Friday, November 24, 2006

Kwame Nkrumah and the Origin of Violence in Ghana Politics

Feature Article of Friday, 24 November 2006

RE: The Origin Of Violence In Ghana Politcs

I read with little surprise the article titled “The origin of political violence in Ghana” by one Asirifi Danquah which appeared in the Thursday, November 9, 2006 edition of the Daily Graphic.

Perhaps I would have been surprised if I were naive of the deliberate attempt by the some followers of the Danquah-Busia tradition and their financiers who aided in the overthrow of the CPP and Ghana’s first Republican Constitution since 24th February 1966 to destroy the CPP, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and everything good about him. We anticipate that this hopeless attempt will be at its peak especially as Ghana celebrates 50years in 2007, the golden age whose foundation is the CPP and Kwame Nkrumah. We know efforts and resources are been put to obliterate the shining exemplary life of Ghana’s first President and foremost Patriot by drowning him in a confused, clouded history twisting and reframing of past deeds. But I am sorry for them because the failure and/or refusal of Nkrumahists and members of the CPP family to tell the truth about Ghana’s political history which has given them a field’s day is over. There is now a new crop of Ghanaians who are ready to make straight the distortions and incoherent manipulation of facts that these traitors of nationalism and wreckers of nation have employed all these years without a befitting response. No more shall we remain silent, for that is against our tradition; we shall tell the story as it happened and should be told. Reading Asirifi’s article, it is clear that he is either suffering from selective amnesia if indeed he witnessed the beginning of serious political activities in Ghana from 1947 or he is part of those who have been brain-washed to accept falsehood as the truth and have themselves not decided to spend quality time to search diligently for that which can be accepted as the truth and withstand the test of time. I shall deal with the issues he raised fact by fact. It is however important to discuss what violence means, and how violence comes into being. I believe that will make it easier for all to judge based on the true happenings of the past as to who the originators of political violence are. Violence: act of aggression, cruelty, sadism, bloodshed that one employs to ruthlessly advance his/her cause most often against the views of the larger portion of society. The common precipitants to (political) violence are; jealousy unguarded, discord and disunity, falsehood/lies, demeaning and disrespect, the rubbish attempt to assume that one is more human than another, call it segregation, superiority complex and lastly the indiscretion and unbalanced thought that one must lead all others because his blood is more royal than others.

In the preceding paragraphs of our friend, he avers failingly that, Nkrumah wanted to create one party state right form 1951 and did everything to achieve that. Ghana adopted a one party in 1961 because the people of the Republic decided so overwhelming in a referendum. Was is it not Kwame Nkrumah who advocated strongly for the formation of a united opposition to the government which led to the coming to being of the United Party (UP) comprising of the NPP, NLM (a tribalist/secessionist movement that never became a party), and others? I must add here that Nkrumah did not only put Dr J B Danquah in charge of Citizenship Education, he also initiated him into the Academy of Arts and Sciences at University of Ghana. Unfortunately, Nkrumah’s name was violently struck out of this academy since his overthrow to date.

Who could here be referred to as violent, the CPP or the UP?

In the first place, it is not true as purported by Asirifi Danquah that political violence started with the formation of the CPP in 1949. Indeed, the first major political violence (which was necessary though) that occurred in Ghana was in February, 1948 when led by Nii Kwabena Bonnie and the Veterans Association, the people of Ghana boycotted foreign goods and the colonial authority wanted to use force to stop those actions describing them illegal, at which time Nkrumah was still the Gen Sec of the UGCC. Peter Omari, an avowed critic of Nkrumah who has done a lot of damage to Nkrumah and the CPP has himself admitted in his book entitled “Kwame Nkrumah – The Anatomy of an African Dictatorship” that Nkrumah was innocent of these events but only took political advantage of them by identifying with Nii Kwabena Bonnie’s action. Or is it that Asirifi want us to believe that the CPP was formed before 12th June 1949? How come the big six got arrested? Perhaps in their attempt to twist history they forget that their (traitors and coupists who introduced indiscipline in Ghana) most important ally should be knowledge of the sequence of events and their timing.

