Wednesday, April 4, 2007
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
From King George VI to President Kufour
· Emmanuel Kofi Kumi’s experience under 12 Heads of State
KING GEORGE VI
1943 – 1952
QUEEN ELIZABETH II
1952 – 1960
OSAGYEFO DR. KWAME NKRUMAH
CONVENTION PEOPLE’S PARTY
1960 – 1966
GENERAL J.A. ANKRAH
NATIONAL LIBERATION COUNCIL (NLC)
1966 – 1969
GENERAL A.A. AFRIFA
NATIONAL LIBERATION COUNCIL (NLC)
April, 1969 –
PRESIDENT E.A. AKUFFO-ADDO
PROGRESS PARTY (PP)
1969 – 1972
GENERAL I.K. ACHEAMPONG
NATIONAL REDEMPTION COUNCIL (NRC)
1972 – 1978
GENERAL F.W.K. AKUFFO
SUPREME MILITARY COUNCIL (SMC)
1978 – 1979
PRESIDENT HILLA LIMANN
PEOPLE’S NATIONAL PARTY (PNP)
1979 – 1981
PRESIDENT J.J. RAWLINGS
1981 – 1992
1993 – 2001
PRESIDENT J.A. KUFOUR
NEW PATRIOTIC PARTY (NPP)
2001 to Date
I CAME into this world when the World War 11 was raging at its peak in Europe and the stakes were beginning to turn against Nazi Germany. The Gold Coast, then a British colony, was experiencing the effects of the war with shortages of every commodity, especially imported goods.
Thus, I learnt, palm oil was used for lighting instead of kerosene and cloth was made from locally grown and woven cotton. At that time (that is during the colonial era up to 1857) the brewing, sale and consumption of the locally brewed alcoholic drink (“Akpeteshie”) was prohibited by the colonial authorities and offenders were prosecuted and jailed. The brewing and selling of “akpeteshie” was therefore an “underground” business. However, imported alcoholic drinks such as Heinekens Schnapps and Johnnie Walker Whisky were allowed. This was probably meant to discourage local production of such goods.
In 1949, when I started the then Bremen Mission school (later to be renamed E.P Church school in 1953), there was in place a three-tier basic education system: Infant School, class 1-3; Junior School, standard 1-3, and Senior School, standard 4-7. You ended up with Hall Examination after standard 7.
In Infant School, we wore khaki shirt over khaki shorts with braces and no belts. We went to school barefoot from class 1 to standard 7 because it was a breach of school rules to wear shoes or sandals to school (which was the exclusive preserve of the teachers). The girls wore Khaki frock. We carried wooden slates to school for writing, since we only started writing with pencils into books from class 2.
In junior school, when the use of pens was introduced, it was pen holder with e.f. nib which was dipped into waterman’s or quink ink from bottles. One, therefore, needed blotting paper (a special absorbent type of paper for drying up spilled ink) in case the ink spilled on the paper.
All necessary books were available in book depots all over the country for parents to buy at the beginning of every academic year, which started from January and ended in December. We used Lacombe’s series for Arithmetic, which consisted mostly of addition, subtraction, division and multiplication.
The native language was used exclusively from class 1 to 3 and English started only in the first year in Junior School, which is class 4. We used “Oxford English Reader for African” school textbook series and learnt about John and Joan and recited “See me Lakayana with my spear which the old man gave me … … Shokolokobangoshay” etc from the class 4 book.
The month of May was usually a busy one for us because we had to practice and march on the British Empire Day. All schools converged on the senior school park and band music and stick throwing, military style, accompanied the marching. We learnt to sing first “God save our gracious King” up to 1952 when King George VI died, Queen Elizabeth 11 came in and after that:
“God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious
Long to rule over us
God save the Queen.
This was the national sung anthem every morning at assembly before marching to the classroom to start classes.
In 1952, we learnt at school that one Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in the Gold Coast had banned the celebration of Empire Day and embarked on a campaign for immediate self-government leading to independence with the new slogans and catchwords;
“Self government now”
“We prefer independence with danger to servitude in tranquility”
“Organisation decides everything”
“Seek ye the political kingdom and all other things shall be added unto it,” with the Convention People’s Party (CPP) which had earlier broken away from the elite and conservative United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) at the forefront.
In Infant school, we wore khaki shirt over
Khaki shorts with braces and no belts.
The Gold Coast then, we learnt in geography was divided into four regions: -
- Gold Coast colony comprising the present Greater Accra, Eastern, Central and Western regions. The current regions were separated in 1958.
- Ashanti Confederacy comprising the present Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions. The Brong Ahafo Region was carved out in 1959.
- Northern Territories (NTs) comprising the present Northern, Upper East and Upper West from the Upper Region during the PNDC era.
- Trans-Volta Togoland (TVT), first under the League of Nations and later transferred to the United Nations in 1946 as a Trust Territory under British mandate. The TVT was re-aligned to include the Anlo and Peki areas while the northern part of the Region, that is the northern part of Krachi and Nkwanta, were taken out and re-named the Volta Region in 1960 to disabuse the minds of the inhabitants of any links with Togo.
We learnt in History class that before 1918, when the First World War ended, Togoland, which was later shared between the British and the French, was one country under German rule. Indeed, Germany, before the First World War, had four colonies in Africa, comprising Togoland, Cameroon, Tanganyika (now Tanzania) and South West Africa (now Namibia). When Germany lost the war, the victorious allies, Britain and France, confiscated her colonies in Africa. The colonies were then given to or divided among the neighbouring rulers.
Togo was divided between the French in Dahomey (now the Republic of Benin) and the British in the Gold Coast, Cameroon between the French in Congo Brazzaville and the British in Nigeria and South West Africa and Tanganyika to the British in South Africa and Uganda respectively. The Gold Coast map hanging at the back of every classroom showed Trans-Volta Togoland (TVT) stretching from Denu through Ho-Kpeve-Krachi-Bimbila-Yendi-Saboba-Pusiga to Bawku to the farthest north.
