford.  Those were among the intelligentsia in the then Gold Coast.  UGCC was founded in 1947 by J.B. Danquah, George Alfred Grant (timber merchant), Robert Benjamin Blay and Awoonor Williams, a Sekondi Barrister.

Danquah’s private life was full of romance.  While in London from 1921 to 1927, he fathered two sons and two daughters from two women, none of whom he married.  When he got back to the Gold Coast, he got married to the daughter of a prominent lawyer.  The lass’ name was Mable Dove.  Later, he married his second wife, Elizabeth Vardon. Who in Danquah’s position in those days would not have fallen for the ladies, or rather the ladies would not have fallen for him? On his return to the Gold Coast in 1927, he was offered the post of master at Achimota College to succeed no less a person than James Emmanuel Kwegyir Aggrey.  He declined the offer and set up his own private law practice.  In those days, private chambers run by blacks were uncommon, and I guess Danquah was an enterprising entrepreneur, who saw opportunities galore or a market gap to exploit. Danquah was born on 21st December, 1895 at Bempong-Kwahu to Emmanuel Yaw Boakye, and Madam Lydia Okum Korantewaa. Danquah’s father was chief drummer at the palace of Nana Amoako Atta III, Omanhene of Akyem Abuakwa.  Danquah’s elder sibling from another mother, who was 14 years older, later became Nana Sir Ofori Atta.  It was he who sponsored Danquah to go and study in the UK.  On his return from London, he set up an influential newspaper known as the Times of West Africa. He served as the Secretary of a delegation to London in 1934 which was to petition the Colonial Office against the introduction of the obnoxious Sedition Bill and the Water Bill.  Those bills were meant to restrict the rights and freedoms of our people.  Danquah served as Secretary General of the Gold Coast Youth Conference (GCYC) from 1937 to 1947. GCYC was founded in 1929 by Casely Hayford. GCYC was the forerunner of the UGCC. He was elected to the Legislative Council in 1946, under the Burn’s Constitution.  He fought relentlessly to bring about constitutional reforms.  He championed the cause of farmers so much so that he was awarded a citation by the farmers, who called him Akuafo Kanea (The Light of the farmers). Danquah helped to found the United Gold Coast Convention, which demanded self government for the Gold Coast. The UGCC was founded on 4th August 1947 at Saltpond.

On 13th March 1948, he was arrested with the Big Six following the 1948 riots which had earlier on culminated in the shooting at the Crossroads, on 28th February 1948, of Sergeant Adjetey, near the Christianborg Castle.  The ex-servicemen were on their way to the Castle to present their petition when one colonial police officer called Imray, ordered their shooting.  One Ga Chief, Nii Kwabena Bonne III, Osu Atala Mantse, organized a boycott of all European shops and there was looting and pillaging of shops across the length and breadth of the Gold Coast Colony.  The Colony was ungovernable, and the Governor had to call in troops from Nigeria to quell the riot.  Danquah used his influence and tenacity to convince the Asante (Ashanti) to become part of the coastal colony. He fiercely fought to have the indigenization of the civil service, and dominance of the legislative assembly by African representatives.  Indeed, Danquah was a true and real patriot.  His 1943 constitutional memorandum formed the basis of the 1945 Burn’s Constitution.

In 1951, he was again elected to the Legislative Council, which was a very much privileged position in those colonial days.  He failed to be elected in the 1954 and 1956 elections.  When he lost, he claimed the elections were rigged. In 1960, Danquah contested the presidential elections against Nkrumah in the Presidential elections but he received only 10% of the votes cast.  In 1961, he was imprisoned under the Preventive Detention Act (PDA) and was released in 1962.  He became the President of the Ghana Bar Association. He was rearrested in 1964 and sent to the condemned cells at the infamous Nsawam Maximum Security Prison, where he died of a heart attack on 4th February, 1962, aged 69 years.

Danquah was a prolife writer.  He wrote two great books namely, Akan Laws and Customs (1928) and Akan Doctrine of God (1944).  His works are still consulted by students of sociology, law, cultural studies, among others. While a student in London from 1921 to 1927, he became the Editor-President of the West African Students Union (WASU), to which Nkrumah also belonged during his brief stay in the UK from the USA.

