GHANA: RAISING EBENEZER AT 57

ghana tour
Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park

It’s been fifty-seven years of freedom. This is how far we’ve come. Ebenezer!!

The independence of Ghana would be a mirage unless it was linked to the total liberation of the entire African landscape, and thus the story still unfolds.

The Osagyefo which means ‘redeemer’ still continues to receive his bona fide praise of negotiating intelligently on the way forward in evolving an independent sovereign state to be named Ghana built on a solid foundation of democracy.This democracy dates back to as far as history can allow.

I have never been comfortable attributing our current democratic dispensation to the coming into force of the 1992 constitution. Ghanaians have gone through so much in attaining this level of tolerance for diverse political opinions and as earlier argued, could well be the spirit and knowledge the Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah may have drawn from the Ancient Ghana Empire; a very powerful kingdom  formed by a sub-group of the Mande speaking family called the Soninke.

So before March 6 1957, Ghana had been a kingdom in Africa that lasted from the 6th to the 13th century CE, located south of the Sahara desert and northwest of the Niger River in modern day Mauritania and Mali. The most famous of its capital was Koumbi Saleh. But the present Ghana- home of the Black Stars has Accra has its national capital. It may have come up among the ‘Big Six’ that the Gold Coast population then made have traced their origin to that Kingdom.

As Rodrigo Quijada Plubins would write in his article on the ‘Ancient History Encyclopedia’ web site, the trading activities that constituted the backbone of Ghana’s economy were the sale of gold, kola nuts (the later “secret ingredient” of Coca-Cola), and ivory to cities along the Mediterranean, in exchange for salt.

The Soninke were intermediaries, as they did not control the sources of most of these products, which came from further south, while the actual transport of the goods to the north was completed by nomadic, camel-riding Berbers.

Ghana, as we have now lies on the West Coast of Africa, proud as a son of the land, is one of the most thriving democracies on the continent. As the ghanaweb also writes, it has often been referred to as an “island of peace” in one of the most chaotic regions on earth.

It shares boundaries with Togo to the east, The Ivory Coast to the west, Burkina Faso to the north and the Gulf of Guinea, to the south. The Osagyefo’s Ghana can now boast of discovery of oil and gas deposits in the Gulf of Guinea which could make her an important oil producer and exporter in the next few years. Ebenezer!!

Unlike King Kaya Magha’s Ghana Empire, the country’s economy is dominated by agriculture, which employs about 40 percent of the working population. Ghana is one of the leading exporters of cocoa in the world and a significant exporter of gold and timber.

Cold War

An appreciation of historical accounts would attest to the fact that humans have always seen conquest of another state as a form of development. The fall of the Ancient Ghana Empire caused by the conquest of the most powerful kingdom-state by another emerging one Mali give credence to the fact that if independence from the then established colonial administration was indeed, what it was meant to be, then we were to brace ourselves up for what was to come from the powerful nations like the British, Soviet and the United States of America; summed up the cold war that historians have not fully agreed on the dates, but 1947 to 1991 is common.

As explained in the Wikipedia online encyclopedia, it was “cold” because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the US-led Western bloc and the Soviet-led Eastern bloc, although there were major regional wars in Korea and Vietnam.  In February 1966, while Nkrumah was on a state visit to North Vietnam and China, his government was overthrown in a military coup led by Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka and the National Liberation Council.

Nkrumah believed that the CIA had supported the coup, but this accusation was based on forged evidence given to him by the KGB.As at now, no official documentary evidence exists implicating the United States in the coup as the world is made to understand.

The Cold War and its events have left a significant legacy, and it is often referred to in popular culture, especially in media featuring themes of espionage such as the internationally successful James Bond film series and the threat of nuclear warfare. This was to be seen in Dr. Nkrumah’s reaction to a French atom test in the sahara where he froze all assets of all French firms in Ghana until such a time that the effects on the population of Ghana of the atomic explosion and the future experiments referred to by the French then, was known.