Indeed, Anlo area, ie Keta and surrounding areas and the whole of Peki area, was then in the Gold Coast. The border was at Kpeve.
In standard 3 in 1955, we learnt that the Gold Coast was going to be independent in 1957 under Kwame Nkrumah and the CPP with a new name of Ghana. The question then arose as to what to do with the British Mandated Togoland (TVT) after independence. It was then decided to have a plebiscite (referendum) under the auspices of the UN to determine whether the inhabitants would want to re-unite with the French Togo or remain as part of the new Ghana.
Senyo Gatro Antor, Kojo Ayeke, Regina Asamany from Kpando and Rev. Ametowobla of the Togoland Congress Party Led the proponents of re-unification with the Ewe slogan “Ablodee, woatsia Togo eveawo” meaning “Freedom, the two Togos shall be re-united” and “One Togo, one government”.
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, even at that time (1955), had in mind the construction of the Volta Dam then at Ajena. The construction of the dam was going to create a lake which would inundate large areas of the then TVT, thus requiring resettlement. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, therefore, did not want to have to negotiate with a foreign government on issues of resettlement when the Volta Lake was created.
In order to educate the people on the Volta River Project, mobile cinema vans toured the country to explain the implication of the Volta Dam. These public education campaigns were always accompanied by Health and Social Education films.
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, even at that time (1955),
had in mind the construction of the Volta Dam
However, for us the children, the arrival of the cinema vans was associated with the commercial on typhoo tea (PIKI) the champion: a boxing match in which Piki was knocked down several times until his grandfather prepared typhoo tea for him and then he knocked out his opponent), which we enjoyed watching over and over again.
FOR this and other reasons such as his ambition for territorial aggrandizement, Dr Kwame Nkrumah campaigned vigorously for the unification of TVT with the independent Ghana. The stage was then set for confrontation between the CPP and the Togoland Congress.
The middle and southern part of TVT was for re-unification with French Togo, so Nkrumah concentrated his campaign in the North and promised to unite northern TVT with Northern Ghana after independence. The plebiscite took place on May 9 1956. The mid and southern TVT voted massively for re-unification and the north voted overwhelmingly to join Ghana.
On the aggregate, the unification with Ghana won the day and the south had to be made to accept the reality with some coercion. There were therefore some violent clashes between government forces and the proponents of re-unification from Alavanyo, Kpando and Ho, which resulted in the loss of lives.
The UN then decided to allow a cooling off period of 50 years (which expired in May 2006) after which the issue was to be revisited before a final determination. The Togoland Congress Party then joined the National Liberation Movement (NLM) of Ashanti to form the United Party (UP) in opposition to the CPP in parliament. Perhaps that was the genesis of the opposition stance of the people of the Volta Region in almost all subsequent governments.
THE economy of the Gold Coast in the pre-independence era was very robust and stable, with cocoa, gold and timber being the main export produce. Prices were stable over several years and I paid the same school fees, including boarding and lodging from secondary form one to five (£50 equivalent to ¢100 a year).
The currency then was the West Africa pound, which was used in the four sister colonies: The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and the Gold Coast. This Pound was equivalent to the pound sterling used in Britain and could be used to order goods directly from Britain and other Commonwealth countries. At that time we had to learn at school about pounds, shillings and pence (£, s, d). 12d=1s and 20s=£1 and 21s=1guinea. The local names for the sub-divisions of 1s were 3d=tro (where the word tro-tro originated from) 6d=teku and 9d=sempoa miensa. After independence in 1960, Dr Nkrumah introduced the Ghana Pound, which had basically the same purchasing power as the West Africa Pound but was limited to Ghana. That marked the beginning of the downward slide of the Ghana currency and the economy. The population in 1948 was 4.5 million and in the 1960 census it had increased to 6 million.
In 1954, the CPP government, under Dr Nkrumah, implemented the first major educational reforms in the Gold Coast, replacing the existent basic system with a two-tier basic education system – primary school (class 1-6) and middle school (Form 1-4), with the Middle School Leaving Certificate (MSLC) examination written at the end of it. In 1957, when I first sat for the common entrance examination, which was the nationwide selection examination to enter secondary schools then, there were only 23 government approved secondary schools in the Gold Coast; five of which were in the TVT: Mawuli School at Ho, Bishop Herman College and Kpando Day Secondary School at Kpando, Keta Day Secondary and Zion College of West Africa (ZICOWA) at Keta and one girls’ school – Ho OLA.
All secondary schools in the country had boarding or hostel facilities and one could travel from any part of the country to attend any one of them. Anyone who qualified to enter secondary school then did so solely on the basis of merit and ability without any favour or considerations whatsoever. At that time five secondary schools were first-class special schools and admitted pupils below 15 years to Form one. These were Achimota School, Accra, Adisadel College, Cape Coast, Accra Academy, St. Augustine Collage, Cape Coast and Prempeh College, Kumasi.
Nkrumah’s long struggle for independence finally paid off on the 6th of March 1957 when Ghana was declared independent from Britain and became the 81st member of the UN with Alex Quayson Sackey as Ghana’s first permanent representative to the UN General Assembly.
As a middle school boy in Form Two, I remember that independence commemorative plastic cups were distributed to school children throughout the country and we showed our appreciation by carrying them on our heads marching and singing through the main streets of Hohoe town. Vehicles were provided throughout the country to carry people free of charge to and from Accra for the celebration.
At that time, from Hohoe to Accra (about 200km) and back took about three days as the road passed through the Kpeve mountains to Anyrawasi and Tsito and the traveller had to cross the Volta River at Senchi by a pantoon and continue through Dodowa as there was no Adomi Bridge (which was opened in 1956) and Kpong-Tema road at that time.