In 1934, while on a petition delegation to London, he researched at the British Museum and came up with the name Ghana for the then Gold Coast.  He researched and discovered that Ghanaians are descended from the ancient empire of Ghana which flourished between the fourth and twelve centuries at the Niger bend, near present day Timbucktoo.  The name Ghana must have come from the Guan name Gyan or Djan.  Out of the name Gyan, we have anglicized versions like Ghunney, Ghansah, Ghartey, among others.  In 1954, after he lost elections massively to the CPP, while running on the ticket of the UGCC, he was invited to New York by the UN to receive the Bryony Mumford Writing Fellowship, which had tenure of 3 months.  When he arrived back in the country, he was conferred with the title of Twafohene by the Abuakwa State, with the stool name of Barima Kwame Kyeretwie Dankwa.  Among his illustrious accomplishments was his unyielding fight to have the University of Ghana established in 1948.  The British had proposed the establishment of only one university for the whole of West Africa but Danquah refused. I wonder why we have no Danquah Hall at Legon. I was there at Legon Hall from 1975 to 1978.

It was Danquah who fought for the establishment of the Cocoa Marketing Board (CMB) in 1947.  It was Danquah who vigorously canvassed the people of Asante and the then Northern Territories to join the Gold Coast Colony to become what we know today as modern Ghana.  Of course, Nkrumah also did his bit by using the 1956 Plebiscite to annex Trans Volta Togoland to become modern day Volta Region of Ghana.  Nkrumah was vehemently opposed by secessionists such as Dr R.G. Armattoe and Kofi Anton.  Danquah believed strongly in liberal democracy, hence his idea of federalism and a ministerial system of government for Ghana.  However, Nkrumah was diametrically opposed to the idea of federation as he felt a unitary state was best for Ghana.  At a point in time, Danquah felt that his dream had been stolen by the radical Nkrumah, hence his implacable and fierce resistance to Nkrumah.  Danquah joined the National Liberation Movement (NLM) and later the Ghana Congress Party (GCP).  The NLM was dubbed a federalist or Matemeho party because their political tactics were sometimes based on violence, hence the offshoot of the ‘All die be die’ of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo of the current NPP. Danquah worked with people like Sir Arku Korsah (first Ghanaian Chief Justice) and Kojo Thompson to produce a 400 page draft constitution for the Gold Coast.  It is proper and befitting for us to honour our illustrious leaders and pioneers.  Today, we have Danquah Circle in Accra, and the annual Danquah Memorial Lectures at the University Of Cape Coast. At one time, our distinguished son of the soil, Busumbrum Kofi Annan, offered the opinion that Nkrumah’s brash radicalism cost Ghana a lot. Perhaps, Kofi Annan would have loved Ghana to have gone the way of Botswana where Sir Seretse Khama worked  steadily and closely with the former colonial master till the country attained independence in 1966.  Botswana then was a very poor desert country. It was much later when diamonds were discovered by the De Beers Group from South Africa.  Today, Botswana’s success story in Africa is well documented. At the time of Ghana’s indepence, it was estimated that a princely sum of 270 million pounds was left in the state coffers. Who would doubt that Nkrumah did not manage our economy prudently? Well, posterity is the judge.

However, had Ghana followed Danquah’s conservative and constitutional step-by-step process, Ghana’s independence could have delayed by 10 years or more.  Danquah was British trained while Nkrumah was American trained.  Thus, Nkrumah evinced the American traits of good salesmanship, marketing, theatrics, radicalism and love for adventure.  On the other hand, Danquah wanted everything to be negotiated and processed through the court procedure of due process, or through formalized channels.  Thus, we can now understand the diametrically opposed strategies and natures of Danquah and Nkrumah.  If the two had collaborated, Ghana’s history would have taken quite a different trajectory.  However, what is writ is writ and fate cannot be changed.  As I write this article, E.T Mensah’s highlife tune rings in my ears, giving me nostalgic feelings of those politically stormy days when we used to chant as children, the words, ‘PP obeko Assembly, Dombo Krakye, Orennko Assembly’ ,or ‘Odombo, Odombo, Dombo-soo me’. E.T Mensah sang, ‘Am for you, Titi, Am for you, I dey waiting Mama, I dey waiting Papa, Am for you.  Am for you, Titi am for you.  Look out for the next tribute to Osagyefo Kantamanto Oseeadeayo Kwame Nkrumah.

