Adom-Otchere clashes with Pratt over Ghana’s founding history - Fly Fm Gh Adom-Otchere clashes with Pratt over Ghana’s founding history - Fly Fm Gh
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Thursday, 3 August 2017

Adom-Otchere clashes with Pratt over Ghana’s founding history

Ahead of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) on August 4, two renowned journalists, Paul Adom-Otchere and Kwesi Pratt Jr cut to the layers of the Founder’s Day versus Founders’ Day debate.

This longstanding debate was brought to the fore earlier in 2017 when President Nana Akufo-Addo’s speech delivered at Ghana’s 60th independence anniversary parade came under attack over what some said was a skewed account of Ghana’s history to suit his father, Edward Akufo-Addo and uncle, J.B. Danquah who critical players in Ghana pre-independence.

This is criticism Kwesi Pratt would be likely to get behind given he is of the firm view Kwame Nkrumah should be regarded as the Founder of Ghana and celebrated as is done on his birth date, September 21.

Paul Adom-Otchere, on the other hand, believes Ghana’s history is incomplete without due regard given to the likes of the leadership of the UGCC, amongst others.

Kwame Nkrumah

There can be more than one founder

Drawing from the American example, he reminded that John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington “are christened as founders of the United states because they sat down together on a particular date to decide on how the federation works,” despite Washington being that country’s first president.

However, in Ghana, a few things went amiss over the decades, Paul Adom-Otchere said, starting with the work of the Aborigines’ Rights Protection Society to oppose the Lands Bill of 1897 which threatened land tenure and another layer of the indigenous sovereignty.

“This was a monumental act of John Mensah Sarbah and the aborigines and Sarbah formed the Aborigines’ Rights Protection Society on the 4th of August 1897 at Saltpond and this was the single most successful achievements of the Aborigines which helped the Gold Coast progress the way it did, and then to the West African National Congress of Casely-Hayford and others.”

In 1947, over 100 years of the Bond of 1844, J.B. Danquah, George Alfred “Paa” Grant and others put in motion moves to kick start the independence drive with the formation of the UGCC.

But on why some believe these persons have been relegated to a foot note in Ghana’s history, Paul Adom-Otchere noted two significant actions of leadership in this regard; the 1948 riots leading to the arrest of the Big Six and then the Watson Commission and Coussey Committee that determined the independence constitutions for Ghana in 1950 leading to elections in 1951, of which the Kwame Nkrumah’s Convention People’s Party, an offshoot of the UGCC, won.

“Because Nkrumah won the election of 1951, the processes that had been prescribed the constitution of the Coussey Committee fell on him to implement those processes towards independence and one of those processes occurred on a fateful day on July 1953 in Parliament where the leader of government business, as he [Nkrumah] became, was to put a motion in Parliament and it was christened by the evening news paper as the motion of destiny – a motion asking the British government to give us self-government.”

In that motion,Nkrumah outlined the history of Ghana, starting from the period of Okomfo Anokye, to the Aborigines Protection Society, but upon reaching the UGCC, he seemingly downplayed its impact by omitting the names of Paa Grant, J.B. Danquah, and others.

“This is a very important aspect where the confusion and the unnerving situation may have begun, where Dr. Nkrumah so eloquently traces the History of Ghana… and there is a clear omission of the names of the Grant, Danquah, Awonoor-Williams, Akufo-Addo, Obetsebi-Lamptey – the leadership of the UGCC that brought him here.”

August 4 not Ghana’s independence

Kwesi Pratt’s response to this was that the significance August 4, 1947 had not been downplayed, but explained that Nkrumah is recognized as the founder of the modern republic of Ghana “for good reason and there are those who are opposed to that.”

“You have to remember that at a certain point in history, certain political forces made the holding of Nkrumah’s effigy and photographs a criminal offense… they burnt books written by Nkrumah, they told lies about our History all in an effort to obliterate Nkrumah’s name.”
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