Chapter One: The Propagandization of Ghana’s History
You may be forgiven in thinking that the First Republic has been revisited. Thus, we have returned to the era where it is sacrilegious to criticize Kwame Nkrumah and it is rewarding to denigrate the other founding fathers of Ghana.
The Monday 11 October, 2010 editorial of The Insight newspaper of Marxist-Nkrumaist, Kwesi Pratt, was simply titled ‘GABBY OTCHERE-DARKO’. The short editorial is reproduced below for emphasis.
We have no quarrel with Gabby Otchere-Darko, the Executive Director of the Danquah Institute over his decision to glorify the ideals of Dr J B Danquah, an icon of reactionary and neo-colonial politics in Ghana.
The Insight believes firmly that the politics with Danquah typified was retrograde and against the national interest.
However, we also appreciate that citizens like Gabby have every right to pursue causes which strengthen imperialism and undermine the aspiration of the masses.
The problem with what Gabby has been doing over the last couple of weeks is that he is busily losing the 2012 elections for his cousin, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
The Nkrumah factor in Ghana’s politics is huge and that is exactly what Gabby is denying his cousin of.
Well Gabby can spend all his time attacking Nkrumah.
It will take him nowhere. The only effect of the anti-Nkrumah campaign being waged by Gabby is that it will hurt Nana Akufo-Addo very badly.
The editorial is typical of the irony of character assassination that has followed the other nationalists, typically of the UGCC/UP group, who contributed to Ghana’s independence, such that today, while an editorial is criticizing an ‘Nkrumah critic’ of ‘attacking’ Nkrumah that same editorial falsely accuses Danquah as ‘an icon of reactionary and neo-colonial politics in Ghana.’
Does the fact that Nana Akufo-Addo is my cousin mean I should not express my views on matters that i feel so strongly about? That would be a strong position for Comrade Pratt to take. In any event, one would have hoped that he would give more weight to his own passionate and eloquent criticism of the NPP than he would to my views on matters that are not directly germane to the standard of living of Ghanaians today and by extension to election 2012. I, a citizen of Ghana, cannot speak my mind because my cousin is running for the Presidency? Is that what The Insight is saying today?
Mr Pratt’s editorial follows a series of anger-bewitched comments from some Pro-Nkrumah persons and media since I delivered a lecture in America, describing Ghana’s first President as the “personification of the African tragedy of the 20th century.”
In that lecture, I tendered an opinion as to why Kwame Nkrumah deserved to be voted by BBC World as Africa’s man of the Millennium in December 1999 because Nkrumah personified everything that was optimistic about Africa in the beginning of the second half of the 20th century and by 1965, he was representing the things that came to be wrong about the continent by the end of the Millennium:
“Precisely because, in my view, Nkrumah’s leadership epitomised the African dream that decayed, the political freedom that was won and lost, the promise that was missed, the economic experiments that led to our detriment, triggering a long, avoidable period of instability and mass poverty… Nkrumah used his charisma, vision, energy and urgency to inspire his nation and an entire continent to the promise of greatness… rapid industrialisation and significant expansion of social programmes. However, within a decade there was decline on nearly every major front — civil rights, democracy, and the economy suffered — and he ended up offering to a hopeful continent a model of leadership and a paradigm of governance that left a 50-year legacy of ‘Afropessimism’…
It was apt he got the vote – over Mandela and others — even if not consciously intended for the reasons I suggest because Nkrumah’s failure served not only as a microcosm of Africa’s failure but as the pace-setter for that continental failure which today has the majority of our people still steep in poverty.”
The reactions to this from Kwesi Pratt, Nii Moi Thompson and Ade Sawyerr, in particular, have not been specifically to dispute this fact but to attack Dr Danquah and to suggest that Nkrumah is beyond reproach. Mr Pratt’s editorial interestingly brings in Akufo-Addo – call it a propagandizing attempt to exploit contemporary party political realities to stave off comments on our history that disfavor the apparent deification of Nkrumah.
So who are the Nkrumah-sympathisers who would rather vote against the views of a relative of Akufo-Addo on their hero or vote, according to Mr Pratt’s own political sermons, ‘bread and butter’ issues of today? Should the pro-Nkrumah people like Mr Pratt not be focusing on how to correct the daunting poetic irony of the CPP that had 34 out of the 38 seats of the legislative assembly of 1951, today having just one seat in a legislature of 230 and for that seat to be held by a woman who happens to be the biological daughter of the CPP founder, Kwame Nkrumah.
