J. B. Danquah was never chief campaigner or founder of University of Ghana (3)

DrJ. B. Danquah J. B. Danquah

“…In Part 3, the final paper, we provide additional information about funding arrangements for the University of the Gold Coast (and KNUST), and compare the importance of key players using multiple sources and accounts. We provide a critique of the “Danquah the Founder” propaganda and fallacy, such as we saw with the multi-false premises and conclusions of Mr. Paul Adom-Otchere in his May, 2018, paper; and an assessment of President Akufo Addo’s statements on the matter. President Akufo Addo’s statements are in our opinion indicative of intentions to grievously and wrongly assign shared Ghanaian cultural values, ideas, symbols, to one of his kin, his uncle. But, those values, the University of Ghana in this case, were created by all the Peoples and is owned by the collective, the commonwealth. The objective historical records do not show that Dr. J. B. Danquah’s “inestimable work” mobilized the people of the Gold Coast to insist on building the University of Ghana. In fact, we show that at one point, Dr. J. B. Danquah’s commercial interests were at odds with the Gold Coast national interest with respect to the important questions in this matter. Dr. J. B. Danquah was never the chief campaigner for the University College of the Gold Coast (UCGC). Many notable figures did a lot more to help establish the University of Ghana. Dr. J. B. Danquah did not found the University of Ghana… All Ghanaians, including those in the NPP who truly care for a unitary Ghana, ought to resist any attempt to re-name Ghana’s premiere university after any individual”, (Lungu, Botwe-Asamoah, & Dompere, 2019).

A Critical Assessment of the “Danquah the Founder” Fallacy:

There are two questions to be resolved here. First, was it Dr. J. B. Danquah’s inestimable work that mobilized the people of the Gold Coast to insist on building the University of Ghana? Secondly, was he the founder of the University of Ghana? Based on the preceding deliberations, the answer to both questions is unambiguously NO. It is therefore a delusion to assert that Dr. J. B. Danquah was the chief campaigner for the establishment of the University of Ghana, and its founder, to boot.

The establishment of the University of Ghana, based on the Elliot Commission’s Majority Report (championed by Sir Arku Korsah,) was the culmination of immense work of several organizations, committees, institutions, and prominent individuals, at home and abroad. Among some of the most prominent Ghanaians, members of organizations and civil society groups that campaigned and agitated for the establishment of the University of College of the Gold Coast/Ghana, were Sir Arku Korsah, Dr. Nanka-Bruce, Rev. Prof. Baeta, and Sir E. Asafu-Adjaye, often conveniently ignored by acolytes of Dr. J. B. Danquah.

It is in this context that we examined “political science student” Paul Adom-Otchere’s article on renaming the University of Ghana at Legon after Dr. Danquah. In his piece, he made several historical blunders, for instance, by omitting the names of some of the prominent people cited above, historical figures who played foremost roles in many capacities to get the University of Ghana/University College of the Gold Coast, established.

Paul Adom-Otchere, “Political Science Student”, Journey’s with Multiple False Premises and Arrives at Wrong Destination:

We must point out that Mr. Paul Adom-Otchere’s Danquah-romancing essay published on Ghanaweb.com on 15 May, 2018, about the “actual history” of the University of Ghana was in fact culled from a single source, in anti-intellectual fashion, uninformed and neglectful, about the vast and consequential literature on the matter. He appears to have totally, purposely, neglected to sufficiently calibrate his intellectual compass as “science” and ethos of historical analysis and discovery demands.

And so, his readers (and listeners) were the poorer for it.

The central premise of Mr. Paul Adom-Otchere’s campaign for renaming the University of Ghana after Danquah is that the argument for the university college preceded the significant role the cocoa farmers and the Asantehene played by providing certain funds (13% by our calculation) for the new university; and that it was the convincing argument and pivoting work of Dr. Danquah among the “farmers” that eventually led to the establishment of the University College of the Gold Coast.

Additionally, Adom-Otchere advanced a predisposed case (in support of renaming after Dr. Danquah) when he said that:

“…the cocoa farmers were responsible for both Legon and UST (instead of KNUST)…, but we have named UST after Dr. Kwame Nkrumah who played no actual role in its formative thoughts.” If therefore, he continued, “we have to credit any individual for the work done towards our first university; it was “the thought leader and active campaigner Dr. J.B. Danquah,” (Adom-Otchere).

