By Francis Kwarteng
We take up from where we left off in Part 1:
A SUPPORTING MISCELLENIOUS ANECDOTE
A Ghanaian couple we knew back in the late 1990s told this author they gave birth to a baby girl, named Abena, “a Tuesday-born,” in the 1970s in one of the remotest regions of the Ghanaian capital, Accra. The girls’ father later immigrated to Canada and while there decided to file for Canadian papers for his daughter and wife. As part of the routine processing of their [mother and daughter] documents our friend’s traveled to the hospital, that delivered her daughter for an official written statement, which she had then hoped to use to apply for a birth certificate for her daughter, but hospital records indicated that her daughter was born on Wednesday instead. This revelation came as a great surprise to our friend, wife, and daughter because he and his wife still remember that day very well, given also that Abena was and still is their only daughter. The point of contention, though, is that the hospital in question delivered Abena around 12 a.m. (Tuesday).
How many minutes before 12a.m. or how many minutes after 12a.m did our friend’s wife deliver Abena? Whose timepiece is more believable or credible, our friend’s or the hospital’s? Could they both be wrong? Well, our friend remembers her wife delivering their daughter two to three minutes before 12a.m. The hospital records on the other hand indicate 12:01a.m. Who is wrong here? Should they change Abena to Akua, a Wednesday-born? Our friend and his family are still grappling with these questions. Yet, when all is said and done, external norms and cultural impositions on native customs, traditions and cultures add to the nominal complexity of customary conventions, a point Kwame Anthony Appiah (born Kwame Anthony Akroma-Ampim Kusi Appiah) eloquently enunciates in his book, “In My Father’s House: Africa In the Philosophy of Culture.” Once upon a time his father, politician and barrister Joe Appiah, saw him off as he left for Cambridge University with the following parting words of advice: “Do not disgrace the family name.” Appiah offers a personal reflection on these words:
“I confess that I was surprised by this injunction. So much an echo of high Victorian paterfamilias (or perhaps of the Roman originals that my father knew from his colonial education in the classics). But mostly I wondered what he meant. Did he mean my mother’s family (whose tradition of university scholarship he had always urged to emulate), a family whose name I did not bear? Did he mean his own ‘abusua’ (not, by tradition, my family at all), from which he had named me Anthony Akroma-Ampim?
He continues: “Did he mean his legal name, Appiah, the name invented for him when the British colonial authorities decided (after their own customs) that we must have ‘family’ names and that the ‘family’ name should be the name of your father? When your father’s family tradition casts you into your matriclan and your mother’s claims for your father, such doubts are, I suppose, natural enough.”
Indeed, Appiah demonstrates a subtle understanding of the kind of nominal complexity we have just referred to above and in our previous essay on the subject matter and, perhaps, more than any other thing we have said thus far, his candid acknowledgment of his perceived location in a seeming contention specific to a schizophrenic web of cultural clashes—require no further elaboration given the level of his rhetorical clarity. Perhaps we would not be having this discussion in the first place if Nkrumah had assumed his mother’s last name, Nyaniba. But the fault was not his as he had no choice in the matter as a child. His father Opanyin Kofi Ngolomah gave him the name Ngolomah. We bring up Appiah’s story for illustration purposes because somewhere in the middle of his convoluted family story, is another layer of story that somehow demonstrates a striking parallel between his and Nkrumah’s. Appiah has to say about the origin of his middle name, “Anthony,” in “In My Father’s House”:
“Yao Antory, corrupted later to Yao Antony, anglicized on my British baptismal record…”
Yao Antory was his great-uncle (great-great uncle?). Yet he, namely Appiah, was born in 1954 in London, Britain, not in 1912 or 1909 in Nkroful! We also should make it clear that, unlike “Antory” being corrupted to “Antony” and then to “Anthony,” Nkrumah was and still is not a corrupted version of Ngolomah. We explained this at some length in our previous essays. That is, it is how the same name assumes slightly different orthographic and phonetic character across different Akan ethic groups, just the same way Nzemas say Nyameke and other Akan groups say Nyamekye. This observation may not even be unique to the Akan cultural landscape, after all. It may be the case among other ethnic groups as well. Human geography, inter-ethnic marriages, and cultural miscegenation (or cultural borrowing) may undermine the geopolitical character of the phenomenon of social-cultural monolithicity.
