"We in this country sometimes do not trouble ourselves to look out and think of the great things outside our world. There are thousands and thousands of our people right over in America, who were carried away from our country years and years back. We may not care to follow what they are doing, but sooner or later, we shall have to know. Over there our people are thinking, there young men are dreaming dreams and their maidens are seeing visions. They are suggesting to themselves that the time has come when they should have some place in their native land of Africa." Joseph Ephraim Casely Hayford, Gold Coast (Ghanaian) Nationalist, Pan-Africanist, celebrated lawyer and a journalist.
Joseph Ephraim Casely Hayford

Joseph Ephraim Casely Hayford, MBE, or Ekra-Agiman (29 September 1866–11 August 1930) was a greatest political thinker and a nationalist in west Africa. The Anomabo-born native of Fante extraction was a celebrated journalist, editor, author, lawyer, educator, and politician who supported pan-African nationalism.
George Padmore, the leading theorist of Pan-Africanism, regarded Joseph Ephraim Casely Hayford as "the greatest national political leader and social reformer" in West Africa before 1930. Many of his peers referred to him as the "uncrowned king of West Africa." In fact, this man tutored and mentored all the nationalist leaders in West Africa and some part of Africa.
As intellectual heir to Edward Blyden (1832-1912), the Liberian-West Indian scholar and statesman, Casely Hayford transformed his mentor`s ideals concerning African unity into actual political activity. As a journalist, lawyer, and politician, he contributed to the evolution of Ghana`s political independence and socio-economic development. He was a link between the old elite of the nineteenth century and the new modern elite of the twentieth century, epitomizing the values and strengths of the West African coast intellectual, who stood as equals to their European counterparts.
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J. E. Casely-Hayford, founder of the National Congress of British West Africa.
Image from "Africa and Unity", by V.B. Thompson Humanities, 1969.

Casely Hayford is a native of Anomabo, an important intellectual town from whose belly gave birth to jacob-wilson-seydr-james-emman-kwegyir-aggrey, Kofi Annan and others. Casely Hayford was born in Cape Coast on September 29, 1866 to Reverend Joseph de Graft Hayford of Cape Coast Anona clan and Mrs. de Graft Hayford (Mary Ewarapa Brew) of Anomabo Anona clan, a direct descendant of Brew family original from Ireland.
Rev. Joseph de Graft Hayford (1840-1919), father of J E Casely Hayford

 Rev. Joseph de Graft Hayford (1840-1919), the patriarch who sired illustrious sons that changed Gold Coast and their generations still making ground-breaking accomplishments across the globe was a direct descendant of Nana Egyir Ansah,the 6th Chief of Oguaa (Cape Coast). His father was Rev James Hayford aka Kwamena Afuah (It was the name Afua that the British could not pronounce so they corrupted it into Hayford) and the his mother was Elizabeth,sister of Rev William De Graft, the man who brought bibles to Gold Coast.
 Rev De Graft Hayford and Mary had 4 famous sons, the eldest was Ernest_James_Hayford,the first Gold Coaster to become a physician (medical doctor), a celebrated lawyer and a prolific writer. He who was born in Anomabo in 1817 and died in 1857 in Britain.
 Rev Mark James Hayford, brother of J E Casely Cayford

The third son was the famous clergyman Rev Mark James Hayford whose son was J._E._S._de_Graft-Hayford, the first indigenous Air Force Commander in Ghana and Black Sub-Saharan Africa. He was also acting Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) for a brief period in 1962. Their last born was the little known Sydney Casely Hayford.
 J E Casely Hayford  was the second son of his parents. As it is typical of Ghanaian ethnic Fantes, in addition to his European names, he was given the Fante names of Ekra Agyiman, which he rarely used. From his father, who had been one of the founders of the Fante Confederacy in the 1870s, for which he was imprisoned briefly, young Joseph imbibed a strong sense of Fante nationalism.

Casely Hayfordf first married Beatrice Madeline Pinnock. Their son Archie Casely-Hayford became a barrister, district magistrate and the first Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources in the First Republic of Ghana. While lodging at a hostel for African bachelors in 1893 and studying at the Inner Temple, Hayford met Adelaide Smith. They later married, and she returned with him to Ghana in 1896 after he was received by the bar. She became a prominent writer. Casely Hayford and Adelaide  had only one child, a daughter Gladys_Casely-Hayford who became one of West Africa`s first modern female poets (click here;
Gladys May Casely Hayford is the first Gold Coast (Ghanaian) female poet/writer. She was the daughter of the fante-Gold coast nationalist and solicitor and writer J E Casely Hayford and Adelaide Casely Hayford.She was born in 1904 and died in 1950.

