J.B. Danquah And Co.: The Case For The Preventive Detention Act Part 3

Sat, 7 Mar 2015 Source: Kwarteng, Francis


Did the Colonial Government not have its own version of PDA under it imprisoned the leaders of the Aborigines Rights’ Protective Society and Nkrumah? What crimes did they commit to warrant their imprisonment? Did the state under Nkrumah’s premiership not have a more legitimate reason to imprison Danquah and Obetsebi-Lamptey than the state under the Colonial Government? It was in this context that Mr. Nelson and Dr. Gyamerah charged the Colonial Government for holding the UGCC leaders including Nkrumah in preventive detention without being charged or tried! Besides, the prison system was far better under the CPP government than it was the case under the Colonial Government.

It is also surprising that those who attack the PDA fail to see how prison tenancy has exponentially shop up in Ghana over the years as a result of remand and adjournment policies in the courts, with the Amnesty International calling Ghanaian prisons “Remand Prison.” Our analysis does not even include imputations of business cost burdens on the state to remand [Note: Britain, for instance, spent a whopping £230 million on remand in 2014 alone!]. The Ghanaian Times reports Mr. Mark Woyongo, the Minister of Interior, as saying plans are underway to construct “new prison facilities” to house people on remand (see “New Remand Prisons to be Built?Minister,” February 16, 2015).

Finally, contrary to what Danquah apologists might say or think, Nkrumah did not kill any of his political opponents or use the PDA to suppress the Opposition. Rather, the Opposition imploded under its own weight of ineffective campaign strategies; total rejection by the masses for its terrorist, secessionist and ethnocentric political calculations; elitist rejection of the masses; and self-destructive tendencies.

Still, preventive detention is part of the constitutional infrastructures of many countries around the world, including post-Apartheid South Africa and the world’s sole police, the United States of America. Regarding preventive detention in American jurisprudence, American legal scholars Adam Klein and Benjamin Wittes write: “Preventive detention is not prohibited by US law or especially frowned upon in tradition or practice. The circumstances in which it arises are not isolated exceptions to a strong rule against it; rather, they are relatively frequent. The federal government and all 50 states possess a wide range of statutory preventive detention regimes that are frequently used, many of which provoke little or legal controversy (See “Preventive Detention in American Theory and Practice,” published in the “National Security Journal,” Harvard Law School, Jan. 18, 2011; see also Blum’s “Preventive Detention in the War on Terror: A Comparison of How the United States, Britain, and Israel Detain and Incapacitate Terrorist Suspects”).

The above notwithstanding, the following extracts represent some of the major achievements chalked under the PDA. Yet, what we are trying to do here is to show how certain essential aspects of the PDA are generally ignored where it comes up for critical valuation in public discourses. In effect the PDA represented the best thing that ever happened to Ghana and Africa.

GENERAL J.A. ANKRAH: “Nkrumah’s place in African history has been assured.”

JOMO KENYATTA: “Ghana’s independence signalled the end of colonialism in Africa.”

OBED ASAMOAH (see his essay “Nkrumah’s Foreign Policy, 1951-1966” in Kwame Arhin’s edited volume”): “Ghana was instrumental at the United Nations and other international fora in spearheading the adoption of a number of measures against the colonial and racist presence in Africa; most notably, General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) of 1960 on the granting of independence to colonial territories and Resolution 1716 at the 17th Session of the General Assembly in 1962 requesting Member States separately or collectively to apply diplomatic and economic sanctions including an arms embargo against South Africa as well as the establishment of the UN Special Committee on Apartheid which was assigned responsibility for reviewing UN policies on South Africa and assessing the extent of their effectiveness. INDEED, TO AN EXTENT THAT NONE CAN GAINSAY AND TO WHICH THE UNPRECEDENTED ACCESSION OF 17 AFRICAN COUNTRIES TO INDEPENDENCE IN 1960 ALONE BEARS TESTIMONY, IT IS LARGELY TO THE CREDIT OF THE LIBERATION POLICY PURSUED BY GHANA UNDER NKRUMAH THAT THE ACCELERATION OF THE PROCESS OF DECOLONIZATION IN SOUTHERN AND EASTERN AFRICA OWED ITS SUCCESS” (our emphasis).