It has been said that Ewe orthography/spelling for Yaw is Yao! For the most part, Appiah has not shied away from telling his readers about Yao Antony being an Asante. Is Antory still a name used among Asantes as some want to know in the case of Ngolomah among Nzemas? Also could the name Ngolomah have been Liberian? The nature of these questions shares another layer of striking parallels between the present American president and Nkrumah. Politically motivated claims have been made against Barack Obama that his mother initially named him Barry rather than Barack, with others also claiming he originally Mohammad as his middle name rather than Hussein. Finally, a highly controversial claim has been made against President Obama that Barack Obama, Sr., his late father, was not his biological father. It has been said many times that President Obama was a Muslim just as Nkrumah was, and still is, alleged to be a communist.
President Obama is a Kenyan just as Nkrumah and his father, excluding Nkrumah’s mother Madam Elizabeth Nyaniba, were Liberians. It has even been said that he was not born in America or that he is not an American citizen, a foreigner if you will. This is the case when more facts are known about Obama than the average American. Of course, there are racist undertones in some of these allegations just as there are ethnocentric undertones in some of the charges leveled against Nkrumah. The fact of Senator John McCain being born in the Panama Canal Zone and of Alexander Hamilton being born in Nevis (Caribbean/British West Indies) has not been much of a problem. Not even the architects of Apartheid who ruled South Africa and non-native Liberians, that is African-Americans, who ruled Liberia for more than a century before Samuel Doe’s putschism cut the dynasty short are cited as phenomena deemed out of the ordinary by those—let us call them the Ghanaian version of birthers or fringe theorists—who want to make Nkrumah a foreigner in his land of birth.
How many of us are aware Sylvanus Olimpio, Togo’s first president, had Brazilian roots (see Alcione M. Amos’s paper “Afro-Brazillians in Togo: The Case of the Olympio Family, 1882-1945”)? What have some of those enemies and detractors of Nkrumah got to say about Seychellois who may view Prempeh 1 (1870-1931) and his Seychellois descendants as foreigners? Where did Akans come from before they finally settled among the Guans who were already settled in what became the Gold Coast, then Ghana? And do we know where Azumah Nelson’s name and ethnic ancestry come from (read about the Tabom/Tabon People)? How many of us know Azumah Nelson is a descendant of Nii Azumah Nelson, who led the “70-odd Portuguese-speaking freed slaves who sailed from Brazil to Jamestown on the SS Salisbury in 1836” (see Philip Brigg’s book “Ghana”. The Afro-Brazilians married Ewes, Akans, Gas, and other ethnic groups).
What about present-day Afro-Brazilian descendants of the De Souzas, the Wellingtons, the Da Costas, the Azumas, the Santos, the Nelsons, etc., and their significant contributions to Ghana (and their forbears’ to the Gold Coast)? How many of us know that one of these Afro-Brazilians (Nii Azumah V) became a Ga Mantse? Felix Houphouet-Boigny, a Baoulé, traced his ancestry to Nsuta in the Ashanti Region. The forbears of the Baoulé, a branch of the Ashanti Empire, were believed to have been led into what became the Ivory Coast by Queen Pokou. The point of this is a clear demonstration of the complexity of human geography. Just next door we have this interesting story:
There are ongoing debates about Felix Houphouet-Boigny’s “official” birthdate of October 18, 1905 (Note: Some reports note that he was born earlier, probably seven years earlier. See Kenneth Noble’s article “Felix Houphouet-Boigny Ivory Coast’s Leader Since 1969, Is Dead,” The New York Times, Dec. 8, 1993. Houphouet-Boigny was also born Dia Houphouet to N’Doli Houphouët (his father) and N’Dri Kan or Kimou N’Drive, both his mother’s names. Not much is known about Houphouet-Boigny’s father, specifically about his identity, date of birth, and when he died, a father some believe to have been a Sudanesse-born Muslim called Cissé, as well as about when Mamie/Madam Faitai, his [Felix-Houphouet’s] elder sister, was born (she died in 1998). Some sources also claim he added the family name “Boigny” to his name in 1945. It has been said his father was a wealth cocoa farmer and a Baoulé chief). Where are the keepers of the UP tradition and its ideological descendant, the National Patriotic Party (NPP), who are known to impulsively invoke Houphouet-Boigny, his leadership and his presidency as the most enviable in human history? What about when he said he had Asante (Akan) ancestry?
