Police clash with protesters
Police clash with protesters

The Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day: The love and hypocrisy

The memorial day of Ghana’s founder President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, was marked on Thursday, September 21, 2023 with interesting developments.


It is, therefore, in order to wish the Osagyefo a happy birthday wherever he is now and to thank him for playing his part in Ghana’s journey so far.

To say that Ghanaians are divided over how to position Dr Nkrumah historically is to state the obvious. Those belonging to the centre-right of our political divide do not share the view that Dr Nkrumah should be designated as the founder of Ghana, a position strongly advocated and held by those belonging to the centre-left of our political divide.

In the midst of this national embarrassment, we keep stressing that a nation that does not honour its heroes is not worth dying for. Maybe the popularity of Ghana’s first President globally has shown that when destined to be great alive or dead, there is very little man can do about it.

Nkrumah’s birthday

The official position notwithstanding, the division is that Dr Nkrumah’s birthday remains nationally commemorated as a memorial day in honour of him.

To give meaning to this, the state refurbished the Kwame Nkrumah museum in Accra where his remains, together with that of his wife, Fathia, have been permanently laid to rest pending the rapture. Surely, this is good and must be commended as it gives meaning to the assertion that, a nation that honours it heroes is worth dying for.

Media reports from the Nkrumah Museum showed that many people marked the day positively. The state made revenue from the tourists which is a good way of generating revenue internally without controversies. Apart from the revenue, the occasion certainly provided many the opportunity to build rapport with others.

As sociologists would want us to believe, it was certainly a marriage market and some surely met their future life partners there. Health experts have argued that such joyous moments have a positive impact on our health and general well-being. So, beyond celebrating Dr Nkrumah, we saved money for the state through tickets sold there and the savings made from people who would have ended up eventually in the hospital due to stress.

While this should have been the ideal thing going forward, the day was not all joyful. The negative aspect of the events that unfolded on the Nkrumah Memorial Day created the impression that we are fixated on preaching what appears good and practising the exact opposite.
Many expected some form of national recognition by officialdom and that was, largely, not the case. The state did not issue any official statement leaving many who were glued to the television, radio and online sources, to hear, read or watch the news at mid-day, overly disappointed. This is something we can correct going forward since it takes nothing away from us.

Other matters arising 

Another ugly spectacle was the banter between the Ghana Police Service and organisers of the Fix the Country Movement who organised a demonstration dubbed “Occupy Jubilee House”. The question that I kept asking was whether the organisers of the disrupted demonstrations were actually lawless and whether the police were independent and responsible.

We read from the news that the police had secured an injunction to stop the demonstration. We also heard in the news that the organisers were not served the said injunction. This is where the danger lies and the earlier we tackled it, the better it is for us collectively. 

In recent years, we have been fed with news on how people treat court injunctions and bailiffs. The theoretical explanation is within the Thucydides standard of justice and power in his Peloponnesian war thesis. He asserted that the standard of justice depends on the power to compel. As such, the powerful, including the rich do what they have the power to do and the weak poor must accept what they have to. Is it the case that the police enforce the law when it is about a certain group and not the same as other groups?  But democracy does not work that way.

We must work assiduously to prevent the floodgates from spilling. Unlawful as it is, many will rightly raise questions when two people; one with the help of the police prevent a court bailiff from being served an injunction, and another hearing of an injunction, both go ahead to do what led to the legal suit. The police move to arrest one group of ‘lawless people and stay mute about another group of lawless people’. This is not too good and raises questions about the independence of the police service.

There is also a difficulty in fathoming why demonstrators and the police have difficulty in the first place. There should not be any such difficulty if we are minded about our country and our collective quest to make it better. Long live Ghana.

The writer is a Lecturer, Department of Political Science, University of Education, Winneba

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