Perhaps the legislative reality of today’s Parliament is a reflection of the fact that were both Nkrumah and Danquah to be alive today, the latter would easier recognize the current democratic Ghana of a free press, vibrant opposition, independent judiciary and free enterprise than Nkrumah would. Is it therefore not a vindication of a legacy of enduring principles? Or is today’s Ghana an imperialist imposition and today’s press, including The Insight, stooges of neo-colonialism?
In 2009, in celebrating Kwame Nkrumah’s centenary, the President and his Nkrumaist friends told the nation that Nkrumah was the only founder of Ghana and therefore established a ‘Founder’s Day’ to commemorate this. Indeed, they could have called it Nkrumah’s Day without raising a decibel of protest as Nkrumah truly deserves to be honoured for his immense contribution both to our national and continental efforts for self-government and self-reliance. But, the statement intended had to cut deeper than that. It was to spite the decades of collective effort against colonialism, raise Nkrumah and erase the contributions of other giant nationalists of the period.
Then, in line with the Mills administration’s free exercise books policy, they distributed exercise books to schools across the country, with a short biography of Nkrumah’s positive deeds. Nothing wrong with that, perhaps. But, it ends by saying Nkrumah’s deeds were cut short when he was overthrown in February 1966 by ‘his political opponents’ – impliedly the Danquah-Dombo-Busia group -- in modern political terms, the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
It may not be that pronounced to some people and, yet, it is as plain as a pikestaff to the memory of the ‘Big Six’. President John Atta Mills, and his cohorts are determined to condition future voters against the NPP, by re-portraying NPP and its ancestors as ‘bomb-throwers’ and ‘nation-wreckers.’ This is the danger which should be obvious to all lovers of multi-party democracy and true students of history. This is a fact that should be obvious to the NPP rather than falling for the cheap propaganda ploy by both Dr Kwesi Ndoum’s Today newspaper and Kwesi Pratt’s Insight that a criticism of Nkrumah is a vote lost to Akufo-Addo.
So obvious is this propangadization that its protagonists would not wish us to pause and ask how come in April 1963 the people found ‘guilty’ of plotting the Kulungugu bombing (assassination attempt against President Nkrumah) were three men who, at the time, were Nkrumah’s closest cronies, ex-Foreign Minister Dr Ebenezer Ako Adjei, ex-Information Minister Tawiah Adamafio and H H Cofie-Crabbe former General Secretary of Nkrumah’s own ruling Convention People’s Party.
So incensed was the President when the Supreme Court decision on this treason trial did not go his way that he did something which every Constitution of the Republic has since sought to insulate the judiciary from –he sacked the Chief Justice (Aku Korsah) and the others, appointed his own and ensured his willed verdict against the accused persons was done.
During the five week tribunal, one of the defendants, Nigerian immigrant Malam Mama Tula, 44, testified that the trio were the real brains behind the Kulungugu presicide attempt, who conferred with the bomb throwers at a village hideout, supplied eight British-made grenades and promised a $560 bounty if Nkrumah was killed. The three, of course, pleaded not guilty, but ended up with their fate chained to the hangman’s discretion, with detainee H H Cofie Crabbe in Cell No. 8, next to Danquah’s Cell 9, condemned murderer Jospeh Adotei Addo in Cell 7, detainee Ako Adjei in Cell 6 and detainee Tawiah Adamafio in Cell 4.
But, the revisionists of today may be succeeding in blaming the ancestors of the NPP. To them, Nkrumah was taking Ghana to places but his political opponents staged a coup and killed it, reducing Ghana to today’s wretched status.
Yet, any attempt to set the records straight may be met by charges from within that ‘Gabby and co risk losing NPP, CPP votes!’ For their the Nkrumaists prefer not to respond directly to criticisms of their hero but to throw back counter allegations or attack those they see to be ‘attacking’ the good name of their hero.
If all of this is not a clear sign that there is a deliberate scheme to destroy the New Patriotic Party and its political tradition in the hearts and minds of new generation Ghanaians then think again. But, the danger in this deliberate distortion of history goes beyond any intention to discredit the NPP. In fact, it discredits our years of efforts to, among other things, discredit human rights abuses by the state, a one-party state system, dictatorship, political intolerance, disrespect for judicial independence, criminalization of dissent, media censorship, state capitalism, and the cult of personality.
To be continued…
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