At that time, from Hohoe to Accra (about 200km)
And back took about three days
The vehicles then were mostly mummy trucks made in Britain such as Bedford, Austin and Morris with a maximum speed of 60km/hr. The most favourate inscriptions on these Accra-bound vehicles included “Home Boy”, “TK the Boy”, “Akoi Allah”, “No Hurry in Life”, and “Home News”.
After independence we learnt the new Ghana national anthem composed by Philip Gbeho to replace the British one:
Lift high the flag of Ghana
The grey star shining in the sky
Bright with the souls of our fathers
Beneath whose shade we live and die
Red for the blood of the heroes in the fight
Green for the fruit and richness of our fatherland
And linked up is the shining golden band
That marks the richness of our fatherland.
As in 1957, when the Gold Coast gained her independence, there were only eight countries in Africa which were not under colonial rule: Liberia and Ethiopia, which had never been colonized, Egypt, Union of South Africa, Libya, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia. So when Dr. Kwame Nkrumah declared at Ghana’s independence that “The independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked up with the liberation of Africa”, he really had a task on hand.
He therefore set out to systematically support and encourage the liberation and freedom fighters in Africa such as Ahmed Ben Bella and Ferrat Abbas in the Algerian war of independence, Jomo Kenyatta and the Mau Mau movement (a militant and freedom fighters organization) in Kenya and Sekou Toure of Guinea, whom Nkrumah loaned 10 million pounds of Ghana’s money when France withdrew every facility from that country for daring to opt for independence in a referendum in 1958. Indeed, on 25th May, 1963 when the first OAU conference opened in Addis Ababa, as many as 44 independent African states were in attendance.
In 1960 there was a change in academic year from January – December to September – August mainly to make it easier to enter university in October after A-levels instead of waiting at home from December till October.
Thus we attended Form II from January to June and entered Form III in September of the same year. We, therefore, did the secondary school course in four and half years instead of five.
In that year (1960), we learnt there was going to be a referendum to determine whether Ghana should become a Republic or remain a monarchy under Britain.
Dr. Nkrumah and the CPP campaigned for a republic with Nkrumah as president while the UP campaigned to remain a monarchy but with Dr. J.B. Danquah as President if the monarchy vote won. The UP thus found its campaign message untenable.
The republic vote won and on July 1, 1960, Ghana became a Republic under the presidency of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and Queen Elizabeth II ceased to be head of State of Ghana, which then became a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Ghana was elected for the first time as one of the 10 non-permanent members of the 15-member United Nations Security Council from 1962 – 1963.
The republic vote won and on
1st July, 1960, Ghana became a Republic
The attainment of the Republican status in 1960 really gave Nkrumah and the CPP the chance to show their true colours. Kwame Nkrumah had the vision of rapid development and transformation of the agrarian economy into an industrialized one within the shortest possible time. He believed that only a socialist and a centrally planned economy could achieve his goals. Socialism became his underlying political and economic philosophy and he openly flirted with the communist giants of USSR and China.
Indeed, his favourite political suit was tailored in Chinese fashion as worn by Chairman Mao. He then embarked on massive and far-reaching development projects throughout Ghana. Indeed, the British had left a huge balance (about $200m) in Ghana’s account at independence, which was soon depleted partly on projects and also on frivolous and ambitious political undertakings. The major projects undertaken then were:
The construction of Tema Habour and a complete new township of Tema from 1962 onwards at the site of a tiny unknown fishing village.
The construction of the Volta Dam from 1962 – 1965 (which created the largest man-made lake in the world) was shifted from Ajena to Akosombo to reduce cost, since the gorge at Akosombo was narrower than that at Ajena. This paved the way for the electrification of Ghana.
The construction of the Accra-Tema motorway.
The construction of several Ghana Education Trust Secondary Schools all over the country such as Kadjebi-Asato Secondary School (KASEC), Kadjebi VR, Ghana Secondary School (GHANASS), Koforidua, Yaa Asantewa Girls, Kumasi, which were built over a very short period and were nicknamed mushroom schools. These schools were built with the same architectural designs.
The construction of an Atomic Reactor Centre for peaceful and research purposes at Kwabenya, near Accra.
Furthermore, there was a rapid Africanisation of the public sector by systematically replacing European heads with Ghanaians in schools, the public and civil services and in the Armed Forces.
The socialist inclination of the CPP and Nkrumah led to authoritarian tendencies of that regime. Nkrumah then declared Ghana a one-party state with the CPP as the only recognized party. All opposition political parties and activities were banned.
The Judiciary, Legislature and the Media were made subservient to the Executive and the party. The slogan then was “the party is supreme”. Kwame Nkrumah thus created a personality cult around himself and encouraged and enjoyed being hero-worshipped. Even his birthday, September 21, was observed as a national holiday and celebrated in a grand style as “Founder’s Day”.
In 1961, Workers Brigades (a para-military style organization) were established throughout the country to undertake large-scale state and co-operative farming. The farms were modeled on Communist style collective farms, which produced cash crops such as oil palm, tobacco, and rubber on plantations. Most of these farms turned out to be gigantic failures and thus became “jobs for the veranda boys” due to massive corruption and excessive bureaucracy in managing the farms.
In 1962, Kwame Nkrumah Young Pioneers (KNYP) was introduced in all schools throughout Ghana to inculcate socialist ideals and Nkrumaism into the youth. For the older generation, the Winneba Ideological Institute was established.
As a Young Pioneer is Secondary Form IV, we had special ideological training sessions after classes, where we were taught, among other things, slogans and jingles such as:
i. “He will make you fishers of men, fishers of men
Osagyefo, he will make you fishers of men,
If you follow him”.
ii. “Nkrumah never dies, Nkrumah is our Messiah
He lives forever more”.
iii. “Are you ready”?