Note: Nkrumah, Du Bois, and others wrote resolutions on the Colonial Question for the United Nations prior to his [Nkrumah’s] leaving America for England. Nkrumah had been posthumously honoured with a Gold Medal (Special Session, United Nations, 1978). Lastly, Nkrumah gave Ghanaian passports to Black South African leaders and activists. He also gave scholarships to other Africans still under colonialism to study in Ghana in hopes that they will return to their countries and give back to their people. Nkrumah worked with all kinds of people without regard to race, ethnicity, religion, etc., in the interest of Africa’s decolonization and development.

OBED ASAMOAH: “The All-African Peoples’ Conference which followed in December 1958, came as the formal and concrete expression of Ghana’s dedication to the freedom struggle in Africa and made it possible for representatives of freedom-fighters throughout the continent to assemble in a free, independent African state for the purpose of planning a co-ordinated assault on colonial and racist rule in Africa.”

SAM NUJOMA: “Ghana’s fight for freedom inspired and influenced us all, and the greatest contribution to our political consciousness at the time came from the achievements of Ghana after its independence. It was from Ghana that we got the idea that we must do more than just petition the UN [United Nations) to bring about our own independence.”

KENNETH KAUNDA: “Nkrumah inspired many people of Africa towards independence and was a great supporter of the liberation of southern Africa from apartheid and racism.”

NATHAN ALBRIGHT: “King's famed admiration for Ghandi's leadership in nonviolent rebellion was not isolated. He [Martin Luther King, Jr.] drew inspiration from Kwame Nkrumah, who led Ghana to peaceful independence.”

Dr. KWAME AMUAH (Nelson Mandela’s son-in-law, married to Makaziwe Mandela-Amuah): “No doubt he [Nelson Mandela] saw Nkrumah as his hero.”

AMILCAR CABRAL: “The strategist of genius in the struggle against classic colonialism.”

FREDERICK COOPER: “There is a particular poignancy to the history of Ghana because it was the pioneer. Kwame Nkrumah was more than a political leader; he was a prophet of independence, of anti- imperialism, of Pan- Africanism.”

THOMAS HODGKIN: “Nkrumah’s radical Pan-Africanism had an influence on the attitudes and behavior of a substantial body of people.”

AMA BINEY: “Nkrumah was central to the major debates and issues of the decolonization period of the 1950s and the 1960s. Among these was the emergence of the modernization paradigm, which assumed that newly independent states would seek to imitate European systems of governance, economic growth, and values in order to build cohesive nation-states.”

ENOCH AMPOFO: “Gaining perspectives into how Dr. Kwame Nkrumah has affected the lives of people in South Africa, I found out that back in the days of Apartheid, the oppressed people went to school and were taught about the principles of Kwame Nkrumah or Nkrumahism.”

Note: Nkrumah given the SATMA Awards (SA Government, Ingwe Mabalabala Holdings, National Heritage Council of South Africa).

MOLEFI KETE ASANTE: “Nearly 50 years ago on October 9, l959, Patrice Lumumba spoke in Accra on the invitation of Kwame Nkrumah. He observed then at the Pan African Conference that he had three objectives: the independence of the Congo, the creation of the constitution of the United States of Africa, and the establishment of friendly economic relations with other countries. Unquestionably he had been influenced by the insistence of Nkrumah that Africa could not withstand the gathering forces of anti-Africanism in the political centres of the vanquished colonizers. Each nation, acting alone, would not be able to sustain its freedom. It would be shaken to its economic, political, and social core as France, England, and the United States had seen to it that Haiti, since Dessalines proclaimed independence, was shaken and abused. Nkrumah was a prophet of reality; his politics took the form of proactive work to raise the level of consciousness of the masses. But the process is long; the job is hard, and the people are often unwilling to give up the devil they know for the devil they do not know. Yet Nkrumah’s influence, as we celebrate him today, continues to grow as it has grown each year that we do not bring into existence the united Africa for which he devoted so much of his energy.”

