From a grandstanding to another
This week would have folded today by midnight. But it had been fullest of history yesteryears and empirically for the future of the country unrecognised yet overall. It is either caused by complacency led by a feeling of its being banal and or by over-obsession with toughening life-situation in degrees to explain away firstly, the significances of February 28, 1948. Secondly, the legislature hearing the electoral commission’s case about the ‘’CARD’’ as the only acceptable to warrant a right to vote.
The February event remembered Christriansborg Crossroads shoot to kill, triggered nation-wide riotous protests, the British Commission to enquire and the arrests of the UGCC’s “SIX’’, 12 Mar and June same year, respectively. The Commission recommended that the people of the Gold Coast be allowed to write their own constitution. The Commission was chaired by Andrew Aitken Watson. Subsequently, Sir Henley Coussey’s constitutional craft reported but Dr Kwame Nkrumah led the rejection of its two-houses law-making institutions, characterised it as ‘’bogus and fraudulent’’. The Governor Sir Gerald Creasy was replaced by Sir Charles Noble Arden-Clarke 29 June 1949.
Sir Gerald had ordered the detention of the “SIX’’ later becoming known as the “BIG SIX’’. Differences arose: Nkrumah quit, June 12, 1949 founded the CPP and the UGCC was over and Dr Rathbone in BBC’s later serialised post-mortem, described the dispersal as Nkrumah ‘‘cut off the rest [‘’FIVE’’] ‘’with skill and they never forgave him’’. Thus, today there are NPP and NDC [both traceable from UP and CPP]—living in oft-open hostility with quantifiable détente such as both sides of parliament, except the Speaker’s gavel on a member’s “un-parliamentary language’’, heard from the EC saying the sole national identity card was not going to disenfranchise anyone.
The reason for the temporary rapprochement is supposedly that the apparent unilateralism might lose any’s seat—inadvertently, faux pax or even calculatedly. It is well-concluded speculation. One could be tired by repetitious pros and cons. But then, few issues arise like evidence given in authentic stats and whether or not the EC is aware that NIA are overwhelmed with backlogs of un-issued cards and the very critical matter of the just-turned the age brigades’ inadvertent proscription to cast a ballot, an authenticated demographics et al. I had during or towards end of the third quarter last year wrote here that whereas it is time to clear up establishing criteria for who is to vote or be elected as bona fide citizen open-minded consultations are a sine qua non as it is also definitively would make balloting free, fair and unchallenged at the close.
The plain essences held in abeyance, I believe the Supreme Court had been and indeed before it, the Appeal has been excessively tasked and might be sooner become hunch backed, if we are able to settle an agreement. No one needs checking the records. These alone had taken the electoral processes and the nation some nightmares for long—may be “too long’’, very much unlike elsewhere which go on sporting internecine-mongering ad infinitum. And quite truly, it is also a share burden –the people, the Establishment and the referee, the EC.
Using that as a bait, I shall go back to the 75th salute of the persons who fought generally in the two World Wars and specifically, our own. Some came back alive broken. Others did not. But among the number who returned home were Sergeant Cornelius F.Adjetey, Cpl Attivo and Pte Attipoe mowed down callously in an obvious show of power at the cross-roads Osu in Accra. They were going to hand in a petition to Governor Creasy for post-war service monthly stipend. Certainly, earlier through official channels had failed to elicit responses. They met death at that junction. There is not much mention of the Ulster-born British police Commander IMREY of what the Watson Commission both found and said what shall be done to Supt IMREY. Other History scholars think he was let off, sent back home. Perhaps the greater reason attention was not paid to him was something else happening throughout the Gold Coast [Ghana today]. An initial grandstanding was simmering simultaneously—the UGCC and Nkrumah gearing agitation for independence rode on the wings of all into a national bandwagon. Leading that brewery was a boycott of European, Asian and Syrian goods in anti-inflation drive. It caused riots taken an additional leaf from the ‘’shooting’’ and generated the workers strikes and self-integrated with the UGCC-cause. It is most worthy-behoving to state that the boycott was a strongest galvaniser because of the out of hand rise prices in 1948.
The brave organiser was Nii Kwabena Bonne III, Osu Alata Mantse [Chief]. The man (apparently otherwise Kofi Taylor) was also the chief of Techiman. It is pleasing his service got prominence in the procession of wreaths laying at a ceremony of commemoration last Tuesday. One press report stated it was ‘’a brief ceremony’’.
There were neither speeches nor mention of a nation-wide-do as used to be. My criticism is it was as if there is no other survivors anywhere else outside of Accra which has Legion Village of old and VAG-Club, peanuts and the guilt is again ours collectively as a nation-people. The ingratitude is embarrassing. Possibly, but more probably, I can inject the role to deserve a minute’s standstill on the day for those persons dead or alive, with this quote from the old soldier’s ode— “Remember’’: “We fought so that you and generations unborn shall be free. This is why we fought. Remember and keep the price worthwhile. Remember not just today. But always. Remember’’.
It is likely Dr Nkrumah re-translated it into ‘we prefer self-government in or with danger to servitude in tranquillity’. I should complete the narrative which led to the awakening of 1947/8. The beginning was May 1897 when the Aborigines’ Rights Protection Society [ARPS] was founded at Cape Coast where the Bond of 1844 signed this country into a British Colony. The ARPS sent a delegation to London 24 May 1898 to protest British land policy. A second went late 20s but the Brits had already moved the seat of government from Cape Coast to Christiansborg Accra because they would not climb down on among others given consultative status in the governance of the colony.
Sooner or ultimately, the ARPS literally set itself ablaze after death of John Kofi Mensah Sarbah 1910. Pa Grant renewed it with the UGCC. But what intrigues research is similarities between his inaugural speech August 4, 1947 at Mankesim near Saltpond and the stuff in the old soldier’s ode: “Remember that upon what you do today may depend the happiness of our countrymen and women. But above all , remember this: what we do and plan today, we do and plan not for ourselves alone here and now, but for our country, not for only the generation of today but for generations unborn.’’
That sequel had a short life with biggest successor –independence with variations of violence. Creasy off and the close of Governor Arden-Clarke’s tenure was a satisfactorily stable country, his relations with the political leadership and statesmen with the paucity of women and country were comparably stabler country two years after the first country-wide elections which the CPP won. He wrote poignant comment though that “I wish I could be an old-time governor again, able to give orders and ensure their immediate execution…’’. I hang on that phrase “immediate action to refer to the status of the EC under doubts.
It is always a surprise to me that we trek back and forth to the same problem about legibility to vote. Each court ruling had encouraged-advised in-coming governments to co-jointly sort out. Whichever turns up after this other heat, the bad truth is that successive governments had pussy-footed since 1951 in relays; and the parallel ECs had had to initiate remedials seemingly for a right prescription; but at wrong time, in a simple quest. And all of us crowing the vulture’s favourite swan-song in rain-storm, proverbially. Or derisively, ‘crying-wolf ’. The reality is, it is an important step, irrespective of the political corresponding conspiracy theories that may circulate. Arden Clerk has the last words before curtains down: ‘’..however unless I might be, it was my job to teach the African to stand on his own feet and manage his own affairs. And that is the job which with due humility I and many others like me have been trying to carry out ever since. This being so, it always astonishes me when somebody suggests that there is anything new or revolutionary about the approach of a dependent territory to self-government and full independence.’’
That provides to resolve a pregnant declaration with wider implications and speaks rationally though in our historical context, pretty controversial. But the biblical David’s stone was flung by the Christiansborg shooting and the ensued mayhem as the very major spark for the momentum towards independence, a remarkable day to remember. “Always’’ with greater thankfulness in jollity than we have. Understandably that we are broke, not permanently.
By Prof. Nana Esselfie-Conduah