“Ever ready in the course of Ghana and Africa”.
iv. “Through the bitterest struggles we always turn
By the word of Kwame Nkrumah
Fellow comrades, rise, raise the battle cry
March on the new Ghana-land”
v. “Arise, Arise, Pioneers
Be honest and don’t be lazy
We are the famous young pioneers
Save Ghana now”.
vi. “From each according to ability
To each according to need”.
vii. “The socio-economic development of one is the condition for the socio-economic development of all”.
Dr. Nkrumah’s socialist inclination and dictatorial tendencies began to earn him many enemies both in and outside Ghana. Thus, in 1962 when Nkrumah was returning from a trip from the then Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) to consult President Yameogo, he was welcomed by schoolchildren at Kulungugu, near Bawku in the present Upper East Region.
A hand-grenade was planted in a flower bouquet and given to a young schoolgirl, who was to welcome Nkrumah and thus kill him. The exploded grenade, however, only succeeded in injuring him and rather maimed and killed some innocent schoolchildren. This was the first in a series of bombs which were later to be directed at Nkrumah and his entourage.
On Thursday, January 6, 1964, there was another assassination attempt on Nkrumah’s life in which one Sgt. Ametepe, a police body-guard to Nkrumah, was enticed to kill him one afternoon at the Flagstaff House. After firing several shots at close range and missing, Nkrumah is alleged to have overpowered him and pinned him to the ground. Rumours had it that Nkrumah later fed him to his lions at the zoo in the Flagstaff House.
Later on, some bomb throwers like Mallam Mama Toula, Ansaba Kweku and Teiko Tagoe were arrested at their hideout at Bawaleshie, near Dodowa and tried in the famous treason trial of that time. The opposition UP was perceived to be behind the bomb throwing.
Nkrumah responded to this threat by getting Parliament to pass the Preventive Detention Act (PDA), which allowed the perceived enemies of the state to be detained for unspecified periods without charges or trial. The PDA was so dreadful that people in high positions would not take their lunch until after the one o’clock news when the names of those to be detained were usually announced.
The Nsawam Medium Security Prison was specially constructed for that purpose. At first, leading political opponents like J.B. Danquah, and Obetsebi Lamptey were detained and left to die in detention. Later on, even leading CPP doubtfuls like Tawiah Adamafio, Kofi Crabbe and Ako Adjei were also detained. Those opposition members like Dr. K.A. Busia and CPP doubtfuls like K.A. Gbedemah, who had the chance, escaped into exile in Britain.
The development of sports in the immediate post-independent Ghana saw tremendous advancement. To showcase Ghana in Africa and the world, Nkrumah ensured that sports, especially soccer was given prime of place in the nation’s development efforts.
Mr. Ohene Djan, who was then the Director of Sports, was given all the power and the necessary resources to ensure that Ghana football was on top in Africa and he excelled. In 1960, when the Ghana National Team (Black Stars) was invited to play against Nigeria in Lagos on the occasion of their independence, Ghana won by 7 – 0. In 1964 when Black Stars played Malawi (then Nyasaland) at their independence celebration, Ghana won by 12 – 1.
In 1962, the Black Pool, a first division football club from Britain, was invited to play the Black Stars in Accra and they were beaten 5 – 1 by the Stars.
Mr. Ohene Djan was given the
necessary resources to ensure that
Ghana Football was on top in Africa
At that time, the Black Stars team members were kept together for such a long time that it was possible to know the names of all players at any time: Dodoo Ankrah (nicknamed “magic hands”) in goal, Wilberforce Mfum, Edward Acquah, George Crentsil, Addoquaye Laryea, Baba Yara (the best left-out Ghana has ever produced, who got injured in an accident at Kpeve in 1963 when the Real Republikans Football Club was returning from a match against Volta Heroes, formerly Kpando Mulpo team) and C.K. Gyamfi, the captain.
It was, however, not only football which was given prime of place; Ghana produced some of the greatest boxers during Nkrumah’s time; Eddie Blay, Floyd Robbertson and Roy Ankrah, all of whom won great laurels for Ghana.
The Post-Republic era also saw Nkrumah more and more devoted to Pan-Africanism to the detriment of Ghana’s economy. The radicals in African leadership such as Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Patrice Lumumba of Belgian Congo, Gamel Nasser of Egypt, whose relation Madam Fathia, Kwame Nkrumah married in 1960, Sekou Toure of Guinea, Nelson Mandela of South Africa and the Pan-Africanists like W.E.Du Bois, Maldom X, George Padmore and Cassius Clay (later Mohammed Ali), all came to consult with Nkrumah in Accra.
Ghana thus became the “Mecca” of freedom fighters in Africa and the Diaspora. Nkrumah even formed a special union of Ghana – Guinea – Mali as the nucleus of Africa Unity in 1962. Indeed Patrice Lumumba on his way back from the Soviet Union (then under Nikita Khrushchev) to Belgain Congo when rebellious forces led by Joseph Desire Moboutu, later Moboutu Sese Sekou, arrested and murdered him in 1961.
Nkrumah then made a passionate moving speech in one of his famous dawn broadcasts published in the “Daily Graphic” which I learnt by-heart:
Good morning, fellow Ghanaians,
Somewhere in Kantanga in the Congo
Where and when we do not know
Three of our brother freedom fighters
Have been done to death.
There have been killed Patrice Lumumba, Prime Minister of the Republic of Congo, Maurice Mpolo, Minister in his government and Joseph Okito, Vice-President of the Congolese senate. About their end many things are uncertain.
One fact is, however, crystal clear. They have been killed because the United Nations, which Patrice Lumumba, himself as Prime Minister, had invited to the Congo to maintain law and order, not only failed to maintain that law and order but also denied the lawful government of the Congo all other means of self-protection. History records many occasions when rulers of States have been done to death.
The murder of Patrice Lumumba and his colleagues is however unique in that this is the first time in History that the legal ruler of a State had been done to death with the open connivance of a world organization in whom that leader put his trust.