Joseph Ephraim Casely Hayford`s marriage to Beatrice Madelene (née Pinnock) also produced  Archibald Casely-Hayford, a lawyer, Gold Coast nationalist and former Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Ghana’s First Republic.

Archibald Casely-Hayford with a Kente cloth sandwiched between President Nixon`s wife and another old lady, Nixon is standing right side of his wife. He was the son of J E Casely Hayford and a lawyer, Gold Coast nationalist and former Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Ghana’s First Republic. Circa 1957

Archibald Casely-Hayford and his wife Essie had a son, Beattie_Casely-Hayford, who was a Ghanaian engineer. He was the first Director of the Ghana Arts Council, a co-founder of the Ghana National Dance Ensemble, and Director of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation.
Beattie Casely Hayford, grandson of  J E Casely Hayford

Beattie also had Leo, Sydney,Pinnock and others.

Casely Hayford has famous great grand-children making him proud in his grave. They are:
Gus_Casely-Hayford, British curator and cultural historian. The former Executive Director of Arts Strategy for Arts Council England.
In 2012 he was a Jury member of the National Open Art Competition and the National Portrait Gallery BP Portrait Award. In 2013 he is the Chair of the Caine Prize.

Gus Casely Hayford, British curator and cultural historian, grandson of J E Casely Hayford in Ghana.

margaretcasely-hayford, General Counsel, Director of Legal Services and Company Secretary for the John Lewis Partnership, one of the UK’s top 10 retail businesses. She was the former solicitor for Chelsea FC
Lawyer Margaret Casely-Hayford, granddaugther of J E Casely Hayford and director of legal services at the John Lewis Partnership.

-Joe_Casely-Hayford, OBE, a celebrated British fashion designer.

And finally grand-son
Charlie_Casely-Hayford, a menswear designer based in London. He founded international menswear brand Casely-Hayford at the age of 22 with his father, the acclaimed British fashion designer Joe Casely-Hayford OBE.

Charlie_Casely-Hayford, great grandson of J E Casely Hayford a menswear designer based in London

After completing his secondary education at the Wesleyan Boys High School in Cape Coast now Mfantsipim School, he traveled to Sierra Leone to attend Fourah Bay College, but he does not seem to have finished the requirements for the B.A. degree. When he returned to the Gold Coast, he served the Wesleyan church as the principal of two of its boys secondary schools,,  first in Accra where he was dismissed from his position at the school for his political activism and then in Cape Coast.
 In 1885 he began working as a journalist for the Western Echo, which was owned by his uncle James Hutton Brew (The pioneer of West African journalism) see  and By 1888 Casely Hayford was the editor, and he renamed the paper as the the Gold Coast Echo. From 1890 to 1896 he was co-proprietor of the Gold Coast Chronicle. He also wrote articles for the Wesleyan Methodist Times. In area of journalism Casely Hayford and his uncle Hutton Brew are still being researched for who actually authored a ground-breaking and best-selling colonial novel "Marita, Or, The folly of Love: A novel by a Native" which also appeared as an article in Western Echo newspaper in 1886. see(
After having career in journalism for some time, Casely Hayford became interested in law and became articled to a European lawyer in Cape Coast. In 1893, he went to London, where he entered the Inner Temple to study law. At the same time, he also studied economics and law as a non-collegiate student in Cambridge. He was called to the bar in 1896. That year, he returned with his second wife adelaide-casely-hayford- to Gold Coast  (Ghana)
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 Mrs. Adelaide Casely Hayford second wife of J E Casely Hayford. the Great Gold Coast Pan Africanist and celebrated lawyer, at the time of her marriage.Image from "An African Victorian Feminist", by Adelaide M. Cromwell. Frank Cass, London, 1986.

He set up his chambers in Cape Coast, establishing a busy and lucrative practice, which he later moved to Axim and Sekondi. He also continued his work as a journalist, editing the Gold Coast Leader. In 1904, he helped found the Mfantsipim School.
Shortly after Casely Hayford returned to the Gold Coast, the Lands Bill of 1897 motivated the traditional leaders and the educated elite to join forces in organizing the Aborigines Rights Protection Society (ARPS) to protect their rights in land use and ownership. Its very name underscored its cultural and political orientation. The new society organized a series of public demonstrations against the bill and, in 1898, commissioned a deputation of three wealthy merchants to go to England to put its case against the Lands Bill before the Colonial Office. When the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Joseph Chamberlain, assured the deputation that he agreed that "native law shall remain and prevail" with regard to the devolution of land, the ARPS claimed an important victory.

