Opinions Mon, 5 Feb 2007

Atta-Mills is wrong on Ghana's Independence History

A statement on myjoyonline.com that also briefly appeared on Monday January 29, 2007 on Ghanaweb, reported a Press Conference the NDC Presidential Candidate, Prof. Evans Atta-Mills gave at which the esteemed Professor is reported to have said:

"It is ironic that the NPP, being an offshoot of the Busia-Danquah tradition that opposed the "Motion of Destiny" proposed by Dr. Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in 1956 and which paved the way for independence, are today the political leaders of Ghana "

With the advent of Ghana's 50th Celebration of its Independence it is time to correct some mistruths and folktales that do not square with history. No one will question the magnificent job that Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah personally and with his political Party, the Convention People's Party (CPP) did in securing the Gold Coast its independence on March 6, 1957. Nkrumah is not the subject of an argument here. However the popular myth that the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) that is traced to the modern NPP actively sabotaged the Gold Coast's Independence and did not even want it as Professor Mills states in his Press Conference must be debunked. I am tempted to write a treatise on "HOW GOLD COAST BECAME GHANA" but I shall resist that and specifically address the issue raised by Prof Mills. Here are the historical facts as recounted in the "History of Modern Ghana." and "A History of Ghana" by F.K Buah.

Prior to granting Gold Coast its independence and following an election in February 1951 that the CPP won handily, Nkrumah who was then in prison for inciting riots and sedition, was released to take his seat in the Legislative Assembly on February 12, 1951. He was on the same day sworn in as the Leader of Government Business which quickly evolved into Prime Minister and leader of the Cabinet. In 1954, Nkrumah and the CPP introduced a new Constitution. It was at the introduction of this Constitution in the Gold Coast Legislative Assembly that Nkrumah moved what was described at that time as "Motion of Destiny"; that the Assembly should authorize Nkrumah's government to:

"Request the British Government to introduce legislation leading to Ghana's Independence Act as soon as the necessary constitutional and administrative arrangements are made"

Before we go further, let us note that the "Motion of Destiny " was made in 1954 and not 1956 as Prof. Mills states. Also the name "Ghana" did not originate with the motion as is being implied by the good Professor. All the way back in the 1920s, writings by Lady Lugard, Rev. WT Balmer and Dr. Aggrey had established a link between the inhabitants of the then Gold Coast with the ancient kingdom of Ghana. In 1952, five years before independence, Dr. K.A. Busia had founded the Ghana Congress Party (his first). Dr. Danquah had drafted a Constitution in 1952 called "Constitution for Ghanaland" and in that same year, Nkrumah had founded Ghana National College. In short the name change had been accepted and used in vogue long before independence in 1957.

Let us now get back to the Legislative Assembly in 1954. Dr J.B. Danquah, leader of the UGCC, from which the CPP had splintered in 1949, made an amendment to Nkrumah's motion that:

"Given the demand of the people for independence, the Legislative Assembly on its own should declare the country's independence on 6th March 1954 and the British Government should be requested to extend recognition to the new state. Independence is a God-given right and not a gift of the British Parliament."

Since the CPP carried an overwhelming majority in the Assembly, Nkrumah's motion carried. Please Prof. Mills, an amendment to a motion is not an opposition. A call for unilateral declaration of independence is courageous, recognizes the yearnings of the people and is extremely far from opposing Ghana's independence. In fact while Danquah's amendment was specific with dates, Nkrumah's motion was the one that included the stretch of time with conditions. Happily, Ghana became independent on March 6 (Danquah) 1957 (Nkrumah) and the two did not live happily ever after... but we should learn from them, assess and accept their true historical gifts to our nation and live happily ever after as proud and united Ghanaians.

It is not by accident that on the eve of Ghana's celebration, its current President, John Agyekum Kufuor would be bestowed the honor of the Chairman of African Union--- the successor to the Organization of African Unity for which our dear Nkrumah toiled and gave his all that the greater Africa shall be free. Perhaps the fathers of our nation have made peace in heaven and are telling us something, especially as we embark on the second half of our century life. No Prof. Mills, a reading of the political history of Ghana clearly shows that the CPP and the NPP trace their common roots to the UGCC and the children of Ghana's Abraham, are equally entitled to be rulers of the country as its people give consent. And if I were the Prof., in the name of unity, I shall stay away from claiming this inheritance since NDC, his Party, is not in the will he invokes.

Kofi A. Boateng, Chairman - NPP-USA

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

Columnist: Boateng, Kofi A.