Again, it is worth noting that the Asantehene Otumfuor Agyemeng Prempeh II agreed to Bradley’s recommendation that the premier university of the country would be located in Accra provided that another university would be established in Kumasi in the future. At the time, a substantial amount of the cocoa revenue came from the Ashanti region where most of the famers lived.

To wit: Helping to obtain pledges for funds for a university building or two does not make one a key player in the founding, let alone the founder of that institution nearly 72 years after that founding. As we show below, somebody had to set up a scheme for the collection and accounting of the funds beyond just naming the entity (Cocoa Marketing Board), and then follow through with the transfer for the purpose approved by law.

Other Pioneers and Notable Figure Qualified as “Founders” of the University College of the Gold Coast:

As deliberated above, the campaign for the implementation of the Majority Report was carried out by several prominent people, civic organizations, and many other entities such that if we were to attempt to credit any prominent Ghanaians for the work done towards the founding of the University of the Gold Coast, Dr. J. B. Danquah will surely by far as behind several notable personalities.

The credit could easily go to Sir Arku Korsah, the only Gold Coaster member on the Elliot Commission who signed the Majority Report and played the role of chief campaigner. In fact, it was Sir Arku Korsah who also signed “the land documents…(as)…second chairman of the University College Council…on behalf of Council”, an agreement negotiated between the College, the Government of the Gold Coast, and the Chiefs (and People of La), “through notification by civil servants” (Agbodeka).

Following Sir Arku Korsah would be Dr. Frederick Nanka-Bruce, whose radio address, as F.M. Bourret points out, most influenced the Secretary Jones to finally agree to the founding of the University College of Gold Coast/Ghana.

The suggestion that it was Dr. J. B. Danquah who travelled across the Gold Coast colony to mobilize cocoa famers to give up a percentage of their sales to finance the establishment of the University of Ghana is one-sided, if we must be charitable.

Further, if “two members of the legislative council, Dr. Danquah and Prof Baeta, on their own volition worked on this question of securing funds for the project” from farmers in the Ashanti Region, how come Paul Adom-Otchere discriminates against “Prof Baeta” and credits all the funds raised, all “897, 000 pounds sterling”, as “raised through Danquah’s effort” alone?

Rev. Professor Baeta played equally prominent role in raising monies for the university by traveling on his own to meet with the Asantehene and cocoa famers in the Ashanti province. In fact, biographical data on Rev. Prof Baeta also indicates that it was his initial efforts that led to the capital contribution of £897,000.00 (which other sources cited as £900,000.00), from donations by cocoa farmers, represented by the Gold Coast Cocoa Marketing Board.

But, Mr. Paul Adom-Otchere would rather have his readers (and listeners) believe that all the credit and valor for the contribution of £897,000.00 (and other future Cocoa Marketing Board funds, £2million by historical account), granted for express/specific purposes, belongs to Dr. J. B. Danquah. (As we’ve shown already, some of those funds went elsewhere, geographically, to fund programs outside the boundaries of the University College of the Gold Coast).

Unfortunately for Adom-Otchere, Professor Francis Agbodeka’s book, the only source he uses to buttress his erroneous claim that J. B. Danquah is for all practical purposes the founder of the University College of the Gold Coast, and thus deserves to have his name replace “University of Ghana”, mentions J. B. Danquah’s name on just 2 pages (13 and 105) in his 384-page book, notations excluded.

Compounding the problem further for Adom-Otchere, Agbodeka claims in his book that J. B. Danquah “…was seen educating farmers around the country on the issue so that they might willingly contribute to the project…”, with respect to the £897,000 raised through the Cocoa Marketing Board (CMB). However, in his very well-documented book, Agbodeka neglects to source that particular statement.

Who did see?

What did they also miss?

Granting J. B. Danquah “credit”, the critical Ghanaian would want to know what Professor Baeta did for the University College of the Gold Coast when out of his own volition he also went out to secure funds for the University College of the Gold Coast, like J. B. Danquah, as reported.