Here are the facts: “Soon after independence, the Congolese army mutinied. Patrice Lumumba and his colleagues had to secure outside support, if they were to maintain the legal structure of the State…” and so on for over one and half hours.
Ghana was among the first countries to contribute troops to the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces, in the Belgain Congo under Dr. Dag Hammarsjoeld, a Norwegian, the UN Secretary General at that time. Dag was perceived to be biased and thus presumed responsible for Lumumba’s death with the connivance of the West. He himself was killed in a plane crash at Entebbe Airport in Uganda in 1962.
We in the Young Pioneer Movement were made to learn and sing at the beginning of every Young Pioneer meeting session: “Africa shall never forgive this brutal murder of their son:
By the vile hands of the oppressors
Lumumba is not no more
Lumumba, Lumumba, may his soul rest forever”.
On January 13, 1963, the first post-independence coup d’etat in Africa south of the Sahara took place in Togo and was led by Sergeant Etienne Eyadema (late Ngnasingbe Eyadema) resulting in the overthrow of the first post-independence government and the brutal murder of the fist President, Sylvanus Olympio.
Ghana closed its borders with Togo and those Togolese students in our middle and secondary schools (and there were many in those days) got stranded. Nkrumah’s fee-free basic education and open-door policy allowed our neighbouring countries to send their students to school in Ghana. Thus, many Togolese attended school here, in the Volta Region.
Then in 1965, there was a second change of currency in Ghana after independence, this time from the pound (£) to the Ghana cedis. Since 240 pence made one pound, it was decided to use 100 pesewas as the main unit of cedis (100p = ¢1).
One cedi was, therefore equivalent to 8s:4d of the old money. This changeover was not convenient, especially when reckoning from pounds to cedis. All the new currency bore the effigy of Dr. Nkrumah instead of the Queen.
Also in 1965, Dr. Nkrumah hosted the first OAU Conference of African Heads of State in Ghana. Towards this event, Nkrumah constructed the State house Complex in Accra, which now holds the Parliament House, and the Peduase Lodge, near Aburi. The accommodation facilities for the Heads of State were provided in Job 600, so called because it was the 600th works undertaken by the State Construction Corporation (SCC).
Around 1961, America got entangled in an ideological and political supremacy war in Vietnam. The country was then divided into North and South Vietnam. The North was under Ho-Chi-Mihn, supported by the Soviet Union and China, the South under Nguyen-Kao-Ky supported by the United States. It was a bloody and long-drawn out war, with both sides claiming victory in the battles.
In January 1966, the second bloody coup in Africa occurred in Nigeria with the overthrow of Tafawa Balewa’s government by young military officers led by Agoynsi Ironsi from Eastern Nigeria. Balewa was brutally murdered in that coup, which eventually led to the Biafran civil war and Nkrumah made a speech stating that Tafawa Belewa was a victim of circumstances he did not understand. Nkrumah regarded Nigeria and Balewa’s government as conservative, reactionary, and counter-revolutionary.
On 22nd February, 1966, Nkrumah left Accra on a self-appointed peace mission to Hanoi, North Vietnam, via Peking, (now Beijing) China (then under Chairman Mao Ze Dong) to mediate in the war between North and South Vietnam.
On 24th February, while at Peking, he was overthrown in a military coup back home in Ghana. Dr. Nkrumah, no longer trusting the regular army, had set up his own special Presidential Guards of elite soldiers housed in the barracks opposite the Flagstaff House, his residence.
Nkrumah’s security and intelligence apparatus was such that it was impossible to strike from Accra. When Nkrumah left Accra on Tuesday, February 22, one Lt. Col. Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka, then in charge of Tamale garrison, and his Adjutant, Major Akwasi Amankwa Afrifa, moved troops under them from Tamale to Accra on the pretext of going for a military exercise code-named “Operation Cold Chop”.
The journey took two days since they moved only under cover of night and avoided the road during the day. Thus, early in the morning of Thursday, February 24, 1966, Ghana was awakened by the radio announcement:
Dr. Nkrumah, no longer trusting
The regular army, had set up his own
Special Presidential Guards of elite soldiers.
“Good morning, Fellow Ghanaians, I have come to inform you that the Military, in co-operation with the Ghana Police have taken over the Government of Ghana today.
The myth surrounding Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and the CPP is finally broken. The government of Kwame Nkrumah has been overthrown and the CPP banned. It is now an offence to belong to the CPP or to openly display any effigy of Nkrumah or the CPP. All Ministers and party functionaries are to report to the nearest police station for their own protection….” Thus, as the top CPP hierarchies were being sent into detention, those detained under Nkrumah were being released.
This announcement met with open and spontaneous jubilation throughout the country and at Kpando, where I was at the time, one could hear shouts of joy throughout the town.
Later in the day, rumours started circulating that the coup announcement was a ploy to identify those who were against Nkrumah. The whole place went dead and people rushed indoors to avoid being identified and arrested. But later in the day, it was confirmed that the coup was real and the jubilation resumed.
Even the Kpando Borborbor, which was Nkrumah’s adopted music band, played to jubilate that evening. Indeed, Nkrumah and the CPP top hierarchy did not seem to appreciate how much they had alienated the Ghanaian populace from their government. The hardships people were enduring with shortages and rising prices of essential commodities were lost on the government and top party functionaries.
The PDA, the Young Pioneers and a host of informants ensured that there was no open dissent or complaints for the people.
Thus, the growing discontent in the country was lost on Nkrumah and the CPP Dr. Nkrumah therefore, received the news of the coup with disbelief and expected the people to rise up against the coup makers, but this was not to happen.
Nkrumah then aborted his trip and returned with his entourage first to Addis Ababa’s OAU Conference, where there was some confrontation with the “De Facto” NLC delegation and Nkrumah’s “De jure” delegation, which was rejected.
