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Opinions Wed, 30 Aug 2006

The Fallacies of J. B. Danquahs Heroic Legacy (IV)

Dedicated to Nana Akumfi Ameyaw of Takyiman, “A True National Hero,” who together with the Brong-Kyempem Federation, saved the Country from a Civil War, threatened by the NLM-NPP Declaration of Secessionism on Nov. 2, 1956.


What I have been trying to show in my articles is that Dr. J. B. Danquah was not “a compatriot saint of Ghana” or “a pathfinder” of Ghana’s politics as President Kufuor claimed in his February 2005 public pronouncement. Certainly, since he was rejected by his own Akyem Abuakwa electorate in the 1954 and 1956 general elections, Danquah could not have been “the best Prime Minister Ghana never had,” as contained in President Kufuor’s speech. Based on his pro-British Empire stands (read Part III of this series), absolute contempt for the ordinary people, anti-electoral process, secessionist assertion, and the coup plots against Kwame Nkrumah’s government, Danquah does not deserve to have the University of Ghana renamed after him, as urged by Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin of Akyem Abuakwa in February 2005. As stated in my introductory article, President Kufuor and the Okyehene’s views, and the serialized articles by Dr. Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr. (whose father was a foot soldier of Kwame Nkrumah, a Young Pioneer official and a graduate of the School of Music and Drama at Legon) suffer from a severe historical amnesia. They were deliberately orchestrated to honor Danquah in a big way during the coming 50th Anniversary of Ghana’s independence. Otherwise, why would President Kufuor appoint Mr. Tony Oteng-Gyasi as Chairman of the University of Ghana Council (Ghanaweb, July 11, 2006)?


The Undemocratic Behavior of Danquah and His Allies after the 1956 Election. In November of 1957, a Commission of Enquiry, headed by the British Judge J. Jackson, found serious abuses of power by the Akyem Abuakwa State Council, in terms of its willful promotion of the NLM as the sole party of the State. In its findings, the Jackson Commission accused Ofori Atta II of failing to behave “as an impartial statesman.” He was also accused of using “coercion to bring other chiefs into line,” in such a case as the oath-taking to support J. B. Danquah and the NLM. Additionally, the Commission found an abuse of power in the appointment of Danquah as Twafohene, and in the financial manipulation of the State Council in favor of Danquah and the NLM. During the Commission’s sittings, Danquah categorically denounced the authority of the government saying that the people of Akyem were not subject to the laws of Ghana (see the Report of Jackson Commission, 1958). The irony is that the Akyem Abuakwa electorate rejected all the five NLM candidates (including Danquah himself) in the 1956 election. Because of the Jackson Commission’s findings, Nana Kena II called a meeting of a section of the State Council at Kukurantumi on June 13, 1958, at which time Ofori Atta II was glumly deposed as Omanhene, while Nana Kena II was appointed as Regent (Simensen, 1975).


In his July 13, 1959 letter to Mr Brockway in London, J. B. Danquah said, “I was against any election as premature and favoured Constituent Assembly,” where the pre-ordained rulers would be selected to rule (see Historic Speeches of Danquah). To understand Danquah’s reason for disregarding the electoral process and disrespecting the CPP victories and Nkrumah’s government, we must point to the root of Danquah’s political ideology. Aside from being a “tame student of Kant’s moral philosophy” (Danquah, Vol. 1), Danquah (including Busia) echoed and practiced Edmund Burke’s ideology of the rule by the preordained elite (Bankole, 1963; Bing, 1968). Burke’s political philosophy was developed at Oxford University into an ideology that the elite is born to rule the world. Thus, it does society great harm, Burke reasoned, if the masses (affirming Aristotle’s views that the masses should have been slaves) are allowed to participate in governance by voting. So, since Kwame Nkrumah was a goldsmith’s son with some “ntafo” (Northerners) in his government (Danquah’s infamous remarks), and since the CPP was voted into power mostly by the ordinary people, Danquah and Busia considered the CPP government illegitimate and dangerous to the society; and hence must be destroyed. Accordingly, Dr. K. A. Busia and the NLM warned the British government in August of 1955 of grisly aftereffects, if the country attained independence under the CPP government (Ninisn, 1991). It was also for the same reason that the Danquah-Busia camp resorted to the undemocratic methods and terrorist bomb attacks to overthrow the democratically elected government of Kwame Nkrumah, before Ghana’s independence.


