Founders Day Controversy: Let's not pretend

Akufo ADDO FREE SHS100 President Akufo-Addo has proposed August 4 as Founders day

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 Source: Nana Ofori Kissi Ratina

Unless we decide to contort the historical truth of our motherland - Ghana, President Akufo-Addo is right in his decision to set aside August 4 as Founders Day while 21st September is celebrated as a day to honour Dr. Kwame Nkrumah - Ghana's first President.

We do agree as citizens that the battle for independence was started years before the coming Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to join the United Gold Coast Convention. Before the formation of UGCC, J.B. Danquah and other Ghanaian elites have started and participated in several national and interterritorial political activities geared towards the emancipation of the natives from European domination.

West African Students Union, Gold Coast Youth League were some of the groups formed to alert the Europeans that Blacks were ready to manage their own affairs. Nkrumah, who joined the UGCC several months after its formation, became the secretary of the party and eventually broke away to form his own party called Convention Peoples Party on January 12, 1949.

The struggle for independence and the founders of Ghana cannot be mentioned excluding names such as George Grant, R. S. Blay, Awoonor Williams, De Graft Johnson, J. W. Tseboe, J. B. Danquah, Obetsebi Lamptey, William Ofori-Atta, Edward Akufo-Addo, Ako Adjei, Nii Kwabena Bonne III - chief of Osu Alata, Sergeant Adjetey - Private Odartey - Corporal Attipoe (the three ex service men whose death led to the Watson Commission - which recommended an extensive Legislative Assembly with more Ghanaian inclusive).

On 4th August 1947, the UGCC was formed with the vision of attaining self-rule for the natives. UGCC, unlike the Proto nationalists, did not call for legislative inclusiveness rather, self-government in the shortest possible time.

The UGCC was made up of elites that were British trained hence, they adopted peaceful and procedural means of pressing their demands. Nkrumah who joined later, believed in the Socialist ideology hence, preferred using the Communist tactics. The colonial masters never like Nkrumah's socialist ideology hence, after the 1948 riot, as a results of the recommendations made by the Watson Commission, the colonial government in 1949, appointed all Ghanaian committee to draw a new constitution for the country.

This committee was headed by Henley Coussey. The membership of the committee included the leadership of UGCC except Nkrumah who was considered opponent to the British ideology. The constitution drawn by the Coussey Committee birthed the 1951 constitution which paved way for the 1951 election that Nkrumah contested and won due to his close association with the masses.

Since the 1951 constitution paved way for the natives into the nation's politics, one will not be wrong by asking the role Nkrumah played in the drafting of the constitution. Nkrumah was not part of the sowing process. He only enjoyed the fruits of some peoples labour. A good question to the proponents of celebrating 21st September as Founders Day is - did the political struggle before 1951 elections contributed to the political liberalization of Gold Coasters?

If it is an established fact that Dr. Kwame Nkrumah came to join the UGCC, then, are the proponents of Founders Day on 21st September telling Ghanaians that those who started the political battle before Nkrumah are worth not celebrating?

Let's not pretend! Ghana has a rich history which needs not to be altered. Many were those who started the struggle for political emancipation before Nkrumah came to add his efforts hence if those people are worth celebrating then singling out Nkrumah's birthday as Founders Day is intellectually and patriotically deficient.

Once 4th August is not the birth date of J. B. Danquah, William Ofori-Atta nor Edward Akufo-Addo, the argument by the minority that the President's decision to set August 4, as Founders Day is "a move to honour his ancestors" is baseless.

Let's honour our national heroes and honour them well. This will instill patriotism in generations to come.

Long live Ghana!

Columnist: Nana Ofori Kissi Ratina
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