Ghana .@50.com

Sun, 12 Apr 2009 Source: Appiah, kofi

G H A N A @ 5 0 . C O M


Ghana is a country located in West Africa. The name Ghana was obtained on attaining independence. Hitherto, it was known and called the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast comprised The Colony (or British Protectorate), that is the present day Western, Central, portions of the Eastern and the whole of Greater Accra regions; Ashanti and Dagomba – ostensibly with Salaga as the major trading center in the north as its commercial capital. Major native kingdoms at the time were Futa Toro for Senegal, Futa Jalon for Sierra Leone, Kaarta, Boure and Macina forming the Empire of El Haj Omar (present day Mali); the Mossi States for Burkina; Dahomey for Benin and Togo, the Empire of Sokoto, Bornu, the Yoruba States and Adamawa as present day Nigeria – courtesy Prelude to the Partition of West Africa, circa 1865 authored by John D. Hargreaves. Ghana, then Gold Coast would probably have been South Africa or Zimbabwe because the European traders derived much commercial benefits from gold dust, slaves etc. as against their arms, ammunition and other drinkables, which comparatively, were negligible. The persistent Ashanti Wars, the ‘kum apem, apem beba spirit’ and firepower; the countless loss of lives, the tropical malaria and the Abolition of Slave Trade may have reluctantly forced them to retreat. The wisdom, intelligence and education of our founding fathers played some positive role against their continued stay.


To buttress my point of probably the Ashanti firepower that actually forced the British out of the Gold Coast, I’ll quote some excerpts from ‘The Prelude to the Partition of West Africa pp.64-68 - ‘The Ashanti campaign, and the incompetence with which it appeared to have been conducted, stimulated the House of Commons to show a little unwonted interest in West African affairs. On 17 June 1864 Sir John Hay, a former naval officer who sat as Conservative Member for Wakefield, and whose brother had died during the campaign, moved a resolution implying censure on the Palmerston ministry.

………….On West African affairs at least, however, Stanley’s (Lord Stanley, later fifteenth Earl of Derby, and at this time a serious candidate for the Conservative leadership) opinions seemed fairly definite. ……..Supporting Adderley’s motion for a Committee, he referred to the waste of lives and money involved in the mainte- nance of the African naval squadron. ‘I do not believe,’ he said, ‘there is a year or even a month that passes in which the service on that coast does not put an end to some life among our officers which, measured by any rational standard of comparison, is worth more than the merely animal existence of a whole African tribe.’ The African tribe herein mentioned is the Ashanti kingdom and I presume that the thought of the British at the time must have psychologically and spiritually psyched them to continuously fight them until victory was won to pave way for our self-rule.


Ghana is bounded by Burkina Faso to the north; to the south by the Gulf of Guinea (that is the coast), to the east by the Republic of Togo, and to the west by La Cote d’Ivoire. It has a geographical land-mass of 93,000 sq. miles that easily resembles a rectangular door turned upwards. The current population is officially estimated to be 18 million. Others put the figure at 20 million, while the other school of thought put the figure at 22 million to take account of those scattered all over the world including Greenland; where its rumoured a Ghanaian heads an educational institution and of course, Iceland and Hawaii. Meanwhile, she prides herself as the first country south of the Sahara (to be precise Sahara Desert – for the benefit of the JHS pupils who may not understand this term). to gain political independence on 6th March, 1957 from Great Britain, the Colonial Master. The country’s population at the time was some 4.5 million. It was then divided into six i.e. the Northern Territories, Ashanti, the Western Province, the Central Province, the Eastern Province and the Trans-Volta Togoland. The Northern Territories now have been re-divided into three such as the Northern, the Upper East and Upper West Regions; Ashanti too was divided in 1959 to become Ashanti and the Brong-Ahafo Regions. The Colony – formerly the Central, Eastern and Western provinces - has equally been divided into four and re-named as - Central, Eastern, Western and Greater Accra Regions. I stand for correction anyway because I did not have much time for adequate research. The Trans-Volta-Togoland has been re-named the Volta Region after a Plebiscite (i.e. a form of referendum for the people who lived east of the Volta River to decide whether to join Togo or join the Gold Coast) in 1956. Those who chose to join the Gold Coast after the said referendum are part of Ghana while those who joined Togo are Togolese. Ghana has 10 regions with the latest being the Upper West.