This early success, however, proved to be the high water mark in its activities as a political interest group.Meanwhile, Casely Hayford, together with his relative, John_Mensah_Sarbah (1864-1910), the distinguished Fante statesman, lawyer and one of the architects of Ghana`s independence struggles, produced much of the scholarly writing elucidating the traditional structures and beliefs of the indigenous states. In Gold Coast Native Institutions, originally prepared as the brief for the Lands Bill deputation and published in 1903, Casely Hayford carefully delineated the basic social, political and economic institutions of the peoples of the Gold Coast, stressing the inherent democratic nature of indigenous institutions as a conscious contribution to the political debate. When Sarbah suddenly died in 1910, he succeeded John Mensah Sarbah as president of the Aborigines' Rights Protection Society, the first anti-colonial organization founded in the Gold Coast
While visiting London to protest the Forest Ordinance of 1911 he was part of a group that gave financial assistance to Dusé Mohamed Ali to get his African Times and Orient Review off the ground. Others were Francis T. Dove and C. W. Betts from Sierra Leone and Dr. Oguntola Sapara from Lagos. Casely Hayford was also heavily involved in the political movement for African emancipation. He participated in Booker T. Washington's International Conference on the Negro in 1912, and his correspondence with Washington fostered the pan-African movement in both Africa and the United States.
Moreover, he emphasized the complexity of local cultural and political forms, hammering home the point that the British were dealing with a highly sophisticated group of peoples, not the "savage and primitive" peoples of their imagination. He argued that indigenous institutions were highly adaptable and receptive to modernity, and thus potentially useful for development and progress. In addition, he published other works, but apart from Ethiopia Unbound, they mostly reiterate the argument made in Native Institutions. In 1916, the colonial government publicly acknowledged Casely Hayford`s influence in local politics by nominating him to serve in the Legislative Council, a post he held until the new constitution was introduced in 1925. In the elections that followed, he was elected as the member for Sekondi-Takoradi, which he remained until his death in 1930.

For much of his career in the legislature, he served as the leader of the unofficial educated members, but faced stiff opposition from some of the traditional rulers, headed by Ofori Atta I (1881-1943) of Akim Abuakwa. But in 1929, the two leaders were reconciled and thereafter, Casely Hayford and the traditional rulers cooperated in the pursuit of political reform and social justice. In addition, he served on a number of government commissions and as a member of the Board of Education.

As a legislator and as a member of the various commissions, he worked tirelessly to ensure the protection of indigenous rights and prerogatives as well as to contribute to modern development plans, particularly those that related to political reform, education, and economic life. Throughout his lifetime, Casely Hayford was active in the press, which served as an important base for the dissemination of his ideas. He was involved with several newspapers, but only the Gold Coast Leader, published from 1902 to 1934, proved to be viable for any length of time. Like Herbert Macaulay in Nigeria, he believed that the press was a critical institution for promoting an indigenous civic society and he used it as an instrument for delineating his political platform and furthering his organizational strategy.

A disciple of Edward Blyden, Casely Hayford was an even more forceful proponent of the idea of West African unity. Whereas Blyden`s ideas remained ethereal and undefined, Casely Hayford articulated a clear-cut program of regional unification. In 1911, he elucidated his Pan-African philosophy in Ethiopia Unbound, a thinly veiled autobiographical novel in which the hero was a lawyer and nationalist agitator, who ruminated on the dilemmas of modernity and the evils of racism and European Christian hypocrisy. In this work, he set out the importance of retaining the best of indigenous institutions, of preserving fundamental laws and customs that defined national consciousness.

Advocating the unification of the four English-speaking colonies in a West African Dominion, he outlined a constitution that recognized the principles of elective representation and African nationality. Fully aware of contemporary Pan-Africanism in the United States, Casely Hayford made it clear that he differed from African American thinking on this issue. He was more African-oriented culturally, more universal in his treatment of race questions, and specifically concerned with the idea of a West African cultural and political community which embraced, among other things, a West African church and a West African university. Driving home this point, he argued that African Americans, as a result of their wholesale assimilation into American culture, were disqualified from assuming the role of political mentors to Africans. Initiative for African development and change, he insisted, must come from "cultured West Africans" familiar with local politics and environment. Later, he seems to have become a little more tolerant of outside agency, but nevertheless, he still maintained that potential immigrants, if allowed to settle in Africa, must accept local jurisdiction.

