Clumsy presidential revisionism!

BY: Colin Essamuah

What accounts for the official craze for re-opening settled historical questions, renaming public structures and monuments, and generally seeking a different interpretation of the facts of our collective history since independence in 1957 by our current government? It is noteworthy that this strange effort is led by the President himself,  Nana Akufo-Addo, who was educated outside substantially.

I have sought in previous epistles to hint broadly at the reasons behind this passion which unnecessarily rends our people into warring camps at a time several electoral promises have not seen the light of day and are unlikely to. These historical revisionist efforts may be tailored to divert our attention from the pressing need to hold the government accountable or something much more is happening here with this.

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Legacy

It is very important to recognise in any ideological analysis of our past that the tradition represented by our current government has had the least opportunity to show Ghanaians their legacy in the form of infrastructure, monuments or huge public projects which outlive the specific regimes which initiated or built them. The false interpretation that the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) puts on this imbalance in the opportunities to run this country is that of military interventions. They leave out electoral defeats as in 1951, 1954, 1956, 1960, 1979, 1992 and 2008. The simplest explanation from a cursory analysis is that the capitalist NPP tradition from 1951 has been rejected by Ghanaians consistently more than their leftish social democratic opponents in our history.

On the attainment of power, therefore, either through the ballot or the gun as in 1966,  1969 and 2000, they have had nothing substantial to point at as edifices of a worthwhile legacy, hence this  fascination with renaming things after their heroes no matter how tenuous and flimsy the connections are.  Nothing stops this government from starting today to construct, for example, a world-class public university in the Eastern Region and naming  it after Dr Danquah or another one at Wenchi in Brong Ahafo and naming it after Dr Busia, both revered leaders of the NPP tradition instead of appropriating what others have built.


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Another reason

There is yet another strand of the current fascination which is curious. The last successful coup in this country was in 1981, and it was against the Nkrumaist government of President Hilla Limann led by now former President Rawlings. Nine weeks after coming to power through a coup for the second and last time, then Chairman Rawlings of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) had the opportunity to speak at the Black Star Square to commemorate our 25th anniversary as an independent nation on March 6, 1982. It was at that rally that Chairman Rawlings condemned Nkrumah as having only achieved a flag and national anthem independence for Ghana. From his vantage at the time, that was understandable because he needed to justify his coup against the Nkrumaist party he had just overthrown.

Former President Rawlings in 2018 is now an acknowledged admirer of our current President and his party who were in opposition in 1981 under the leadership of Victor Owusu. Nkrumah’s party today, the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) is a pathetic shadow of the party that defeated the historical NPP without even a single seat in Parliament now in 2018.

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President Rawlings founded a party which to all intents and purposes, has co-opted the Nkrumaist tradition he overthrew in our politics, the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC). NPP behave as if their opponents are the soldiers of the PNDC in the time of Chairman Rawlings, who as I said earlier, is now virtually a starry-eyed NPP admirer. It is really a very clumsy diversion.

A sort of purge?

Worse  is the simple well-known fact that at the time his grand-uncle Dr Danquah died in political detention in February 1965, President Akufo-Addo was a staunch Nkrumaist and

Renaming

Now to the specific suggestion that Danquah be recognised as the founder of  the University of Ghana, Legon and the place named after him after 70 odd years as the University of Ghana. Luckily for us all, the university itself commissioned an official history way back in the 1990s as part of the 50th anniversary of Legon authored by the respected historian Francis Agbodeka. Revealingly, the name of Dr Danquah appears only twice in the 380-page work fully and meticulously sourced. If there is a trove of information available to the ruling NPP not known at the time of the Agbodeka work, they must make it available at once as honest dealers in truth and not indulge in mere propaganda.

I can supply one bit of information but I will not ask for consequential orders as the lawyers will say. When Dr Danquah had to travel around the country to persuade the chiefs and people to support financially the establishment of a separate university for the then Gold Coast, his guide was Jacob Eduam Baiden, the last secretary of the defunct Joint Provincial Council of Chiefs in 1959 before its dissolution by the Nkrumah government. What must be the reward in recognition for this task? That we name Danquah himself Eduam Baiden? Baiden had earlier as the Editor of the Ashanti Pioneer, championed the restoration of the Asante Confederacy. Agbodeka records that the then Asantehene, Osei Agyeman Prempeh II, had played a yeoman’s role in the establishment of Legon. JE Baiden was my grandfather.

One last thing. It is inconceivable that past NPP national chairmen such as da Rocha, Peter Ala Adjetey, Odoi-Sykes, Esseku and Afoko would have tolerated a Hajia Fati at party headquarters to terrorise visitors and other users of the place because of her love for the party  in spite of her abject apology days ago for her atrocious conduct.

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