He then returned with his entourage to Conakry, Guinea, where he lived with Sekou Toure and was made a Co-Head of State until he fell ill and was sent to Bucharest, Romania, for treatment, where he died on April 27, 1972 at the age of 62. He was born at Nkroful in the Western Region on September 21, 1909.
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was as controversial in death as in life. The NRC Government in power at that time did attempt to get the Guinea Government to release Nkrumah’s remains for burial in Ghana.
However, Sekou Toure imposed conditions for the return of the body which were unacceptable to the NRC Government and so he was first buried in Conakry, Guinea.
However, later after further negotiations by the NRC Government, the body was released to Ghana and after a fitting state funeral in Accra, the body was conveyed to and buried at his home town, Nkroful. The body was again moved from Nkroful during the PNDC era in the late 1980’s and reburied in the mausoleum at the present site at Accra Old Polo Grounds where Nkrumah declared Ghana’s Independence on March 6, 1957.
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was as
Controversial in death as in life
The coming into power of the National Liberation Council (NLC), first under Lt. General J.A. Ankrah (a retired military officer who was invited back by the coup makers to head the new government) ironically brought a feeling of freedom and relief to Ghanaians.
The membership of the NLC consisted of Major A.A. Afrifa, Mr. B.A. Jakubu, Brig. A.K. Ocran, Mr. W.K. Harley, Col. E.K. Kotoka, Mr. A.K. Deku and Mr. J.E.O. Nunoo. There was no curfew following the coup and life went on quite normally. The period immediately after the NLC came to power was devoted to destroying Nkrumah’s image and personality and the newspapers were full of cartoons denigrating Nkrumah and the CPP, such as Nkrumah’s alleged dealings with “Kankan Nyame”, a fetish in Guinea.
The third major change in the currency occurred in 1967 when the NLC Government changed the value of the cedis from 8s and 4d to 10 shillings (so that ¢2 = £1) mainly to make the reckoning from cedi to the pound easier. However, this change-over resulted in 20 per cent loss of value to the New Cedi, which is supposed to be the same value of the cedi used today.
In 1964 the black and TV was introduced into Ghana and in 1966 as a student in Legon, I saw and watched TV for the first time in my life.
The most popular programme then for us students was “The Saint”, a detective film starred by Simon Templar and shown on Saturday evenings. Colour TV finally get introduced in Ghana in 1986 and first aired during Prince Charles wedding to Princess Diana in England.
On April 17, 1967, the first major upheaval under the NLC took place. One Lt. S.B. Arthur, then temporarily in charge of the Ho Recce Regiment, and his assistants, Lt. Yeboah and 2nd Lt. Osei-Poku, moved the troops under them from Ho to Accra and succeeded in announcing from the Broadcasting House in Accra the overthrow of the NLC Government. The coup was eventually foiled that evening and the leaders arrested. Lt. Arthur and Lt. Yeboah were executed and Lt. Osei-Poku imprisoned after trial by a military tribunal. However, Maj. Gen. E.K. Kotoka, at that time the Commissioner for Health, was captured by the coup makers from his residence at Flagstaff House and executed at a spot near the Accra International Airport, which is now named after him. The Recce Regiment was consequently disbanded and replaced with the present Medium Mortar Regiment.
Later on in 1968, there was a corruption scandal involving Gen. Ankrah and he was forced to resign and Lt. Gen. A.A. Afrifa took over as Chairman of the NLC and Head of State of Ghana. There was then growing agitation to return the country to constitutional rule.
The ban on party politics was, therefore, lifted in 1968 and the political parties which were formed then were: Progress Party (PP), led by Prof. Kofi Abrefa Busia; National Alliance of Liberals (NAL). Led by Komla Agbeli Gbedemah; United National Party (UNP), led by Joe Appiah, a Kumasi-based lawyer, and so on. The NAL campaign slogan was “Say it loud, I am NAL and proud”, the PP one was “PP party papa” and the UNP one was “abaa base”.
The PP won the election and the Second Republic was inaugurated in October 1969 with Busia as Prime Minister and Mr. Edward Akuffo-Addo, a former Chief Justice and one of the big six, as President.
The typical Ghanaian sense of humour was such that the mini club beer which was introduced to the market at that time in a very short bottle was popularly referred to as “Akuff”.
Thus one went to a beer bar and asked for two bottles of Akuff and the bar attendant understood and served the mini-club. President Akuffo-Addo himself was a very short, fat and pot-bellied man.
In the Second Republican Parliament, all the 16 seats from the Volta Region were won by NAL and therefore were all in the opposition. At that time all Ministers of State were to come from Parliament according to the constitution, so no Minister came from the Volta Region.
On Sunday, August 4, 1974 the NRC Government effected
the change-over of driving on the left hand side of the
road to driving on the right hand side
The Busia Government paid great attention to rural development with A.A. Munufie as the Minister for Rural Development. S.G. Antor, whose Togoland Congress Party had joined the NLM during Nkrumah’s rule to form the UP under Prof. Busia, was rewarded and made Ghana’s ambassador to Togo. In the early 1970s, the economy of Ghana was so buoyant that the cedi was almost equivalent to the U.S. Dollar.
With the objective of ensuring that Ghanaians captured the “commanding heights of the economy” the P.P. Government in 1970 introduced the Aliens’ Compliance Order under which all foreigners in Ghana without valid resident permits were to be repatriated. Over the years, before independence, neighbouring West African nationals came to settle and work in the mines, farms and commercial sector of the economy.
Thus, in the Volta Region, the Kabre tribe from Togo was synonymous with cocoa farm labour, Nigerians, particularly the Yoruba and Ibo, were in retail and petty trade in every nook and cranny of the Gold Coast.
The Creoles from Liberia were mainly cooks to expatriate Whites whiles the Lebanese, Syrians and Indians owned major trading shops such as Glamour, Chandirams, and S.D. Karams.
