J. B. Danquah The Inventor for Dummies!

Sun, 15 Feb 2015 Source: Prof. Lungu

"....One of the more profound memories with our father was reading together with him his old 1945-era Middles School notebooks showing plans for constructing water systems, sewer treatment facilities, roads and bridges, among other urban facilities, several with Chinese annotations. Sadly, many a Ghana citizen have no resource or recourse to information of that nature even in today's internet age....", (Prof Lungu, 1 Jan 2015).

Dear reader, no people in all of mankind's recorded and oral history ever united through a confederation, let alone build a great civilization. It was not the case for the ancient Egyptians, nor was it the case for all the great civilizations of Mongolia and China that Marco Polo marveled at during his travels in the mid-1200s. Further, many of the greatest engineering and economic feats of mankind were invented and built through servitude, sometimes through part time conscription, most often through slavery, but all the time, of the conquered, or of fellow compatriots. We are talking about Grand Canals, Harbors, Urban Squares, Dams, Cities, Highways, Road, Bridges, Libraries, the Pyramids, and yes, Universities, even. Such it is, even in the case of Christopher Columbus's Old America of the late 1400s, and in the case of Abraham Lincoln's United States of America, in more recent historical annals.

Those, dear reader, were "brutal" regimes and institutional arrangements of hyper-centralized direction. It was always about the city, change, adaptation, renewal, and degradation. And people died in the million in the aggregate constructing and supporting those facilities and institutions. Largely immutable records are available to today's privileged, including you who are reading this essay.

In Ghana, with second hand knowledge of those records by expatriates, Ghanaian workers, always free to work, constructed and built all the great infrastructure and institutions Kwame Nkrumah bequeathed to Ghana as the Chief Executive of Ghana, who, in many cases, commissioned them. Nkrumah was, after all, elected by the entire Nation of Ghana multiple times, while J. B. Danquah was not elected, not even once, by the entire Nation.

In all those ancient and new civilizations built through servitude we spoke about, the royal-born, the privileged, and the cunning professional (lawyers and accountants, mostly), benefited greatly. As such, they generally never had any compelling reason to challenge the political system, speak truth to the power, or lead credible political struggles. Not with speed, and not by any means necessary. Thus, it was generally the outsiders who always "rocked the boat" for improvement in human conditions and freedom. Modern economic theory, now wayward and without balance or conscience in Europe, mostly, prove what we now state about the royal-born, the privileged, and the cunning professional.

Such is the case of royal-privileged-born J. B. Danquah who, in the 1960s, was already deeply entrenched in the colonial urban and economic life of the Gold Coast as a lawyer. J. B. Danquah therefore had no compelling, altruistic motive to seek a radical change from "colonial masterdom" to "Sovereign Statedom" for the benefit of the average Ghanaian. No. But a confederation and pseudo-federal government, the records show, pretty well suited J. B. Danquah. Hence the sundry destructive energies and acts recorded in his solitary corner in the public annals, from Apedwa-Amantoo Miensa, to Kyebi, to Accra, to the United States Library of Congress, to Embassies of foreign countries, to University libraries, and all places in-between.

To use a tired old phrases, needless to say, when J.B. Danquah was plying his profession in colonial Ghana under the auspices of the masters, Grand Canals, Harbors, Urban Squares, Dams, Cities, Highways, Road, Bridges, Libraries, the Pyramids, and yes, Universities, even, had all been conceptualized and built in all those Great Civilizations, and in minor Civilizations, as existed in England where J. B. Danquah was a student at some point in life.

The records were, and are available on/in cloths, parchment papers, manuscripts, books, microfiche, vinyl records, tapes, DVDs, and now increasingly, digital internet-ready media on desktops, laptops, servers, and Clouds, as in Cloud Computing institutions of all types. J. B. Danquah did not invent any of those ideas, facilities, or institutions.

Not Legon!

Not Akosombo Dam!

Not Tema Harbor!

Not Bank of Ghana!

Not Ghana!

