Straightening the straightners (4)

Dr, Danquah and Paa Willie Ofori-Atta“For my part there is just one thing I should say. I do not think that those who are not with us here are against us. Nor do I want any one to think that we are against those who are not with us here….

“Indeed how absurd must it be for any one to suggest that that we are against our Chiefs…The United Gold Coast Convention is an organisation of the people. By the term “people” we mean the entire people of the Gold Coast.

“If any one were to tell me that the Chiefs are not among the people of the Gold Coast but are foreigners, I would not believe him. Non-Chiefs are all our people….Any one whether Chief or Non-Chief, is welcome to join us…Above all remember this: what we do and plan today, we do plan not for ourselves alone here and now, but for our country, not only for the generation of today, but for generations yet unborn”.

I should rest the narrative except that I feel an obligation to deal with emphasis about “CHIEFS” by Paa and which Dr. Danquah also echoed. To be brutally honest, I have a probable doubt about Danquah’s full understanding of the nuances in Paa’s reference to the Chiefs [in particular Cape Coast the centre of national political gravity].

The reason is this was a purely ARPS internal feuding on the one hand and the ARPS’ discord with the Chiefs with inference from what was going on in Cape Coast over paramount chief succession – a long distance tangent meaning of “dziwo fie asem” can be an illustration to back up my dubiety.   Paa said he went to Cape Coast, advisedly by Blay, Awoonor Williams and Sakyi. Paa said in his speech:

“I went to them [Sakyi, Chief Moore and Wood] to bring them together. They agreed to sink their differences; and I brought them together. They did so for the good of the country…. Having set our House in order…”

It is over-presentation to say the Chiefs were visibly absent at Saltpond. Thus Paa’s was both a lamentation and an assurance appeal to soothe Nanom. Pa was though aware that the people who had gathered at Saltpond did not care one hoot about the absence of the Chiefs. Infer from his speech the explanation of his use of the word “people” and relate it to the later title Dr. Nkrumah chose for his Party—the Convention People’s Party [CPP].

The enduring outcome of that, to bring the history to the finite, was the enmity between the CPP and Chiefs of the country. There were pro-CPP chiefs; but that also was the offshoot of the political upmanship from its antecedent brinkmanship via the ‘gazetting’ and ‘recognising’ syndrome.       Recall “the Chiefs will run away and leave their sandals behind” which was misattributed to Dr. Nkrumah instead of Gbedemah and other leaders of the CPP.

Indeed the same source of friction deteriorated into Chiefs divided in their allegiances and or ad hoc perfidy with the political parties as they circuited “ins” and “outs” of power to govern here in Ghana today.

It behooves a reference to Ashanti relative to the unison among the chiefs there and their support of the NLM. It is not an exact exception to the political gazetting / recognising roundabout; but the primary reason for the Ashanti chiefs was their allegiance to the “Golden Stool” which was invoked by chief linguist [Nana Sir AgyemanPrempeh II] Baffour Osei Akoto.

[Incidentally it was the same reason of loyalty to the Golden Stool which oath Joe Appiah and Victor Owusu used to turned away from their friend Nkrumah; also intriguingly after consultation with KobinaSakyi in Cape Coast. This was widely publicised than at home and in the international press.

CLAIM (IV): I stumbled on a text [presented as the authentic history apparently] only that other week looking for something else from my Library at home in Cape Coast. That has compelled going back to be more detailed-explicit as politely respectfully to expunge the claim that Dr.Danquah conceived the founding of UGCC.

I have in paragraphs or sentences in preceding bits of this whole narrative dropped corrections far less robustly. The claim is neither factual nor for it to be the truth. This is profound to assert to be historically correct emphatically.

The idea was Paa Grant’s. No one else’s. He consulted with his friends Awoonor Williams and Blay before he met with Sakyi. He financed the project and launched it. Dr Danquah did not [rpt not] inaugurate it. He spoke at the function though–4 August 1947 in Saltpond. The UGCC replaced the ARPS founded 4 August 1897 mainly to to stop the British expropriation of all public [Public Lands Bill] –Rhodesia-Zimbabwe-style, if you like a parallel historically. Its [ARPS’s] later focus was internal self-government. Paa’s cardinal aim was a total rejection of that for a complete independence-unhedged.

Dr. Danquah and the others subscribed to that.. Cape Coast was the centre of intellectual thought and hub of commerce throughout the Gold Coast Colony.

Research might question the choice of Saltpond by Paa being a Cape-Coastian as well as Nzima away from the Scottish descent.. The answer does not need looking through binoculars. Cape Coast was in turmoil; and I have sketched the better reason for Saltpond ahead of this section.

CLAIM (V): I have harbored a problem with that since it was spoken-reported in the Press before Dr.Danquah’s re-burial with all the political speeches accompaniments [Feb 2015]

To clear the ambiguity for its precise meaning, I have opted to analyze two interpretations both possible to determine which is more probable to link the correction for historical accuracy. Is it death itself which is a travesty? In a sense — native and natural– it is said ‘death is a thief’ Owuo kromfo] at one from a four-tier attributes — relief, mischievous and inevitable, which alone is finite and supreme over the rest in and from whichever mode, it is considered above all the feelings of pain and or the cause(s)/source(s).

Both cynical and charitable attitudes are ruled out by the inevitability. The deduction is that ‘travesty’ as used in the sentence of that speech statement at the curtain-raiser press-ceremony to announce the upcoming event [ref: re-burial of Dr. Danquah] was not questioning death per se.

The next then is to analyze to speculate-find out whether that statement embedded the cause or what is taught as contributing to the death reasoning fingers pointing at his detention. It is a reasonable supposition deriving from a typical Ghanaian comme d’habitude or simply belief. Therefore in this regard straightening the dispensable remiss in the account for posterity does not pretend ‘travesty’ would necessarily averse from the fact of detention because the major-source premise is a supposedly fixed notion with neither empirical nor appropriately proven sequential indicators.

There is a reasoning error-shortfall to conclude in favor of that line of thought. It totals wrong. Yet I bear in mind the power of the argument and its attendant hold on and in many traditions and concomitant creeds, overwhelming as such that it could not be summarily dismissed.

However it is that which could and indeed more often than not create a bit of gap which dislocates squaring up the record. It is that; but the yet-reality supposes to uphold-present that dominant common belief which claims the detention was cause of death?

Thus it becomes necessary to explain the error to be straight about the matter to end the confusion, through an unlikely intent. Dr. Danquah was detained under the powers of a lawful law called the Preventive Detention Act (PDA).

I want it noted that the PDA was a sleight of hand variation of the removal ordinance which Governor Creasy invoked to detain the “BIG SIX”. Dr. Danquah was one of them. Its big dirty or beautiful secret is that each was lawful either way and indeed both. “Travesty”?

Of course Dr.Danquah agonized almost self-tormented about the state of the justice system in the country then. The final sentence in his letter to the Bar Association hinting his desired to give up the chairmanship [19 March 1960] is eloquent::”…It is hell in Ghana just now, but yet I do not despair”. [Dr Danquah was first held in prison 1961, released June 1962 and detained a second time Jan. 1964 died 4 Feb.1965 at the same prison in Nsawam.]

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