Before independence, the country had a handful of very enlightened personalities whose moral fortitude, patriotism, selflessness, love and will to die for their motherland have seen us through to today. Some of the high profile persons were Messrs. Paa Grant, Kobina Sekyi, Mensah Sarbah, Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia, some prominent Chiefs and including the Big Six – Messrs William Ofori Atta, Edward Akufo Addo, Ako Adjei, Obetsebi Lamptey, Dr. J.B. Danquah and of course not forgetting Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, led the fight to gain independence for us. They should forever be remembered and have their names written in gold letters to be mentioned with dispatch. Early agitation between these distinguished founding fathers created two factions in the UGCC (United Gold Coast Convention) – the CPP and the UP. Both of them however were interested in the independence from Britain. The CPP’s slogan for independence was immediate Self-Government whilst the United Party’s was to bid time until probably, the natives had been able to learn all the intricacies of self-government without hurry. This political division polarized the country. Many citizens became more impatient resulting from the political rife that persisted..


The CPP pressure group was such that the British could no longer contain the situation. Later the leaders masterminded and instigated a nationwide strike – the Positive Action - resulting in the arrest and detention of Nkrumah and others. The declaration of the Positive Action triggered general looting of all shops and factories that belonged to the Lebanese, Indians, Syrians and Europeans in the country etc. because the idea or mentality was that every non-black was party to the British obstinacy. Even though the British seemed to favour the UP’s tradition and would have played the ostrich, but a few hiccups like malaria that claimed many lives, the tropical sunshine and poor sanitary conditions that prevailed at the time forced them to back out. Later, a General Election was conducted and won by CPP with Dr. Nkrumah and others in prison. Dr. Nkrumah was quickly released to be made Leader of the CPP. Drs. J.B. Danquah and Kofi Busia became a source of worry to Dr. Nkrumah because, as the mouthpiece of the opposition, they challenged him in all things and decided to imprison both but the latter fled the country through the Cote d’Ivoire to Europe. Dr. Danquah never came back home from the Nsawam Medium security prison to see his family where he died miserably in 1965. Was it because Dr. Danquah as the doyen of Ghana politics became a center of envy? There was no special crime but due to personal enmity between him and Nkrumah, he was arrested and put behind bars to taste his death.


Since Independence, we have witnessed 10 different governments – the Convention People’s Party led by Dr. Nkrumah; the National Liberation Council led by Lt.-Gen. J. A. Ankrah and to be succeed- ed by Major and later Lt.-Gen. Akwasi Amankwaa Afrifa, the Progress Party led by Prof. Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia, the National Redemption Council led by Lt.-Col. and later Gen. I. K. Acheampong. The NRC later was reconstituted to become Supreme Military Council 1 led by the same Gen. Acheampong. It was later beefed up with purely senior officers as SMC II to the envy of the junior ranks ‘the mmoborowas’. The same high-ranking seniors was upstaged by a palace coup in July 1978 and Gen. Fred. W.K. Akufo .took over the mantle of leadership. The SMC II government was short-lived and overthrown by mutineers of junior Army officers led by Flt.-Lt. Jerry John Rawlings in a bloody coup d’etat on Monday, June 4, 1979, the very day he was supposed to be court-martialled for treason or felony on May 15 the same year but was luckily released from prison custody by his then bosom friend, Captain Boakye Djan to escape trial. The Armed Forces Revolutionary Council was the government whose initial aim was to liquidate and/or exterminate almost all the senior military officers for their involvement in the civilian administration. They thought it was alien to their professional career, and purported to cleanse the country of this ‘social filth’ and mess. Wealthy businessmen and women were however, never spared.. In a matter of three months they handed over power and retreated to the barracks, but was it with genuine intentions? We thought it was well but the subsequent revelations will prove or disprove the intentions of their swift return to the barracks.


