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Opinions Wed, 28 May 2014

Boko Haram Scholars And King Kongi - Part 2

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

In this installment of our Boko Haram Scholars Series (I hope I don't get sidetracked into exposing these intellectual charlatans and reprobates more than is necessary), I have decided to take up the rather instructive and insightful analogy of that fairly regular Ghanaweb.com commentator who pseudonymously styles him-/herself simply as "The Mask." Regarding the relationship between Dr. Danquah and King Kongi, this is how s/he rather picturesquely and tersely portrayed it: "It would be silly to suggest in any quarters that the carpenter working on the third floor of a building did more work than the people who laid the cornerstone, the foundation."

I take the foregoing quote to not only refer to the celebrated and putative Doyen of Gold Coast and Ghanaian Politics but, in fact, all the major players who fiercely fought for the liberation of the erstwhile Gold Coast (present-day Ghana) from the stultifying clutches of British colonial domination. Among these players include John Mensah-Sarbah, Esq., widely celebrated and regarded as Modern Ghana's first Western-educated lawyer. And for the purposes of this column, Modern Ghana is taken to refer to the period immediately following the Bond of 1844, which effectively laid out the contours of the British colonial occupation of present-day Ghana.

Indeed, those who have studied the writings of Dr. Danquah ought to be fully aware of the fact of his classical and seminal treatise, Akan Laws And Customs And The Akyem-Abuakwa Constitution's having taken its remarkable source of inspiration from Mr. Mensah-Sarbah's equally seminal work on The Fante Constitution. What Danquah essentially does is to broadly expand on the more sub-ethnically specific work of his predecessor, thereby organically emphasizing the cultural unity of the Akan people of Ghana, Togo, Ivory Coast and elsewhere in the West African sub-region.

At any rate, what I want to especially highlight here is the immense contribution by Mensah-Sarbah, through his yeomanly activities within the Aborigines' Rights Protection Society, to legally prevent the British colonial regime in 1897, or thereabouts, from the abuse of statutory laws to unilaterally expropriate indigenous Ghanaian landed properties. Had Mensah-Sarbah failed in his epic battle to preserve lands vested in our traditional rulers, in trust for the people - including the deceased (or our ancestors), the living and the unborn (or posterity), the history of Ghana would have become strikingly similar to that of countries like South Africa, Namibia, Kenya and Zimbabwe, among others. And Ghana's liberation timeline would have been pushed further backward.

Of course, we need to highlight the equally significant contributions of Messrs. Joseph Ephraim Casely-Hayford and Attoh-Ahumah, Kobina Sekyi, Danquah's mentor, and a host of others. The Doyen himself was unstinting in his recognition and acknowledgment of the remarkable contributions of personalities like Drs. Nanka-Bruce, Akiwumi, Asafu-Adjei, and Mr. George Alfred "Paa" Grant. Our intellectually poised and knowledgeable Ghanaweb.com commentator, "The Mask," further observes as follows: "But we must also not forget the immense contribution Nkrumah made. When J. B. Danquah was the presidential candidate (leader) - [actually Vice-President, George Grant was the President] of the UGCC, Kwame Nkrumah was the general secretary who had just arrived [in the Gold Coast in late 1947] totally oblivious of the foundation that had been laid and the people who laid the foundation. When J. B. Danquah, after schooling in Britain, was working for African progress in the 1920s, Nkrumah was a teenager trying to distinguish his left from his right."

Those who have read my book Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana (2005), are well aware of the fact of Danquah's having served as the first, or founding-, president of the West African Students' Union (WASU), the same organization that Nkrumah would use to launch his remarkable career as a political organizer and future premier of an independent Ghana. Nkrumah could not have been totally oblivious of the fact that it was pioneers like Dr. Danqah who made his political mobilization efforts towards the 1945 London hosting of the Fifth Pan-African Congress possible.

As a student at Achimota College, Nkrumah would have also been aware of the yeomanly activities of Dr. Danquah on the national front, including the latter's leadership of the seminal Gold Coast Youth Conference (GCYC), the very vehicle that would ultimately morph into the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), the first nationwide semblance of a modern political party. It was, of course, the UGCC that Nkrumah, as General-Secretary, would use to launch his meteoric, albeit turbulent and decidedly extortionate, political career.

On the seminal contribution of Dr. Danquah towards the founding of Ghana's flagship academy, the University of Ghana (See also Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana), this is what "The Mask" has to say: "As one of the few African members of the Gold Coast Legislative Assembly, he [Danquah] vehemently opposed the British decision to set up only one university for British West Africa in Nigeria. His action led to the decision [of the British colonial regime] to set up the University of Ghana - Legon." The Nkrumacratic joke has often been that Dr. Danquah never once won an election to the Gold Coast Legislative Assembly through the popular vote, except by the constitutional mandate of the Gold Coast House of Chiefs.

My simple riposte to the preceding is that his immense and formidable contributions to the intellectual, cultural and political development of Modern Ghana more than justify his "unelected" presence in the Gold Coast Legislative Assembly. The bulletin or catalog of the University of Ghana amply details Danquah seminal and enviable contribution to the advancement of the country's brain trust. The Boko Haram Scholars clearly resent this indelible fact of Ghana's history; fortunately, there is absolutely nothing that any of them can do to revise and upend the truth of the history of the nation's academic development.

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*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Department of English

Nassau Community College of SUNY

Garden City, New York

Board Member, The Nassau Review

May 11, 2014

E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net

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Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame