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Opinions Mon, 25 Sep 2006

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Fallacies of J. B. Danquah's Heroic Legacy (V)

Dedicated to Justice Akua Asabea Ayisi (A former High Court Judge), Mrs. Hanna Cudjoe, Madam Sophia Doku, the famous Mrs. Ama “Nkrumah,” Auntie Mary and Mrs. Mabel Dove Danquah (J. B. Danquah’s wife) and other women who worked side by side with Nkrumah on the CPP “Evening News” and/or went to prison with Nkrumah.

In 1952, J. B. Danquah asked my Grandfather’s friend, Opanin Kofi Amoh of both Ettokrom and Kyebi to get the cocoa farmers in the Ettokrom (Atukrom) vicinity to oppose the government’s policy of cutting down the swollen-shoot cocoa trees. My grandfather, the Chief Cocoa Farmer sought advice from Mr. Holloway, the Agriculture Officer of Cocoa Services Division C at its first Headquarters at Ettokrom. Meanwhile, Danquah had succeeded in convincing some people at Osiem to do his bidding. What followed were violent assaults on the employees of the Cocoa Services by some young men from Osiem with big clubs that caused blood to gush out of the victims’ heads and faces; some of the female employees, including my aunt were raped. But in one of his writings, Danquah denied ever inciting the cocoa farmers in the area to revolt against the government’s policy. Such is the kind of disingenuous discourse that one comes across in Danquah’s political letters and speeches.

J. B. Danquah: His CIA Connection and Detention

First, we must understand that legislative bodies create laws out of unique social circumstances in each country. That is why laws, and for that matter legal systems, differ from country to country. As such, the British laws and its legal system were created to address British particular experience and not to arrest the greatest threat Ghana faced after the 1956 general election. The barbaric acts of terrorism and bestial bomb attacks on the Ghana Young Pioneers, school children and the eight assassination attempts on Nkrumah’s life by the enemies of the State required an appropriate corresponding law to protect and secure the unitary-system of government in Ghana. Otherwise, it would have been irresponsible and betrayal, if not foolish, on the part of the CPP government to have sat idle for the hard-won Ghana’s independence (which all of us are preparing to celebrate), at the expense of Nkrumah’s life and many of his supporters, to go into oblivion by the barbaric acts of the bloodthirsty Danquah-Busia gangsters. Considering this, the PDA was therefore the best temporary measure that the parliament passed with the approval of the British Crown via her appointed Governor-General. In fact, K.A. Busia and R. R. Amponsah and Modesto Apaloo were members of parliament that passed the PDA. And if the PDA had been an undemocratic, dictatorial and tyrannical act, the Governor-General would have thrown it out, and probably dissolved the parliament and dismissed Nkrumah as Prime Minister. The Danquah-Busia gangsters were aware of the constitutional powers of the Head of State, but they simply ignored it in order to blame Kwame Nkrumah and his Government, other than themselves, for the PDA.

Danquah’s detention under the PDA resulted from his involvements in coup plots in collaboration with the CIA. During the first treason trial of Awhiatey-Amponsah-Apaloo conspiracy of November 1958, after the passage of the PDA, J. B. Danquah was heard assuring a foreign diplomat that Nkrumah’s government would be overthrown in December 1958 (Bing). But the security forces did not act on it. They kept close eyes on him and other enemies of the State in order to gather hard evidence. The grounds for the first detention of Danquah was submitted to him in writing that: “During the month of September 1961 YOU DID JOIN in a DESIGN for the subversion of the Government of Ghana PRESENTED to you at a meeting on the premises of Dr. J. B. Danquah in Accra, by ISMAILA ANNAN and ATTA BORDOH both now detained and you did ENCOURAGE this design and in furtherance of it DID ACT in a manner calculated to endanger the security of the State and to cause the overthrow of the Government of Ghana by unlawful means” (see Danquah’s own Historic Speeches J. B. Danquah). Of course one should expect Danquah to craft his response like a defense attorney in order to accuse Nkrumah’s Government of unlawful detention without trial. Danquah’s claim was that the meeting was called in connection with the 1961 Takoradi Workers’ strike and the government’s budget. During this same strike, Komla Gbedemah, serving on the three-man presidential commission ruling the country, “saw his chance to seize power. Gbedemah had no problem in obtaining CIA backing for his conspiracy.” He “approached Ambassador Russell on September 6, 1961”and asked for US support; and “Washington gave an unequivocal yes.” Gbedemah and Busia went into exile together with the help of the CIA in October 1961 (see Mahoney, 1983 for details). Now, given that Danquah, Busia, Obetsebi-Lamptey, R. R. Amponsah, Modesto Apaloo and the new comer Gbedemah were in one accord to overthrow Nkrumah’s government by violence, Danquah’s assurance given to the foreign diplomat that Nkrumah’s government would be overthrown in December 1958 and the meeting in his house in September 1961 cannot be seen as unrelated issues.


Danquah’s collaboration with the CIA became clear when he went to the US Embassy, after Nkrumah had pardon Danquah and other detainees on June 2, 1962, to ask “why the funds his family had been receiving during his imprisonment had been cut after his release.” This caused Mr. Mahoney, the new US Ambassador to Ghana to summon “the CIA chief of station to ask why he had not been advised of the agency’s association with Danquah.” Displeased with the explanation, “Mahoney flew to Washington two days later and personally informed Kennedy about the matter” (Mahoney). Was this not the highest treason that a citizen could commit against his/her country? Secondly, how many regimes do we know that would permit such heinous crimes by an opposing party and simply detain them? With its hundreds of years of independence, military might and sophisticated intelligent global network, didn’t the British security forces arrest and detain suspects, after the terrorist bomb exploded in Britain? Nobody should be reminded about the fate of the Taliban detainees in Guantanamo Bay, for harboring Usama Bin Laden and his al-Qaida forces in Afghanistan. In Ghana, after the stampede over Johnny Hanson’s display of Nkrumah’s photo in Kumase in 1971, did not Dr. Busia’s government “forced through parliament a certificate of urgency within seventeen hours, a bill making the possession and display of the photograph of Nkrumah and mentioning of his name a criminal offence?”


On January 8, 1964, the Chief Security Officer ordered the arrest and detention of J. B. Danquah, under the PDA, due to his complicity in the Constable Seth Ametewe’s assassination attempt on Nkrumah on January 2, 1964. Connected to this was the report by two members of the police band that certain politicians, through their boss, also tried to persuade them to shoot Nkrumah as he “approach the band to congratulate them after their performance” at Flagstaff House” (Forward Ever, 1977; also see the Exemption Committee’s report for details of personal accounts and names of those involved in the assassination attempts on Nkrumah’s life, coup plots and bomb explosions). It must be recalled that in 1963, Danquah was found with his hand-written, signed speech to be delivered after his anticipated success of the La-Balawashie (Obetsebi-Lamptey hideout) coup plot. Danquah was sly and used other people to carry out his coup plots. But, as Dr. Tetteh (1999) points out, Danquah and other traitors were detained “after the Chief security officer had made sure that adequate reasons were given to justify” their detention, and that such people “were detained before Nkrumah could be informed of their detention” (Tetteh). In fact, no Head of State would disagree with his Chief Security Officer for detaining people under law, who were in the act of plotting to overthrow his government.


Next, the accusation that Danquah and other detainees were tortured in detention was one of the many ill-conceived fabrications orchestrated to discredit Nkrumah and his government by the agents of the NATO, including such foreign scholars like Prof. Bretton, whose African trips were partly founded by the CIA (Bing). Jeffrey Bign points out that, “no prison official with whom” he personally spoke at Ussher Fort suggested that Danquah “had been treated other than well and after the coup, if it had been otherwise, there was no reason why these officers should said so.” What is also remarkable was the traitors’ (coup makers) inability “to dig up any authentic case of ill-treatment or execution for treason or subversion” (Bing). Bing personally visited Obetsebi-Lamptey twice in hospital and talked to his doctors. His relatives also visited him in hospital. At the time of his arrest for financing and orchestrating the bomb attacks (see the Exemption Committee’s report), Obetsebi-Lamptey was suffering from an advanced stage of cancer. Hence, “Nkrumah arranged for him to receive expert medical attention in the private ward of a hospital which was wonderfully equipped (Marais, 1972). In the case of Danquah, Nkrumah “saw that he (Danquah) received special medical attention. To this end, Nkrumah assigned his best friend Dr. Seth Cudjoe (also a Pan-Africanist) to provide medical care for J. B. Danquah (Marais, 1972); and indeed, Dr. Cudjoe “prescribed medicines” for Danquah. Besides, Danquah “was allowed sandals, clothing and his own blanket.” The sister of Danquah’s second wife, who had always been a friend of Nkrumah, visited Danquah in prison and returned to share his condition with Nkrumah. Furthermore, Danquah’s second wife also “visited Nkrumah fairly regularly and improvements were made to her house on Nkrumah’s instructions.” Also, Danquah’s wife “always saw Nkrumah when she requested an interview, which was never refused” (Marais, 1972). Through these visits, Danquah was also made aware of Nkrumah’s concern about his (Danquah’s) welfare and health. When Danquah died, his wife wrote to Nkrumah asking for private funeral rites; Genoveva Marais, who was very close to Nkrumah, saw the letter herself (Marais). Nkrumah on the other hand, broke “down and wept bitterly and mourned for weeks on hearing the death of Dr. Danquah. “I am his witness,” Dr. Tetteh (1990) testifies.

