Danquah's Role In The Ritual Murder Of Akyea Mensah

Sat, 7 Mar 2015 Source: Mensah, Nana Akyea


Danquah's Role In The Ritual Murder Of Akyea Mensah: More Questions

Than Answers!

Feature Article by Nana Akyea Mensah, The Odikro.*

*Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheOdikro

Kwame Okoampa wrote a few days ago: "About the only fault Danquah made over the Akyea-Mensah cause célèbre, was his insistence on personally defending his nephews as a lawyer. But this was only to be expected."

- (Comment: Adwowa Mansa, Don't Overbite! Author: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Date: 2010-09-27 06:31:19, See comments under, Feature Article of Monday, 27 September 2010, Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame, "Indeed, Brave Men Lived Long Before Kwame Nkrumah!"

This raises many questions:

1, Danquah has been the solicitor and the Attorney-General of the Akyem Abuakwa State since 1928 until and after the assassination of Nana Akyea Mensah. As a solicitor, it was his responsibility to give timely legal counsel to his clients in the event where they are about to commit a crime.

He could not have claimed ignorance! There is a vast literature on human sacrifice among the Akan and especially among the Asante people that dates back to the earliest European contact with the coast, but

it deals exclusively with various forms of mortuary sacrifice. For example, see A. van Danzig and A. Jones, Pieter de Marees: Description and Historical Account of the Gold Kingdom of Guinea (1602) (Oxford, 1987), 184-5; S. T. E. Bowdich, Mission From Cape Coast Castle to Ashantee (London, 1819), 288-9; J. Dupuis, Journal of Residence in Ashantee (London, 1824), 116-7. Twentieth-century scholars have sought to make more of a distinction between 'judicial executions' and 'mortuary slayings', than the earlier observers: Wilks, 'Space, time and "human sacrifice"'.

Nana Akyea Mensah's speech to the Council of Elders of the Akyem Abuakwa State on the eve of his assassination in a barbaric act of human sacrifice, was the kind of speech expected from J. B. Danquah at

that time. It was a dereliction of duty, not to talk of his active encouragement, knowing very well what the intentions of the chiefs were at that night when they met in preparations for the WEREMPE custom. This is already a criminal negligence. The fact that he was not prosecuted for this does not make it right.

" There was also an Akan belief that a messenger must accompany a dead chief on his last journey to the land of his ancestors. Someone therefore had to be killed to serve that purpose. The murder of Akyea Mensa (Apedwahene), a case popularly referred to as “Kyebi Murder Trial” was purported to have served as a ritual sacrifice, to accompany a dead paramount chief of Kyebi. The deceased was killed and buried on a riverbed, after the murderers had diverted the course of

the brook and redirected the same brook to conceal the grave. Volume 4 Chapter 9 - The Role Of Religious Bodies – Complicity Or Resistance To Human Rights Abuses

2, We need to know from those who claim, "the only fault Danquah made over the Akyea-Mensah cause célèbre, was his insistence on personally defending his nephews as a lawyer," to tell us how the Council of Elders resolved their dispute with Nana Akyea Mensah? Here is a very good summary of the background to the case. Interestingly, I found it in a preview to a play, "Where Is The Chief?”


"In the 1990s, a wizard of a CID man, retired Police Assistant Commissioner, H.A Nuamah, painstakingly wrote a very detailed account of the story, complete with pictures, and published it as a book: "THE


It is this book which has served as the raw material for playwright, Gloria Yartey, with over 100 scripts to her credit to come out with her latest sensation, true life story, entitled: WHERE IS THE CHIEF?

According to ACP/Mr. Nuamah, the climax of the week-long funeral of the late Okyehene Nana Sir Ofori Atta I was set for Sunday, 27th February, 1944. The last rite marking the end of the funeral was the celebration of the WEREMPE custom, which was the act of blackening the stool of the late chief, formally making him an ancestor in the line of kings.

In the past, this rite was, nationwide, performed with slaughtering a human being and using his blood to "purify" the stool.

In the evening of Saturday, 26th February, 1944 all the principal players in the stool blackening ritual assembled for final preparations.

The question was which human being’s blood was to be used for the ceremony. Present was Nana Akyea Mensah, Chief of Apedwa, and traditionally commander of the Okyehene’s royal bodyguard.

Nana Mensah quite clearly explained to his colleagues that times had changed. The colonial authorities at the Christianborg Castle in Osu had taken over the power of life and death from the chiefs. It was no

longer possible for the chiefs to sit anywhere and condemn anybody –if they used any human blood in the ritual, the Gold Coast Police would arrest them.

However, hardliners at the meeting opposed Nana Mensah, and, after the meeting, they planned that when Nana came in the morning for the rites, meaning to use the blood of goats and sheep, they would kill him and use his blood – after all he was top royal blood, and the only mole in their midst." (Where Is The Chief?' Drama Preview: ‘Where Is The Chief?' Source: Times Posted on: 20-Apr-2008).

Are you trying to tell me no one contacted J. B. Danquah, who was also in town for the funeral over such a fundamental issue of law which had resulted in an unprecedented impasse at a meeting of the Council of Elders of the Akyem Abuakwa State to which he had been, and continued to be its Attorney-General for the previous sixteen years without a single break? What did Danquah tell them, if he did not disagree with Akyea Mensah's legal opinions on the subject of human sacrifice? Do we have any records anywhere that we see Danquah specifically condemning this barbaric act that any lizard knew was going on in the Gold Coast?

