Busts of February 28 victims

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

More often than not, when we think of national figures who have featured one way or the other in our quest for freedom, justice and independence, we focus our minds only on political bigwigs like the Big Six.

Hardly do we remember the names of the ordinary folk who fell victim to colonial oppression and through, whose actions, the catalyst for Ghana’s independence struggle was further enhanced.

The victims of the February 28 Christianborg Crossroads shooting incident in 1948 i.e. Sergeant Adjetey, Corporal Attipoe and Private Odartey Lamptey, represent the spirit and courage of about 2,000 ex-servicemen who marched off from the Polo Grounds in Accra towards the Christianborg Castle to present a petition to the British Governor at the time, Sir Gerald Creasey, on the injustices and difficult conditions prevailing in post world war Gold Coast.

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At the Christianborg junction, they met their deaths at the hands of an enraged Superintendent Colin Imray, who shot into the procession and killed the three men.

The incident sparked off widespread rioting and looting in Accra and other towns, and resulted in the appointment of the Watson Commission by the British administration to investigate the cause of the disturbances - an action that resulted in a chain of events that finally led to political freedom for the Gold Coast.

The sacrifice of the lives of these ex-servicemen, undoubtedly, was one of the factors that inflamed the passion and ambition of the political activists of the Nationalist Movement in the Gold Coast to press on for self rule from the British, which was eventually granted on  March 6, 1957.

One important way of paying tribute to our national flag bearers, apart from other considerations, is the creation of statues in their honour.

The decision to commission the installation of sculptural busts to represent and honour Sgt Adjetey, Cpl Attipoe and Pte. Odartey Lamptey at the February 28 Cenotaph in Accra, even though  late in the day, is a step in the right direction.

The Veterans Association of Ghana, under the Chairmanship of Commodore Steve Obimpeh, must be commended for their bold initiative to finance wholly from their meagre resources, the realisation of this project.

Furthermore, we cannot discount the fact that the family members of the ex-servicemen; in the persons of Mike Attipoe, Rev. Adjetey, Cornelius Adjetey and Mr Hammond; exerted enough pressure for this project to see the light of day.

Apart from the commemoration of the ex-servicemen, this project also offered an excellent opportunity and condition for artistic expressions by Ghanaian artists, namely, Kwami Gudzi Agbeko and Peter Kofi Adobor.

The focus of these two artists who executed the project was not just to render the physical images of the subjects, but also to capture their spirit in order to achieve a result of lively and breathing sculpture that should intrigue both the young and the old spectators alike.

Both artists combined their motivation, skills and creative knowledge to achieve this result.

Even though there were peculiar technical limitations in the course of executing this project, i.e. the lack of adequate photographic data of the ex-servicemen for accurate determination of their appearance, the artists tried as much as possible to get a close physical resemblance in 3D by keenly studying the, rather, scanty and faded photographs they were able to lay hands on.

However, the portrait sculptures excel not necessarily for their photographic likeness to the subjects, but more so for their spirits. They do not fade as music does as soon as it is born.

They endure and keep all the appearance of being alive, though in fact, they are confined to a static space.

Even when death has destroyed the subject it represents, a portrait sculpture preserves the spirit of the person for posterity.

Perhaps it is time for us, as a nation, to consider the immortalisation, in sculptural idiom, of illustrious persons in our society (past and present), not just political figures but personalities in sports, culture, education, private initiative and so on and so forth.

For instance, Azumah Nelson, Ephraim Amu and Kwegyir Aggrey. Sculptural representations of these personalities would not only project them publicly for the roles they played in our national aspirations, but would also preserve their spirit to inspire future generations for laudable achievements.

Article by Kwami Gudzi Agbeko

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