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75 Years Since Nana Ofori Atta I Passed On. Remembering His Departure.
He is the grandfather of Abuakwa’s power over the Akyem Kingdom today. He was the architect of the destinies of the prominent people we call ‘the Akyem Mafia’ today. He was simply formidable and visionary. And his reign marked a departure from the volatility and tragedies that ocassioned his predecessors’ efforts at establishing legitimacy over Akyem. Knowing about Nana Sir Ofori Atta I is worth the time for every young Ghanaian.
1. 75 Years ago, 75 witnesses were called before a jury in a case involving eight (8) accused members of the late Nana Ofori Atta’s family (some were his children).
2. It was in early 1943, one morning, when the victim, reported to be a loyal, respectable and soft-spoken sub-chief, the Odikro of Apedwa, was attending the funeral activities of the well-known Nana Sir Ofori Atta, when he suddenly and completely disappeared.
3. Five months after- wards his remains were found in the bed of a stream.
4. Eight family members were charged with his murder, and after a trial which lasted 26 days and included the testimony of the 75 witnesses, all eight were sentenced to death for murder. All of them.
5. They appealed, failed to win the appeal, re-appealed, failed, pushed the case all the way to the British privy council.
6. Dr JB Danquah was leading the defence lawyers. And Edward Akufo-Addo the father of Nana Akufo-Addo was one of the defence lawyers, albeit, according to the court reports, a weak one. They were dogged in frustrating the legal system in defence of their siblings. But the evidence was overwhelming. Four of the eight were executed by hanging. The rest were freed for one reason or the other.
7. Sir Alan Burns who was the governor at the time stood firm and refused to bend to the legal gymnastics from the children of the late Nana Sir Ofori Atta because he was determined to stamp out ritual murders which were rampant under that traditional authority. The battle lines were drawn between him and Akyem-Abuakwa.
8. This single event and the embarrassing public effect of the trial on the family of Dr JB Danquah who was then being backed by Nana Sir Ofori Atta to be the choice of stooge for the colonial authorities to lead the Gold Coasters that started a departure from a hitherto strong collaboration between the late Chief’s family and the colonial authorities.
9. It was the trial (he saw it as persecution of his family because of their tradition) which angered Dr JB Danquah and caused him to turn against the colonial powers leading him to join the independence struggle. He was not keen about it before this point. But it now became necessary.
10. Some writers say his fight for Independence was ‘Independence to carry on ritual murders in the name of tradition’ and the freedom to cover it up without ‘these irritatingly nosy Europeans’.
75 Years of the departure of a formidable chief Nana Sir Ofori Atta. 75 Years of the scar of a cold and gruesome murder.
Source: Oheneba Kwasi Ampofo