Agbodeka lays it all out in a personal statement for all of us to “see”. It confirms our finding that Rev. Professor Baeta played no less a prominent role in raising monies for the project.

Actually, the Reverend C. G. Baeta was a “senior member()” on the Academic Board from the “1949/50 session”, practically from the beginning. More significantly, according to Agbodeka, Professor Baeta was:

“…(O)ne of the founders of the UCGC through…campaign in the Legislative Council for a university college…”, (Agbodeka).

Government was Primary Funder During Establishment of the University College of the Gold Coast:

This brings us to the role of the Government of the Gold Coast in the establishment of the UCGC given that the Secretary of State for the Colonies would not significantly assist financially through endowment or direct funding, after payment of £400,000.00, in initial development funds.


“…The people who worked hard to make the College’s financial administration smooth-going included the Principal, Balme, who had numerous meetings with officials of the Gol Coast Government….Governor Arden Clark and the Prime Minister, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, also supported the University College…(and)…Mr. Armitage….and Hon. K. A. Gbedemah who, as Minister of Finance and the Government’s representative on the College Council, communicated the cabinet decisions to the University College,” (Agbodeka).

And so, at this point, we must point out that the apparent attempt to downplay Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s policies that actually constructed and/or established the two universities, as Adom-Otchere made in his piece, deserves clarification here. It is true that Nkrumah was out of the country during the campaign for the implementation of the Majority Report and its attendant arrangements. Even so, Nkrumah’s internal self-government deserves great credit for following through on the agreement between the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Creech Jones, and the Asantehene, with respect to the establishment of the Kumasi College of Technology in 1952, following the establishment of the UCGC, at Legon, in 1947/1948.

“…When the Gold Coast decided to have a university college, they were thinking of government financing it. It so happened that the Cocoa Marketing Board (CMB), the richest agency in the country, came to supplement government grants,….The Colonial Office…asserted that the Gold Coast was not at present a poor territory and that funds might be forthcoming from the reserves built up in the country from government trading in cocoa…(In 1949)… four main sources of funding for the UCGC were agreed upon. The first was the government grant which was to be given quinquennially i.e. from 1948-53,1953-1958…(on a 5-Year schedule). For the second quinquennium 1953-58 the emerging African government led by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah caused the amount to be doubled to £4 million,' so as to speed up the training of graduates for the government's Africanization programme. The year 1954 also saw the establishment of the second source of finance, an Endowment Fund, into which the Government paid £2million…The CMB was the other source of finance for the UCGC…Lastly the undergraduates paid fees out of their government bursaries and this formed a source of funding for the College. The fees were for tuition, board and lodging. For the 1949-50 session, they were £63 for Intermediate Courses and £90 for Degree Courses…” (Agbodeka).

At this point, it is very important for every Ghanaian (and African) to understand what the Colonial Office in London meant by “reserves built up in the country from government trading in cocoa.”

Those monies referred to as “reserves” were not accrued by the Colonial Office operating from London.

One of the first laws the Nkrumah internal self-government accomplished was the Amendment in the Gold Coast Cocoa Marketing Board (GCCMB) Ordinance of 1951, which made “cocoa revenue [a] common national property” controlled by the national government. Subsequently, the internal self-government under the Convention Peoples Party (CPP), increased the price of cocoa beans for the cocoa famers.

Dr. Danquah vehemently opposed the GCCMB Amendment/Ordinance of 1951, saying that “funds of the GCCMB were not ‘profits’ accruing to government” (Kwame Ninsin).

But it was the profits accruing from the nationalization of the cocoa industry, as well as the extractive (mining) industry, that formed the basis of the CPP Five-Year Development Plan (1951-1955). It was within the framework of this Development Plan that work on the current campus of the University of Ghana truly began, in 1951. As well, it was also in the context of the Plan that Kumasi College of Technology was established.

Significantly, the “reserves” were built from the profits accruing from the nationalization of the cocoa industry, and the extractive industry. Henceforth, European cocoa buyers, for instance, would not be another layer in the cocoa marketing chain collecting “profits” when they themselves were not farming the land or own those resources in the first place, even as cocoa farmers themselves were contributing to the Gold Coast national development agenda within their means.