The major European shops in the country at that time were the UAC, UTC, John Holt Bartholomew, Kingsway, and G.B. Olivant, which traded in imported items from Britain. The forced and hurried departure of millions of these aliens within a short period of three months had serious repercussions on the economy and social life in Ghana for a long time through the sudden vacuum created.
On January 13, 1972 while Prof. Busia (who was diabetic and needed treatment for his failing eyesight) was on a medical trip to Britain, Col. Ignatius Kutu Acheampong announced the overthrow of the P.P. Government citing the mismanagement of the economy as the excuse.
In the coup announcement, he stated among other things, “Even the few amenities and facilities that we the Armed forces and the Police enjoyed under Nkrumah’s Government have been taken away from us by the Busia Government”.
Thus the impression and message were given that the coup was essentially to satisfy the soldiers and restore their amenities. There was no immediate spontaneous acceptance or jubilation at the coup announcement.
Indeed, the whole country was quiet and people discussed the event among themselves in small groups. However, on the third day the new government announced that the students’ loan scheme and the 30 per cent devaluation of the cedis in 1972 Budget introduced by the P.P. Government were to be withdrawn.
Students then took to the streets to demonstrate in support of the coup. Gradually the coup gained countrywide acceptance. We later on heard that Major Selormey and Colonel Agbo were the brains behind the coup. The coup makers then announced the formation of the government of the National Redemption Council (NRC) headed by Col. Acheampong.
On Sunday, August 4, 1974, the N.R.C. Government effected the change-over of driving on the left hand side of the road (inherited from the Britain) to driving on the right hand side, which was popularized with the jungle “Nifa, Nifa Naanyi”, mainly to conform to our neighbouring French countries. It was largely a successful exercise.
The first few years of the N.R.C. regime saw some progress and economic improvement in Ghana. The “operation feed yourself” (OFY) programme, under which every household was encouraged to undertake backyard farming to supplement the family budget, was introduced in 1974 and was largely successful.
Under this programme, large-scale irrigation projects under which rice and vegetable farming were undertaken on large scale were established in Northern Ghana. Agricultural inputs, mainly chemical fertilizers and agro-chemicals, were made readily available at subsidized prices and affordable under this programme. But, unfortunately, this initial success could not be sustained.
The NRC’s inability to sustain success in the economy was due mainly to internal corruption and partly to external factors such as the sudden and unprecedented increase in petroleum prices.
In October, 1973, the Arab-Israeli war (referred to as the “Yom Kippur” war) resulted in the withholding of crude oil exports from the Middle East by the Arab States to the international market and the formation of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Consequently, the price of crude oil went up from $6 to $11 a barrel on the world market.
This resulted in hiking of expump petrol price in Ghana from 70 pesewas (¢0.70) to one cedi 20 pesewas (¢1.20) a gallon, an increase of 72 per cent overnight. The NRC Government found itself incapable of dealing appropriately with this economic situation and thus started the spiraling down of the economy. It is, therefore, interesting to note that over the past 30 years or so, the price of petrol in Ghana has gone up from less than ¢2.00 to over ¢40,000.00 per gallon, an increase of about 2 million per cent (2,000,000 per cent).
The economy, therefore, began to falter and scatter from 1976 onwards mainly due to corruption and mismanagement.
Furthermore, by 1977, natural events, such as two successive years of draught, had brought the economy to near collapse. Inflation rate was at an all time high of over 50 per cent annum. Shortages of essential commodities (sugar, soap, milk and fuel etc.) led to high prices and this was countered by Government imposed price controls.
The open (black) market prices by which
Goods were secretly sold above control
Prices were nicknamed “KALABULE”
The clever Ghanaian response to this economic situation was to introduce parallel (open) market prices as against government control prices in the currency and commodity market. The open (black) market prices by which goods were secretly sold above control prices were nicknamed “KALABULE” or “KALA’ for short.
The government instead of addressing the underlying economic factors, devoted its energy and attention to fighting the “kalabule” and the traders. This led to more severe shortages of commodities and worse trade malpractices. The chit system introduced to regulate the sale of essential commodities turned out to be the source of worse trade malpractices and “kalabule”.
All sectors of the economy declined as corruption became the norm in doing all kinds of business. In 1977, as the drought worsened, food prices skyrocketed and there was general discontent and widespread complaint in the country. Gen. Acheampong then declared openly to the effect that he was not God to make rain with his famous Akan statement “Meye Nyame na mama nsuo ato”?
When university students were brutalized by soldiers for protesting and they boycotted lectures, the head of state again declared at a rally in Ashanti; “Parents tell your children; if they say they won’t attend school, I myself did not attend school much, so we shall all be equal. I don’t care”. That was the real turning point in the decline in our educational standards and infrastructure.
One major achievement of this period, however, was the construction of the Kpong Hydro-electric dam (1974 – 1976) to augment the power supply from the Volta Dam in the country.
By 1978, when the economic and general living conditions in Ghana had deteriorated so much that people began to agitate openly for a return to constitutional rule, the NRC Government came out with the counter-proposal of a “UNION GOVERNMENT” by which the Army, Civilians and Police were to choose representatives to form a government of national unity and to forget about party politics and elected government for good.
This proposal, though unpopular, was to be forced on Ghanaians. It was, therefore, decided around the middle of 1978 to hold a referendum to decide on the acceptability or otherwise of the unigov concept.
The Political History of the period 1979 – 1981 may be summed up as follows:
- 1979 – Overthrow of SMC Government under General Akuffo by the Ghana Armed Forces led by Ft. Lt. J.J. Rawlings which set up the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC). The AFRC handed over power to the civilian Regime under Dr. Hilla Limann. On 31 December 1981, Ft. Lt. J.J. Rawlings overthrew the Limann Government and set up the P.N.D.C., a Revolutionary Regime.
