Aeschylus: “I HAVE LEARNED TO HATE ALL TRAITORS, AND THERE IS NO DISEASE THAT I SPIT ON MORE THAN TREACHERY.”
Dr. Botwe-Asamoah concludes his analysis of Danquah’s and Ofori Atta’s authoritarianism as regards their rulership in the Akyem Abuakwa State: “But, when Governor Guggisberg visited Kyebi in February 1922, one Donkor of Fankyereko told the Governor ‘THAT THE BONES ON THE AKYEM STATE DRUMS WERE THOSE OF…REBELLIOUS CHIEFS. CERTAINLY, AS THE OFORI-ATTA’S SPECIAL SECRETARY, AMBASSADOR, AS WELL AS LEGAL WIZARD, DR. J.B. DANQUAH WAS AN ACCOMPLICE IN OFORI-ATTA’S TOTALITARIAN RULE AND HIS METHOD OF SILENCING DISSIDENTS. CAN WE IMAGINE WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED TO REBELS, BOMB THROWERS, ASSASSINS AND COUP PLOTTERS UNDER DANQUAH’S PREMIERSHIP” (see “The Fallacies of J.B. Danquah’s Heroic Legacy (11).
As an aside, we should mention that there are some interesting similarities between Donkor of Fankyereko’s complaint to the Governor describing the bones of rebellious chiefs being used to manufacture drums and Sundiata’s display of the skulls of his enemies in his palace, as D.T. Niane vividly described it in his international bestselling book “Sundiata: An epic of Old Mali.”
Granted, we should not lose sight of Danquah’s secret collaborations with police officer Seth Ametewe to assassinate Nkrumah and with well-known terrorists like Obetsebi-Lamptey to terrorize and destabilize the country; and his [Danquah’s] gift or knack for covering up the tracks of his evil deeds in writing. His leadership association with the terrorist organization, the National Liberation Movement, was and still is cause for great concern as far as evaluating his legacy goes.
Dr. Botwe-Asamoah writes of Danquah: “Such is the kind of disingenuous discourse that one comes across in Danquah’s political letters and speeches.”
And does the University of Ghana deserve to be named after him, Danquah? Certainly not, for all the above reasons and more (see the Part 1 of this two-part series and the serial essays of Dr. Botwe-Asamoah’s “The Fallacies of J.B. Danquah’s Heroic Legacy”)! The founding of the University of Ghana, formerly the University College of the Gold Coast, has a long and interesting history. It goes all the way back to the vision of the British-Sierra Leonean Dr. Africanus Horton, a writer, medical surgeon, nationalist, scholar, and scientist.
The anti-racist Dr. Horton’s work on African nationalism presaged the nationalist currents of the 50s and 60s by a margin of hundred years. He influenced an entire generation of thinkers, politicians, and activists, including Joseph. E. Casely-Hayford. Dr. Horton proposed the establishment of a West African University, an idea Casely-Hayford appropriated in 1911 and rather turned it into an activist campaign for a university for the Gold Coast.
Then nine years on, Casely-Hayford led the National Congress of British West Africa (NCBWA) to London and petitioned the British Government “to found a British West African University on such lines as would preserve in the students a sense of African nationality” (see Geoffrey Bing’s “Reap the Whirlwind”). Nevertheless the petition did not bear fruit until 1945; it was during this period that the Colonial Government finally embraced the concept.
The shift in attitude of the Colonial Government came about in direct response to a set of recommendations contained in the Elliot and Asquith Commissions. The truth of the matter is that Danquah’s role in the entire affair was merely tangential, as he was part of a delegation that later petitioned the British Government for a university down the line of Ghana’s long, tired and winding political history, considering the fact that he understudied Casely-Hayford and that the influences of both Dr. Horton and Casely-Hayford spoke directly to him.
Yet in the final analysis it was the visionary Nkrumah, not the political Luddite Danquah, who actually built the University of Ghana. The 1951 Gold Coast Cocoa Marketing Board (Amendment) Ordinance provided the necessary legal framework and sources of funding for the CPP government to execute the task of developing the new nation-state.
We should quickly add that the Nowell Commission Report of Enquiry, set up by the British Colonial Government to resolve an impasse over cocoa pricing with cocoa farmers, recommended the formation of a Marketing Board to provide support to cocoa farmers.
What is more, the Cocoa Marketing Board (1947) that was tangentially associated with Danquah and others in its founding had official institutional precedence in the West African Cocoa Control Board (1939), which morphed into the West African Produce Control Board (1941).
But the Cocoa Marketing Board of 1947 was not an effective institution, hence the 1951 and 1954 amendments to effectualize its operations as well as to make it more institutionally responsible to cocoa farmers (see K.B. Asante’s “Nkrumah and State Enterprises”).
With this brief history put in its correct perspective, the issue of generating funds to underwrite the country’s development boiled down to contentious policy re-interpretations of individual rights to enjoyment of private property, federalism, and the needs of a unitary nation state. Nkrumah conceptualized the new nation-state as a unitary state with a strong central government and argued that cocoa revenue should be mobilized for national development. The sticking point, however, was whether the government had the right to reconstitute the Cocoa Marketing Board from “a trustee” to a “controller and manager of farmers’ wealth.”
This switch from trusteeship to controllership and managership of cocoa revenue theoretically made it possible for the government to access cocoa revenue, which it could then use to finance national development and improve the people’s living conditions.
However the Opposition led by Danquah disagreed, arguing that the 1951 Gold Coast Cocoa Marketing Board (Amendment) Ordinance contravened “the full enjoyment of private property” and that “the Local Government Ordinance violated that sacred right to enjoy one’s own property in the same way as the Gold Coast Cocoa Marketing Board (Amendment) Ordinance infringed the full enjoyment of private property” (see Kwame A. Ninsin’s “The Nkrumah Government and the Opposition on the Nation State: Unity vs. Fragmentation”).