The Osagyefo became unpopular in the politics of those times and had to be dealt with. Could it have been that he was to be left alone to experiment with a policy of re-colonizing Ghana- an empire he resurrected? Ghana without Nkrumah is still Ghana and should stay as such as we develop our democratic dispensation.

In another article by Joshua J. Mark, my suspicion of the true political development during the nationalist period in Africa has been given some credence but I doubt if Mark would even agree with me on making such an assertion as Ghana marks 57 years of independence.

From his write-up, you realize that conquest was the norm. And as some of the powerful nations like the British and French could not lose their colonies and the natural resources that was feeding their industries during the cold war, they went on a diplomatic drive of building local support and granting independence to the colonies and strengthening trade and political ties. I am saying this in reference to the establishment of the British Commonwealth for which Ghana became a member after attaining a republican status in 1960.

The Commonwealth promised closer economic ties to feed the newly packaged British Empire. But the black-man being capable of managing his own affairs meant he did not even need to be protected.

Ghana as we see it now was not a gift for the Osagyefo to keep. He may have overdone it in his visions for the future. No matter how much our nationalist and patriotic instincts would direct our mentality of supposed ‘white supremacy’ the idea of building a sovereign state  – Ghana has faced many challenges some of which has been the unconstitutional arrangement to define leadership and social class in this beautiful African country.

If indeed Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was to work to liberate the entire African continent, which of the Western or Eastern power blocs was he tilting to? I am not into that investigation at this time. But I believe the Nkrumahist fraternity should well understand that the name Nkrumah was a global voice at the time of the cold war and his overthrew was part of the global power struggle.

One can write a dissertation on this to disagree with me as I also think my observation is hollow. It should not be confused with a Ghanaian hatred against the Osagyefo. If indeed he used his popularity with the ‘nodding masses’ to constitutionally create the one-party state; the dividend is what he got; a revolt.

It should also be noted that Dr. Kwame Nkrumah initiated Ghana into a deliberately neutral grouping called the Non-Aligned Movement founded by Egypt, India, and Yugoslavia; this faction rejected association with either the US-led West or the Soviet-led East. If you can’t beat them, join them mantra was not to be the situation here, but the Non-Aligned Movement; the CIA probably thought was building a threatening power bloc with the Osagyefo’s voice and had to work with the local opposition to silence him. But it also stands to be seen that if you see Nkrumah you would see his replica in the man called Uncle Bob of Zimbabwe. Whaaaaat!!!

Uncle Ebo Whyte during the week of Ghana’s 57th independence anniversary celebrations on his ‘Food for Thought’ programme has recounted what he called the sad stories in the country’s history. Notable among these sad stories is Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s ignorance about his popularity in the homeland. He said Nkrumah was so sure that Ghanaians loved him, and that they would reject the soldiers that have overthrown his

government and imposed themselves on Ghanaians, but when instead of rejection of the military takeover, Nkrumah heard of jubilation in the streets of Ghana, he asked his aides what went wrong.  For all that while, his Ghana was doing alright according to information that got to him. He never knew that there were real issues on the ground that made the masses uncomfortable with his rule.

Human mentality and the paradigm of the survival of the fittest soon gave way to the Osagyefo seeing the oppressor as his fellow Ghanaian politician. Why would he not become unpopular to the extent that his Convention Peoples Party (CPP) cannot build an enviable political force to influence policies as Ghana celebrate fifty-seven years of self rule?

I am forced to raise such issues because of the illusions of some co-equals who have carved a better way of telling the Nkrumah story, still witch hunting the supposed detractors of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. But it stands to be understood that the ‘Nkrumah Brand’ is dead in major politics and can only be used for activism; to probably remind the current political class of some of the positive ideals he stood for.

The emergence of the Progressive Peoples Party in 2012 says it all as the story unfolds. Irrespective of whatever might have been the issue, Dr. Paa Kwesi Ndoum’s ditching of the CPP is a landmark concordance on the outmoded state of the CPP brand as the story of Ghana’s democracy strives on.