The construction of the first dormitory, Legon Hall, began in September 1951 and was completed in 1952. The second dormitory, Akuafo Hall, was built by the CPP government and opened by Dr. Nkrumah in 1955, and not 1953, as Otchere would want us to believe. It is also a fact of Ghanaian history that Nkrumah became Prime Minister on 5 March, 1952. He was not the Leader of Government Business in 1953, as Otchere again exposed his naiveté? about Ghana’s political history.

We should bear in mind that the funding of the University of the Gold Coast was a process occurring between 1948 and 1954. Even so, it was during the period between 1951 and 1955 that the greater part of the cocoa revenue, following the nationalization of the cocoa industry by the 1951 Ordinance (vehemently resisted by Dr. Danquah), was partly generated for the Five-Year Development, that made it possible to liberally fund university education, among other social needs and values in the Gold Coast, then Ghana.

Still on “Financial Administration”, Agbodeka thought it was important to provide additional details for the purpose of history in the University of Ghana-commissioned book:

“…The estimates referred to earlier were prepared to cover a scheme to be carried out in two stages. Stage one was to provide for a college of about 600 students. Stage two was to provide for a university for 3,000 to 4,000 students. Although the funds for this scheme were to be given out quinquennially, there was enough latitude for additional grants… Thus a deficit on the first set of recurrent expenditure amounting to £400,000 as well as unforeseen capital expenditure of £151,500 were quickly made good over and above the original 1948-53 quinquennium (by government). The same principle was extended to a number of departments or schools which did not form part of the original estimates…Thus from about mid-1949 to 1956, the Department (later Institute) of Extra-Mural Studies enjoyed a separate earmarked grant from government," and in November 1949 the CMB gave the UCGC the first of its £lmillion (with the second to follow soon) for a Faculty of Agriculture outside the current quinquennium. Another example was the National Museum which enjoyed a separate vote from government until it left the University College for its present premises in Accra. Special educational services provided on campus for government-sponsored courses attracted grants-in-aid, and for the 1952/53 session the UCGC was expecting grants in respect of various projects outside the quinquennium. Later, several institutes were to attract ear-marked grants direct from government…”. (Agbodeka).

Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, who would later become the CPP’s Finance Minister after independence, was the “Government Representative on the University College Council (1955-1960”, (Agbodeka) during the period the UCGC was physically established, without doubt appointed by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to ensure a smooth funding scheme and continued government support for the UCGC.

The establishment of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in 1961 was the result of Kwame Nkrumah’s vision of science and technology as a requisite for Ghana’s industrialization. It was with this in mind that Nkrumah’s government formulated the Seven-Year Development Plan, with education as the hub.

In 1960, Nkrumah appointed an International Commission under Kojo Botsio’s Chairmanship to advise the government on the future of the University of Ghana and the conversion of the Kumasi College Technology into a full-fledged university. The Commission submitted its report in May of 1961, and Parliament enacted it into law on July 1, 1961 (Botwe-Asamoah).

The law unbound the University of Ghana from the jurisdiction of London University. In this arrangement, Nkrumah became the Chancellor of the University of Ghana. The law also converted the Kumasi College of Technology into a full university, now named Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

The financial sources for the establishment of KNUST came from a portion of the $500 million reserves that the CPP internal self-government “accumulated between 1951 and 1956, in long-term low-interest British securities,” (Richard D. Mahoney) from cocoa revenue, extracted (mining) industry and other sources. As pointed out earlier, Dr. J.B. Danquah strongly opposed the 1951 Gold Coast Cocoa Marketing Board Amendment Bill in the Legislative Assembly, saying that it was in violation of the full enjoyment of private property (the root of the NPP’s ideology of “Property Owing Democracy”).

NOTE: At the time, in 1951, Dr. Danquah had a vested interest in A. G. Leventis & Company Limited, one of the private cocoa-purchasing agencies.

Moving on further, we must stress that the physical establishment of the KNUST was Kwame Nkrumah government policy, notably the Seven-Year Development Plan. In the Plan, Nkrumah viewed science and technology as an instrument for Ghana’s industrialization.