OTHER IMPORTANT MATTERS
We have already alluded to the fact that keeping official records of birthdates was not a common practice in the Gold Coast, perhaps likely so in other parts of the world including the West, hence the sometimes largely uninformed controversy generated around Nkrumah’s personal and family demographics. In fact there are several families in Ghana today with similar stories to share. In fact keeping records of birthdates is still a problem in parts of Ghana. More specifically, this problem could not even have escaped a literate and industrialized society such as the United States in the period preceding and during the early part of the 20th century. Thus, the example of seeming distortions in Nkrumah personal and family demographics will neither be the first nor the last in human history. Nkrumah’s was merely a continuation of an “anomaly” and of the operational shortcomings of a society that, in fact, had nothing whatsoever to do with his existential birth. Oddly enough, the following statements describe what happened to millions of Americans around the time of Nkrumah’s birth as one American writer enunciated it:
“Up to 1900 only sixteen states had birth-registration laws. And while physicians and midwives in every state now are required to register births occurring under their care, the laws are not strictly enforced. It is estimated that approximately 200,000 births go unrecorded each year, even under the present laws. Many millions of native-born Americans, especially those over thirty, would find the record blank if they applied for a birth certificate” (see Victoria Case’s article “Why You Need a Birth Certificate,” Good Housekeeping, Sept., 1942, Vol. 115, No. 3).
That was the 1900. The problem persists in some mild form in America today, particularly in the case of older generations of African-Americans, a problem some identify with the home-birth/home-schooling movements, among others. Policy interventions such as “delayed birth certificate,” “delayed birth registration,” and Non-Availability of Birth Certificate (NABC) have been provided as some of the solutions. It also turns not even affidavit from relatives, baptismal certificate, and statements from doctors are enough to prove one is a native-born American (American citizenship). Well, these provisions and or requirements may vary from state to state. The controversy which the Texas-based teenager Alecia Faith Pennington generated is a special case in point. Identification abuse (and its accompanying Identification Abuse Bill) has come to define Pennington’s case. There are certain individuals within the American Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) who are alleged to oppose identification documents being given to children.
But all these generalities are far from the specifics which define Nkrumah’s case, his parents’ before him, and those of several others in Ghana today. At least Alecia’s parents are literate and so recorded her birthdate in this age of technology, not so in Nkrumah’s parents’ case, even as it has been alleged that a Texas judge rejected Alecia’s baptismal certificate, doctor’s statement, and affidavit from some family members on the grounds that they did constitute adequate proof of her citizenship. Though we do not want to overstretch the comparison between Nkrumah’s case and Alecia’s, we do want to emphasize that problems relating to official registration of births still exist even in societies with high levels of literacy and technological wherewithal. What is more, though birth registration was introduced in the Gold Coast as far back as 1912, it was neither enforced nor was it widely known. It applied in limited localities with some concentration of educated elite and expatriates. Mass illiteracy and lack of enforcement made the instrument non-effective.
It was, however, under the Nkrumah presidency that the 1912 instrument (and its later amendments) gained institutional traction in the form of the Registration and Births Act of 1965 (Act 301) (see the website of Ghana’s Births and Deaths Registry). That is, those who like to capitalize on the seeming discrepancies in Nkrumah’s personal and family demographics for purely political reasons have official dates of birth today thanks to Nkrumah and his vision. As well, their friends, parents, grandparents and other members of their extended families may have directly benefitted and still continue to benefit from this Act. This dilemma is akin to being caught between love and hate for the man, Nkrumah. It is also like being caught between the pain a woman encounters during childbirth and the joy of successful delivery. Finally the website, above all, says the Registration and Births Act of 1965 (Act 301) “is the legislation currently in force.”