Asirifi Danquah, I guess from the Danquah family if not the larger Danquah-Busia, would be doing us – the younger generation especially, some good if he will as well quote what J B Danquah said when Nkrumah was arrested in 1950 after the declaration of the positive action and the series of confrontational, not violent events that followed before telling us about a so called congratulatory letter sent by his political lord to Nkrumah after he won the 1951 election. Danquah’s instant joy over the arrest of Nkrumah and other CPP leaders ended with the expression, ‘pataku’ (wolf) had been driven away (Nkrumah, 1957) meaning the trouble shooter is gone; the man who wants independence for the masses is in jail, we can go ahead with our plan of winning power for the few “elite” and the ruthless chiefs who never respected the wishes of their subjects. Little did he know that the Lion is a fighter that never loses a battle! How could he be happy about the release of the man he so much wanted to languish in jail? Ironically, it was the same Danquah who, in 1947, happily assured the people at a mass rally in Accra that Kwame Nkrumah will never fail you. On this promise, Dr. Danquah was right. Kwame Nkrumah later embarked on the motto: One Nation, One People and One Destiny in order to unify the four fragmented territories as one country by 1951.

Henceforth, Nkrumah would successfully strengthen his nationwide political party to defeat the forces of separatism and devolution, which were launched against the CPP’s nationalist agenda. Throughout history, Ghana has never been united like it did under the Nkrumah regime. I intend not to inflame passion, but in Prof Bukari Martissons book titled “ Who Killed the Ya Na?” he makes it abundantly clear that the arrangement put forward by the CPP government with respect to the Dagbon skin ensured that there was unity and peaceful succession turns without cause to violence. Assuming without doubt that there was a congratulatory letter; was it really congratulating Nkrumah? May be Asirifi suggests that former President Rawlings should be praised if he decides to send a letter off appreciation to President Kuffour for a nice treat all these years when the same character has woefully been crying over ill treatment from the president and has been ‘planning the overthrow of the NPP’. What a walking contradiction J B Danquah was! May be his followers too adore his contradictions. Isn’t it little wonder that Ghana is more divided and polarized today? That the gap between the North and South keeps widening and no one seems to care about it? Remember that the NPP is the direct offshoot of the Danquah-Busia tradition.

I wonder if anyone associates the violence against the CPP only to the NLM. The NLM was formed of course to continue an already existing agenda, the carriers of which had always been in operation day and night as saboteurs, anti – independence crusaders, imperialist agents, and the so called elite or most enlightened/learned men of their time, yet who could not reconcile what they had learnt with what they knew and who they were. These were the people who thought that we were not ripe for independence and Nkrumah was moving too fast for their liking and so he had to be stopped at all cost even if it meant eliminating (Killing) him from the political scene. What else could constitute violence if this thought of killing a man who was fighting for the most worthy cause of mankind – liberation, is to escape? Infact his worst critics like Omari admit that “Nkrumah was an organizing genius”. Why would someone who organizes the people and their votes happily and earnestly rely on violence to achieve his ends?

It is obvious that the man who is always beaten to the rules of the game would employ arbitrary methods because he fails through the proper channel. Just as a losing athlete would cross into the lane of the champion to create confusion, so did Dr J B Danquah, Prof K A Busia, and their likes introduce into Ghana politics violence because they could not stand Nkrumah and the CPP winning the hearts of the populace. The confusion in their midst attest to this. In 1949, when the CPP was launched, a vote of confidence was passed in J B Danquah. The UGCC could not survive their humiliating defeat after 1951, so it collapsed never to come up. Until 1956, they were still a divided and confused camp [the same confusion that engulfed them in 1979] while the CPP grew from strength to strength. Anyway, there is nowhere in Ghana, where chiefs outlawed the CPP except in Asante and Abuakwa headed by the Asantehene and Okyehene respectively. Women including the sister of Krobo Edusei were slaughtered for being members of the CPP, some were even buried alive. Does Asirifi know of the Subin Valley story? Please, this country deserve better and a high degree of truth. After we have had the National Reconciliation Commission, I think the way forward is to set the records straight and move on than to resort to this propaganda of lies, falsehood, conjectures and chicanery. History supports the fact that the party that fought for a peaceful and united Ghana is the CPP. No one can turn that upside down. Indeed in sometime past, it was the government of the CPP and the person of Kwame Nkrumah that suffered violence in the hands of power thirsty opposition who felt they were more suited to rule than the CPP and yet could not organize any votes. After all, was it not violence they used in overthrowing the CPP? Did Busia, a so called democrat not jubilate in all white on 24th of February, 1966? I am sure he never considered the indiscipline that they were introducing into the country of which he would later suffer from and die in exile as well.

