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Opinions Wed, 27 Sep 2017

A day that never was: A view on Founders’ Day

Once again, here we are quibbling over an apostrophe in a needless war over who the founder or founders of Ghana was or were.

It is needless for three reasons, namely, the accolade ‘founders’, the people or event being commemorated and the date being declared as a holiday.

The accolade ‘founder’ is as misleading as ‘discoverer’ without some proper historical context. It is as trifling as the Eurocentric claims that Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ America or Mungo Park ‘discovered’ the River Niger.

Just as we would not call the Portuguese ‘discoverers’ of Ghana because they were the first Europeans to arrive on the Gold Coast (Ghana) or the British ‘founders’ of Ghana because they established the present geographical space called Ghana so can we not call some selected people founders because of their role in the effort to reclaim our independence from the British colonialists.

Regarding the people or event, any student of the country’s history knows that independence was not an event! It was a process! It was a process that predated the birth of Kwame Nkrumah in 1909(?) or the founding of Aborigines’ Rights Protection Society (ARPS) in 1897 or the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) in 1947.

A person like Wallace Johnson of West African Youth League was calling for independence from the British in the 1930s. Before then chiefs like Nana Aggrey of Cape Coast who were then the heads of the component states that make up the present day Ghana were challenging the usurpation of their traditional authority by the British in the 1860s!

That said the obsession with 21st September is baffling. 21st September is not even Nkrumah’s birthday! As he notes in his autobiography, ‘Assuming, therefore, that the year of my birth was 1909, the Saturday nearest to the middle of September in that year was the 18th. It seems likely, therefore, that I was born on Saturday, 18th September, 1909.’

If we are still bent on holidays to honour some few politicians then let’s leave it at that. It is symbolic! Nkrumah is the symbol of Ghana’s independence!

We already honour all and sundry who played a part in regaining our independence by celebrating Independence Day and Republic Day as holidays.

Do we need another holiday to celebrate some few individuals? In any case why should it be the politicians who ought to be celebrated? What about the World War II veterans whose sacrifice catalysed the independence movement? Why is February 28th not a holiday?

Is this a political struggle about elites concerned about their heritage or a struggle for historical accuracy? How does this impact the average Ghanaian? God bless our homeland Ghana!
Columnist: Dr. Edem Adotey
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