Debate is fall-out of Ghana@60 celebrations
by John Eche
Fresh controversy has broken out in Ghana over the exact weight of the contributions of Ghana’s first leader, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, to the nation’s independence process.
In his remarks on the subject, the Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye, affirmed that it is indeed palpable falsehood to claim that Dr. Kwame Nkrumah founded independent Ghana.
His comment revives the long-standing debate about the specific length of Nkrumah’s contributions to the actual founding of Ghana especially after incumbent president, Nana Akufo-Addo made remarks along those lines in the address he delivered at Ghana’s recently celebrated 60th independence anniversary parade.
Correcting the generalisations that had been flowing in the public domain, the History Professor argued that the independence struggle was not championed by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah alone and as such the resultant glory of independence could therefore not be attributed to him alone.
Speaking at the Institute of Economic Affairs’ (IEA) showing of a documentary of the political history of Ghana between 1844 and the Fourth Republican Constitution, Prof Mike Oquaye condemned the current history curriculum which credited Dr. Kwame Nkrumah as a founder of independent Ghana, asserting that it was most misleading.
“We are not searching apparently about anything including our GDP, Tema Oil Refinery debts, vital statistics that are simple to ascertain in many parts of the world. And this has been an unfortunate part of our history so much so that, today we celebrate one founding father which is palpable false, we have founding fathers. I’ll like to see Nkrumah celebrated by way of a holiday in his honour as the first President. A president who had a lot of vision in terms of education, health, African unity and so many area of our national development but definitely not as the founder of this nation because it is palpably false,” he said.
It will be recalled that the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) government with the approval of Parliament declared Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s birthday, 21st September as a statutory public holiday; thus Founder’s Day, to recognize Nkrumah for his tremendous contribution towards the independence of Ghana and Liberation struggle for the entire African continent.
But according to Prof. Oquaye, he expects that the country celebrates a founders’ day, which will honour all others who contributed to Ghana’s independence and not single out Nkrumah.
“It pains me particularly that we teach our children such false history. I look forward to the day where the founder’s day will be founders’ day and we shall all celebrate those who really together founded this nation, including Kwame Nkrumah,” he said.
Responding however, the National Chairman of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Professor Edmund Delle has vowed that the party will resist any attempt to rewrite the country’s history in a way that discredits Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s significant role in Ghana’s independence struggle.
He said people agitating over the consistent reference to Dr. Kwame Nkrumah as the founder of independent Ghana are only being selective with history.
The debate is ongoing even as President Nana Akufo Addo has stated that only young Ghanaians criticized my independence speech and Nkrumah’s daughter, Samia asserting that ‘nobody can take away Nkrumah’s significance from him.’
Prof. Delle’s comment comes against an earlier assertion by the Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye that holding Dr. Kwame Nkrumah as the founder of independent Ghana was wrong.
Speaking at the Institute of Economic Affairs’ (IEA) showing of a documentary of the political history of Ghana between 1844 and the Fourth Republican Constitution, Prof. Oquaye described as “palpable falsehood” claims at Nkrumah was the founding father of Ghana saying that the country must recognize other persons involved in the independence struggle and not hail only Nkrumah.
The comment revives the long-standing debate about the actual founder of Ghana especially after the president, Nana Akufo-Addo subtly also suggested so in the address he delivered at Ghana’s 60th independence anniversary parade.
But according to the CPP chairman, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah led the charge for Ghana’s independence, and must not be denied the associated recognition.
He said: “anything you can say against Nkrumah, you say it, but as long as Ghana lives and Africa lives, he will be greater and greater still.”
“We are not denying that being human, he had some faults but you have to see the situation that made him do these acts… I don’t deny that people contributed, so I am personally not against the fact of recognizing people who contributed. There is no doubt about that; J.B Danquah and the rest. They all contributed to it, but no matter how many contributed, you identify one person.”
He noted that his party will study the claims by persons attempting to rewrite the country’s history “and we will come out with our version on the matter.”
“It is their opinion, they want founders we have decided on founder; the greatest African that has ever lived.”
Dr Kwame Nkrumah, first Prime Minister of modern Ghana