It is important to distinguish the activities against the colonial masters before 1951 and violence carried out by Ghanaians within the period of 1947 – 1951 and of course beyond. The following chronology of events may be useful:

1. Nkrumah was invited in 1947 to help organize the UGCC as its General Secretary. Nkrumah’s main task was to build the party into a strong working force for the leadership (those more qualified than anyone else to lead) to take over and pride themselves with that achievement. Not only were the leaders, who invited Nkrumah aware of his strength, energy and organizational prowess, they also knew that he varied with them in respects of ideas on the attainment of independence. As a matter of fact, when the governor, Allan Burns summoned the leadership of the UGCC to alert them on the character (Nkrumah was a socialist and a Pan Africanist) they had brought in as general secretary, Pa Grant retorted, “we shall contain him”. The rift between Nkrumah and leadership of UGCC started when the base of the party enlarged to accommodate people who were hitherto referred to as unschooled and unworthy of reasoning with the learned. Nkrumah’s fame and rise discontented his ‘bosses’ who felt he was going too far. They became envious and planned to get rid of him at all cost. Around this time, Nkrumah’s proposed plans were cut down or reduced to embarrass and disgrace him to the people he had shared those activities with especially the youth. It was as a result of this move that Nkrumah had to look for alternative sources of raising funds and other resources, which took him to the market women, youth, chiefs, ex-service men, farmers and of course the educated who illuminated true education etc who needed independence to be able to live the fullest of their God-given potential. The leadership by the end of 1948 after their imprisonment – for which they never forgave Nkrumah – decided to sack him since they could no more contain him. They almost succeeded in frustrating Nkrumah and disorganize his entire life. But the masses, the working forces of Ghana, came to his defense and supported him to form the CPP.

When the CPP was finally formed, the stage was set for political war with respect to organization of the masses between the UGCC and the CPP. Realizing that the CPP was better organized with a visioned and disciplined leadership which they lacked in the UGCC; Danquah was bent on using all means possible to truncate the build up of the great CPP. Their initial cowardly packed move was to gossip about Nkrumah and his compatriots as trouble makers who were not fit to operate freely and give them up to the colonial powers. In fact these gossip led to the unwarranted attacks on Nkrumah and the leadership of the CPP between 1949 and 1951 when the CPP won the general elections massively. The governor (Arden Clarke) after taking a keen look at the politics then could not help but report back to the UK that “Nkrumah has the masses on his side and there is little J B Danquah and his fellows could do about that”. Suffice it to note that the UGCC leadership had a fantastic relationship with the colonial administration; they drunk tea together, shared beer and wine, danced the best western music in turns and ridiculed the suffering masses as uncivilized. In fact they wielded the power of influencing the colonial authority to arrest or free someone. Their limitation only came when they themselves were involved like in February 1944, Odikro Akyea Mensah was brutally murdered with the advice of J B Danquah and who later tried all he could together with Edward Akuffo Addo to defend the four children of the late Sir Ofori Atta I for carrying out such a violent act against humanity and their own blood brother in name of ritual purposes. No wonder they failed, and it cost J B Danquah the position of home secretary which he had been lobbying for since 1930.