Remembering the Doyen of Gold Coast politics
By:  AKUA ADUTWUMWAA MROSA

EXACTLY 29 days from today, the February 6, 2007, Ghana will celebrate her Independence Golden Jubilee.  On the February 4, 1965, the one who researched for the name “Ghana’ died in chains just for championing a cause.  After 42, this nation is yet to give Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah, the greatest patriot of all times, that recognition.

Indeed “The Big Six” namely, Dr. Danquah, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Messrs Edward Akuffo Addo, Obetsebi–Lamptey, William Ofori Atta and Ako Adjei are only mentioned in passing.  I would even make it “The Big Seven”  –  include George Grant, who was then the backbone of the United Gold Coast Convention.

Three others – Sgt. Odartey Lamptey, Cpl. Attipoe and Adjetey lost their lives during the 1948 disturbances.  I dare say that all the names mentioned above have not been adequately recognized.  As a matter of fact, the history of our great nation had been greatly distorted.  This nation did not begin from 1957.  “We must retrieve the past in order to move Forward (SanKofa)”.  Our Children must be told our history, and this is the right time, otherwise posterity will not pardon us.

Since February 4 marked the 42nd anniversary of the death of one of our patriots, Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah, I wish to dedicate this article to his memory and recall some of the attributes credited to him.

Many of Dr. Danquah’s admirers wrote tributes to his memory and I quote a few of their captions as follows:

The Price of Leadership, – by Dr. Nnamdi Aziiwe, former President of the Republic of Nigeria.

The Goal you sought to Reach always eluded you, – by  Prof. K.A. Busia, former Prime Minister of Ghana.

You were a great Nationalist, – by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, former leader of the Action Group in Nigeria.

A man of Great Principles, – by  Bafour Osei Akoto, former Chairman of the National Liberation Movement.

Destined to be Ghana’s un-installed President, – by  K.G. Konuah former Chairman of the Civil Service Commission.

You did not seek after personal fame or riches, – by Sir, Robert Armitage, former Governor, Nyasaland, and former Financial Secretary of the Gold Coast.

Champion of the People’s Rights, - by Nana Akyin I, former President of Central Region House of Chiefs.

You were the unquestioned leader, – by Dingle Foot Q.C. Solicitor-General of the United Kingdom.

An architect of the true Freedom and Justice, – by Nana Kwao Fraiku III, former President of the Western Region House of Chiefs

You laid down your life for Ghana, – by Archie Casely – Hayford.

Danquah: Akuafo Kanea, – by Koi Labie (Barrister-at-Law).

Men of your caliber are rare in Ghana, – by R.S. Blay.

You gave us the name Ghana, – by K. Brakatu Ateku, first Treasurer of the Gold Coast Youth Conference.

You died a martyr to the rule of the law, – by Prof. L.H. Ofosu-Appiah, Director, Encyclopaedia Africana.

Last but not the least, Lance Mallalieu Q.C. said, “It was you who led and achieved Ghana’s Independence for Ghana”.

Reflecting on the above attributes brings a better understanding of the man Dr. Joseph Kwame Kyeretwie Boakye Danquah.  Since his death, one or two historians and writers have come out with some of his achievements.  It seems, however, that Danquah’s achievements have either been taken for granted or due cognizance has not been given to them

JB indeed played an indefatigable role in building our nation.  As we celebrate our Golden Jubilee, we must also remember that Ghana, formally the Gold Coast, did not start form 1957.  Ghanaians must know where we really are coming from, in order to build upon it.  In fact this nation is not 50 years old, it is the Independence which is 50.  We must not distort our rich history.  It was also time we gave credit where it was due.

Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah was born on December 21, 1895.  At age 20, JB was already a clerk of the Supreme Court, Accra.  By the time he turned 32 in 1927, he had been awarded a PhD, probably the first in West Africa to achieve that feat.

A year earlier he had served as the Editor of the Magazine for the West Africa Students Union (WASU) and as President for the Gold Coast Student’s Association in the United Kingdom.  Since then, he remained in the forefront of national affairs and in 1929 became a foundation officer of the Gold Coast Youth Conference (GCYC).

JB started his fight against the British very early.  In 1930, he published essays in the Gold Coast Spectator to oppose the reduction of African Civil Servants salaries by Sir Ransford Slater’s government.  At the request of the Hon. J.E. Casely Hayford MBE, JB drafted a petition of unofficial members of the Legislature Council to the Secretary of State on the subject of reduction of African Civil Servants initial salary from £60 to £48 pounds (Sixty pounds to Forty-eight pounds) per annum.