1909 VERSUS 1912
The preceding commentaries notwithstanding, we still have not said anything about why Nkrumah may have probably chosen 1909 over 1912 as his official birthdate. No doubt he came to believe what the Roman Catholic Priest had written down as his birthdate was closer to “the actual date of my birth”—because his own calculations and guesswork lent credence to that speculation. At this stage in his life he, unlike his parents, had acquired education and a sense of criticism to place him in a position where he can usefully question and to challenge certain demographic orthodoxies and presumptions about his life and personal details.
Particularly, this included questioning the basis of his mother’s speculations and the assumptions underlying his birthdate.
What do we mean? If one were to assume that he began his primary education at least at the age of 6 (some historical notes Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey began his education at 8), as was the norm or practice in those days—and even in some instances in contemporary times across Ghana—then Nkrumah could not have begun his primary education in 1912, when he was 3, if, once again, one were to assume 1909 as the year of his birth. Thus, in theory he could have begun his primary education perhaps at least around 1915. Subtracting 6 from 1915 gives 1909. This simple fact rules out 1912 as the possible date of his birth. This may have given him an excellent reason to settle on 1909 as a more realistic ballpark approximation in his logical reckoning. It is worth pointing out that his parents sent him to a Roman Catholic Elementary School in Half-Assini in 1915! 1912 to 1915 represents a chronological span of three years. The foundation of our theory derives from this simple fact.
On the other hand, it is important mentioning that a casual look at the September 1912 calendar shows the 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th falling on Saturday. Taking the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th as representing Nkrumah’s mother’s “mid-September” timeframe—we can—following the logic, theory, and assumptions we employed in our previous essay rule out the 7th, 21th, and 28th, since they fall outside the “mid-September” timeframe, with the only exception being the 14th, a Saturday. Nkrumah did not mention September 14th. So, the conclusions we draw from this simple analysis, coupled with the assumptions underlying our arguments in the preceding paragraph, reinforce our conceptual rejection of 1912 as a possible birthdate for Nkrumah. We do not stake out a claim to logical, assumptive and theoretical infallibility because we have a limited scope or glimpse into all the available data.
Granted, how was a child’s age determined prior to beginning his or her primary education? We contacted three elderly family members who told us, this author, that, it was the general practice in those days for school authorities to instruct children to stretch one arm across the topmost part of the head and, this, all the way to the opposite ear, and if they succeeded in touching it, it was taken as positive indication that that child was ripe or mature to begin primary education. Those who failed this arbitrary age determination exercise were sent home.
NKRUMAH AND HIS FATHER AS LIBERIANS
Was Nkrumah’s father a Liberian? Was his mother a Liberian? How about his extended family in Ghana today? Are Kofi and Nwia also Liberian names? Little known is that Nkrumah, like his father before him, was also rumored to have been a Liberian. If we may ask: Where is the evidence that Nkrumah and his father were Liberians? Why did the rumor exclude his mother as a Liberian? Why Liberia and not Ivory Coast, Togo, Burkina Faso, Benin, or any of the other African countries? Those who claim Nkrumah’s father could not have come from Ghana fail to realize Ghana was not in existence in 1927, the year one anti-Nkrumahist writer claimed Nkrumah’s father passed away, even as the same anti-Nkrumahist writer forgot to mention that Ghana came into existence in 1957. One wonders if this writer was referring to the Ghana Empire which itself went out of existence in the 13th century. Elsewhere, we have read reports in which Nkrumah was alleged to have been a member of the Kru People.
If this is true, the question then becomes: If the British Colonial Government had deported foreigners such as Nnamdi Azikiwe (Nigeria) and T.A. Wallace Johnson (Sierra Leone) for a sedition charge in 1935, what prevented the same government from deporting Nkrumah to Liberia for his anti-colonial struggles? After all, did the British not imprison or exile the great Nzema King Kaku Akaa (Kaku Ackaa 1) for refusing to sign the Bond of 1844? (Note: Was the Ahanta King Otumfuo Baidoo Bonsoe 11 (Badu Bonsu 11) not beheaded by the Dutch and his head sent to the Netherlands as a souvenir when he resisted European exploitation, domination and slavery?). We may recall that the British Colonial Government exiled Yaa Asantewaa, Prempeh 1, and others to the Seychelles. Could the British not have done the same to Nkrumah? Yet, even though there is not a single shred of evidence supporting Nkrumah’s father’s alleged Liberian nationality, why is it still such a big political story among anti-Nkrumahists?
