Our Country- History And Events: A Comparative Study Of Gold Coast Without Dr Kwame Nkrumah ((Otherwise, Francis Ngonlomah Nwia-Kofi))
The OmanbaPa Research Group
For the international lawyer and indeed the historian, the starting point for a discussion of the criteria ((principle)) of statehood is Article 1 of the Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States 1933. The imports of this provision are that the ‘state as a subject of international law should possess the following qualifications: (a) permanent population; (b) a defined territory; (c) a government; and (d) a capacity to enter into relations with other states. The “Gold Coast Ghana” had all these characteristics prior to its self-rule. How logic, then, could one person- Dr Kwame Nkrumah, be its sole founder?
In less than one month into his throne and leadership as President of Republic of Ghana and unquestionably persuaded by his said bequeathed beliefs in the doctrine and principle of Young Pioneer and Nkrumahism- Professor J. E. A. Mills of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), seems to have forgotten his own “Gold Coast Ghana” history; many of which were either made and/or bonded in his medieval home territory- Cape Coast, known otherwise by the Portuguese/Swedish in the 1650s as Cabo Corso. According to encyclopedia.com, the Brits made Cape Coast their administrative headquarters in 1664 and became Gold Coast until it was yes, eventually relocated to Accra in 1877.
Yes, in writing about this, JusticeGhana seems to have touched raw nerves and indeed sacred historical matter. But without prejudice, the reader is reminded that we seem not to stir up and/or rekindle past historical animosities but wish to remind ourselves of and yes, expose the ancient hypocrisy that deprived our ancestors of collective justice, unity, security and progress that was eventually realised and appreciated at the dawn of Gold Coast nationalism. The President is truly aware of the historical nervousness that climaxed the last stage in our independence struggle, and here between the two competing Conventions- the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) and the Convention People Party (CPP). He might true also not be ignorant about various roles played by our Nananom in the eventual proclamation of Ghana’s independence on 06 March 1957.
Yet on Thursday 3 September 2009, Koku Anyidoho- the Communications Director at the Presidency, is quoted to have told the Daily Graphic at the Castle in Accra that, President Mills, has declared 21 September a statutory public holiday in Ghana, to immortalise Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, whose birthday falls on that day, as the country’s founder. The declaration of the day as a public holiday, according to the report, was also an indication that the NDC government was not paying lip-service to the celebration but was committed to making the day not only successful but also memorable. In validating this position, Anyidoho had said that the sitting-president, had exercised the powers conferred on him by the 1992 Constitution, under Executive Instrument (EI), to take effect this year, which marks the centenary of Dr Nkrumah’s birthday, in that he was not only motivating force behind the independence of Ghana from British rule in 1957 but also the first Gold Coaster to become first prime minister and president of our country.
Thus according to Graphic, President Mills, in his State of the Nation address on Thursday, February 20, 2009 acknowledged the significant role of Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, in the attainment of independence for the country and so he described him as an “illustrious founder of our nation”, stressing that “his selfless leadership serves as a point of reference in our determination to build a better Ghana.” Notwithstanding this we at JusticeGhana stand by our argument in our earlier article, “Ghana Has No Founding-father But Rather Founding-fathers And Mothers”, that much as we recognise the role of Nkrumah in our independence struggles, it seems simplistic and true, historically wrong, for us to assume that our country’s self-determination bargain with the Brits, began with the 1948 riots or the breaking-away and formation of CPP in 1949 by the Man Nkrumah.
Thus we of the OmanbaPa believe that we owe history and posterity a duty to register our protest and indeed resistance to the exploitation of the cited Executive Instrument (EI) under the 1992 Constitution which smacks the likes of the much trumpeted colonial ploy and strategy extracted and employed from barter trade to Bonds, conflicts and eventually, to the so-called “protectorates” and colonialism that flourished against the backdrop of indirect rule, which without it, there could have been arguably, no colonialism. The messing up of the 100th anniversary of Dr Nkrumah’s birthday with such a sacred historical question of unilaterally imposing one person as Founder of our country by President Mills and his ill-informed historical advisers needs serious examination. Thus the President- an “Nkrumahist”, cannot be independently fair in his judgements as the citation seems to be ideologically centred and true, ignores and takes little or no account of many important historical events in our quest for independence.
Yes, the learned professor is indeed not uninformed about the inter-kingdoms squabbles over colonialism and slavery. So, by invoking perhaps the untold scourage of war in down-playing the role played by the Nananom in securing their respective kingdoms before the arrival of the white man, Mills attempts to suggest that the predate Gold Coast and for this matter the OmanGhana, never had viable institutions that regulated the conduct of various traditional authorities that existed and indeed operated against colonization that arguably, affected our own pattern of political and cultural development of the Oman. As the advantages of indirect rule suggest, the Obroni did not condemn Nana Kwamina Ansah and his political structures but rather, exploited it to his comfort.