To say that J. B. Danquah invented and created all these things for Ghana is to say that Tetteh Quashie invented cocoa in Ghana. Or that your late grand-mother invented any number of your family rituals she educated your mother on, because, well, she was the first in the world, compared to your mother and you.

That, we submit, is patently pedestrian and moronic!

So, if we are to be charitable, J. B. Danquah simply borrowed some ideas from any number of existing privileged sources and floated them around on occasions, as the "Been-To" he represented himself to be (read the two so-called Danquah Prison Letters), but without properly attributing from whence he borrowed, even as the Danquah-Deathknell-Palanquin Supporting Sub-Prelates continue to do same, today. Worse, today, they edit and hide records in matters they claim are super-important where the history of Ghana is concerned.

And on the other side, Ghana-style, such is the case of Kwame Nkrumah, born without all the pretentions of an urbane Ofori Attah. Nkrumah was so deeply entrenched in the vision of many a Great African (Marcus Garvey, W. E, DuBois, etc.), that even before he could fully complete his self-sponsored education in the United States and England in the 1940s, he was invited to the Gold Coast to assist with the quest for independence and sovereignty.

We'd expect that as an "outsider" and with the background of US history and politics and knowledge of African heroes and those from other regions of the world, that Nkrumah would see the independence and sovereignty project as a quest and struggle for the speediest results, with significant power at the center to counter all dis-orienting centrifugal forces. After all, political-economy teaches us that newly independent necessarily does not mean that your old colonial master suddenly loses all interests in their own permanent interests and development. On the other hand, a Ghana strong enough to ease the former masters' access to the produce and markets of the old colony, that, the old masters saw in the Nkrumah vision of a centralized government. That would be a sources of respect for Nkrumah, as the records show. Respect, after all, should always go to a principled enemy, than to an unprincipled friend who will never do what you would do, if you owned the football, the country, or were in their shoes, so to speak.

Further, any American college student who paid attention in "American History 101" required of all college "Freshmen" will tell you that a confederation has no chance at all of supporting an agrarian economy, let alone an industrial, and post industrial, knowledge-based economy. As well, the astute American student will tell you that the second best option that was adopted for the new state in North America, the federal system, continues to wreak havoc on the life chances of a large segment of the American population even as multitudes on other sides profited and continue to benefit from slavery, racial politics, wealth, gender inequity, and even from the names of the States in which they live. The idea that there is no stronger role for the national government is now being rendered asunder, in multiple ways and platforms.

Dear reader, the history of Nigeria ought be instructive to all of us as things stand today. Having opted for a federal form of government for Nigeria in 1960, Nigerian politicians would be at the forefront of the group that strongly resisted the United Africa vision of Nkrumah. Later, in 1967-1970, Nigeria, with its federal system, would be plunged into a civil war that resulted in nearly 2 million Nigerians dying from the war, many from war-related diseases and starvation.

Sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly, the Nigerian civil war was abetted in part by the subversive and deluded Ghana military junta that overthrew Nkrumah under the National Liberation Council (NLC) banner, a name that is in virtual sync with the National Liberation Movement (NLM) of Danquah-Busia. On many fronts, in Aburi Gardens, the NLC soldiers supported the idea of a Confederation of States for Nigeria a la Danquah-Busia, but in Murphy's Law Fashion, to little success and disaster.

Then, in our own life time, the Nigeria North/Boko Haram has struck, and the Nigerian federal government is noticeable by its absence. Absent, even as its unelected Goodluck leader and sundry politicians in far-away Abuja prefer to acquire rights to billboards in Nkrumah's Ghana just so they can spread self-serving political messages, against the internal interests of Ghana, to the multitude of Nigerian students studying in peace in Ghana.

We posit that these historic and contemporary difficulties in Nigeria, even with Nigeria's expansive size and population, is not entirely the result of geography. They are the consequences of unwise, deferred, arrested, political choices. They are precisely the kind Ghana escaped from through the tenacity of Nkrumah, against the wishes of J. B. Danquah and his confederate cohorts. On another level, there is also the case where the strong centralized national government of post-independent Ghana has proven to be precisely the kind necessary to significantly ameliorate the provincial powers of paramount chiefs, such as was wielded by the likes of Ofori Atta of Akyem Abuakwa, under master-sanctioned "indirect rule".