Ninsin’s understanding of Danquah’s fundamental arguments meant that if land and cocoa revenue were justifiably construed or re-interpreted as inquests of private property rights, then any singular act of abuse of their enjoyment indisputably constituted grounds for the subversion of the unitary state. That abuse also, in effect, justified opposition to civil authority and provided a moral basis for the defense of federalism. Hence, the tactical formation of the National Liberation Movement (NLM) to undermine national cohesion, development, and independence.
Danquah lost the debate!
Thus, the Gold Coast Cocoa Marketing Board (Amendment) Ordinance, 1951, became a new law and helped reconstitute the inefficient Cocoa Marketing Board (1947) into a stronger and more efficient institutional instrument for national development. This was how Nkrumah and his CPP government succeeded in generating funds to build secondary schools, the Tema Township, hospitals, roads, the University of Ghana, etc.
The question is: What if Danquah had won the debate? In other words, could there have been the University of Ghana if cocoa revenue had not been nationalized for development purposes in the collective interest? Certainly not! So, why should the University of Ghana be named after Danquah since his borrowed theory of private property rights, fundamentally, constituted legal arguments against the physical construction of the University of Ghana and of other national projects?
These borrowed private property rights abstractions were fundamentally anti-people, like his borrowed Edmund Burke’s political philosophy regarding privileged individualism, classism, and elitism. These sharply contrasted with Nkrumah’s progressive ideas on social ethos, collectivism, egalitarianism, and social solidarity. And so Nkrumah construed social solidarity as bound up with the destiny of a unitary state!
What is more important is that a national university cannot be named after an individual who collaborated with the CIA, mistreated Ghanaians of non-Akyem stock, called Northerners “ntafo”; made assassination attempts on a democratically elected president; terrorized the country with his colleagues, sabotaged the country’s independence; threatened to have the Abuakwa State secede from the unitary state claiming multi-party politics was divisive; argued that the Akyem Abuakwa State be used as a model for the would-be nation-state without regard for other regional states; teamed up with his relatives to cover up the possible reasons leading up to the ritual murder of Odikro; and so on and so forth. Such a character cannot be held up as a national role model!
Why should the University of Ghana not be named after Tetteh Quarshie instead?
And since no progressive nation on planet earth celebrates terrorists, traitors, and saboteurs, why should it be different in the case of Danquah?
Americans have never seen fit to idolize the traitor Benedict Arnold, so why should Ghanaians? Did the Americans not execute Julius Rosenberg and Ethel Rosenberg when they stole atomic secrets and gave it to the Soviets?
More examples: The Saudis disowned Osama bin Laden. Even God disowned Judas Iscariot though Judas has said in his book, “The Gospel of Judas,” that he and Christ had struck a secret compact to betray him [Christ] in order to bring God’s salvation plan for mankind to fruition!
After all, was it not the Ga State Council and the people of Labadi who gave the land, where the University of Ghana sits today, to the government of the CPP, and as Dr. Botwe-Asamoah says not “the Okyeman Nana Amoatia Ofori Panyin and his Chief of Staff of Akyem Abuakwa”?
Thus, we agree with Dr. Botwe-Asamoah without reservation that the names on the following list be considered should the University of Ghana be renamed (see “The Fallacies of J.B. Danquah’s Heroic Legacy: Introduction”):
1) NII AYI KUSHI, the founder of the Ga State by 1500;
2) NII KWABENA BONNE, (by tradition the Oyokohene of Takyiman) who, in 1948, organized a nationwide boycott of European goods and the colonial injustices;
3) SGT. ADJETEY, a martyr and the leader of the Ex-Servicemen, who marched in 1948 to the Castle to demand the promises given them by the British government before the Second Imperial War;
4) NANA DR. KOBINA NKETIA, the Omanhene of Asikado, who was jailed for his protest against the imprisonment of Kwame Nkrumah in connection with the 1950 Positive Action campaign. Furthermore, he served as the first Vice-Chancellor of the newly restructured University of Ghana and its separation from the University of London;
5) NANA AKUMFI AMEYAW of Takyiman, the leader of the Bono-Kyempem. It was due to his fortitude that saved the country from a bloody civil war, which was manifested in the declaration of secessionism by the NLM and the Northern Peoples Party (NPP) on November 20, 1956;
We add three other names to the list:
6) TETTEH QUARSHIE, the patriot who introduced cocoa into the Gold Coast.
7) CPL. ATTIPOE, this great patriot died with Sgt. Adjetey.
8) PRIVATE ODARTEY-LAMPTEY, the great patriot also died with Sgt. Adjetey.
Perhaps the greatest irony is that J.B. Danquah, William Ofori Atta, Ebenezer Ako Adjei, Edward Akufo-Addo, and Emmanuel Obetsebi-Lamptey all denied Nkrumah in prison, their visionary leader and mentor and political philosopher, but today their ideological descendants have made a volte-face and want their idols to share in Nkrumah’s legacy, global acclaim and respectability.
This constitutes the profoundest dilemma confronting these descendants who cannot seem to break free from the clasp of the “generational curses” which the betrayal of their political forbears had bequeathed them.
We conclude with a statement by Dr. Botwe-Asamoah: “INDEED, IMPOSING DR. J.B. DANQUAH ON THE NATION AS A COMPATRIOT IS A MOCKERY OF GHANA’S UNITARY GOVERNMENT THAT KWAME NKRUMAH FOUGHT SO HARD FOR!”
We shall return…