Biography of the late Mr.
John Francis Smith Hansen
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every
purpose under the heaven: A time to be born and a time
to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted”
The late Johnny Hansen was born on 14th May 1935 in
Accra. He was the second son of the late Mr. Frank
Gilbert Hansen, an Accountant, and Mrs. Harriet Eliza
Quartey Hansen, a renowned high fashion designer of
Accra in her days.
In the late 1930s, Johnny Hansen’s parents lived and
worked in Lagos, Nigeria. Johnny therefore attended
primary school and part of his secondary at Kings
College, Lagos. In 1950, Johnny and his elder brother,
George, were brought back home to Ghana and Johnny
enrolled at Odorgonnor Secondary School at Adabraka to
complete his secondary education. In 1952, Johnny was
admitted to the Kumasi College of Technology (now Kwame
Nkrumah University of Science and Technology – KNUST) to
do the Sixth Form course and, in 1954 passed the Higher
School Certificate Examination with distinction.
In his quest for higher education, Johnny was sponsored
by his parents in 1955 to study law in Britain. He
pursued that course diligently and qualified as a
Barrister on November 14, 1960. After his call to the
English Bar, Johnny worked in Britain for a little while
until early 1964 when he accepted a position in Tanzania
as a Parliamentary Draftsman until his return to Ghana
In 1968, Johnny joined the Judicial Service of Ghana and
was appointed a Magistrate. This was at the time, in the
history of Ghana, when the Convection Peoples Party (CPP)
was a political party and anyone openly professing to
support the CPP or suspected to be
a covert CPP activist risked being arrested and
jailed without trial. Johnny knew he was
on the Bench and should have
been circumspect in expressing his view on political
issues at the time. But such was not the character or
style of the Johnny Hansen.
The fact that he was on the
Bench and that the CPP had been banned was no deterrence
to Johnny meeting secretly with his “comrades” to
discuss politics and plan various activities. The urge
to team up with his CPP activists and work underground
and behind the scenes in order to rejuvenate the Party
was so strong that Johnny resigned from his position
with the Judicial Services as a Magistrate. He
immediately went into private practise so as to be fully
involved and devoted to the “struggle”.
Throughout his life, Johnny was bold and fearless. He
also proved himself a
non-conformist, almost to the point of being reckless in
many things which he did with little regard for his own
personal safety or professional interest. His passion
for politics had no limits concerning national politics;
he was absolutely committed to the political philosophy
of the late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and therefore, the cause
of the CPP.
One notable act which Johnny masterminded during the
“turbulent time” of the late 60s and early 70s was the
open sale throughout the country of memorabilia showing
effigy of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in defiance of the ban by
the NLC regime and by the Progress Party on the display
of portraits and pictures of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
When the ban on political party activities was later
lifted in 1969, Johnny, the late Dr. William Kofi
Lutterodt and other active Nkrumaists formed the
People’s Popular Party (PPP) to champion the cause of
the CPP. Following the death of Dr. Lutterodt in October
1969, Johnny Hansen became the Leader of PPP.
During the Acheampong regime in the early 1970s, Johnny
became an active member of the People’s Movement for
Freedom and Justices, a body that stood against the
Supreme Military Council’s attempt to introduce a Union
Government system in Ghana. As usual, Hansen was no
armchair politician or strategist, but got deeply
involved in several activities aimed at preventing the
move for the creation of the proposed Union Government.
Consequently, he was arrested, interrogated on several
occasions by the state security agencies.
In 1979, Johnny became a founding member of the People’s
Revolutionary Party (PRP). The party later merged with
the People’s National Party (PNP) that won the general
elections held that year. Johnny was appointed a Member
of the PNP Central Committee.
After the overthrow of Dr. Liman’s Government Johnny
joined the PNDC and was appointed Secretary (Minister)
for the Interior from January to April 1982. Johnny held
the post for only a short period and one may surmise
that because Johnny “did not play ball” with the powers
that were on stage, he resigned. However, there is
evidence that Johnny is remembered
in the Ministry of Interior as a Minister who was
personable, at the same time very strict and instilled
some disciplines in the staff and demanded the best from
everyone. Some of the old hands in Ministry regretted he
did not stay long enough to implement his strict
policies. Johnny resigned from the PNDC in 1982 and went
back into private legal practice.
In 1992, Johnny joined the People’s Heritage Party, one
of the many Nkrumaists political parties formed when the
ban on political party activities was ultimately lifted
to usher in the Fourth Republic. During the Fourth
Republic, Johnny held various party posts in the CPP
including the Chairmanship of the Political Committee,
Member of the Central Committee, National Vice Chairman,
and a Party Policy Analyst.
Johnny was also actively involved in other activities
and held several prominent positions. He was a Founding
Member of the Peace and Solidarity Council, a Member of
the Ghana USSR Friendship Association, National Vice
Chairman of the Movement for Freedom and Justice and
Vice Chairman of the Kwame Nkrumah Revolutionary Guard.
Johnny lived his entire life as a die-hard, left-wing
politician. He was a Socialist through and through and
believed in the power of the people. He was very popular
with the rank and file of the CPP who affectionately
called him “Uncle Johnny”.
He is survived by his wife, Clarence, six daughters –
Lizzy, Peggy, Tawia, Ago, Karen and Nana Kwantema,
sixteen grandchildren – C. J,
Ryan, Kaila, Megan, Harriette, Kizzita, Gisela, Zara,
Alvin, Philip, Philippa, Kimberly, Zachary, Dakota,
Frankie and Brandon, four siblings – Nancy, Frances,
Clara and Allotey and several cousins, nephews and
nieces as well as many political and professional
friends and colleagues who will remember him.
May his soul rest in peace.