Dr. Danquah played many pioneering roles towards our nation building.  He was the first to establish the first daily newspaper, West African Times and later named, The Times of West Africa (1930 – 1935).  Through the medium of that paper he pioneered the battle for freedom.  The Times of West Africa denounced the imperialist rule of one race by another and read into the Bond of 1844, the right of the Gold Coast people to freedom for which he fought all his life.

As a political crusader, her assumed the name “Zidig” in the Times column to expose and criticize the hypocritical deeds of the day.  In 1934, JB was the secretary for the delegation which went to Britain to protest against the Gold Coast sedition ordinance passed in that year.

With the insatiable desire to continue to serve the country in diverse ways, Dr. Danquah entered the Legislative Council in 1946.  During his term as a legislator (1946 – 1950), he was said to have asked an average of 99 questions per session on a variety of issues of public interest; 119 questions in 1947, 86 in 1948, 92 in 1949 and 102 in 1950.  They were not just questions but meaningful, constructive, and valuable contributions were also made.

There was no doubt how concerned he was about his country.  Among his invaluable contributions was his initiative to tabling a motion in the legislative council that the government should establish a national bank for the Gold Coast.  This motion was tabled on December 9, 1949.  At the time, Barclays Bank DCO (Dominion Colonial Overseas) was performing all the higher banking operations that a nation might be expected to undertake.  For this reason, the British Colonial Government felt that there was no need to establish a national bank.

Dr. Danquah, however, contended that there must be some generation of revenue in the higher system of banking, “if it had not been the case, Barclays would not have come here to operate at that level.  Therefore, in view of the fact that it is better for the Gold Coast to retain these profits in this country, it must be better for us to establish a national bank to do that work for us which Barclays are now being invited to do”,  Dr. Danquah concluded.  Hence, the establishment of the Bank of the Gold Coast now Bank of Ghana, and the Ghana Commercial Bank.

From his resources and his own initiative, Dr. Danquah researched into the history and traditions of the Gold Coast in 1928 and asserted that there was a link between the ancient Sudanese empire of Ghana and the Gold Coast.  Pursuant to his writing and presentations, our country the “Gold Coast” was renamed “Ghana” after Independence in 1957.  He was instrumental in bringing about the union between Ashanti and the southern parts of the country in the Burns Constitution of 1946.

Ghana’s foremost universities

Dr. Danquah was a member of the Elliot Commission formed in 1944 to advise the British Government on the establishment of a university for British West Africa.  A majority of the members recommended Ibadan, Nigeria, as the site of the University for West Africa.  Dr. J.B. Danquah wrote a minority report advocating a separate university for the Gold Coast.  It was, therefore, on the recommendation of Dr. Danquah that the University College of the Gold Coast was founded in 1948.

After Legon, the British did not intend to build any more universities in the country, but Dr. Danquah challenged the British that we did not need only a university for the humanities but also another for science and technology.  When the British asked him where the money for such a project could come from, Danquah retorted, “Where is our cocoa money that you stack up in your country”?

Eventually, the British had to agree, and this gave way to the birth of the Kumasi College of Technology (KCT).  Indeed, Dr. Danquah himself played a leading role in the selection of site etc.  He took the then Secretary for Education, Mr. Tom Barton, to Otumfuo Osei Agyeman Prempeh II to inform him about the government’s intention to start a University of Science and Technology.  Otumfuo with joy immediately offered to give them his assistance, by offering three sites to choose from.

These were the present Yaa Asantewaa Campus, a second at Fumesua and the present site.  Otumfuo asked no other person to take them round than the late Otumfuo Opoku Ware II who had then just completed Adisadel College and was working as a clerk in the Asantehene Lands Office.  The young Opoku Ware took Danquah and Barton to the three sites and Danquah personally chose the present site.  He even went further and took part in the surveying of the land.  This gesture earned him a membership to the College Council.

Work started immediately and in January 1951, the Kumasi College of Technology was opened.  One must note that Mr. Kwame Nkrumah became Head of Government in 1952, over a year after KCT had been established.

Dr. Danquah was not only into politics and education; he also had passion for sports, games and recreation.  He, therefore, showed his foresight in promoting sports in this country, even before independence.  He was at the forefront of the establishment of the Accra Sports Stadium.

In 1948, Dr. J.B. Danquah and Mr. George Grant established the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC).  In fact, JB was its creator and the driving force behind it.

