Why Founders' Day
(Plural) Must Not Happen
March 1, 2017
after, we are still searching for the final reckoning as to what happened on
March 6, 1957.
At least, some are.
Pity we can't know the truth
by just asking all members of the Big Six what they thought
happened. What kind of government or state was “founded”
or ushered into being that fateful day of 1957.
Unfortunately, the Big Six are all
remember, these were big honorable men,
with big ambitions. The thing to do for them this
late would be to keep them honest to the principle that kept
them in opposition with Nkrumah, the man some now want these
to share a combined honor with.
So, for relief, a revisit to the issue
to think out what exactly the Big Six thought was “founded,”
with the political reality that took shape, March 6, 1957.
Let's call this questioning a political reality
check (or paternity test) for what became the nation state
It is a matter of honor to do it right.
Without doubt, Ghana was born
as a unitary form of government, the very idea Nkrumah stood
for, fought for and won, in opposition to those leaders who
wanted a federation.
debate about “Founder” vs. “Founders” has gone on for far too
long, pitting partisans against each other. And the rancor
produced is threatening to limit the very stature of the
men we are trying to honor.
In some cases,
the debate no longer conceals the intent among some who want to bring Nkrumah down a notch or two.
bruising debate has not spared the rest of the Big Six either -
all of them with repertoires of good deeds that could justify
claims for some lofty honors; individually and
separately. But definitely not as "Founders."
The "Founder" designation belongs only
to Nkrumah for efforts that not only made Ghana a single, unitary state but also
added the British protective territory of Togoland to
the map of what has come to be known as modern Ghana - thereby
giving the new nation a land size larger than
what the Gold Coast was
before it became independent in 1957.
Nkrumah was for a unitary form of
government. - a nation state with the philosophical
understanding that all regions are governed as one.
The above invites a look into
principled honesty: Proposing a federation as against
a unitary form of government. You win
once only with this scenario. Not twice, even after you have
"Founder" designation for Nkrumah does not deny that
on the shoulders of others before him for his achievements.
But, at the
same time, it would be wrong to change the definition of what
was founded in other to include others in the title..
Indeed, it would also be confusing, for lack of
would be wrong for leaders who formed common cause with the NLM,
the Ablade Togolese Party and others, and fought for federation,
now to claim that they are due credit for the unitary government
shifting the requirement for the title from the impact of
the state that resulted (the
unitary nation state legitimacy) to just activism for
independence, would be asking us to move on through a very confusing
Even so with the move allowed, many genuine heroes
struggles of the past would be left out of the honor for reasons
of lack of proper definition, identification, scope and era of
activity, for instance, as to what it takes to be a "founder".
situation leads us to question the number of the names in the Big Six.
It is limiting to know that many deserving men and women of
history of the independence movement are not listed in the six.
And it becomes actually sobering when
you come to realize that just the removal of Nkrumah alone from
the Big Six would collapse the claim for the rest!
As to heroes from antiquity,
there is no reason to suspect that they had an idea that the
Gold Coast, or the land part that was, could have become the
nation it is today.
there were no maps of nation states marking our corner of the world.
And no flag to raise or fight under for all tribes
In one way or the other,
tribal or ethnic groups fought for
supremacy, the consequences of which acts were not savory.
And since we are seeking to burnish our history, the less said
about this period, the better; but just the knowledge that there would be no "Founders" from this
sector of our pre-colonial history should be enough..
But only if we
were to limit "Founders" to what now appears the opposition to
European rule, would some come close.
Asamani who captured the Osu Castle from the Danes back in
In early 19th century, Yaa Asantewa was to follow
with another exemplary opposition, in a futile effort to save
the Ashantis from British dominance.
isolated brave acts, for example did not "found" a state, as
defined by the
the nation state after the Treaty of Westphalia, 1648.
Yaa Asentewa, though theirs was the story of epic bravery,
did not intend to form a
new sovereign nation. Their
drives were tribal, inward looking and for the sake of the
preservation of the status quo..
So, "Founders" cannot be defined by
past politics and history alone. It has to be defined by
impact of both action and ideas and their results.
True, there is the need
and the pressure to have national
heroes. But the process for deciding who is must not be
bereft of intellectual honesty or filled with tribal sympathy.
Perhaps, how others came through history to
occupy the "Founder" positions in their respective nations, the American
for example, should help.
Almost to a man, the seven key Founders of
the United States were on the same page right at the start of the founding.
They colluded in ideas and strategies.
George Washington, Thomas
John Adams, Benjamin Franklin,
Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison. They wanted a
federation. They got a federation.
None of the above would be
embarrassed today if he were to be asked a question about the singularity of
Can we ask the same question of
our forebears without embarrassing them?
True, they all yearned to be free
of British rule.
There were men like J. W. Sey, J. P. Brown, J. E. Casely Hayford,
and John Mensah Sarbah of the The Gold Coast Aborigines' Rights
Protection Society (ARPS).
In addition, many more fought and did their best.
issues of government and the nature of the new state became
clarified in the last decade when the decision to grant
independence to the Gold and the Trans Volta Region was made.
The decision that triggered the founding had
opposite ends – unitary vs. federation. Nkrumah was for a
unitary government and that was what sealed the deal.
That difference should not dishonor these men
of the opposition who also fought but lost. Nor should they deserve to
have their names used as spoilers.
honorable men with core political purposes who recruited Nkrumah
but later opposed him as a matter of principle.
Shall we deny
them their principles now?
Do we want them to look as
petty as our modern day politician?
Have we run short of ways to make our heroes relevant other than
to put all of them into the same pool?
Or what did any of the Big Six do to protect Ghana, the baby,
when her sovereignty was attacked on February 1966, at a time
the Solomonic judgment of "Founders should reflexively have
True, the Big Six were men
whose act of inviting Nkrumah can only be characterized by a
largeness of spirit, which we don't have in Ghana today.
It may also be true that this lack is what is driving the
debate about the “Founder vs. Founders” today.
It could also be
argued that had one of the Big Six, other than Nkrumah, been the
Secretary General of the UGCC and came out to form the NLM and
successfully led a party for independence, we would be in a
federal state today.
But that was not
On March 1957, we became a
unitary state that engulfed the British Trans Volta region.
The new Ghana was not founded by
conquest or purchase. It started with a clarity of vision, a
type that no one among Nkrumah's generation had. He
never wavered in his ambition to have a united, detribalized
And he achieved his goal. This was the spirit that founded
Ghana. The gratitude is long
overdue. Call Nkrumah the "Founder" now.
E. Ablorh-Odjidja, Publisher
www.ghanadot.com, Washington, DC, March 31, 2017
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