3, What about the accusations that Akyea Mensah, who was working as a clerk to the Court, had information on Danquah's unwarranted expenditure at the expense of the Akyem Abuakwa State was going to be exposed by Nana Akyea Mensah, after the death of his protégé, Nana Sir Ofori-Atta I? Were there other factors, such as the one we read from the following theses? "This case involved a breakaway attempt on the part of two subordinate stools in the Akyem Abuakwa paramountcy that was fueled by conflict over who should control revenue accruing from diamond mining. It lasted from 1922 to 1937 when a final appeal to the Privy Council was withdrawn. For a history of this case see Baron Holmes, 'Economic and political organizations in the Gold Coast, 1920-1945' (Ph.D. thesis, The University of Chicago, 1972), 483-505"

Was Nana Akyea Mensah singled out by Danquah in order to avoid answering for what we may call today "causing financial loss to the Akyem Abuakwa State"? This is Rathbone's take on the matter: It was possible to advance conspiratorial theories about motive in the Kibi murder since the victim, Akyea Mensah, was an odikro (sub-chief) in the Akyem Abuakwa state and had an intimate and potentially damaging knowledge of its internal affairs. Apart from being of suitably high status he had been close to the Akyem Abuakwa stool and stool family. Some claimed his death had been made to look like a ritual murder, but that really he had been killed because he 'proposed to reveal irregularities in the conduct of [the state's] Treasury in public after Ofori Atta I's death'. - Rathbone, Murder and Politics In The

Gold Coast, p160.)

4, Why is it that even though it was clear from the beginning that Danquah's lack-luster defence of the accused, who were his own relatives, namely, Asare Apietu, Kwame Kagya, Kwaku Amoako Atta, Kwadwo Amoako, Kwasi Pipim, Opoku Ahwenee, A. E. B. Danquah and Owusu Akyem-Tenteng, he would stubbornly insist on leading the case right up to the Privy Council, the final court of appeal, which ensured that they would be sentenced to death by hanging by the neck until they


"To all men of goodwill, organize, organize, organize! The struggle is far from over! We prefer self government in danger, to servitude in tranquility!

Forward ever, backward never" –

Nana Akyea Mensah, The Odikro.

Facebook: /www.facebook.com/people/Nana-Akyea-Mensah Blog: nanaakyeamensah.blogspot.com/

Twitter: /twitter.com/The Odikro

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FROM THE AUTHOR (Author responds to Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe). Read on:

Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure to announce the formal opening of this special focus on a matter that has implications on the political attitudes of the villain of the Gold Coast, Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah. I want to see the bottom of this matter! I am inviting anyone who has information to participate in this discussion. It will also be very interesting to find out how DR. J. B. Danquah intellectually accommodated and morally justified such repugnant crimes in his political philosophy and world outlook.

To set the ball rolling, here is a thread of discussions that make an interesting beginning. We owe it to a Ghanaweb discussion forum on a feature article in which Danquah is seen pathetically trying to undermine Kwame Nkrumah even after the people of Gold Coast had systematically rejected him as a leader! What is curious here is why he was rejected by his own people of Akyem Abuakwa whom he had served as their Attorney General since 1928?

Let's go straight to the point. It is no secret, that in matters of law and its interpretation, Dr. J. B. Danquah was the man to deal with in the Akyem Abuakwa state. He had virtually served as the Attorney General of Nana Sir Ofori Atta I, since his return from Oxford University in 1928 up till the very evening the legality or otherwise of ritual murder came up for discussion on the eve of the murder of Nana Akyea Mensah on Saturday, 26th February, 1944. The issue at stake was what they call the WEREMPE rituals or the "blackening of the stool".

Nana Akyea Mensah, Chief of Apedwa, and traditionally commander of the Okyehene's royal bodyguard, opposed the use of human blood to blacken the stool as was the custom, on the grounds that this would be illegal, and they were running the risk of being arrested and charged with murder. The strong disagreements that ensued on Saturday evening over such a fundamental legal issue, at a time Danquah was present for the funerals makes it somewhat odd that the aggrieved parties who disagreed with Nana Akyea Mensah would not have contacted him in order to prove that Akyea Mensah was talking bunkums! It would be very interesting for science to find out exactly at what time in the evolution of this case was Danquah consulted. Was it before or after the murder of Nana Akyea Mensah?

And just why do you think Danquah would not allow more competent lawyers into the defence and insisted on defending them personally? There is a school of thought, to which I belong, that believes that the reason as to, (as you put it), " his insistence on personally defending his nephews as a lawyer", was because of the earlier assurances of the legality of the act, and the encouragement to these ignorant peasants of his personal defence even if the matter came up. Danquah knew he was an incompetent lawyer, but he had exchanged for his name not being mentioned as an accomplice in order to defend them. The fear was not to disappoint the defendants who had every confidence in him. Besides, who knows what the accused was going to divulge to any good defence lawyer that would take over the case from Danquah?

They could have argued that they were misled by Danquah, pleaded guilty with remorse, and saved themselves from the hangman's noose! By incompetently sitting on the case, Danquah ensured that they would be hanged, and unless dead men began to tell stories, as it was in the case of Akyea Mensah's ghost, he was hoping to bury his role in this sordid affair with the condemned persons.

I am very happy that people are beginning to ask questions that have the power to smoke you out for further exposure! Come again, Okoampa! Adwowa Mansa is perfectly right! How do you account for the defeat of J. B. Danquah by his own nephew, Aaron Ofori Atta?


Columnist: Mensah, Nana Akyea