Throughout the early days of the UGCC, he exhibited his vision for the Gold Coast as the Alan Burns Constitution indicated.  He was a liberal democrat and was of the view that the form of government for the individual must be paramount.  He sought ways of uniting the youth, by forming the Gold Coast Youth League.  He also found it necessary to bond the chiefs and the intelligentsia by seeking their views on important issues.

Throughout his campaign to the Legislative Assembly, his symbol was the elephant and in 1951 he was elected in the Legislative Assembly as first rural member of Akyem Abuakwa on the ticket of the UGCC under the new constitution of first elected African Government.  He was awarded First Bryant Munford Fellowship of the United Nations.

J.B. Danquah never forget his roots and on January 11, 1955 he was raised to the status of Twafohene or Chief of the Vanguard of Akyem Abuakwa by the State Council and given the title Barima Kyeretwie Boakye Danquah.  The same year, he was appointed member of The College Council of the Kumasi College of Technology.

During the campaign towards Independence, the CPP’s slogan became “Self-Government now” (around 1948) and that of the United Party was “Self-Government within the shortest possible time”.  One would realize that after all it took the country eight years (1949 – 1957) before we gained Independence.  After all it was not “Self-Government. now”.

At Independence when his dearest ambition in life – Self-Government for Ghana – was realized, he was among nine of 20 hand-picked foundation members of the Ghana Academy of Science.

When Kwame Nkrumah virtually introduced one–party state in the country, Dr. Danquah was the only one who stood against him and in 1960 was nominated by the United Party and stood against Kwame Nkrumah for the first Presidency of the Republic of Ghana.  Even though he lost, he won a number of unexpected votes.

The Times of London described Dr. Danquah as the “fearless Critic for Dr. Nkrumah” and this earned JB the detentions without trial, first in 1961.  His alleged crime was that he had conspired with some capitalist traders to induce the workers at Sekondi – Takoradi to go on strike against the government.  He was released on June 20, 1962.  On January 8, 1964 he was arrested and detained again without trial at the Nsawam Prisons.  He was put in cell No.9.

The condemned cell itself had a very high wall and a very strong iron gate within the Nsawam Maximum Security Prison.  From the high Iron Gate, you are led to another iron door which leads to the cells.  Each cell had its own iron door with a small pinhole.  It was about 3ft. by 6ft. thick.  In the cement floor of the cell No. 9 where J.B. Danquah lodged, was fixed a chain which was used to chain him.  One would wonder why the chain if there were all these iron gates and doors.

Dr. Danquah got the wind of his arrest earlier and his admirers advised him to escape but this is what he said, “If I run away, my family and children would not know my whereabouts but if I am in the country they would know my whereabouts”.  This was the man JB, very brave and courageous, but above all a family man, a father.

On February 4, 1965 he died in the cells.  Indeed, he died a martyr.  He did not seek personal fame or riches.

Interestingly, Dr. Danquah died 42 years ago and there have been a few governments but none of them have thought it wise to have a fitting memorial for this man.  His final funeral rites have not even been held.  When Danquah wanted to introduce democracy into the country, he was mocked at and given all kinds of names and slogans example, “Danquah Domo domo socks”.

As we celebrate the country’s Jubilee, it is the opportune time to remember our heroes, namely Odartey Lamptey, Adjetey, and Attipoe, as well as those I wish to refer to as the Big Seven, not the Big Six.  Ghana did not start from 1957; many fought and laid down their lives for Ghana.  Their efforts must not be in vain.

I call on the Ghana at 50 Secretariat to re-examine their programme for the celebration and make some provision for our heroes.  I call on the New Patriotic Party to find out about the family members of the heroes on whose wings they are flying now.

One may say that names like Hon. Nana Addo Dankwa, Akuffo-Addo and Obetsebi-Lamptey are included but they are with the government on their own merit.  Families of these heroes went through an ordeal.  We did not see them making their case at the National Reconciliation Commission because they knew there was no need. (http://www.ghanaculture.gov.gh/index1.php?linkid=65&archiveid=658&page=1&adate=06/02/2007)

7 comments:

  1. Kwaku Dee, thank you for this sprawling paradise of much needed information about our people. Please keep up the good work. Chancing upon your blog has really, really made my day!

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  4. oh DR. DANQUAH R.I.P such great person doesn't remember any day in Ghana and Africa,and always
    Nkrumah ungrateful person like Nkrumah am happy to know this story but am so sad..ahh

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