From the afore mentioned, J B Danquah had the law and the law enforcers to his side and would not have allowed any harassment neither on himself nor his property as claimed by our friend Asirifi without getting the perpetrators to book. Vindictiveness is not something the father of the Danquah-Busia tradition, Dr Joseph Boakye Danquah and his political tradition can escape. When the 1951 election were due and UGCC realized that they could not win genuinely, the two kingdoms used all the power within their means to suppress the CPP. The 1951 election reveal how the CPP performed poorly in Asante areas. The great oaths (ntam keseĆ„) of the kings were invoked to intimidate the people into rejecting the CPP. If this is not violence, then what else could violence be? Let me quote the Dr Botwe Asamoah who has done an extensive research into this subject: “Indeed, Kwame Nkrumah and his followers were insulted, ridiculed, physically attacked and called all sorts of names. Krobo Edusei and others in the Asante province, for instance, were called traitors, quislings, and fifth columnists, for supporting Nkrumah. After the birth of the NLM, the Kumawuhene and some CPP leaders in Asante had to flee to the Colony, especially Accra for refuge (Awoonor, 1990). In Akyem Abuakwa, some immigrant farmers in some of the smaller towns closer to Kyebi had to flee for their lives. In the March 6, 1956 edition of the NLM paper, Liberator, the CPP was referred to as a group of homeless tramps and jackals. But, the more the Danquah-Busia camp resorted to name-calling, brute politics and physical attacks, the more the intelligent people of Ghana rallied behind Nkrumah’s CPP and its nationalist agenda. Alas, after the Harlley-CIA conspired coup of February 1966, Kwame Nkrumah’s eighty year-old mother (almost blind) was dragged to the Commission of Enquiry in an attempt to force her at gun point to say that Nkrumah was not her real son (Kanu, 1982). So, as my admiration for her bold refusal to yield to the heartless acts of the Danquah-Busia acolytes, and as a salute to Major-General Barwah, who was butchered for his heroic refusal to betray the Black Race, I will not nor will other like-minded people be deterred by the name-calling and harebrained personal attacks by a tiny minority from writing on Ghana’s political history.”

Asirifi, in citing the Kulungungu bombing claims that the CPP bombed itself and named the opposition for it. Perhaps he should read the reports of the Exemptions Committee that was set up by the NLC immediately after the overthrow of Nkrumah to pardon all those who had previously engaged in acts of subversion against the state, the CPP and Kwame Nkrumah. The list is a long one, but includes names of people like Obetsebi Lamptey, the financers/orchestrator of bomb throwing, R. R Amponsa, Gbedemah – Nkrumah’s henchman who turned to join the gang of Busia-Danquah-Lamptey bomb throwers and subvervisionist. Additionally, Nkrumah noted in the “DARK DAYS IN GHANA” that naturally there were people who joined the CPP out of mischief. It is no wonder if the nation wreckers could find allies within the CPP. Violence been their character, in which they were so intoxicated, more violence took place from 1951 and beyond. They just did not want Kwame Nkrumah, a lower class citizen to become president. Independence was not on their agenda. They preferred to be lords among their people and peckers of the crumbs from the table of the European. The CPP and Nkrumah thought otherwise, “the Blackman is capable of managing his own affairs”. After the calls on the British authority to stop the granting of independence with the claim that the British “experiment is not over. We wonder why you seem so much in hurry to leave” (Busia). They resorted to violence to stop 6th March. I wish to add here that Busia as the Opposition leader at the time of independence was absent during the celebration and wrote an insulting letter citing ill health. Later the truth came out that while he was resting at Wenchi; he was monitoring the activities of criminals like S G Antor. Again I wish to make reference to Dr Kwame Botwe–Asamoah: On the eve of Ghana’s Independence on March 6, 1957, the Ewe Unificationists, led by S.G. Antor (Danquah’s confidant), formed themselves into a ragged guerilla army in Alavanyo and prepared for an armed insurrection with homemade guns against the CPP government.