At the beginning of World War I, Casely Hayford and some of his colleagues initiated discussions about the need to form a united British West African front for the purposes of gaining widespread structural reforms and greater local autonomy when the war ended. They derived their organizational ideology and tactics from diverse sources: traditional African ideas of independence, developing local ideas of modernity, the National Congress of India, the Wilsonian ideas of self-determination and democracy, and contemporary anti-colonial reformers in Britain. Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) greatly inspired Casely Hayford`s thinking. In addition, he was familiar with the organizations and ideas of Marcus Garvey and W. E. B. DuBois, but jealously guarded the right of Africans to speak on their own behalf.

After prolonged discussion and correspondence, some of which took place within the pages of the West African newspapers, leaders of the educated elites of the four British West African colonies came together in 1920 in Accra, where they inaugurated the National Congress of British West Africa (NCBWA). Historians of West African political history regard the NCBWA as the watershed of modern political activity in West Africa. Although the colonial government tried to downplay the influence of the new organization, there is no doubt that subsequent political and educational reforms took the shape originally promulgated by the NCBWA.
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Members of the National Congress of British West Africa who visited London in 1920.
From "The Revolutionary Years", by J. B. Webster and A. A. Boahen, M. Tidy, 192

The NCBWA's  had its first meeting, at the Rogers (African) Club in Accra from 11 to 29 March 1920, and was hailed by West Africa magazine as the "beginning of a new era" (3 April 1920). It was attended by fifty-two delegates: forty-two from the Gold Coast itself; six from Nigeria; three from Sierra Leone; and one from the Gambia. Most delegates were members of the Western-educated coastal elite, drawn from law, medicine, journalism, and business. Casely Hayford and Thomas Hutton-Mills, who was also a Gold Coast lawyer, gave the opening addresses. During the inaugural conference, topics discussed included education, African self-determination, commerce, banking, and shipping. Here is excerpt of Speech by J. E. Casely Hayford at the Founding Conference of the National Congress of British West Africa in Accra, Gold Coast, ca. 11 March 1920
 "Then again there is the question of Commercial Expansion. We in this country sometimes do not trouble ourselves to look out and think of the great things outside our world. There are thousands and thousands of our people right over in America, who were carried away from our country years and years back. We may not care to follow what they are doing, but sooner or later, we shall have to know. Over there our people are thinking, there young men are dreaming dreams and their maidens are seeing visions. They are suggesting to themselves that the time has come when they should have some place in their native land of Africa. I understand that a great Society has been formed there called the Universal Negro Improvement Association, and they have launched out a ship. Probably in course of time some of their ships may come our way. I think, Ladies and Gentlemen, that it will not be out of place for us to encourage them to come among us in order that they may try and make money as all others are doing. But the express reason why I bring this forward to-night is that they have no idea of our local circumstances and conditions. They have no idea of our laws and institutions, nor as to our rights of property, and they may seek to get into touch with us by some channels that are not the right ones. Therefore I appeal to you young gentlemen, leaders of thought in West Africa, particularly to you, the Delegates of this Conference, that you should so steer our men and so influence them in constitutional methods that they may know that although they went from this country, we who remained on this soil have known better and understand the relations that exist between the Government and the governed, so that if they desire to come back and enjoy the milk and honey of their native land they may do so in a right and constitutional manner."

He represented the Congress in London in 1920, to demand constitutional reforms from the colonial secretary, and address the League of Nations Union, but was criticized for accepting inadequate concessions from the British. He became the first patron of the West African Students' Union in 1925.

By 1920, Casely Hayford dominated elite politics in the Gold Coast as well as in the NCBWA. After the introduction of elective representation and the subsequent emergence of political parties, his influence began to wane. Nevertheless, his untimely death in 1930 became the occasion of many tributes and hagiographic assessments of his career. Since then, biographical writing has continued to emphasize his heroic qualities as one of the founding fathers of the Ghanaian nation. it is regrettable to say that The National Congress was dissolved shortly after Casely Hayford's death in 1930, however,many West Africans, Africans and the world at large learned from this great son of Anomabo and Ghana.

Casely Hayford's novel ethiopia-unbound (see here: is one of the first novels in English by an African. It has been cited as the earliest pan-African fiction.The novel is set in both Africa and England. It relies on philosophical debates between an African and his English friend, as well as references to contemporary African events and ancient African history, to provide a context for its exploration of African identity and the struggle for emancipation.