The exile of Nana Yaa Asantewaa and King Prempeh and more recently, the return of the parts of the mortal remain of Nana Budu, by the Dutch, demonstrated and indeed suggest perhaps, millions of undocumented history and events in the resolve of our Nananom and people to develop their own traditional leadership that would have been well-refined replica of the African Personality that Kwame Nkrumah reiterated on 6 March 1957- some 113 years from the Bond of 1844 signed by the Fante Chiefs on 6 March 1844. So who argues that our history began in 1949? Our verifiable and indeed documented past suggests that since the time of the Portuguese Don Diego Azambuja, who arrived at the pre-date Gold Coast- or called it, some part of the Akan Country, came and met Nana Kwamina Ansah surrounded by his elders and subjects whom the European as it seem to us negotiated bi-lateral trade relations and agreement in gold.
Thus for historical accuracy and fairness, the predate Gold Coast which laid in between Ivory Coast and Slave Coast, as <cite>encyclopaedia puts it, comprised various Akans and Ga Adangbwe kingdoms- stretching along the coast and refer literally to the coast and not the interior territories such as for example, the Akwamu, Akyem, Akuapem, Asante, the North and not least, the hinterlands of the Togo lands. The Akyems for example, accepted the British flag in 1852. Thus most of these pockets of costal settlements, were first colonised by the Portuguese around 1842, and so, was referred to as Portuguese Gold Coast. It is not until the 19th century that the Gold Coast, the present day Ghana, comes to refer to areas that are far from the ancient coast. We do not know whether Edina ever had gold or still has some deposits, yet the invading Portuguese named it El Mina- meaning mine. The changing of guards in 1642 saw this territory becoming part of the Dutch Gold Coast- they are said to have been around as European power since 1598.
Besides these was Brandenburg Gold Coast which established a colony in the area in 1682, which later became the Prussian Gold Coast, and was then sold to the Dutch in 1721. The <cite>encyclopedia.com</cite> has it that the Dutch stayed in this part of our country until 1871, when the last of their settlements were taken over by the British Gold Coast. The Swedish too, had their share here, so there was Swedish Gold Coast established in 1650, but this was also seized by Denmark in 1663, and made part of the Danish Gold Coast. In this context, Francis Adigwe (1978) may be right that long before its colonization by the British, Gold Coast was a focal point of European commercial activities and that from the sixteenth century to the dawn of the nineteenth century, the trade settlements of the Dutch, Danes and Britons spread along our coasts. Thus the purchase by the British, of the Dutch and Danish trade settlements in the early part of the nineteenth century paved the way for the eventual transformation of the territory into a British colony.
Perhaps, the convincing explanation and validity of these changes of ownerships could be substantiated with reference to the numerous Forts and Castles planted along our coasts- from Keta, in our eastern frontiers and to the west, Discov. Assuming this has escaped the busiest memories and ears of the presidency, then the OmanbaPa Research Group will attempt to remind it of these historical facts that in the desperate struggles of the British to capture more territories inland and the ensuing battles and confrontations with the Asante Empire in the late nineteenth century and their eventual triumph and colonisation in 1874, are well documented in the British own history and folk tales. As Adigwe puts it, although the extension of British authority over the coastal territories of the country took place in 1821, it was the Fante Bond of 1844 which should be regarded as a milestone in the establishment of the British authority in the Gold Coast colony.
The bitter historical facts are, whereas The Fante Bond acknowledged the power and jurisdiction of the British government over the Fante areas, whose Chiefs were signatories to it, the Asantes, for example, opposed this until their final defeat in 1874. Thus although the Bond of 1844 had always been referred to as milestone in the jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases and the promise to ‘mould the customs of Fante Confederacy to the general principles of British law’, which according to Adigwe, had been the last phrase used by the British to justify the gradual extension of their political domination over this part of our territories, the actual establishment of the Gold Coast colony was not achieved until the sixth Asante war in 1874. From that year, the territory south of Asante, according to Adigwe, became British protectorate until 1885 when it was constituted into a colony. The introduction of British administration to the Gold Coast was marked by the launching of the Gold Constitution of 1874. The constitution set out two distinct organs of government- Legislative Council and an Executive Council.
So, Anglo Gold Ashanti (2005), for example, writes that whereas in the late 1500s Akan country contained at least 38 small states, by the mid-1600s it had only a handful, and by 1700 only one state Asante reigned supreme. The events which led to the foundation of Asante began with the rise of Denkyira, a state which waged wars to gain control of the Akan gold trade between 1650 and 1670. Between 1801 and 1824, Asantehene Nana Osei Bonsu, for example, resisted the spread of British influence, and led the defence of Kumase when the British attacked in 1824. Admittedly, Anglo Gold reveals that like virtually all African societies, Asante too, was unable to prevent European colonization. Thus its self-rule ended in 1874 when a British force, retaliating for an Asante attack on El Mina two years earlier, ransacked Kumase and confiscated much of its wealth, including its artistic treasures by the British Army in 1873 (as a result of which much of the magnificent Asante gold regalia can be seen in London in the British Museum).