Before the AFRC took over as the seventh government, the SMC II had outlined an election roadmap for return to civilian rule. Some of the junior officers and NCOs who never gained much from the revolt returned to the barracks but before then, great harm had been caused to many families for which some regret now to be party to the atrocious crimes. Well, as many as eight senior military officers three of which had been Heads of State before – Lt.-Gen. A. A. Afrifa, Gen. I. K. Acheampong and Gen. F.W.K. Akufo - were all executed by firing squad between June 9 and 12, 1979, for very trivial offences – using ‘official uniform’ to secure loans; refusing undue promotions without excelling in military exams, et cetera. The other accomplices, Major-Generals E.K. Utuka and R. A. Kotei, Air Vice Marshal Yaw Boakye, Commander Joy Amedume and Col. Roger Felli were also killed in like manner i.e. in cold blood on trumped up charges. Gen. Akufo’s arrival back from an international conference to plunge into serious business and to oversee our elections never came to pass. Before one could say Jack, where are you, these young adventurous officers had re-surfaced onto the political landscape. The atrocities meted out to these slain generals actually sent down shivers down the spines of the entire citizenry - men became women instantly. Many rich people went into self-exile and never to return. The international community tried to put pressure on these ‘young-men’ until the hand-over on September 24, 1979 to the People’s National Party administration led by President Dr. Hilla Limann. Incidentally, those in the previous government, who amassed wealth and became fabulously rich left the political scene with yet another good handshake of $100,000.00 by the PNP to re-settle them. Not all of them accepted these parting gifts in the form of handshake. But why did some collect and others decide not to collect, one would ask? Is it true that some of those who failed to collect re-surfaced later? Sooner than later, and in a matter of some 27 months, the army which had returned to barracks to pursue their professional career (safe-guarding our territorial borders and defence of our constitution) suddenly came back again as a result of their lust and craze for the tasted power. They came to be known as the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC). For 11 years, they became an albatross on Ghanaians but claimed, they came to our rescue to cleanse the rot in the system. Immovable properties were forcibly confiscated, businesses (Kowus, International Tobacco Ghana Ltd., and others) belonging to very wealthy people who they envied, were either closed down on flimsy excuse for non-payment of taxes etc; looting, rape, thuggery etc. became the order of the day.


Please permit me to rake the wounds of the families of the bereaved for it is sad to say here that it was during this period that the three high profile judges including a nursing mother and an army officer were gruesomely murdered on Wednesday, June 30, 1982, courtesy, ‘The Judges’ Murder Trial of 1983’ has all the revelations pertaining to this unjustifiable act, thanks to Mr. George Agyekum, the author.. The refined brand of government also attracted world recognition and certain stiffer and ‘punitive’ measures including the prescription of the Special Adjustment Programme, etc. were forced down our throats no matter how bitter they were. The Citizens Vetting Committee’s offices at the Old Parliament House, under the auspices of Mr. Kwamena Ahwoi was a place no Ghanaian would like to set foot there today to remind him of the bitter past, not forgetting the National Investigations Committee ( NIC). His other brother Mr. Ato Ahwoi, also in firm grip of the Trade Ministry, was a piece of news. Importers and exporters in Ghana became the door-mats for this tin-god-on-earth. The irony of it all was that no matter how rich one was at the time, you could not withdraw more than two thousand (¢2,000.00 – today’s 20 pesewas). This directive continued for a long time for them to do their own screening of rich people and other ulterior motives under their sleeves. As a result of this sheer wickedness, many bread-winners lost their precious lives and that of their spouses because some of them couldn’t contain this ‘draconian’ decree. Come to think of Account No. 48. Many people especially businessmen/women were directed to pay huge sums of money to this special account within 48 hours or face the full rigours of the law. ‘Haaba’. Do some of us still remember this and many more? The more we forget about it will be better but we must not forget to conceal from our under 30 years old, they should be lectured thoroughly at home during folkloric times to know their past history.


Ghanaians had for 11 years been subjected to harsh treatment, draconian rule, confiscations, alleged disappearances, nightmarish experiences, civil and military disobedience, disrespect to authority and adults, bad governance after being left off the hook by the AFRC and PNDC. The western countries ensured that Ghana practised democracy before grants and loans could be offered us and in this vein a make shift arrangement was put in place for democratic time frame to be drawn for the country. People from all walks of life including tailors, seamstresses, etc. were appointed to form a Consultative Assembly headed by Nana Dr. S.K.B. Asante to draft the 1992 Consti-tution which later had the mysterious insertion of the Indemnity Clauses to absolve them (the perpetrators of the 1981-1992 heinous crimes against humanity) from being prosecuted in any court of adjudicature in Ghana. In April, 1992, therefore, a referendum was held for a ‘YES’ in favour of democratic governance. This insertion it is being alleged, had the direct/indirect involvement and connivance of persons like Mr. Stanley Pierre and others. To bid our time for the return to civilian rule, many people accepted with reluctance to massively vote ‘yes’ to allow for General Elections slated for December 7, 1992. The PNDC quickly with the advice and expertise of their architects, metamorphosed into NDC thereby dropping the initial ‘P’ from the acronym. The first ever elections after 1979 were conducted and strangely enough, both the presidential and parliamentary were not on the same day. The former took place first with the latter to be staged at another date. How many Ghanaians remember Prez.Pinochet of Peru? Have we so soon forgotten about him? Time will tell. The evil that men do lives after them.


The NPP cried foul and quickly resorted to writing the ‘Stolen Verdict’ and thereafter informed their supporters not to vote for the parliamentary thereby helping the NDC have a field day. I hope Lt.-Gen. E. A. Erskine and family would permit me to say that it was during such conduct of elections that his party, the People’s Heritage Party (PHP) secured a nil vote even though his wife, himself and probably three other householders, became naïve to vote for other parties. The book of Ecclesiasis, chapter 3, verse number 9, of the Good Book states there is time for every season; a time for planting and time for harvest; and it goes on and on and whatever means the NDC used to achieve their objective, their time of government ended on Saturday, December 6, 2001 for the NPP to try their lot from there and then.


The government was ushered into office on Sunday, January 7, 2001 amidst pomp and pageantry. Power was reluctantly transferred to HE Kufuor because the NDC had been taken by storm and became overwhelmed with the events before, during and after the 2000 elections. Perhaps, some historians will try and join the bits and pieces together for posterity. Gradually, the curtain will draw to a close and come Sunday, December 7, the general election for the ‘who is who’ encounter will decide who wears the crown after President Kufuor’s exit on January 7, 2009. The NPP government has gone through thick and thin to bring the country to its present state. While the major players lay claim for so many achievements as against their opponents, they also counter claim this time rather has found many Ghanaians in abject poverty and cannot make ends meet. Unlike the NDC era crude oil prices have sky-rocketed and presently, a barrel of oil sells at $116 on the world market. As a result of this inconvenience and other untoward economic indices, the NPP government has tried to tighten our belts while those in government continue to hit us ‘below the belt’ to our discomfort.


Since last year March 6 that the country celebrated its golden jubilee anniversary, world dignitaries keep flocking to the country as if this Nation Ghana were a beehive to come and suck honey. The same year saw almost all the Presidents, Prime Ministers and Heads of State and Governments converging here for Ghana @ 50 and the epoch AU Confe- rence to taste the real hospitality at its best. The only dignitary who was conspicuously absent was perhaps HE Alhaji Yahaya Jammeh of The Gambia, for fear of being quizzed by the local media for his complicity or alleged involvement with the murder of some 44 Ghanaians in his country. In the middle of March of the same year, HE Prez. Kufuor had the singular invitation – the first ever by a Ghanaian Head of State – to visit the HRH Queen Elizabeth Regina II, of Great Britain and Eire and to have the prestigious luncheon with the Royal Couple. It is very historic and unprecedented in our history. The year before also saw our Ghana Black Stars donning the national colours for the first time at the prestigious world soccer tourney (World Cup) in Germany. Even though, we did not fare very well, the fact that Ghana lost to Italy, managed to beat the Czech Republic with Peter Cech in posts; the USA and succumbed to almighty Brazil under bizarre circum- stances – resulting from bad officiating – the whole nation instantly became more unified than ever. Then came the Ghana 2008 or the CAN 2008 that we placed third by beating powerful soccer nation like la Cote d’Ivoire.


Just as HE Prez. Kufuor’s name would probably go down in the annals of our history as the number one globe-trotter of our time, some equally well meaning world leaders have visited us to make us proud. The uncountable visits have yielded dividends generally and generated sufficient employment for our youth, the skilled and unskilled. The name Ghana which, hitherto, was oftentimes referred to as British Guyana in the West Indies, has come to be known by many people all over the world as a West African country. To name just a few, some of the world dignitaries include our own compatriot HE Busumuru Kofi Annan, on his retirement as the U.N. Secretary-General, HE Lucio de Lula of Brazil, HE George Walter Bush, Jnr., the President of the USA, the UN Secretary-General, HE Ban Ki Moon and his Wife, HE Umaru Y’ar Adua of Nigeria, the Head of the Ahmadiyan Mission, HE the Malian President, HE Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, numerous visits by our illustrious son, HE Moihamed Ibn Chambas, President of ECOWAS, the incumbent AU Chairman, HE Thabo Mbeki, President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai, the Opposition Leader of Zimbabwe and a lot of uncountable stop-overs by other Heads of State. .


Someone might think the writer wants to send some information via the internet to the above addressee. I chose this acronym because Ghana is now 51 years as a sovereign state. The Golden Jubilee celebration that started last year continues unabated till perhaps, the end of this year by which time the anxiety would have died prematurely with the declaration of the winner of December elections. As I write, the government still has some of the activities planned for important dates in the year as thus, May l (May Day), July 1, (Republic Day), and lastly, December 5 (National Farmers’ Day). Between now and December 7 the days keep tickling fast as if the normal hours per each day have shortened all because of the anxiety and excitement with which the politicians keep junketing from place to place to announce their presence and parties alike. At 51 years as a nation, the citizens behave as toddlers. Ghana’s manpower or human resources cannot be equaled by almighty Nigeria. Other natural resources like gold, timber, manganese, bauxite, diamond and recently oil are unparalleled in Africa yet, as a nation, our leaders have gone to the white-man’s ‘kitchen’ for loans or grants. Pity, isn’t it? I hope discerning minds are listening. Good agreements should be made with the oil prospecting companies without forgetting the citizens and posterity otherwise this generation will never be forgiven for our complicity.


Our leaders have from time immemorial traveled abroad to Europe or the Americas either for pleasure or for conferences. It is a great pity that what these so-called personalities by chance stumbled upon have never been brought home to bear on us or for ‘domestic’ practice. This is very pathetic indeed for a country that prides as the first and wants to occupy the top position in almost everything in Africa still has so much stench living with us. In our few cities and the major towns, filth has engulfed us and become part and parcel of our everyday lives. I have not traveled to other regional capitals lately but the snapshots I have for Accra alone with particular reference to the Odaw bridge area and its under part with people doing their own thing (easing themselves) in this 21st Century and the eyesore it poses if any TV station will oblige me to shoot it, will force the Hon. Mayor of Accra to resign immediately. Do they fight heaven and earth only for the positions for personal and self agrandisement? It is a shame and a big disgrace that the so-called executives and government functionaries do not see anything wrong with it and blindly want to enroll as aspiring parliamentary candidature of their party(ies). They should bow their heads in shame. B I G S H A M E! Mr. President, because of our attitudinal and behavioural lapses or indiscipline, please let all schools in the country incorporate personal hygiene as part of the RME syllabus and force the teachers to start with our toddlers from day one at school. This will inculcate into our children the fundamental hygiene we lack because most of your appointees have failed and woefully failed as square pegs in round holes with respect to garbage.


In the colonial era, the white executives were seen smarting white shirts and probably pairs of white shorts, white hose with matching boots – and what do we see today? Even now most of them as contractors do the same whilst our local contractors and engineers appear in suits et cetera. Our own men go about in three-piece suit, ‘agbadza’ or very expensive clothes with very expensive chauffeur driven vehicles that one cannot imagine. This is blind imitation. It is again a great pity that other donor countries give loans and grants to fight malaria, but due to our negligence of practical hygiene in our homes we invite malaria for ourselves. Instead of securing funds for HIV AIDS, tuberculosis and expanding or establishing other cardio-vascular centers in other regional capitals, we throw garbage into the few drains and gutters during and after heavy rains, to deliberately choke them to invite mosquitoes which carry along the dreadful malaria. The ordinary person in the street knows that malaria kills more people than motor accidents in the country.


Can this institution confirm the fees they levy individuals who apply for special car numbers? A bird has whispered in the ears that it costs some ¢1,000 or ¢10,000,000.00 the old currency. One can easily bump into cars/vehicles with registration numbers – NANA 1 X, VIC 6Y, WILLIAM 1Z, etc. The owners really delight going about with such numbers by paying some monies stated above if it is true. They may have gotten their monies alright, but, would have thought, such subscribers would first think about their kith and kin in their villages where they were born and bred to judiciously use such monies to secure them clinics, social or community centers, libraries for schools, KVIPs, etc. If my assertion is true, I would entreat the CEO of the DVLA to even increase the fee to some ¢5,000.00 so that the central government can use such monies for development projects in the rural areas and perhaps take care of the aged including their parents who, they may have abandoned.


With effect from Thursday, May 1, 2008, HE Prez. Kufuor would be left with some 251 days and nights as the chief executive of this land before the hand over ceremony on Thursday, January 7, 2009. Before then, however, as someone without links and connection to the State Protocol, I deem it fit to lay bare these appointments which, when he is available in the country, will not afford to miss – Thursday, May 1 (May Day), Sunday, May 25 Africa Freedom Day, Tuesday, July 1, Republic Day, which I anticipate, HE the President, will like to release almost all prisoners commuted to life imprison- ment; the aged and pregnant women to have their freedom, except the Attaa Ayis and friends. In addition, this promises to be the last tete-a-tete with the Senior Citizens of Ghana and he’ll try to use the occasion to shake as many hands as possible with Madam Theresa giving him the moral and spiritual support on that fateful day. Between August and Mid October, when the Muslims spot the moon, will be the last Eid Ul Adha to be addressed by him. On Friday, December 5, at the National Farmers’ Day, he will be at his usual best to say farewell to the farmers. Then on Saturday, December 6, on the eve of the General Elections, there is the likelihood that he will talk to the Nation and counsel us to be vigilant and vote wisely. Another occasion for HE to complement the winner of the elections would be say, Tuesday or Wednesday after the Sunday elections. Mr. President, if Ghanaians don’t remember you while you retire to the home after Wednesday, January 7, 2009, most of us will cherish you and miss you greatly for your wisdom and foresight to construct a State House at the present site of the Flagstaff House and relegate the Osu Castle to become a museum for sight-seeing, the rehabilitation of the Peduase Lodge, the Tetteh Quarshie-Mamfe road which had claimed human lives that cannot be quantified in monetary terms; the repeal of the criminal libel law, the total peaceful atmosphere that we all enjoy, the free bussing of school children and free feeding which has brought about some complications lately; the nil nightmarish experience that enables most people go about their normal work in peace, the absolute freedom of speech, movement and association and above all, the total independence of the judiciary which is one cardinal factor for free and safe business investment in Ghana will be to your credit. Finally, we will miss your 6-footer Gentle Giant structure and the sexy eyes on our television screens for some time.


The number of foreign travels and days to spend abroad, I am yet to know and collate for the younger generation. But the least I know is that if the following days/dates find him in Ghana, he certainly will articulate his best ever clothes to give the usual brief speeches – July 1 – the last Republic Day to be performed by him as Head of State, another day to be specified between August and mid October depending on the sighting of the Moon by our Muslim brothers for the Eid Ul Adha, Friday, December 5, the National Farmers’ Day, hopefully, Saturday, the eve of the elections and lastly, on Wednesday, January 7, 2009 at which he will hand over power to whoever wins the elctions in December and what a joyful day it will be. Ayekoo, Mr. President, but while Ghana is 51 years old, the country still stinks and engulfed with filth probably due to the air-conditioned offices your appointees prefer to enjoy rather than going out to the field to clear the mountains of garbage to help keep the cities, towns and hamlets clean.


Hopefully, the President will organize for the last time a special dinner akin to the Last Supper in the scriptures for a cross section of people drawn from the length and breadth of the country as prelude to the last luncheon on Wednesday, January 7, 2009, after he has handed over power to the winner of the party that wins the elections..

KOFI APPIAH 0277 122 909 email: kofiappiah2002@hotmail.com


Columnist: Appiah, kofi