Dr J.B Danquah And His Dogma Of "Property Owning Democracy"

Fri, 24 Sep 2010 Source: Mohammed, Chief Obosu

In 1949, at a historical town called Saltpond, saw the birth of a new political

force, namely, United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC). It was to set the pace for the

liberation of the Gold Coast and its citizens, by achieving self-independence within

the shortest possible time. This vision was led and inspired by a Philosopher,

author, Politician, lawyer and theologian, Dr Joseph Boakye Danquah, a great man,

who was acclaimed, “the Doyen of Gold Coast Politics”, by the British, as well as

his contemporaries.

Indeed, it sowed the seed for political consciousness and emancipation from the

horror of colonialism and imperialist rule. At that landmark inauguration, clouded

by Clergymen, Chiefs, Professionals, lawyers, Business men, etc who were front

runners of that movement, Dr Joseph Boakye Danquah, made a strong worded

declaration, of which I quote, “We have come from all the corners of this

country…(to decide) how we are to be governed, a new kind of freedom, a Gold Coast

liberty. We left our homes in Ghana and came down here to build for ourselves a new

home: There is one thing we brought with us from ancient freedom. Today the safety

of that freedom is threatened; has been continuously threatened for 100 years; since

the Bond of 1844 and the time has come for a decision”.

Undeniable, these gestures by Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah espoused a new form of

“Political eruption”, which kicked start the journey and struggle for independence

and the creation of a modern Ghana. The much revered and dynamic leader, Dr Kwame

Nkrumah, was then flown into the soil of his ancestors to assist in the liberation

of its people, under the aegis of the United Gold Coast Convention (U.G.C.C).

Prior to the chaos that led to the breakaway of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, to form his own

movement, he was the only payee executive member of the United Gold Coast Convention

(U.G.C.C) and was given the responsibility to organize, create the awareness,

mobilize and spearhead the ideals for which they stood for.

Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah a conservative and a liberal thinker, like his colleague

Dr Kwame Nkrumah, a leftist, had a vision and a path he had always hoped for Ghana

to toe, though both great men were parallel on ideological values.

He dreamt and craved for a modern society called Ghana, were individual freedom,

fundamental human rights and civil liberty will be upheld in the transformation of

the Ghanaian economy and that, wealth will be spread to the majority of the masses

and not, the elite few. This is to enable the broad masses own properties, as a

secure investment for their children and old age. In this vision, metamorphosed the

advancement of the philosophy, “property Owning Democracy”, so describe by, John

Rawls, the founder of that ideology. Dr.Joseph Boakye Danquah’s immortal dogma was

“to liberate the energies of the people for the growth of a property owning

democracy in this land, with right to life, freedom and justice, as the principles

to which the government and the laws of the land should be dedicated in order

specifically to enrich life, property and liberty of each and every citizen”.

Alas, Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah couldn’t live more to see either his reign or

doctrine of Property owning democracy materialized, due to his incarceration, which

led to his untimely death, courtesy the infamous and dreadful Prevention Detention

Act (PDA), introduced by Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to gag and destroy his critics.

Unlike the populism of the soviet unions and its captains of socialism, the likes of

China, Cuba, North Korea etc, that sort to create a social equilibrium by way of

sharing equally the scarce resources of their nation among its citizens, which was a

recipe for mass poverty, laziness, idleness and corruption. Dr Joseph Boakye Danquah

saw the need for a much more pragmatic approach of building a nation via creating

wealth and ownership, by the vast majority of its people. In the words of the

academician and visionary leader, Prof. Kofi Abrefa Busia, “there can be no

meaningful democracy if the vast majority of the people live in poverty”.

Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah’s version of property owning democracy was to create an

enabling environment (positive economic indicators), were individuals will be able

to carry out free enterprises, so as to create wealth for themselves and their

households. And also to enable them acquire and own properties, to enhance their

businesses, in a form of collateral to get credits, to ensure a better livelihood.

This venture does not only allow the vast majority of the people to create wealth

but also encourage personal initiative, creativity and challenge individuals to be

self-reliance and independent for their own common good and that of the nation.

Fortunately, the spirit by which his ideals inspired many well meaning Ghanaians

continues to resonate till this day, and the generations yet unborn, will continue

to enjoy its sweets, if the New Patriotic Party (NPP), an inheritance of the noble

Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition, is consistently mandated by the good people of Ghana,

in the realm of affairs.

Ghana, in this epoch of post-independence, has witnessed two governments born out of

the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition and its ideals, thus the Progress Party (PP) led

by Prime Minister Prof. Abrefa Busia and ceremonial president Edward Akufo Addo,

whose tenure were short-sleeved by a military coup, and the most successful yet of

all, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), led by the able President John Agyekum Kufuor.

In the immediate past 8 years regime of the Kufuor led government, which was build

on three major cardinals – Good Governance, Private-Sector Development and Human

Resource Development, saw a vivid manifestation of the “property Owning Democracy”

concept with an automatic social justice as its guiding principle. It was evident;

therefore, Private-Sector Development was made the engine growth of the nation, and

prudent economic measures vigorously pursued.

This as a result saw many individual enterprises flourish, and the emergence of many

banks in view of the banking sector reform. By that, businesses got credit with

ease, to increase their capacity and wealth creation. The economy was quadrupled

from $2.Billion of GDP to over $16 Billion of GDP in 2000 to 2008 respectively. A

formidable housing policy was enhanced to create an “affordable” home for the

majority of Ghanaians, so they can own their homes. However, much would have been

done in that sphere, if the governments mandate was renewed, in the not too distant

past elections of 2008.

Again, under that administration saw a sharp decline in poverty levels from 39

percent in 1999 to 28% in 2006. Indeed, other social-sectors such as the Healthcare,

also witnessed massive improvement as a result of the introduction of the Free

Maternal Healthcare and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), that provided

free medical treatment to a colossal majority of the populace, which is now been

taking aback by the populist-undemocratic so called Social-Democrats of the ruling

National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Incontrovertibly, Good Governance was at its climax during that tenure, which

culminated in Ghana been the first country to come out of the African Peer Review

Mechanism (APRM), with success and also securing of a whopping $547million for the

Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s). Fundamental Human rights and civil liberties

were upheld, which prompted the repeal of the criminal libel law, to ensure press

freedom. To that extent, rule of law was the order of the day, not rule of man.

To mention a few of the undertones of property owning democracy in the Kufuor led

regime, it was obvious, the standard of living of the majority of the people were

uplifted, with right to do business within a conducive atmosphere, and the right to

own landed properties.

Obviously, the concept of “property owning democracy” is pro-poor and was meant to

restore smiles, happiness and prosperity to all individuals and their dependants.

Our forebears, Dr Joseph Boakye Danquah and his likes, did not think of themselves,

the elites, when they envisaged and spearheaded the principle of a property owning

democracy, but rather sort to liberate the energies of individuals, in the ambiance

of rule of law to build a modern society called Ghana. We owe it a duty, both the

state and all individuals, to advance this vision, making the Ghanaian society a

better one, for us and our children’s children.

Long Live The Daquah-Busia-Dombo Tradition!

God Bless Ghana!

Chief Obosu Mohammed



***The author is a Student, Youth Activist and a Radical adherent of the

Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition, with a strong appetite for grass-root politicking. He

is also the Country Representative for the World Youth Alliance and a Board member

on the “Shelter Project”, a Social Welfare and Government of Ghana initiative.***

Columnist: Mohammed, Chief Obosu