What is not probably widely known is the statement that says that Nkrumah’s father was “‘unknown’ and ‘was probably a Liberian’ was part of the rumors that were said about him during and after the anti-colonial struggles” (Kwame Botwe-Asamoah). Has it ever crossed the mind of these anti-Nkrumahists that Nkrumah and Busia came from the same royal family, even as these anti-Nkrumahists do not see Nzema and Bono as (linguistic) as cognates (“The Brong (Bono-Manso), the first Akan empire, was founded by Asaman in in 1298 (McFarland & Owusu-Ansah). The Nzema and Bono groups are, perhaps, the first cluster of Akans to have left ancient Ghana to settle at their present locales”)? Some of us are even ignorant of the fact that there is a good chance that some of those African-Americans who resettled in Liberia could have originally come from the Gold Coast (and could have as well been Akans, Ewes, Gas, etc). Nor are we aware that some of those freed Afro-Brazilian slaves who also resettled in Accra could have originally come from Angola and other places in the continent!
All the blanket statements we ignorantly make about ethnic monolithicity have no scientific basis. Who and what are Guan, Ewe, Akan, Ewe, and Ga anyway? A look at our history shows the Akwamus constituted the most powerful Akan state between 1500 and 1600s (McFarland & Owusu-Ansah). The Ashanti Empire came later. In fact, the etymology of the word “Asante” itself does not say much about the ethnic composition of “ancient” Asantes. The word “Asante” comes from “Osa nti” (Osa—war; nti—because of). Thus “Asante” means “because of war” (Busia). Yet we know human geography, intermarriage, commerce, wars and slavery (where different ethnic groups were moved from one location to another, with some marrying into their hosts’ families of different ethnicity) undermine claims to ethnic monolithicity. We do not think there is any ethnic or racial group on the planet that is “pure.”
Adu Boahen once wrote that no one knew the origins of the ruling dynasty of Asante! On other fronts not many know Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Corsica and came from an Italian background: A Tuscan family (father’s side) and Genoese family (mother’s side). There is still a raging argument ongoing as to whether Alexander the Great was an ethnic Macedonian or ethnic Greek! Ivory Coast’s Alassane Outtara is said to be a Burkinabe though he was born in Ivory Coast. Janet Jagan, an American Jew, later become the first female president of Guyana.
In that case all the above notwithstanding, does Nkrumah’s family owe an explanation or elucidation on Nkrumah’s parental ancestries to anyone an explanation or elucidation on anyone? After all, Ghanaians know next to nothing about the parents of their presidents anyway. For instance, is Rawlings mandated to explain to Ghanaians his father’s name James Ramsey John? Which month was Azumah Nelson born in 1958: April, May, June, July, August or September? Still, we do not have enough data by way of paternity results to prove or confirm the paternities of all our leaders’ parents (The fact that paternity tests were not in existence in those days does not help matters). All we have are mere anecdotes and what we read in history texts and newspapers. None of what we read in these texts and newspapers about our leaders’ parents are by themselves not sufficient proof.
THE EXAMPLE OF KWAME OKOAMPA-AHOOFE
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe writes (“Mahama Is Just A Politician,” Ghanaweb, October 5, 2015): “And, by the way, Dr. J. B. Danquah did not name his son, and my paternal granduncle, Mr. Vladimir Danquah, born in 1921, or thereabouts, after Vladimir Lenin, as one Nkrumacratic scumbag sought to suggest recently…My distinguished retired World Bank administrator, Morocco-resident, British-mothered Uncle Vladimir Danquah was named after a famous philosopher-theorist…”
Unless, of course, Okoampa-Ahoofe is mentioning a different Danquah son in passing from the one he [Danquah] and Mabel Dove Danquah had, named Vladimir Danquah, then, we have no choice but to plead ignorance of the facts. On the other hand if this is not the case, then the available facts to us contradict Okoampa-Ahoofe’s statement. The facts also expose the attitudinal double standards evident in the intellectual profiles of Nkrumah’s professional enemies and detractors, particularly toward the personal and family demographics of Nkrumah.
