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Ghana: To memory, not rubbish

By Nana Yaa Ofori-Atta
Posted on Friday, 26 February 2016 16:40

Mr. J.B. Danquah Adu is dead, the Member of Parliament for Abuakwa North was murdered in his home in Accra at dawn on February 9th, 2016. In what is now his last speaking engagement, J.B. Danquah Adu gave the vote of thanks at the launch of a book – Things Every Ghanian Child Should Know About Dr. J.B. Danquah.

The man J.B. Danquah Adu was named after, was a Founding member, the first President of the West Africa Students Union (WASU), and the first editor of its newsletter. In 1926, members of WASU including Ladipo Solanke from Nigeria, R.S. Blay and Charles Hayfron- Benjamin of the Gold Coast and others organised around 2 goals – better standards of living for West African students living in London and for their peoples at home. WASU nurtured the political ambitions of many – Nnamdi Azikwe, Jomo Kenyatta and Hastings Banda. 20 years after WASU was formed, another student from the Gold Coast, Kwame Nkrumah became its Vice President.

During the televised debate, Samia Nkrumah repeated her threat, to continue her father’s 7 year development plan

JB as he became known, started the Gold Coast’s first daily newspaper, the name was changed to Times of West Africa. With Pa Grant essentially serving as the financier, in 1947, JB, Ako-Adjei, William Ofori-Atta, Edward Akufo-Addo and Obetsebi Lamptey launched the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC).

The new political party’s first General Secretary, invited home from London to take up the position was Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. Very soon, the UGCC’s call for ‘Self Government within the shortest possible time’ came to hostile odds with Nkrumah’s ‘Self Government Now’.

In 1960, JB lost the elections to Nkrumah, he was arrested and detained without trial and on his release was voted President of the Ghana Bar Association. The final arrest came in 1964. Stripped of all dignity including clothes and his books, JB slept on the floor and was allowed outside for half an hour, once a week.

He died on February 4, 1965 in the condemned cells of the Nsawam prison. Upon his death, President Nkrumah issued a declaration – JB was to be buried within 12 hours of the release of his corpse, there was to be no public funeral or mourning, no laying in state, no crying or wailing. JB was buried in Kyebi and in defiance of the District Commissioner, the Kyebi Brass Band and the town took to the streets.

51 years later, on the news of J.B. Danquah Adu’s death, Parliament stood for a minute’s silence, the Speaker suspended sitting in the House and led a delegation of MPs to pay their respects at the family home. President John Mahama tweeted a message of sympathy. The family and the minority New Patriotic Party have called for a swift and thorough investigation. This J.B. will also not be buried in silence.

Like father like daughter

The CPP is the party of Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first Prime Minister who became the first President of the first sub Saharan country to gain independence…. It is a powerful and oft repeated narrative and it bears greater scrutiny. Nkrumah, remains a certified hero to many in and outside Ghana. He also stands indicted for a corrosive human rights record and a crippling legacy of ‘socialist’ experimentation with the economy propelled the young country into division and debt. Overthrown in 1966 by Ghana’s first coup, Nkrumah died in exile in Guinea. While he did not accord niceties of any sort to his opponents, Nkrumah has, quite rightly, been reburied in a fine mausoleum in Accra. It is the first fitting national memorial of its kind to a Ghanaian leader.

The CPP has made history, again. Ghana may go to the polls again in November 2016 and for the first time ever, the internal competition of a political party to select its presidential candidate culminated in a televised debate. The event was hailed by the party’s communication team as a ground breaking advance in single handedly progressing Ghana’s democracy. No word yet, if the debate advanced the numbers of viewers and returns for the accommodating television station.

The 4 candidates who participated in the CPP’s televised debate included Samia Yaaba Nkrumah. Like her father, Samia has made her own indelible mark and has left waves and people both cresting and crushing in her wake. On her return to Ghana she went on to win in Jomoro and became the first and only CPP Member of Parliament.

Having narrowly and controversially lost her seat, Samia was elected the first female to chair a political party. It was during her tenure at the helm of things that Dr. Paa Kwesi Ndoum left and formed yet another splinter Nkrumahist party. Ahead of the debate, Samia was the media’s dead cert to win the party nomination then sail forth to the general election – potentially presenting Ghana with its first female Commander in Chief. And the return of President Nkrumah.

The Nigerian man of God

During the televised debate, Samia repeated her threat, to continue her father’s 7 year development plan. Ill advised. The delegates heard her and concluded that history and real politk requires a rethink. Ivor Greenstreet won the CPP presidential ticket with 64.7% or 1,288 of the delegates votes decimating the pundits favourite Samia who eked 579 votes barely scrapping in 29% to a crushing public defeat.

The symbol of the CPP is a red cockerel suspended on a white background, their mantra is – ‘Nkrumah never dies.’ However, post the heady hero worship days of the 1960’s, without the incumbent benefit of state largesse and the singular towering dark charisma of Nkrumah, the CPP’s electoral and financial fortunes barely aspires to junk bond status.

None of the myriad of splinter parties claiming the Nkrumah mantle, alone and or cobbled together, has been able to bring in more than 5% of the vote at any election. Samia and other luminaries in the party have alleged, without evidence, mass vote buying by the Greenstreet camp. Somewhere in the miasma of sour grapes is a gleeful soupçon of karma.

Greenstreet has his work cut out for him. Fortunately, Ghana is still in the miracle business. With 85 deaths so far from meningitis and 3 critical surgical clinics closed at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (one of West Africa’s largest medical facilities) for renovation it is easy to understand why the Chief of Staff was on the tarmac, eager to greet Pastor Chris Oyakilome. On a working day, roads in the capital city were closed and Ghana’s finest were deployed ahead of the ‘Night of Bliss’. In the cold light of day, the thousands who came to see the Nigerian ‘man of God’ raise the dead left in their wake, tons of consecrated rubbish.

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