The Governor- General sent troops to the region to put down the revolt (Mahoney, 1983). Dr Botwe–Asamoah furthers explains: “After the passage of the Avoidance Act, the anti-Nkrumah movement, the Ga-Shifimo Kpee, was formally launched in Accra, where a sheep was slaughtered and oaths were sworn against all strangers, including Nkrumah who was accused of encumbering a Ga constituency seat. Strangely, Danquah and S. G. Antor were in attendance. From then, on the organization’s youth wing, Tokyo Joes, thronged themselves at vantage points in Accra hooting and jeering at Nkrumah and the CPP leaders.
After his trip from abroad, Nkrumah was met with placards reading: Welcome Mr. Dictator, PM Is Goldsmith Your father’s name? etc. (Austin, 1964; Awoonor, 1991, Bing, 1974).

2. In 1958, there was a plot to assassinate Nkrumah at the airport and then overthrow the CPP government as Nkrumah was about to leave for a state visit to India. The plot was discovered and the plotters were arrested (Forward Ever, 1977).

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

4. 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).

5. On August 1, 1962, as Nkrumah was returning from a state visit to Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), and had gotten out of his car to speak to the school children in the crowd that had gathered to greet him at Kulungungu, a bomb contained in a bouquet carried to him by a schoolgirl, exploded; it killed several school children and injured many others. The victim’s bodies bled from cuts caused by the splinters from the bomb (Kanu 1982; Tetteh, 1999). Nkrumah sustained a serious injury but he refused to have any device to deaden his pain while the operation went on.

6. 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 (Tetteh).

7. 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).

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

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

10. 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). 11. 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. The question is what government would permit these primitive and terrorist methods of attack by an opposing political party? In the light of these senseless, barbaric bomb attacks against the founder of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the Young Pioneers and other school children, how was the CPP government going to protect and develop the newly independent State of Ghana? The main reason for the repeated bomb attacks against the Ghana Young Pioneers, according to Dr. Tetteh, was that Nkrumah’s enemies saw in the Ghana Young Pioneers movement (of which I was a member at Koforidua) the source of permanent power if allowed to last for at least one generation or 35 years. At any rate, given Dr. J. B. Danquah’s hostility towards the democratic process and given his open statement during the Jackson Commission of 1958 indicating that the laws of Ghana did not apply to him, was it surprising that he resorted to undemocratic and violent methods? As demonstrated above, J. B. Danquah and his cronies chose the uncivilized methods and terrorism, including collaboration with the CIA to kill Kwame Nkrumah and overthrow his government. Was this what Danquah meant when he said that Nkrumah would pay with his neck for the Positive Action crusade in 1950? What a shameful legacy! Therefore, President Kufour should, on the 50th Anniversary of Ghana’s Independence and in the spirit of a true reconciliation, pardon J. B. Danquah and his cronies for their coup plots and/or their senseless bomb attacks that killed and maimed several Young Pioneers and other school children, instead of promoting him as a national hero.”

Instead of attempting to rewrite the political history of this nation, I advise that the Danquah-Busia element admit their mistakes of the past and apologize for the sake of true national reconciliation as we approach age 50. A time when all must sober reflect over the past confront our mistakes in the face and say never again!

We in the CPP remain resolute to defend our heritage as a party and build on our strength to save this nation from wreckers, liars and demagogues who walk and believe that God gave them two heads among all humans and so they can manipulate anyone else. Recently, Mr. Peter Ala Adjetey took a bold step by declaring that “Nkrumah had a programme, he knew which direction he was taking this nation. But today, we don’t know what we are about”. That is a nationalist trait. Those who sought to ridicule the former speaker would be shamed if they visit the forum at ghanaweb. We in the CPP realize the enormous energy and substantial sacrifice that went into the struggle for independence, and we shall do our utmost best to preserve it. Ghana deserves better. Forward ever, Backwards never! For all CPP men and women, I say the battle for 2008 is similar to that of 1957. We have to save this great nation. We have yet another opportunity to make things right. Rise in your numbers and shout “All for one and One for All”.

That is our strength! There is victory for us in the name of great CPP!

James Kwabena Bomfeh Jnr
Executive Director
Youth for Action Ghana
P.O Box CT 1370
Accra, Ghana

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