Also, we need to know about Sir Asafu-Adjaye, the 1946 elected representative of the University College Council from the Ashanti Confederacy on the Legislative Council during the time Dr. J.B. Danquah and Rev. Prof. Beata traveled to Asanteman to appeal to the Asantehene and cocoa farmers to make financial contributions (through the CMB) towards the establishment of the university college with proceeds from cocoa sales.

Sir Asafu-Adjaye was a member of the University College Council right at its first meeting, on 8 February, 1949 (Agbodeka).

On balance, given that through the efforts of Dr. J. B. Danquah, Rev. Prof. C.G. Baeta, and conceivably Sir Edward Asafu-Adjaye (all on the Legislative Council), the Cocoa Fund generated £897,000.00, representing just 13.67 % of the initial cost of establishing and operating the Gold Coast University College, it is a mighty stretch for anyone to propose that Dr. J. B. Danquah was the founder of that institution and that ought to be the basis for renaming the University of Ghana after Danquah.

We’ve noted that Dr. J. B. Danquah turned down several opportunities to formally serve in important educations leadership positions in the Gold Coast, the UCGC, in particular, and could have risen to higher heights quickly, if he wanted. But, Danquah declined.

Dr. J. B. Danquah was never a member of any of the several educational commissions. He was not a member of the Gold Coast University Council when it first met in 1949, as crucial decisions we being made to establish that institution. You see, according to Agbodeka, in addition to three (3) members from the Academic Staff of the University College, Principal/Balme, and Secretary/Registrar (5 officials):

• Three (3) members were appointed by the “Governor in Council”

• One (1) member was appointed by the African Unofficial Members of the Gold Coast Legislative Council

• One (1) member was appointed by the Joint Provincial Council

• One (1) member was appointed by the Ashanti Confederacy Council (Sir Asafu-Adjaye, as we’ve already noted)

• Two (2) members were appointed by the Inter-University Council

Dr. J. B . Danquah never volunteered and was never appointed by any of those entities to serve on the University College Council in the crucial year, in 1949; and during 1949 and 1954.

In our humble opinion, Paul Adom-Otchere’s piece on renaming the University of Ghana after Dr. Danquah is not unintentional. His article appeared on Ghanaweb.com on 15 May 2018, seven (7) days after President Akufo Addo’s address at the “Lunch of the University of Ghana’s Endowment Fund,” 7th May 20018.

Paul Adom-Otchere’s arrived at the wrong destination with a political agenda that is totally at odds with the true history of the founding on the University College of the Gold Coast, now the University of Ghana.


Ghanaians are not fools.

The series of public lectures and debates in the media about the incomprehensible “Founding Fathers” by President Akufo Addo and some members of the NPP in 2017 leading to the “Founding Fathers” as a public holiday are fresh in our memories. So, the president attributing the implementation of the Elliot Commission’s Majority Report to Dr. Danquah, as well as portraying him as the founder of the University of Ghana is certainly a recast of history to rename the University of Ghana after Dr. Danquah.

There is absolutely no objective, historical basis for that belief.

For us, the president’s current campaign of renaming public institutions after some Ghanaians of repute are dress rehearsals for what appears to be an impulse-driven resolve to rename the University of Ghana after his uncle, Dr. J. B. Danquah. That is why the president’s appointment, almost 1 year ago, on 31st July 2018, of Mrs. Mary Chinery-Hesse, a former Chief Advisor to the President in the Cabinet of former President J.K. Kufuor, as Chancellor of the University of Ghana, has become a major concern to many Ghanaians and supporters of Ghana inside and outside Ghana, among them many Diasporans.

In closing, we must note that the other premier universities created by ordinances under British colonial rule at the time, namely, the University of Ibadan, the University of Khartoum, Makerere University, and the University off the West Indies have not been renamed after any individual. Each one of those institutions stand for all the Peoples in their respective countries. The attempt to rename the University of Ghana after Dr. J. B. Danquah, which appears to underscore the President Akufo Addo’s address on May 7, 2018 at Legon, is a grave travesty in the making.

All Ghanaians, including those in the NPP who truly care for a unitary Ghana, ought to resist any attempt to re-name Ghana’s premiere university after any individual.

Columnist: Professors Lungu, Botwe-Asamoah & Dompere