…But Rather Founding-fathers and Mothers
Dedicated to Patriots Ephraim Amu and Philip Gbeho
The OmanbaPa Research Group
Legally argued the word founder of a nation, unless politically construed, could perhaps, hardly be attributed to one individual and, as in the case of Ghana, to the Man Kwame Nkrumah, who arrived in Gold Coast in 1947 to join hands with an existing political liberation movement- the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) and, undoubtedly various non-political groupings, movements and individuals, who were all striving in diverse ways in an effort to bring an end to decades of British colonial rule in our country.
Yet for some, so far as the Osagyefo ran the final hurdles in crossing the colonial end-point, meant that there could be no other individual or group(s), to share with him that moment of success and indeed jubilation for good work done over decades of struggles. One might love and indeed admire the foresight and vision of Kwame Nkrumah of the blessed memory but the question that baffles JusticeGhana, is whether that should be allowed to blind one’s critical academic judgements because of the ethnical, political, and/or ideological hatred that s/he holds against the said Osagyefo’s political opponents.
So, in looking at the historical evidence and its relevance to the issues in dispute, rather than being persuaded by passion, affection and personal loyalty, that often crumble before “objective test” and justice, the questions that must be asked are (1) whether by founding-father, we mean the person who proclaimed Gold Coast’s independence and/or (2) the originator(s) of the name Ghana that the Osagyefo submitted to the British Colonial Administration for consideration and adoption and indeed, legally declared at independence on 6 March 1957 or, (3) we must include all movers of history and events?
Before resolving these questions, it appears that there is the need, first and foremost, to establish what we meant by a founding-father of a state or a nation. In the context of the European Union, where founding-fathers is used, the Founding Fathers of the European Union are defined as a number of wo/men who have been recognised as making a major contribution to the development of European unity and here, the European Union. Yet, the European’s suggestion seems to give a broader definition as it points to various ideas that there is no official list of founding-fathers or a single event defining them.
In the case of the United States, the Founding Fathers of the United States are said to be the political leaders who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 or otherwise took part in the American Revolution in winning American independence from Great Britain, or who participated in framing and adopting the United States Constitution in 1787-1788, or in putting the new government under the Constitution into effect.
According to R. B. Bernstein (The Founding Fathers Reconsidered, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), within the large group known as “the founding fathers,” there are two key subsets, the Signers (who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776) and the Framers (who were delegates to the Federal Convention and took part in framing or drafting the proposed Constitution of the United States. Most historians define the “founding fathers” to mean a larger group, including not only the Signers and the Framers but also all those who, whether as politicians or jurists or statesmen or soldiers or diplomats or ordinary citizens, took part in winning American independence and creating the United States of America. In the words of Bernstein, Warren G. Harding then a Republican Senator from Ohio ((the alleged first Africa-American President of the US,)) coined the phrase “Founding Fathers” in his keynote address to the 1916 Republican National Convention, referring to all those who had made America as it was at the time.
Having established that, we now address the most popular question whether Osagyefo Dr Kwame could be legally, and/or say, politically, the sole founding-father of our modern Ghana and if not, who are/were the founding-fathers and/or mothers of our country/nation. Based on the guidelines provided by European and the American models, we of the OmanbaPa Research Group attempted without success to find out whether there could be any text which describes founding-father(s) in the 1992 Republican Constitution, from which by and large government exercises its legal and indeed policy authority and discretion. Perhaps the most persuasive authority could be the fine line text in our National Hymn compost by Patriot Ephraim Amu- hyen Ara Yen Asase Ni…
Applying it to our present case, it could be suggested that the blood shed in the acquisition of Gold Coast and here Ghana, had been collective rather than individual, as every phase in the struggle produced its own victims, heroes and heroines. Our own troubled history reveals that since the Portuguese’s arrival on our shores in 1471, the crucial Bond of 1844, not forgetting 1874 that cemented some level of authority over our territories, there had always been some sort of resistance either from traditional rulers or the intelligentsia against foreign domination. For example, in the 1890s, some members of the educated elites from the coast, constituted themselves into what was to be known as the Aborigines’ Rights Protection Society whose terms of reference, was to protest a land bill that threatened traditional land tenure. This protest, in the larger measure, ignited not only political action but also consciousness that finally led to independence.
Thus we mention in passing that between 1874 and 1946, various constitutional amendments were being agitated- the most notables being perhaps, the Guggisburg Constitution of 1925 and Burns constitution of 1946. In all these, both the intelligentsias and influential tradition chiefs sat in various Provincial Councils, created within the territories to debate laws that were to shape our country. For example, the formation of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) by Paa Alfred George Grant and Dr J. B. Dankwa in August 1947, and which had renowned jurists and politicians like Obetsebi Lamptey, Nii Ako-Adjei, Edward Akufo-Addo and William Ofori-Atta and which attracted latter days personalities such as Kwame Nkrumah and later, Krobo Edusei and Komla Gbedemah, of CPP fame, could be construed as yet, another historic call to national duty.
Indeed there might have been thousands if not millions, of unsung heroes and heroines in Gold Coast’s march towards independence. This, in the opinion of JusticeGhana, makes it highly impossible to identify each individual for their rightful place in history. But judging from Gold Coast’s decades of steady constitutional development towards self-rule, it could be seen that much of the organizational work, and here in the context of statehood, had been built over the years before Nkrumah arrived in Gold upon the invitation of the UGCC. There is little or no evidence to suggest Nkrumah’s earlier involvement in Gold Coast politics- either directly or on behalf of any Gold Coast liberation movement while in US/UK. Yes, Nkrumah described as unquestionable believer of Pan-Africanism was known in West African Students’ Union politics. Yet he did not return home from the London with his own political party to wage independence struggle.
So for historical accuracy and fairness, the OmanbaPa Research Group made a backwards search to support this argument which reveals that the Osagyefo- formerly known as Francis Nwia-Kofi Ngonloma was born on 21 September 1909, at Nkroful, near Axim in the western region of then Gold Coast, where he attended Roman Catholic elementary school. He became pupil teacher and later attended Government Training College (GTC) in 1926, in Accra. The GTC later became part of the Achimota School. When Nkrumah left Achimota in 1930, he took a teaching post at Elmina Roman Catholic primary school and finally, joined the roll of the Catholic seminary at Amissano in 1933.
We are reminded that on the advice of Dr. Azikiwe- a Nigerian journalist who had earlier attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, the Osagyefo in the making successfully applied and indeed travelled to America and enrolled at Lincoln in 1935, where he graduated in 1939 with a bachelor’s degree in economics and sociology. Having taken up an assistant lecturer in philosophy in the school, Nkrumah enrolled again in graduate classes at the Lincoln Theological Seminary and at the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated in 1942 as one of the top students from the seminary in the bachelor of theology program. He achieved master’s degrees in philosophy and education also from the University of Pennsylvania and became vocal in Africa politics in the UK in the 1940s.
Yet it was the UGCC’s 1947 invitation and Nkrumah’s historic return to the Gold Coast from London to become its secretary and the aftermath of the 1948 riots and indeed later separation and formation of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) in 1949, which adopted the slogan “Self-Government Now” that linked the Osagyefo directly to other nationalist groupings such as army veterans, small traders and farmers in our country’s struggle. The salient issue was that whereas the UGCC’s middle-class leadership saw Nkrumah to be too radical in his approach the Osagyefo, on the other hand perceived the UGCC leadership as basically conservative in origin and in its policies, hence the political fallout.
From this standpoint, Nkrumah embarked on nation-wide political protests leading to his eventual arrest and detention in 1950 by the British colonial administration which also paved another way to a new national constitution and the February 1951 election while Nkrumah was still under arrest. After winning the 1951 election, Nkrumah’s CPP stepped up to win further elections in 1954 and 1956 and merging with the former British Togoland, adopted the name Ghana to become Gold Coast’s independence leader on 6 March 1957. If all these historical compilations were to be accurate and here, on the account of various roles played at various times and moments, could the Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah be bestowed absolute founding-founder of Ghana as we are made to believe?
Politically impossible as it appears, our attention has been drawn to the fact that it was Kwame Nkrumah, who single-handedly researched and indeed coined the name Ghana. While OmanbaPa points to the documented NRC Final Report (2004) that as at 1951, there was a political party called the Ghana Congress Party headed by Barrister Nii Armaah Ollenu and Dr J.B. Dankwa, JusticeGhana’s attention is drawn to Ghana National College, established on Friday, 16th July 1948, in Cape Coast- and which has its Motto: Nananom, as Relevant Date in what attempts to describe Gold Coast’s mysterious past.
Indeed whereas the school draws its historical existence from student protests in Cape Coast in solidarity with the detained UGCC executives that resulted in the expulsion of 150 students from St. Augustines College and Mfantsipim school on the recommendation of the Quashie- Idun Commission, which was charged with the investigation into the unrest, which in turn also led to the revocation of appointments of four teachers ((Mr. Kwesi Plange, Mr. JJ Mensah-Kane, Mr HP Nelson(Augusco) and Mr HWK Sackeyfio (Mfantsipim)), it also gives outstanding credit to Nkrumah- the then Secretary of UGCC.