For now the business and political guru who started as an Assemblyman to becoming a flag bearer of the PPP has a good discourse on the country’s economy. He is a leap ahead of the CPP and will always be. It is simple ‘awake’ your senses and stop living in the past.

The Nkrumahist agenda should stop the nationalist propaganda of not seeing or smelling anything of a national policy or global policy that were being evolved prior to independence and even now, unless they take the mantle of the presidency.

To say that the current Ghanaian constitution in its entirety is illegal because it seeks to protect coup makers even to the Nkrumah era is way too much. Rather, the 1992 constitution has reconciled the country and created much stronger bond within the various structures of the Ghanaian society. Negative propaganda and indoctrination would breed unrest as being witnessed in Ukraine, Egypt, the Central Africa Republic and elsewhere.

History should not thwart the future but reinforce its presence of a better life.  All political groupings in the country should spare the country of any flashbacks that disintegrates our current national cohesion. The power of the new information age of the social media is also very critical. Ghana at 57 won’t condone the creation of cells that seek to fight for the masses but through unapproved routes.

Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah paid his due in Ghanaian, African and global politics together with the likes of Paa Grant.  So have Dr Hilla Liman, Dr. Jerry John Rawlings, Dr John Kofi Agyekum Kufour and the Late Prof. Evans Atta-Mills. They are basking in glory of statesmanship because of the men and women who served the nation under their administration.

The onus is on the current political generation to live up to expectation. Since the establishment of the United Nations of which Ghana is a member, the world is a community of states which seek the welfare of its citizens. Thankfully our modern Ghana does not have any threat from any foreign aggressor unless someone thinks otherwise.

Underlying the quest for political power is the fact of a comfortable pay cheque. You apply, campaign and voted for to as it were render selfless service as a president or political appointee of Ghana and be paid from the taxes that is characteristic of every nation-state and use same to provide basic social infrastructure for the masses.

That is why it would be prudent at this juncture to pay homage to every well-meaning political player in Ghana. From the political bloc of Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo is his father Edward Akufo Addo, Dr. J. B Danquah, Komla Gbedemah, Obetsebi Lamptey, Ako Adjei, William Ofori Atta and the man called Kofi Abrefa Busia not forgetting the historian Prof. Albert Adu Boahen. Others who served under the PNDC/NDC did not do badly either. Dr. Obed Asamoah, Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, Dr. Mrs Mary Grant, Harry Sawyerr and those they can identify with.

We can also make mention of Prof Hagan of the CPP, Dr. Edward Mahama of the PNC and GCPP’s Dan Lartey, these names in no special order include also the likes of Alban Bagbin and Ekow Spio-Garbrah. We have a lot to learn from the past to shape the future.

Our current Head of State, John Dramani Mahama is on course in his tenure of office, he also boasts of a political heritage not only from the NDC but to his father Mr Emmanuel Adama Mahama who was the first Member of Parliament for the West Gonja Constituency and the first Regional Commissioner of the Northern Region during Ghana’s First Republic.

If the opposition NPP does not own a copy right to free SHS, I don’t think CPP has that privilege and the claim by the NDC means they don’t also have that.

As politics stands today for the ‘floating voter’, which of the political parties, have a team with less natural inclination to steal or misappropriate state funds? So that the real intent of collecting taxes and levies can be realised.  Anyway…..have i made any straight forward comment as  to how the country should run? is this write-up interesting? enough said than, but….

The most important elements of social development is in the MDG’s who would help Ghana. As we celebrate our 57th independence anniversary Ghana should be seen as a continuous story, with minimal regrets whenever we conduct the needed evaluations in our developmental structures.

We need to preserve the prevailing peace and tranquility in the country. God bless our homeland Ghana and make our nation great and strong to resist the oppressors’ rule….and let the oppressor be seen as an abstract of a propagandist who would thwart every move and would like to take a shortcut to prosperity. Let the foundation of our independence “Freedom and Justice” flourish.

By: Joe Bright Nyarko

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