In 1900- some nine years before the birth of young Francis Nglomah Nwia-Kofi, the young woman, Yaa Asantewaa, for example, stood up against the British Colonial Administrators and perhaps, infuriated by her words and courage against foreign domination, the British military brass and administrators whose wives were then denied voting rights in the UK, not forgetting great chunk of our people down here in Gold Coast, had to exile her to Seychelles Island… Evidence of the descendants of Yaa Asantewaa is in Seychelles Islands for researchers who want to convince themselves of this. Indeed there might have been many of such characters but that is not what JusticeGhana is here to do today but rather, to trace our country’s troubled history step-by-step. This is to settle our wavering fainted belief that the documentation of Gold Coast’s history as a nation state began only with the arrival of the Man Kwame Nkrumah.
Indeed it remains and shall always be indisputable fact, that the Osagyefo fought and won the last phase in Gold Coast’s quest for self-rule which he triumphed in putting it ((alongside Malaysia)) as the 81<sup>st</sup> Member of United Nations on 06 March 1957, legally argued, it has been submitted that membership of UN is not synonymous with statehood in that the Ukraine and Byelorussia, for example, have been members of the UN since 1945, although both of them have been unquestionably part of the Soviet Union until 1991. Thus Switzerland, for example, had long been known as sovereign state, but did become a member of UN, only in 2002 to beef the number of the Organization to 191. Again, it is cited that a state may be suspended from UN membership but this might not necessarily imputes that it was not a state (the often cited case, is Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) when it was suspended from UN membership from 1992 to 2000.
In Gold Coast, the CPP’s political honeymoon came in 1952, where following its crucial electoral success in 1951, the imprisoned Nkrumah was released and deservedly, appointed as Leader of Government Business, and later, as first Black Prime Minister. This came against the backdrop of the Arden-Clarke Constitution of 1950 that in the opinion of the Empire’s newly-found political ally- the Osagyefo, failed to address some of the grievances and recommendations of the Coussey Commission’s findings and therefore, rejected the colonial authorities position on these matters and justifiably, declared a nation-wide ‘Positive Action’ on 8 January 1950. Yet, this can not be true, the genesis and exodus of Ghana’s history but rather the aftermath of Asante (or Sagrenti) War of 1874 which led to the landmark introduction of the Gold Coast Constitution of 1874 and the annexation of Asante Kingdom to become a British Protectorate in 1885.
It worth noting that this led to introduction of two distinct organs of government in Gold Coast- a Legislative Council and Executive Council which had among its roll a Gold Coaster lawyer John Mensah Sarbah as a Council appointed member. His launching of the Aborigines’ Rights Protection Society later in 1898, against the backdrop of Colonial Legislation which sought to convert all Gold Coast’s lands into British Crown land, that was legally defeated, comes to mind. Again, the launching of the National Congress of British West Africa by Casely Hayford of the Aborigines Rights Protection Society (ARPS) in 1917, whose petition to the British Governor in 1920, though criticized for not having the mandate of the Gold Coaster, remains not only the cornerstone of the granting of electoral rights to some legislative and municipal councils but also the establishment of Achimota College that yes, young Francis (aka Dr Kwame Nkrumah attended) in 1926.
The Dr Nkrumah whose birthday has been declared statutory holiday in Ghana, is also speculated to have once been a student of Dr. J.B. Dankwa at <em>Achimota College before leaving Gold Coast in 1935 for further studies in the US, where save his brief stop-over at the United Kingdom, domiciled until his momentous invitation by the UGCC in 1947. This is some five years after Sir Alan Burns, became Governor of Gold Coast and yes, held a consultation with representative of the Provincial Council, the Asanteman and of the Provincial Municipalities with a view of modifying the existing Constitution in 1942. This led to the promulgation by the Imperial Parliament of the Gold Coast Colony and the Asante (Legislative Council) Order in Council 1946 which later became known as the Burns Constitution. The often cited defects of the 1946 Constitution were that it neglected not only the important area of local government but also, failed to provide for the application to the Executive of the said hallowed principle of collective responsibility.
Hence, the emergence of new wave of nationalists such Paa Grant, Nii Kwabena Bonney and the “BIG SIX”. The centrepiece of President Mills’ definition of founding father is the phrases: “motivational force and selflessness” behind Ghana’s independence. It is true, satisfactory definition of statehood is complicated and yes, does not merely lie in the roll call of the United Nations or other international organizations. But having considered all that, pause and think about the Adjetteys, Asantewaas, Attipoes, Gbedemahs and the Grants, and judge whether the law professor had been honest on this historical question.