The basis for this special reference had been that following the expulsion and revocation, Kwame Nkrumah, who was probably on the payroll of the UGCC as Secretary, invited the above mentioned teachers to his office in Saltpond and commissions Mr. Kojo Botsio to evaluate plans for starting a new school. Unclear as it appears to OmanbaPa Research Group, and here, under whose capacity Nkrumah acted in donating 10 pounds towards the starting of the school, the school writes that with this, the teachers made benches, desks; blackboards bought writing tools and rented space on the ground floor of the Old Temple House of the Grand United order of the ODD Fellows at McCarthy Hill, Cape Coast. It might be instructive to remember that Nkrumah himself was a qualified teacher.
But could this negate the possibility that the adoption of Ghana National College, had come about not only with a stroke of words and cash but also decades of conscious research work? Yes, Ghana National College reveals that the tragedy at Christianborg Castle and the shooting of Ex-service men from the war for demonstrating for benefits was swept at the doorsteps of Nkrumah for his radicalism. If simply so, why then, the subsequent arrest and detention of JB Danquah, Edward Akuffo-Addo, William Ofori-Atta, Obetsebi Lamptey and not least, Ako Adjei? There might be many reasons here but could it not be that these men were perhaps held vicariously liable for Nkrumah’s actions?
In legal parlance, there are some situations where an employer may be held liable for injuries or damages sustained by another party through their employees, despite having had no active involvement in the incident. People or legal entities that are typically charged with vicarious liability include individuals in supervisory positions or companies. Thus, as an employer ((whether as a sole trader, in supervisory position or a company)), you could be roped into legal litigation regardless of whether the employee acted against policies set by your organization or failed to adhere the laid down rules to the letter.
This is because as an employer, you bear the responsibility for the actions of your employees during the course of his/her duties as s/he carries the goodwill of the organization. Besides this is the rule of collective responsibility in politics where the actions and/or inactions of a member within the group, could have serious bearing on all. So, in the opinion of JusticeGhana, the events leading to Nkrumah becoming leader of Government Business of Gold Coast, in 1951- some four years on return to Gold Coast and some ten years later, as the first Prime Minister of independent Ghana, rested heavily on the foundations erected by UGGC and other liberation movements before it.
For this reason, legally, it appears not only improbable but again, historically mysterious for one to assume that the embodiment of our statehood- the name Ghana; with its National Flag ((Red, Gold, Green with the Black Star)), the National Anthem- God Bless Our Homeland Ghana and to mention but a few our national currency ((Se-di) – the Cedi, are/were reserved and/or exclusive inventions and/or findings of Dr Kwame Nkrumah. Thus, there seems to be incorrect and indeed misleading reasoning that unlike other employees, co-partners and/or owners placed at higher and sensitive management levels in most of organizations, the UGCC General Secretary Nkrumah in his two years with the Convention, had no access to any sensitive research plans, methodology and time-scale for Gold Coast’s independence struggle which yes, travelled further in less than a decade.
As far as our own troubled history tells us, the political misunderstanding that arose between Nkrumah And The Big Six, centred on strategy- “Independence Now” and “Independence In The Shortest Possible Time”. For this reason, Nkrumah, relying on his acquired skills and undoubtedly, political insight of the UGCC and structures that he had helped laid over the years, left with his like-minded friends to establish ideologically competing party- the CPP that arguably, exploited not only the UGCC’s goodwill, but also its trademark and electoral shares, to boost the political clot of the New Convention?
We may all agree that working as a part of senior management team in a private or public enterprise gives one not only financial incentives but also certain privileges in coming to contact with sensitive materials that could be used for our benefits or against our former unmerciful employers either by using it to enhance personal ends or carried it over to our new competing employer. Yes, today firms insert special contractual clauses to tame not only future breaches by offering even handsome financial bailout but also set out who might own what intellectual property rights in after-employment dispute. There is different coin in politics- Africa liberation struggles offer cosmetic faces and limbs to this argument. Yet we agree that ours had been constitutional, petitions and protests.
The JusticeGhana believes therefore, that despite the bold attempts of the Osagyefo, that it admires, the available evidence suggests that he cannot be Ghana’s sole-founder but as one who also played his historical duty. It might be politically unwise therefore, and indeed legally philistinism and arbitrary, if without reputable consultation, any interested party in this historical question, were to impose anybody as founding-father(s) on Ghana.