1. On November 10, 1955, Nkrumah’s house was bombed while he was resting and working in his house with his secretary and others because of a terrible cold. 2. On August 3, 1956, the Opposition boycotted the constitutional debate tabled by the CPP government. 3. On November 20, 1956, the NLM and NPP sent a resolution to the Secretary for Colonies, demanding separate independence for Asante and Northern Territories (McFarland & Owusu-Ansah, 1995). 4. Before independence, Dr. Busia traveled to London to make a plea to the British Government to deny granting independence to Ghana. He said, “We still need you in the Gold Coast…Your experiment there is not complete. Sometimes I wonder why you seem such in a hurry to wash your hands off us (Nkrumah, 1957). 5. On the eve of Ghana’s Independence on March 6, 1957, the Ewe Unificationists, led by S.G. Antor (Danquah’s buddy), formed themselves into a ragged guerilla army in Alavanyo and prepared for an armed insurrection with homemade guns against the CPP government. (See my Thesis for M.A. Degree in History, 1977). The Governor- General sent troops to the region to put down the revolt (Mahoney, 1983).

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What we must keep in mind is that Kwame Nkrumah’s Government had just inherited four fragmented territories from the British Government, when these primitive acts of terrorism became the language of the Opposition. This was manifested by the undemocratic and/or violent activities of sectarian groups in Asante, Accra and Volta Region. But the first duty of any government is to preserve the internal security of the country and govern. Hence, the consolidation of national unity and security for which the Ghanaian electorate voted was strengthened by the parliament’s enactment of the Nationality and Citizenship Act of 1957 (Act 1), and the Preventive Detention Act of 1958 (Act 17). These laws were debated in parliament before their enactment and the consent of the British Governor-General. The first Act was for the deportation of aliens found to be “engaged in activities inimical to the unity, security and stability of the Ghanaian state” (Ninsin, 1991). The act only renewed the powers previously possessed and exercised by the Colonial Government. The second Act, the PDA, “made it possible for the government to imprison, without trial, some Ghanaians whose activities were found to be prejudicial to the state security and stability.” As such, it was an emergency measure to foster a strong national unity against both ethnocentrism and the “danger of fragmentation,” and national rivalry (Ninsin). These Acts became the laws of the land by which the people, irrespective of (one’s) social status, profession, political affiliation or ethnic background, had to live. On the contrary, the disjointed Opposition disregarded these laws and continued its vow to make the country ungovernable in order to overthrow the CPP government by violence. To this end, the government issued a White Paper in 1959 registering its unadulterated vow “to the very existence of the state of Ghana by [not] allowing to go unchecked plots and conspiracies which might result in the destruction of the state itself” (Ninsin). Two measures were taken: (i) “the elimination of sectarian or sectional tendencies which militate against the unity and security of the Ghanaian state; and (ii) the elimination of the structural basis of the tendency toward national fragmentation.” This reinforced the “Avoidance of Discrimination Act” of 1957, which forbade “racial, tribal, regional as well as religious political organizations and propaganda” (Ninsin). Above all, it produced the United Party for all the political parties to become one thereby reinforcing the unity of the nation-state of Ghana, Prof. Kwame Ninsin explained. Was this an act of dictatorship? The other alternative would have been an outright proscription and the closure of the offices of the ethno-regional and parochial political parties in Ghana. Yet, the Opposition, now turned enemy of the State, accelerated its acts of terrorism to make the country ungovernable.


1. After the passage of the Avoidance Act, the anti-Nkrumah movement, the Ga-Shifimo Kpee, was formally launched in Accra, where a sheep was slaughtered and oaths were sworn against all ‘strangers,’ including Nkrumah who was accused of encumbering a Ga constituency seat. Strangely, Danquah and S. G. Antor were in attendance. From then, on the organization’s youth wing, “Tokyo Joes,” thronged themselves at vantage points in Accra hooting and jeering at Nkrumah and the CPP leaders. After his trip from abroad, Nkrumah was met with placards reading: “Welcome Mr. Dictator,” “PM Is Goldsmith Your father’s name?” etc. (Austin, 1964; Awoonor, 1991, Bing, 1974). 2. In 1958, there was a plot to assassinate Nkrumah at the airport and then overthrow the CPP government as Nkrumah was about to leave for a state visit to India. The plot was discovered and the plotters were arrested (Forward Ever, 1977). 3. On July 7, 1961, two bombs exploded in Accra, one wrecking Nkrumah’s statue in front of the Parliament House (McFarland &Owusu-Ansah). 4. In September 1961, there was a conspiracy among the senior Ghanaian military officers, but the plot collapsed because of the death of the chief conspirator Brigadier General Joseph E. Michel in an airplane crash (Mahoney, 1983). 5. On August 1, 1962, as Nkrumah was returning form a state visit to Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), and had gotten out of his car to speak to the school children in the crowd that had gathered to greet him at Kulungugu, a bomb contained in a bouquet carried to him by a schoolgirl, exploded; it killed several school children and injured many others. The victims’ bodies bled from cuts caused by the splinters from the bomb (Kanu 1982; Tetteh, 1999). Nkrumah sustained a serious injury but he refused to have any device to deaden his pain while the operation went on. 6. On September 9, 1962, another bomb exploded near the “Flagstaff House, where the Ghana Young Pioneers Orchestra Band was entertaining the audience to modern Ghanaian Music.” The explosion killed one person and injured many others (Tetteh). 7. On September 18, 1962, two bombs exploded in Accra killing and injuring many people. One of these bomb blasts occurred in Lucas House in Accra, where nine children fell dead on the spot with their intestines gushed out of their bodies (Tetteh). 8. September 20, 1962, two bombs exploded in Accra, killing and injuring several people (McFarland & Owusu-Ansah). 9. On September 22, 1962, there was another bomb explosion in Accra (McFarland & Owusu-Ansah; Tetteh). 10. On January 11, 1963, another bomb exploded at a CPP rally at the Accra Sports Stadium shortly after Nkrumah had left the scene. This explosion killed over twenty people and more than four hundred people were injured; among the victims were children of the Young Pioneer movement (McFarland & Owusu-Ansah). 11. January 1, 1964, a police officer, Seth Ametewe, was posted on guard duty at the Flagstaff House to assassinate Nkrumah. His five shots missed Nkrumah, but succeeded in killing his personal security officer, Sgt. Salifu Dagarti. The question is, what government would permit these primitive and terrorist methods of attack by an opposing political party? In the light of these senseless, barbaric bomb attacks against the founder of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the Young Pioneers and other school children, how was the CPP government going to protect and develop the newly independent State of Ghana? The main reason for the repeated bomb attacks against the Ghana Young Pioneers, according to Dr. Tetteh, was that Nkrumah’s enemies saw in the Ghana Young Pioneers movement (of which I was a member at Koforidua) “the source of permanent power if allowed to last for at least one generation or 35 years.” At any rate, given Dr. J. B. Danquah’s hostility towards the democratic process and given his open statement during the Jackson Commission of 1958 indicating that the laws of Ghana did not apply to him, was it surprising that he resorted to undemocratic and violent methods? As demonstrated above, J. B. Danquah and his cronies chose the uncivilized methods and terrorism, including collaboration with the CIA to kill Kwame Nkrumah and overthrow his government. Was this what Danquah meant when he said that Nkrumah would pay with his neck for the Positive Action crusade in 1950? What a shameful legacy!


Therefore, President Kufour should, on the 50th Anniversary of Ghana’s Independence and in the spirit of a true reconciliation, pardon J. B. Danquah and his cronies for their coup plots and/or their senseless bomb attacks that killed and maimed several Young Pioneers and other school children, instead of promoting him as a national hero.

Kwame Botwe-Asamoah, Ph.D. Professor of African and African American History University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260


** I am not in a debate with any person or persons who express emotions, because debate, as we know, is the art of debunking the data of one’s opponent with facts.


Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.


Columnist: Botwe-Asamoah, Kwame Dr
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