Here are some of the facts: Upon Kobina Sekyi’s advice to Danquah to pursue law or qualify as a lawyer, the latter consulted with his brother Ofori Atta who, seeing the potential benefit of Sekyi’s advice to his modernizing calculations, warmed up to the idea and eventually lent his support (Note: Sekyi was one of the leaders of the Aborigines Rights Protection Society (ARPS)). In 1921 Ofori Atta sent Danquah to study in Britain. Some Ghanaian historians with deep knowledge of and rich experience of research investigation into Akyem history and colonial politics have made the claim that Ofori Atta imposed a special tax on his subjects to sponsor Danquah’s education.
It is widely acknowledged that Danquah remained in England for six years, returning only to the Gold Coast in 1927 after his education.
Among some of the things he did on his return was to establish a law practice in Accra, rather than return to his brother’s kingdom and contribute to his modernizing goals. Later on he became the founding editor of “The Times of West Africa” (formerly “West African Times”), a daily newspaper, around 1930-1931. Danquah would subsequently employ Mabel Ellen Dove, later Mabel Dove Danquah, to write for his newspaper, from 1931 to 1935, with the paper folding up in 1935 (Note: From 1935 to 1940 Mabel wrote for the “African Morning Post” under the pseudonym Dama Dumas. From 1936 to 1937 she wrote for the “Nigerian Daily Times” under the pseudonym Ebun Alakija. From 1950 to 1960 she wrote for the “Accra Evening News” under the pseudonym Akosua Dzatsui. She also served as an editor with Nkrumah on the “Evening News.” Finally, she wrote for the Daily Graphic).
However a romantic relationship soon developed between the two during this period, culminating in a marriage in 1933. Their wedding took place at the Holy Trinity Church, with Father E.J. Martinson officiating it. Guests at the wedding included C.E. Clark, Ofori Atta, Vincentis Kwawukume, Susan B. Ofori Atta, Bonso Bruce, Oliver Dove, and Danquah’s nephew Aaron Ofori Atta (a Minister of Local Government and a Minister of Justice in the CPP government) (Note: The Sept. 7, 1933 edition of the “West African Times” reported the wedding as “A Quiet Wedding Ceremony, Dr. Danquah and Miss Dove.” See also the “Gold Coast Week by Week Section of “Gold Coast Independent,” Sept. 9, 1933). Bonso Bruce, Mabel’s uncle, gave her hand in marriage.
We should point out it to readers that Mabel was born in 1905 in Accra to a Gold Coast-based Sierra Leonean father, a prominent lawyer called Francis Thomas Dove, and Eva Buckman, an Osu-based Ga businesswoman (Mabel passed away in 1984). Unfortunately, the marriage broke down as it was not a happy one. And by the middle of the 1940s the two divorced. The “celebrity” marriage began suffering a mere one year later when Danquah traveled to England in 1934 and remained there for two more years, only returning to the Gold Coast in 1936 (Note: Nnamdi Azikiwe proposed to her when her marriage with Danquah was already in tatters. She rejected the proposal outright because she was still officially married to Danquah). Vladimir Danquah, we have been to understand, was a product of this unhappy marriage.
The question is: Did Danquah and Mabel, a literary trailblazer and feminist, have this child before, that is 1921, or after 1933? Given that Okoampa-Ahoofe himself is not certain of the birthdate of this Vladimir, a date he could only couch in an Orwellian language of probability as “born in 1921, or thereabouts,” could we then infer that he [Okoampa-Ahoofe] was merely referring to another Vladimir we do not know and if not, that the Vladimir in question was born “out of wedlock,” as some anti-Nkrumahists would like to say of Nkrumah? How could Danquah have traveled to Britain in 1921, impregnated a woman there in 1921, and Vladimir given birth to in 1921?