Furthermore, the political activism of Nkrumah and the CPP government paved the way for Alex Quaison-Sackey to become president of the UN General assembly, the first black African to hold this position, while not glossing over the fact that Nkrumah’s outstanding leadership of the Conference of Independent African States (CIAS) resulted in the creation of the so-called “African Group” at the UN (see Dr. Zizwe Poe’s “Kwame Nkrumah’s Contributions to Pan-Africanism: An Afrocentric Analysis”). The question is: Could all the above attributions and achievements have been possible if Nkrumah and the people of Ghana had allowed Danquah, S.G. Antor, Busia, Obetsebi-Lamptey, and their terrorist, ethnocentric, and secessionist ilk to destroy Ghana and her independence? In other words, did Nkrumah via the PDA prevent Ghana from descending into political pits like Somalia, Afghanistan, Northern Nigeria, and Eastern Congo?

In fine, we shall say in closing this chapter that the following still occurred even after the PDA had become the law of the land (courtesy of Dr. Botwe-Asamoah):

1 On July 7, 1961, two bombs exploded in Accra, one wrecking Nkrumah’s statue in front of the Parliament House (see also McFarland & Owusu-Ansah).

2 In September 1961, there was a conspiracy among the senior Ghanaian military officers, but the plot collapsed because of the death of the chief conspirator Brigadier General Joseph E. Michel in an airplane crash (Mahoney, 1983).

3 On September 9, 1962, another bomb exploded near the “Flagstaff House, where the Ghana Young Pioneers Orchestra Band was entertaining the audience to modern Ghanaian Music. The explosion killed one person and injured many others.

4 On September 18, 1962, two bombs exploded in Accra killing and injuring many people. One of these bomb blasts occurred in Lucas House in Accra, where nine children fell dead on the spot with their intestines gushed out of their bodies (Tetteh).

5 September 20, 1962, two bombs exploded in Accra, killing and injuring several people (McFarland & Owusu-Ansah).

6 On September 22, 1962, there was another bomb explosion in Accra (McFarland & Owusu-Ansah; Tetteh)

7 On January 11, 1963, another bomb exploded at a CPP rally at the Accra Sports Stadium shortly after Nkrumah had left the scene. This explosion killed over twenty people and more than four hundred people were injured; among the victims were children of the Young Pioneer movement (McFarland & Owusu-Ansah).

8 January 1, 1964, a police officer, Seth Ametewe, was posted on guard duty at the Flagstaff House to assassinate Nkrumah. His five shots missed Nkrumah, but succeeded in killing his personal security officer, Sgt. Salifu Dagarti.

Listen up, readers! Thus spake the Great Kwame Nkrumah: “The evaluation of one’s own social circumstances is part of the analysis of facts and events; and this kind of evaluation is as good as a strong point of inquiring into the relations between philosophy and society. Philosophy calls for analysis of facts and events, and an attempt to see how they fit into human experience.”

How do we summarize Nkrumah’s legacy then? Dr. Asante sums it best: “This is why I am an ardent celebrator of Nkrumah’s life and voice because in celebrating him we celebrate the best in us. This giant was real, genuine, with all of his human flaws, the essence of African intelligence and anti-fascist activism and he showed us what we must be and what we must do to remain centred and not simply shoved to the side as trash on the road of history.”

On the other hand, the modest Nkrumah had this to say about his place in human history: “Fundamentally, I do not believe in the great men of history, but I do think that so-called great men of history merely personify the synthesis of the tangled web of the material and historical forces at play.”

We shall return...

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis