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Professor Busia His Legacy

Fri, 19 Jul 2013 Source: Tamakloe, Kojo

Kojo Tamakloe

It has become the norm these days to celebrate the life and works of some of our past political leaders and heap praises on them. The latest being Prof Busia. I am aware one does not speak ill of the departed . I hope I will not . Shakespeare in his works of Julius Caesar said “ the evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones” . How wrong he was as the good that men do lives after them and the evil is oft interred with their bones. All you have to do is attend funerals and listen to the Pastors and friends and family members giving praise to the departed.

However in contemporary society one will mostly name children after people who led exemplary lives or left legacies worth emulating . The Roman Catholic Church is noted for canonizing such people as saints , so we have John, James, etc. Other times we name discoveries or institutions after them . We even name our children after them in our African society.

So what is a legacy? It has different meanings and I like to be logical as to which one really befits the man known as Prof Busia who was described as ‘ living ahead of his time” by Nana Akufo-Addo recently

1. bequest made in a will: money or property that is left to somebody in a will. I do not think this is what the speaker was talking about . He did not leave the country with money or property . Maybe to his immediate relatives

2. something from past: something that is handed down or remains from a previous generation or time. Here again I am not sure he left anything from the past for us , as a nation worth emulating . That leaves us with the last definition

3. outdated or discontinued: associated with something that is outdated or discontinued

However before we discuss the third , let us look a bit into Prof Busia’s background and his achievements . Perhaps we can understand him better

1. K. A. Busia was born in Wenchi, in the Ashanti Confederacy, one of the four Gold Coast Territories, then under British rule and now called Ghana. He was educated at Methodist School, Wenchi, Mfantsipim School, Cape Coast, then at Wesley College, Kumasi, from 1931 to 1932. He later became a teacher at Achimota School. He gained his first degree with Honours in Medieval and Modern History from the University of London, through correspondence during this period. He then went on to study at University College, Oxford, where he was the college's first African student. He took a BA (Hons) in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (1941, MA) 1946) and a DPhil in Social Anthropology in 1947, with a thesis entitled "The position of the chief in the modern political system of Ashanti: a study of the influence of contemporary social changes on Ashanti political institutions." One sees him as a very good academic showing tenacity in the pursuit of what we use to call the “ golden fleece” He combines Medieval history with modern history. The fascination about history is that it is a record of the successes and follies of the past greats .He then combines it with philosophy and sociology , study of society: the study of the origin, development, and structure of human societies and the behavior of individual people and groups in society. Thus his doctoral thesis was based upon this . But could he APPLY this to his evolving society and future society? That is where he could have left a legacy . Like most of our academics who never apply but repeat verbatum what they studied. So as an outsider to the Asante he curried favor and wanted to be more Asante than Asantes and then went on to do the same with the Brits . This was from the era of “assimilation” . One remembers especially the French and Portuguese who formalized this in their colonies such that when an African attained a certain level of “civilization “ , he could now be a Frenchman or Portuguese. Ex President Leopold Senghor, Houghet Boigny a were notable examples . Effectively they lose their identity to assume the identity of what they are not. So is that a legacy we should be teaching our children?

He served as a district commissioner from 1942 to 1949, and was appointed first lecturer in African Studies. He became the first African to occupy a Chair at the University College of the Gold Coast (now the University of Ghana). In 1951 he was elected by the Ashanti Confederacy to the Legislative Council. In 1952 he was Leader of Ghana Congress Party, which later merged with the other opposition parties to form the UP.. So one can see ,in everything, Prof Busia sought to be like people he viewed to be “ superior” .The GCP was actually the NLM controlled by an illiterate Baffour Osei Akoto. The DCs were the local face of the Queen ensuring the “locals or the “natives” did the bidding of the colonizers. Is it any wonder he could not see eye to eye with Dr Nkrumah?

“1969, the PP won the parliamentary elections with 104 of the 105 seats contested. This paved the way for him to become the next Prime Minister. Busia continued with NLC's anti-Nkrumaist stance and adopted a liberalised economic system. There was a mass deportation of half a million of Nigerian citizens from Ghana, and a 44 percent devaluation of the cedi in 1971, which met with a lot of resistance from the public.” Correction , he won 102 of the 130 seats and devalued the cedi by 100% . The question is were these the correct dose of medicine to cure the economy or was he as usual just taking instructions from his masters ? He brought in a Harvard University group to advice on economic matters .

Economic liberalism, also known as fiscal liberalism, is the ideological belief in organizing the economy on individualist lines.

Why was the cedi devalued? They said was to boost exports as our goods would be cheaper. That makes sense, but which goods? He had previously closed down the factories started by Nkrumah so our manufacturing capacity was debased. Then he sent the farm labor packing so we could not produce our agricultural goods either. It was the classic case of some one not being able to apply his knowledge and get a solution . The factories like the tractors were left to rot . But loans had been taken and these needed to be repaid. As foreign exchange was tight there were controls. Instead of importing spare parts for the machines working he was importing turkey tail. It was turkey tail here, turkey tail there , turkey tail every where. Is this the person we are insulting Nkrumah’s memory with by comparing them?

I like to compare apples with apples , so I will compare him with Kutu Acheampong, the man who deposed him. Whereas Busia had divided the country , the so called ill educated Kutu had his motto “ One Country, One People, One destiny” . He went to Swedru Business College and they mocked him for it. . But here is Busia who had even taught at Achimota where Dr Kwegyir Aggrey had left his mark on two main fronts . 1 Was the story of the eagle who grew up with chicken and was made to fly . 2 Unity of people . My research showed Dr Aggrey talked about the white and Black keys of the piano making the best music . Then the motto of the school is “ Ut Omnes unum sint” , that all tall may be one . Then also in the Hymn book special to the school was a song that started with “from Gambaga to Accra , from Wiaso to keta , we are all one”. So how did Prof Busia miss such obvious facts of life despite his doctorate in sociology and the one with basic education Kutu got it .

Leaders engender confidence and hope and this is what Kutu did and Busia never did . Kutu started an africanist policy once again and mobilized the citizenry that we started having bumper crop harvest again and in 2 years we were exporting maize to other countries. That was from his concept Operation feed yourself (OFY)

I know for certain even the Wenchi Secondary school was opened in the time of Kutu Acheampong. Whereas Busia preached , Kutu acted and delivered.

I guess some readers will remember the debts that piled up and so Gen Acheampong was forced into a situation of “ Yen tua” . As students we demonstrated in support . Of course the poor man paid a price for it as he was labeled a “ communist” and starved of the necessary funds and his tenure became rocky. But whereas Busia could not confront his masters and was left lamenting ,Kutu did. He seized control of the mines so they could pay better royalties and guess who came ,Tiny Rowlands.

Kutu Acheampong may have erred but his UNIGOV , concept was also spot on. At least for that time. We opposed it. But can one say it is only multi partyism that spells democracy? Then can we say the Asantehene or Okyenhene and for that matter our traditional chiefs are autocratic or dictatorial? It is therefore important we should have explored the concept a little more instead, we only saw the messenger and rebuffed it. It is the same way, we saw the CPP as a dictatorship and never really sought to check its workings.

Busia lived in his time and not ahead. The types who like Bokassa borrowed $25m for his coronation as Emperor only to be deposed after 10 months. They were vain and glorious

PS I realize C Y Andy K stole my thunder It is important we correct the fallacies of our time.

The writer Kojo Tamakloe is an Nkrumaist who believes it is through African Unity that Africa can develop

Columnist: Tamakloe, Kojo