Positioning Ghana’s History Rightly

J.B. Danquah, being the family lawyer together with Edward Akufo Addo and others, were the defence lawyers to the accused (defendants). They fought and lost the case on every front including even an appeal to the United Kingdom Privy Council.

There have been conscious and applied efforts to reconstruct the history of Ghana to place Danquah in the middle, when the actual movement to address the ‘Gold Cost situation’ was first birthed by George Paa Grant the Merchant.

J.B. Danquah was of the Eastern Provence. He was/is of the Akyem Abuakwa royalty. He was a lawyer who played significant roles in defending his family name when it came under severe conflict with the colonial administration.

The Akyim Abuakwa royal family enjoyed great collaboration from the colonial administration and was influential as a result of the fact that it was sitting on key resources for the exploitation for the interest of the colonial power.

Danquah has had the opportunity to serve in several offices of the colonial administration because of his privileged position and the education he was sponsored to receive by the King of his royal stool.

The Akyem Abuakwa royal family felt that that closeness positioned them to have some power over the governance of Ghana. That was what Danquah was prepared for until a murder incident of Nana Akyea Mensa and the trial that ensued derailed the entire smooth preparations of Danquah. Akyea Mensa was murdered at the Akyim Abuakwa palace at the funeral of Nana Ofori Atta.

The Akyim Abuakwa enclave did not subscribe to the three-point ‘commandments’ of the Bond of 1844. It did not also subscribe to the Native Jurisdiction Ordinance (NJO) which curtailed the judicial powers of the traditional authority to settling minor issues.

Having come under the Native Administration Ordinance (NAO) which allowed traditional authorities to exercise some powers only approved by the colonial administration, they were to be held accountable under the laws governing the colony. In effect, this was the indirect rule instituted by the regime which allowed traditional chiefs to administer their jurisdictions with ‘civility’. So those who had the authority to exercise these powers were favourites of the colonial regime, no doubt.

Therefore, having come under the three-point ‘commandment of the Bond’, the murder of an individual, which could have earlier been regarded as a traditional ritual, was an offence punishable by law under the colonial administration. And the actors from Akyem Abuakwa royal family stood trial for the murder of Nana Akyea Mensa under the laws of the colony of which it is under.

The Akyim Abuakwa royal family felt their friendship with the colonial administration should have resulted in the administration overlooking the murder. But contrary to that, the administration took the matter on, and found 8 members of the family guilty of the offence of murder. They were sentenced to death.

J.B. Danquah, being the family lawyer together with Edward Akufo Addo and others, were the defence lawyers to the accused (defendants). They fought and lost the case on every front including even an appeal to the United Kingdom Privy Council.

The family, feeling embarrassed in the manner the case was not buried based on their obedience and safe execution of the indirect rule of the colonial administration, fell out with the administration.

Nonetheless, JB Danquah still had his eyes on the assumed right of taking over Gold Coast from the colonial administration.

As a result, when he came across Paa Grant on that fateful day who asked of what he (Danquah) thought of the ‘colonial situation’ he (Danquah) saw another avenue. Grant proposed a subsequent meeting where he brought up the idea of the Convention (United Gold Coast Convention), as a vanguard to self-rule. Danquah, having bought into the whole idea, set to bring the ‘enlightened’ members of his family as well as his other allies to join the UGCC.

To the Akyim Abuakwa royal family of the time, the UGCC provided another platform for them to hold their influence alive. One could then understand why Danquah cannot be placed under Grant even though Grant can be attributed with the founding status of the UGCC. Grant was the bankroller of the Convention, and he was committed to its success just as he was inspired for its formation.

So, the UGCC was handled with the sole aim of granting JB. Danquah the power he required to remain the favourite to take over from the colonial administration when colonialism ended.

That was where the conflict with Nkrumah arose. Nkrumah’s emergence on the scenes and the manner the people accepted Nkrumah’s ideals and mobilisation and message, run counter to the aspirations of Danquah and that broke the camel’s back and the internal feud that developed.

If the glory of who takes over from the administration would be to the hands of Nkrumah, then we better not attain it. That was it, and that is why history is being re-written to provide a favourable space for Danquah.

Nothing else.

By Stephen Kwabena Attuh (ASK)

 

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