In that sense, we will even hazard that Nkrumah has saved Ghanaian lives, and continues to do so even after death, notwithstanding the detentions and imprisonment of a small group we could count on our two hands, detentions that lasted 24 months or less, and did not result in the execution of a single "subversive" individual. Danquah, after all, died prematurely from temporary privilege-withdrawal syndrome (TPWS), abetted by self-induced temper tantrums, and high blood pressure. This death occurred in a prison a lot better than what we now have in Nsawam, Kumasi, and in other sorrowful places, today. (Ask musician Kwaw Kese and Amnesty International, if you seriously care)!

To the point, Nkrumah was far from being a "brutal dictater," unless you are totally absent-minded about the history of the World and of Africa, or, you are affiliated with Danquah-Deathknell-Palanquin freelance supporters. Or with the so-called Danquah Institute that in our own life's time had a leader who was an informant for the police of the expired colonial masters. Or, frankly, you have no concept about what an operational definition for "brutal dictator" actually ought to look like - objective, within reasonable, and measurable.

In short, if in 2015 you think that Kwame Nkrumah was a brutal dictator, you are in all probability associated or related by blood to one individual, Ofori Attah. We know that Ofori Atta was among the first to personally benefit from the advent of colonial masters in that part of Ghana, and was by reverse one of the first authorities to see their power, and those of their heirs, wane under the new national government of Ghana, post independence. Reminds us about the case of the Ibos of Nigeria, who as a group swiftly accepted Christianity and colonial education, but later, primed by self-centered interests of politicians, plunged Nigeria into that ugly and brutal civil war.

So, as we said the other day, Nkrumah's story tells both camps, so to speak, what is not acceptable for a sovereign, democratic State pushing for a stronger and vibrant Nation-Hood. It is sovereignty, foremost, that allows the creation of conditions for a modicum of democratic dispensation, but always in coordination and sympathy with patriotic compatriots who are not persuaded to fund their lives with foreign resources under dark tables.

Yes, sovereignty and patriotism!

And balance!

And respect for other peoples' opinions!

And a proper sense of the History of Man!

In closing, let's all remember that in an increasingly Global Village and against the developmental challenges in Ghana/Africa, precisely the type Nkrumah tried to forestall, J. B. Danquah will only matter to a small clique in Ghana. For, all will know that J. B. Danquah never invented all those things. That J. B. Danquah will not matter globally, until Danquah-Deathknell-Palanquin Supporters find a humble Ghana-centered way to make his legacy relevant for the entire world. Sadly, though, we see that they have not even begun to take the first humble and reasonable steps in that direction. Rather, they choose to be defined by the prison-death of a sub-par Show Boy, worshipping his dead spirit on his death day alone in their corner. They forget that it is "Birth" that is for the Living, Posterity, and Heritage.

Therefore, anyone thinks that Nkrumah was a brutal dictator, why do they allow Jerry Rawlings to comfortably perch in his abode in Accra, with all that blood on his hands, and the Indemnity Clause on his forehead and behind? This Indemnity Clause, we will remind you, could have been proscribed by so called NPP-Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition when they had all the chance, power, and privilege in the world to do so all of those recent 12 years!

What, we ask, is their pathetic and self-deluding excuse?

NOTE: The reader should note that we have purposely neglected to mention the evil and brutal regimes at bottom of many great wars and strife. Theses include the Nazi atrocities in Germany, Pol Pot's Death Camps in Cambodia, and Stalin's Labor and Death Camps, etc., to name just a few.

Prof. Lungu is Ghana-centered/Ghana-Proud. Prof Lungu is now based in Washington DC, USA. Brought to you courtesy www.GhanaHero.comĀ©15 Jan.15.


Mumford, Lewis. The City in History, 1968

Columnist: Prof. Lungu