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Opinions Sun, 18 Jun 2006

When Dancers Play Historians And Thinkers - Part 3

In the main, many a fanatical Nkrumaist predicates the purportedly unmatched political genius of the proverbial African Show Boy on the latter?s, admittedly, remarkable transformation of the Ghanaian architectural landscape. Such structures came in the form, and shape, of roadways, schools, hospitals, townships and other aspects of Ghanaian culture.

Still, as late Ghanaian political scientist Dr. Kweku Folson aptly and eloquently pointed out, Ghana?s pre-colonial landscape ? both culturally and materially or architecturally ? was hardly a cosmic vacuum of abysmally protean proportions that was only accorded a definitive configuration with the sudden, propitious and magical appearance of President Kwame Nkrumah.

To be certain, even prior to the flamboyant advent of Nkrumah on the erstwhile Gold Coast?s political podium in 1947, Ghana was easily the most materially and culturally advanced nation in the so-called sub-Saharan Africa, which was why the British Crown regarded the erstwhile Gold Coast as its ?model colony? on the African continent (see Kweku Folson, ?An African Tragedy,? Encounter Vol. XXXIII, No. 1 [July 1969]: 39).

In sum, For at least two centuries prior to the advent of the so-called Nkrumah phenomenon, Ghana had experienced a stellar cast of leadership, spanning the known gamut of human endeavor; Nkrumah?s appearance, in essence, was thus no revolutionary rupture but squarely in keeping with a leadership continuum. It does untold injustice, therefore, to envisage the highly checkered Nkrumah tenure as any other than just a matter of course, particularly regarding the tired and outright extravagant Nkrumaist myth that it was the putative African Show Boy who singularly invented the ideological praxis of Pan-Africanism, whose ideological anti-thesis, for some curiously ahistorical reason, was personified by Dr. J. B. Danquah (see Kwame Botwe-Asamoah, ?The Fallacies of J. B. Danquah?s Heroic Legacy,? Ghanaweb.com 6/4/06).

Indeed, as shall be made definitively clear in due course, it was Dr. Danquah who transformed Joseph Ephraim Casely-Hayford?s ?Pan-West Africanism,? in the shape of the historic and indubitably revolutionary Congress of British West Africa. And, needless to say, it was in the wake of Casely-Hayford?s passing that the classical concept of ?Nationalism,? as the geopolitical self-assertion of the modern nation-state attains any semblance of actuality. And the latter event was almost singularly midwifed by Dr. J. B. Danquah, the putatively ?anointed? successor of J. E. Casely-Hayford.

But that the putative Doyen of Gold Coast and Ghanaian politics would, shortly thereafter, switch gear from Casely-Hayford?s ?Pan-West Africanism? into ?Nationalism Proper,? would be amply examined during the course of this series. Suffice it to intimate herein that the ideological shift from the more diffuse tenor of Pan-West Africanism to Nationalism was ineluctably on purely temporally, pragmatic grounds. For Danquah was the uncanny and genius pragmatist, where Nkrumah was the ?visionary? and Casely-Hayford, a pioneering missionary.

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Regarding Ghana?s long, pre-Nkrumaist tradition of dynamic and ?visionary? leadership, in the more proactive sense of the word, Professor Folson writes, inter alia: ?However, anyone who knows anything about the history of Ghana before Nkrumah?s rule cannot be impressed by the exaggerations with which his achievements are held out to the outside world and the rest of Africa by his ideological admirers on the Left and also by his professional propagandists. Lofty ideals in politics and public life, including those of ?Pan-Africanism? and the need to uphold[ing] the dignity of the African, have been commonplaces in Ghana for at least a century. When a Ghanaian thinks of the proud cultures of the various ethnic groups making up Ghana today, and of such distinguished public figures as Mensah Sarbah, Attoh Ahuma, Casely-Hayford, James Kwegyir Aggrey, the leaders of the Fanti Confederacy, Nana Sir Ofori-Atta I, Dr. Danquah, et al., he cannot help feeling hurt when non-Ghanaians talk and write as if Ghana was a collection of lost peoples without a history, without culture, and without a tradition of public service until Nkrumah appeared on the scene ? as if Nkrumah was to Ghana what Newton was said to be to Science: ?Ghana and Ghana?s people lay hid in Night/God said ?Let Nkrumah be? and all was Light ? (?African Tragedy? 38).

Further, Folson poignantly observes: ?Nor can one wax ecstatic over Nkrumah?s practical achievements because [contrary to what some fanatical Nkrumaists would have their spectators and audiences believe] he [Nkrumah] had fifteen years to unfold the genius to which he so immoderately [immodestly?] laid claim: after[,] all the country never lacked adequate economic resources to support its development. The colonial era, despite its acute shortcomings and its basically objectionable character, was not the stagnant era of waste that the latter-day simplificateurs would have us believe. Even during the colonial era Ghana, then the Gold Coast, was already ahead of all the other colonies in tropical Africa (including the Belgian Congo and the Rhodesias, if one considers only the Africans and excludes the over-privileged and pampered white minorities). That is why one Governor of the Gold Coast, Sir Alan Burns, could describe the country in 1947 as ?the model colony,? and is, indeed, the basic reason why the Gold Coast was the first colony in Black Tropical Africa to become independent. The question is not what Nkrumah achieved, but what he could have achieved with the time and resources at his disposal.?