Casely Hayford?s Speeches and Writings Casely Hayford, J. E. Gold Coast Native Institutions.

With Thoughts upon a Healthy Imperial Policy for the Gold Coast and Ashanti (London: Sweet and Maxwell, 1903).

Casely Hayford, J. E. Ethiopia Unbound: Studies in Race Emancipation (London: Frank Cass, 1969, first published in 1911)

asely Hayford, J. E. The Truth about the West African Land Question (London: C. M. Phillips, 1913)

Casely Hayford, J. E. United West Africa (London: F. T. Phillips, 1919).Sampson, Magnus J. (ed.).

West African Leadership: Public Speeches Delivered by J. E. Casely-Hayford, M.E.E., M.L.C. (London: Frank Cass, 1969; first published in 1949)

Biographical Accounts

Ephson, Isaac S. Gallery of Gold Coast Celebrities 1632-1958 (Accra: Ilen Publications Ltd., 1969), pp. 89-92.

Ofosu-Appiah, L. H. Joseph Ephraim Casely Hayford: The Man of Vision and Faith (Accra-Tema: Ghana Publishing Corporation for the Ghana Academy of Arts and Science, 1975).

Sampson, Magnus J. Gold Coast Men of Affairs (London: Dawsons, 1937).Sampson, Magnus J. Makers of Modern Ghana, vol.1 (Accra: Anowuo Educational Publications), pp.131-142.

Ugonna, F. Nnabuenyi. ?Introduction,? in J. E. Casely Hayford, Ethiopia Unbound: Studies in Race Emancipation (London: Frank Cass, 1969).

Political History

Kimble, David. A Political History of Ghana, 1850-1957 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963).

Langley, J. Ayodele. Pan-Africanism and Nationalism in West Africa 1900-1945 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973).

The National Congress of British West Africa

Regional Mobilization and an emergent Pan-African consciousness

Michael G Hanchard, Article Author
After World War I, there was an insurgence of political movements in West Africa, an unintended consequence of the rise of a Western educated, indigenous elite. The National Congress of British West Africa was founded in 1920 by J.Casely Hayford, a Ghanaian lawyer educated in Ghana and London. Patterned in part on the formation of the Indian National Congress, which sought independence from Britain through national self-determination, the Congress's leadership broadened the concept of nationalism to encompass all West African colonies under British rule. Thus Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and ultimately the Gold Coast (Ghana) were brought under the nationalist rubric of the Congress.

The Congress leadership desired "a multi-national West African state controlled by an elite drawn from all ethnic groups" (Webster, 1971). This stance of the Congress leadership was in stark contrast to British colonial policy, which sought to emphasize ethnic differences within and between colonies in order to limit the prospect of political alliances between ethnic groups. British rule and racism against Africans was seen as a commonality among various groups divided by language, culture and territory.

Hayford "advocated a united West Africa which he later saw as a prelude to the union of the whole of Africa and of the black race." (Boahen, 1975;126). He had actually begun work towards creating a Congress in 1913. His brother, Rev. Mark Hayford, was part of the delegation of the Aboriginal Rights Protection Society that attended the 1912 conference at Tuskegee convened by Booker T. Washington (possible linkage for another entry). Hayford would subsequently begin correspondence with Washington and later both Marcus Garvey and W.E.B. DuBois.

The Congress journal, The British West African National Review, provided information on Congress aims and activities. The congress met with significant opposition, however, from two distinct but related sources. First, the British authorities sought to frustrate the congress at every turn. Although the purpose of the congress was ultimately conservative, in the sense that it was elite-driven and concerned with maintaining good relations with Britain, its existence also threatened British rule. A second line of antagonists towards the congress were traditional chiefs, who saw the prospects of their own future power and influence in Ghanaian society diminished by a Congress led by a Western educated but nonetheless Ghanaian elite.

Consequently, the Ashanti chieftancy, most notably Ofori Atta, and the British officials often collaborated to undermine the effectiveness of the Congress' attempts at broadening its popular and organizational base by arguing that the organization's efforts were attempting to erode traditional values and institutions of indigenous life. Casely Hayford's death effectively brought an end to the congress, even though its political effectiveness had long been undermined by its ideology and internal dissension. The next era of Pan-African nationalists were more radical in their aims for territorial independence from European colonizers although ironically, many of the English-speaking former colonies of Britain remain members of the British Commonwealth to the present day.


  1. This article can be read in the Culture and Religion section of Xew People, a Senegalese publication; or on the Rastaites website, based in the UK.


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