In fact, it is not likely that any Head of State, even in the West, would have arranged for Danquah and Obetsebi-Lamptey to receive such special attention in similar circumstances. But Nkrumah did so because of his strong sense of spirituality like Gandhi (meatless diet, loath for alcohol, fasting, meditation, yoga etc.), his anti-capital punishment philosophy and attitude of forgiveness. For instance, Nkrumah not only appointed Danquah as Director of Legal Education in the country, but also to the membership of the Ghana Arts and Academy of Science (Bing). Tawia Adamafio told me in his James Town chambers in Accra in May 1972 that Nkrumah had assured him of a presidential pardon for himself, Ako Adjei and C. Coffie-Crabbe, upon Nkrumah’s return from Hanoi, to coincide with Ghana’s Independence Day anniversary on March 6, 1966.** This was typical of Kwame Nkrumah. And those who did not understand Nkrumah’s forgiving heart and anti-capital punishment “took it to be a lack of stability in” his character (Marias). Marais and others have stated that had Nkrumah permitted the use of conventional practice of execution of coup plotters, bomb throwers and assassins, “he would have [perhaps] remained in power and his enemies been given no opportunity to plot and counterplot against him” (Marais). But Nkrumah’s spiritual values and attitude of forgiveness encouraged the Danquah-Busia-Lamptey gangsters to continue their barbaric and uncivilized acts of terrorism in the country with the hope of killing Kwame Nkrumah and overthrowing his government. Hence, in her letter to the US President Kennedy, Barbara Ward (former Director of BBC) explained that, “Ghana has real security problems and has done much better than many other newly-independent inexperienced governments” (Mahoney). Given all these, Kwame Nkrumah DID NOT and COULD NOT have detained Danquah and other coup plotters, conspirators, assassins, or bomb throwers. The bloodthirsty enemies of the State were detained under the law of the land by the security forces.


The PDA, as Prof. Kwame Ninsin (1991) points out, has been “appreciated and vindicated, as borne out by its repeated use under different titles, by successive governments after” the overthrown of Kwame Nkrumah’s government; and that, “some of the regimes that have resorted to a revised version of the PDA have been the most devout and vehement critics of the CPP.” In fact, evidence collected at the Exemption Committee of personal accounts of some Ghanaians, including close associates of Nkrumah who testified to having actually subverted Nkrumah’s government “by financing the importation of various bombs and grenades which killed school children and Young Pioneers,” vindicated Nkrumah’s government (Tetteh). Therefore, to ignore the ferocious and treasonable acts of Danquah, Busia and their cronies, and call the VICTIM KWAME NKRUMAH “a dictator” or “tyrant” for the passage of the PDA and its implementation by the security forces is PREPOSTEROUS. Anything short of the PDA would have thrown the fragile State of Ghana into social chaos and civil war like Congo, Angola, Zimbabwe, India-Pakistan etc. And if there had been a civil war, Nkrumah’s unparalleled socio-economic, educational, industrial, scientific, technological, agricultural and cultural accomplishments in Ghana would have not occurred. Secondly, most post-independence Ghanaians might not have been born, while some of my generation (including me) would not be alive today. Certainly, there would not have been the unitary State of Ghana for the NPP government to set aside $20 million for the celebration of its 50th birthday.


Therefore, President Kufour should have the courage to erect a Statue of the School Girl, who was chosen to die in the bomb explosion at Kulungugu on August 1, 1962, at the airport facing Kotoka, before the arrival of the international guests for the 50th Anniversary of Ghana’s Independence.

** Nkrumah’s dismissal of Justice Arku Korsah (whom Nkrumah appointed) as Chief Justice was caused by his failure to follow the State protocol and inform Nkrumah, as the president, in advance about the verdict (a split decision) of the Kulungugu bomb trial involving Tawia Adamofio, Ako Adjei, C. Coffie-Crabbe and others. Rather, Nkrumah learnt about it while in the shower through his house attendant, who also heard it on the radio. Before joining the CPP, Adamafio was a fierce member of the Ga-Shifimo Kpee. Also, while a leading member of Dr. Busia’s Ghana Congress in 1953, Adamafio compared Nkrumah to Adolf Hitler leading a band of illiterates against the Ghana Congress led by intellectual giants, that would salvage the country from “a one party evil, the evil of dictatorship” (Awoonor, 1991). As Kanu explained, “by a strange coincidence, the Minister of Information, Adamafio had not accompanied Nkrumah in his car on this particular visit, although normally at his side.” When Tawia Adamafio and Ako Adjei arrived at the hospital where Nkrumah was undergoing a painful operation, Adamafio’s first question was “Is the President dead?” (Kanu, 1982). The question is if those responsible for the bomb blast at Kulungugu on August 1, 1961 “were Northerners based at Lome,” as Adamafio (1982) claims, why then did Warrant Officer Edward Tetteh, charged with supplying the grenade for the explosion, commit suicide during the trial on September 28, 1962?

Kwame Botwe-Asamoah, Ph.D.
Professor of African and African American History University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260


Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.
Columnist: Botwe-Asamoah, Kwame Dr

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