And to the preceding, it bears observing that the much bandied myth that it was the Nkrumah-led but hardly Nkrumah-organized ?Positive Action? revolts that singularly precipitated Ghana?s attainment of self-rule in 1957 is just that, a blatant myth. To be certain, a complex concatenation of events induced the latter event which, in any case, as Danquah himself attested, could have occurred well before 1957 (see Okoampa-Ahoofe, Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana). And here must also be stressed the fact that it was upon Dr. Danquah that the Watson Commission called to craft a transitional constitution for Ghana?s eventual attainment of self-governance, not Mr. Kwame Nkrumah (see David Apter, Ghana In Transition).

Indeed, in his three-part ?J. B. Danquah Memorial Lectures? series (2002), Dr. S. K. B. Asante, a leading Ghanaian constitutional lawyer and scholar authoritatively notes that the legacy of the Doyen of Gold Coast and Ghanaian politics lies squarely in the critical arena of democratic culture, human rights and development, not sheer architectural accretion or sterile terrestrial monuments woefully and virtually rendered dysfunctional by a carcinogenic culture of political paralysis, such as prevailed under Nkrumah?s tenure. To the preceding effect, the invested Ghanaian chieftain writes, among other things: ?[T]he barest familiarity with the life of J. B. Danquah will confirm that he was preoccupied with governance, constitutionalism, law and development. A foremost statesman [where Nkrumah was a formidable politician], lawyer and philosopher, Dr. Danquah devoted his life to the emancipation and development of Ghana and its citizens and to the creation of an appropriate constitutional and legal framework for the realization of that objective. He was equally dedicated to the enunciation and protection of fundamental human rights for all Ghanaians? (As ante, ?J. B. Danquah Memorial Lectures, 35th Series, 2002).

Yet, reading the rather desultory and patently irreverent introduction of Mr. Kwame Botwe-Asamoah?s article titled ?The Fallacies of J. B. Danquah?s Heroic Legacy,? the unsuspecting reader is given the immitigably insulting image of the putative Doyen of Gold Coast and Ghanaian politics as one whose stature barely extended beyond Danquah?s native village of Kyebi-Adadientem: ?It is one thing adoring one?s kin and/or mentor regardless of his or her nefarious deeds and treasonable acts, and it is another thing trying to impose such an individual on the nation as a hero. Every nationalist, seeker of truth, sincere scholar and student of Ghana?s political history should have been deeply startled and traumatized by the sudden public utterances by President Kufuor and Okye[n]hene Amoatia Ofori Panyin in February 2005, and the subsequent articles by Dr. Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe in a desperate attempt to turn[ing] Dr. J.[sic] Danquah into a ?compatriot saint of Ghana.? In fact, the arguments they advanced in support of their mendacious claims suffer from a severe historical amnesia.?

And here, we are delighted to report to our well-meaning readers that on June 9, 2006, this author received an Electronic Mail (E-mail) from Mr. Kwame Botwe-Asamoah purported to be rejoining the first installment in our ongoing series. In the main, having brought the revered name of Osagyefo Sir Nana Ofori-Atta I into abject disrepute, verging on outright blasphemy, Mr. Botwe-Asamoah proceeded to proudly recall that: ?It was Ofori-Atta I [this author?s great-granduncle] who crowned my father (a poor cocoa farmer) ?Ohene? [chief] in early 1930 [when Mr. Botwe-Asamoah was not even born].?

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Just what the latter bit of his personal, familial history is supposed to imply, other than the obvious fact that the letter-writer might have been experiencing acute cognitive dissonance, otherwise known in plain language as mental confusion, at the time of his writing, is not clear. Nonetheless, we intend to highlight portions of this missive, pathetically titled ?Response to Your Article,? during the course of this series.

Suffice it to observe herein that in the third of his ten-point grievance against Dr. Danquah and the latter?s elder brother, King Ofori-Atta I, Mr. Botwe-Asamoah writes: ?Third, in view of his [their?] total contempt for ordinary people in the country, especially the so-called immigrant Kwahu, Ga, Krobo, Ewe, Northern, Juaben and Akwapim people in Akyem Abuakwa, how was [were] he [they] a [sic] nationalist[s]??

Interestingly, in his E-mail, the same writer claims to appreciate human geography in a way that Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., could barely imagine. Perhaps somebody ought to educate Mr. Botwe-Asamoah and his ilk, particularly Neo-Pharaoh Abu Jihad, who obviously appears to be the brain behind Mr. Botwe-Asamoah?s article, as to how it came about that the New Juaben residents occupied their present homeland; and also, the historical relationship between Okyeman, particularly Akyem-Abuakwa, and the Akwapin State or Okuapeman, as well as all the other ethnic and sub-ethnic groups.

Mr. Botwe-Asamoah, it is also significant to observe, continues to deny the patent and blatant fact of his being an anti-Akan, Ewe nationalist. We have nothing to say at this juncture, except to keep meticulously and deliberately peeling at the jumbo onion of mendacity presented us by the Nkrumaists and Nkrumacrats.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., teaches English and Journalism at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is the author of twelve books, including ?Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana.?

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

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame