For starters, neither the UGCC nor the CPP symbolise our first organised pursuit of the freedoms and independence of the citizens of what we call Ghana today. It is unfortunate that citizens today continue feasting on the divisive disagreements and egoistic wars between our freedom fighters. We should rather be rallying around the common good they stood for. They all sought the freedom of the citizenry and sacrificed their skills, freedoms and resources to realise the aspiration of an independent Ghana. They all deserve to be celebrated.
Their unhealthy and egoistic drawbacks that inspired deep bitterness and malevolent acts against each other and ultimately the very State they claimed to love, should rather be learnings for citizens today and not steroids for us to pursue a paralysing divisiveness. None of that bitterness made us better as a people or country.
The Gold Coast Aborigines' Rights Protection Society (ARPS) was our first structured grouping to set the stage for our pursuit of independence. Formed in 1897, it was the main political organisation that organised and sustained opposition against the colonial government. The ARPS was founded by traditional leaders and the educated elite such as J.W. de Graft-Johnson, Jacob Wilson Sey, J. P. Brown, J. E. Casely Hayford, and John Mensah Sarbah.
They fought in Ghana and in the UK to prevent the wholesale expropriation of Ghanaian lands by European entrepreneurs or officials. The ARPS went on to campaign against the exclusion of qualified Africans from the colonial administration. Their interventions inspired the return of many educated Ghanaians to the homeland to pursue our independence. After the ARPS, various organisations (like the National Congress of British West Africa) were formed championing greater autonomy and political participation by the citizens.
The role of the UGCC and the CPP is too told and needs no further emphasis. Both mobilised for independence with different views to time and style. Either way, each contributed to what we have today. The 1948 riots and the Watson Commission, which recommended the change in the constitution paved the way for both parties to partake in elections, leading to Kwame Nkrumah’s election as Leader of Government business in 1951 and eventually Ghana’s first President. The riots marked the beginning of the end of the independence struggle and saw all members of the Big Six arrested.
From the above summary, I hold the opinion that;
1. Ghana has no founder; it has founders. The founders of Ghana are not just the Big Six alone but rather the founders of the ARPS all through to the NCBWA, UGCC and CPP.
2. Kwame Nkrumah is not the only founder of Ghana; he is our first Ghanaian leader of Government business and elected President. He inspired our independence at the time we had it, but it was the accumulation of work and sacrifice started and inspired by others before him including, but not exclusive to, the UGCC. He is nonetheless a hero and the symbol or face of our independence.
3. The use of 4th August (The UGCC birthday) to commemorate Founders’ Day, is wrong as the UGCC is not the first structured grouping to have commenced the pursuit of independence. It started with the Aborigines Rights Protection Society.
4. The most ideal date is the 6th of March (our day of independence) or the 1st of July (Republic day) which marks our full realisation of sovereignty and it must be a Founders' day. These dates climax the struggle that commenced in 1897.
The celebration of our forebears should unite us and not divide us. As things stand, the position of the apostrophe and the celebrating date shall continue to change depending on the party in power. This is wrong. It deepens the political polarisation and desecrates the blood-laden struggle for independence.
We must remember that our forebears were human with all the human frailties. Let’s rather rally around their common good and that which united them and not fester the strife that separated them.
As we pursue a future for Ghana, we must rest our divisive past and be reminded that Ghana is not binary for we are one people and one nation with a common destiny.
By: Senyo Hosi