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Had they successfully acted as one, like the Americans, they could all  designated as "Founders.". could

Why Founders' Day (Plural) Must Not Happen

E.  Ablorh-Odjidja

March 1, 2017

Sixty years 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 gone.


But, 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 same men 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 of Ghana.  

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.


This 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.

 

And the 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.


In all, 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 lost!


This "Founder" designation for Nkrumah does not deny that he stood 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 intellectual honesty.

 

First, It 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 that resulted.

 

Second, 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 maze. 

 

Even so with the move allowed, many genuine heroes from our 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". 

 

 Which 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.

 

Historically, 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.

 

We may include the Akwamu warrior Asamani who captured the Osu Castle from the Danes back in 17th century.


In early 19th century, Yaa Asantewa was to follow with another exemplary opposition, in a futile effort to save the Ashantis from British dominance.

 

But, these isolated brave acts, for example did not "found" a state, as defined by the notion of the nation state after the Treaty of Westphalia, 1648. 

 

Asamani and 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.


There were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, 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 their purpose.


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.

 

However, the 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.

 

These were 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 kicked in?

 

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 what happened. 

 

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 Ghana.

 

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
Permission to publish: Please feel free to publish or reproduce, with credits, unedited. If posted at a website, email a copy of the web page to publisher@ghanadot.com . Or don't publish at all

 


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