Okoampa-Ahoofe’s “thereabouts” may have been placed there for strategic reasons. We say this with a sense of rhetorical probability. There is a sense of emotional and intellectual discomfort in Okoampa-Ahoofe’s rhetorical posture whenever Mabel is associated with Nkrumah and the CPP. While Kwame Botwe-Asamoah gives her narrative prominence in his writings, Okoampa-Ahoofe does not appear to do so. We stand to be corrected if wrong on this point. She appears to have become a pariah among Danquahists as some potentially see her as betraying Danquah. This was a gifted and intelligent woman who knew what she wanted—a woman who stood tall among great writers of her generation but slighted by a society steeped in the stench of male-chauvinism and anti-heroism. Even so, we are still compelled to ask: Is “thereabouts” the period immediately preceding 1921 when Mabel Danquah was less than or equal to 15 (1920 minus 1905), 16 in 1921 (1921 minus 1905), and at least 17 (1922 minus 1905)? We do not know!
And Okoampa-Ahoofe did not say much about these questions. In fact he said practically nothing about these questions. The fact remains, on the contrary, that Mabel’s father sent 6-year-old daughter to Sierra Leon to begin her primary education and later her secondary education. She proceeded to Britain for further education then returned to Sierra Leone again, only returning to Accra, the Gold Coast, in 1926, aged 21. There is no evidence she and Danquah physically met in Britain, let alone had a child together. Our records show the two probably met physically in Accra sometime in the early 1930s when Danquah asked her to write for his newly-founded newspaper. In fact she did not accept Danquah’s proposal to write for his paper right away. It was a decision that came with time and tactical deliberation. Significantly, Danquah may have heard about her when her literary prowess and topical controversies spread like wildfire among newspaper owners and the educated elite!
Given all these facts, why does Okoampa-Ahoofe want to make it look as though Vladimir Danquah’s personal and family demographics is shrouded in mystery as he would have us believe as in the case of Nkrumah? Could Mabel have British-mothered Vladimir? Maybe Danquah had more than one Vladimir Danquah for a son! Perhaps Okoampa-Ahoofe needs to tell us who these other Vladimir Danquahs were or are! We want to know this because there is one special case in which the spin doctor Okoampa-Ahoofe, for instance, managed to make Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey (1875-1929) of Anomabo, a Fante, an Akyem by merely citing Dr. Aggrey’s “fast friendship” with Ofori Atta at some conference and other childishly flimsy claims, claims most profoundly ahistorical to boot, to buttress his creepy strain of urban mythology. Obviously Okoampa-Ahoofe does not assume the approach of prosopography in his biographical accounts on personalities (Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, “Rawlings Represent Hitler to Most Akan(s)—Part 3 (Final), Ghanaweb, April 17, 2014).
Just like his father before him, Aggrey was made an Kyiame for the paramount chief of Anomabo after his studies in the United States (see Profs. Emmanuel Akyeampong and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s edited volume, “Dictionary of African Biography: Vol 1-6”). Do we see any meaningful similarities between the Nkrumah story and the Aggrey story? How about the Nkrumah story and the Houphouet-Boigny story? And several others around the world? Please read the following for your edification:
(Note: Dr. Aggrey’s father Prince Kwadwo/Kodwo Kwegyir (1816-1896), a respected goldsmith, was Chief “linguist” (Kyiame or Omankyiame, a hereditary title) and perhaps the most influential personality in the court of King Amonu V (Amoono V) and the Kwadwo Aggrey’s wife, Abena Andua (Abna Andu; Abena Anowa), was a princess of Ajumako! Some accounts have Dr. Aggrey as the 17th child of his father and 4th of his mother, with the latter being Kwadwo Aggrey’s 3rd/last wife. Some other records note Kwadwo Aggrey had his son when he was almost 60 (1875 minus 1816). It has been said that Dr. Aggrey was given the following name: “James Emman Kodwo Mensa Otsiwadu Humamfunsam Kwegyir Aggrey.” It has also been speculated that “Aggrey” was a family name; Kwegyir, a contraction of “Kwaw Egyir”; “Aggrey,” an anglicized version of “Egyir”; “Emman,” a Fante spelling of “Oman,” meaning “Great City”; “Mensa” means “Third male child.” See “Trip Down Memory Lane: Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey” for additional information and an alternative explanation for the origin of the name, “Aggrey”).
We shall return…