The PDCs and WDCs, later renamed Committees for the Defence of the Revolution (CDR), were supposedly voluntary organizations formed to defend the “revolution” but they soon arrogated to themselves powers and authority beyond their limit and became a threat and a nuisance. They set up their own courts to try offenders and imposed unreasonable penalties. Time with the PDC/WDC preceded all radio news broadcasts with the jingle:
“Ghana people, make you wake up
Make we flight for our right
We no go sit down make them cheat we everyday
Dabi da, we no go sit down, make them cheat us everyday
Gbedeo! We no go sis down, make them cheat us everyday
Walahi, We no go sit down, make them cheat us every!
Once again, the Ghanaian sense of humour quickly came into play as the articulated trucks which became the main and popular means of carrying people over long distances (say from Accra to Kumasi), were referred to as “we – no – go – sit – down” since passengers had to remain standing in the vehicles throughout the journey. There was at that time severe shortage of public transport, since fuel was in very short supply and there were long queues of travelers at lorry parks and transport yards.
The period from January 1982 to about 1987 destroyed nightlife and entertainment in Ghana and most business simply folded up or collapsed due to the economic stagnation and the long period of the curfew. Soldiers were found everywhere – in the markets, in the shops, streets, and filling stations and on the highways – supposedly controlling prices but in actual fact doing their own thing i.e. cheating, brutalizing people and confiscating properties unduly.
The Citizen’s Vetting Committees (CVC) were set up all over the country to vet citizens who had more then ¢50,000 in their bank accounts as at December 31 1981 or those who were perceived to be rich unfairly. The banks were, therefore, requested to submit the lists of all customers who fell into that category to the CVC
The foreign banks, however, did not comply on ethical grounds. This measure really resulted in the loss of confidence in the banking system in Ghana for a very long time. Many people lost their properties and even lives to such committee. Ghana was polarized and divided between citizens and people. We, therefore, had the people’s shops (which turned out to be a failed attempt at enforcing price controls) people’s courts (manned by cadres, which handed down draconian sentences to perceived enemies of the revolution), the People’s Daily Graphic and citizens vetting committees.
In 1983, there was severe drought throughout Ghana. Crops failed and famine ensued in the country and was very severe in the north. Around that time Nigeria expelled all foreigners without valid resident permits (Ghana style under Busia in 1970) and many Ghanaians were repatriated as returnees to Ghana. Bush fires raged endlessly throughout Ghana and I once traveled from Sunyani to Hohoe and saw bush fires burning along the entire route.
The Nigerian returnees nicknamed Ghana “Ogyakrom”, meaning “fire town”, and this was true in many respects. People who grew lean and emaciated due to the hunger were jokingly referred to as wearing “Rawlings chain”. Some people even starved to death in some parts of the country, especially the north. The same could be said of inmates of the country’s prisons.
Early in 1986, a young Ghanaian lady resident in the then West Germany was diagnosed to be HIV positive and repatriated to Ghana. That was the first case of HIV/AIDS in Ghana. Before then in 1981 we read in the Daily Graphic that a strange disease found among homosexuals and drug addict in the United States was resisting all cure and people were avoiding such people. The disease was said to have made the victims lose weight and eventually die.
It was known as the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). For a long period this disease was known to be found only in the West. Then after the first case came to Ghana it spread rapidly throughout the world and transformed from homosexuals to heterosexuals. It is found to be transmitted mainly through sex and blood to blood contact.
However, sometime in the latter part of 1980s, one Okomfo Nana Drobo, a fetish priest and herbalist of the Drobo Shrine, near Berekum in Brong Ahafo Region, claimed to have discovered a cure for HIV/AIDS.
Indeed, some patients almost dying and bed-ridden from HIV/AIDS were brought to him from as far away as Ivory Coast and after his treatment, they saw considerable improvement in their condition.
Those bed-ridden regained their strength enough to be able to walk. Nana Drobo claimed he used only herbs and native medicine for his treatment. This feat attracted interest both in Ghana and the outside world but the scientific world rejected his claim outright on the basis that even though the virus might have been suppressed, it was not eliminated entirely from the body.
His discovery, therefore, might be likened to the Anti-Retroviral drugs, which came on the scene much later on. Nana Drobo was later shot and killed allegedly by his private secretary under very strange and bizarre circumstances in 1993. This case was never resolved. A cure for the pandemic is still, therefore, yet to be discovered.
On Sunday, June 19, 1983, the most serious attempt at toppling the PNDC regime took place undertaken by some dissident soldiers led by Carlos Halidu Gyiwa and other former Rawlings’s allies who had fallen out of favour and gone into exile in Togo.
… On Sunday, June 19, 1983, the
most serious attempt at toppling the
PNDC regime took place
Gyiwa and his accomplices proceeded to storm the Usher Fort, James Fort and Nsawam prisons and freed the prisoners and then together went as far as to the Broadcasting house, where they made a coup announcement over throwing the PNDC, before Maj. Courage Quashigah gathered some loyalist troops behind him and fought his way to the Broadcasting House to foil the coup attempt.
Those who were found to have jubilated at the coup announcement were branded enemies of the revolution and severely dealt with. The dusk to dawn (6p.m. to 6a.m.) curfew was then brought back for several months.
Between 1982 and 1992 there were several reshuffles and replacement of the members of the PNDC. In the end, it was only the Leader and Chairman, Ft. Lt. J.J. Rawlings who remained a member of the PNDC throughout.
The culture of silence, as the absence of freedom of speech and the press was then known, ensured that there was no open dissenting voice in Ghana. Those who dared challenge the system were deemed to be enemies of the revolution and drastically dealt with. However, by 1987/1988 the economic stagnation, social and physical deprivation in the country had reached such unacceptable level that agitations to return the country to civilian rule, championed by Prof. Adu Boahen, the Ghana Bar Association and the private media, became common and openly made.
The PNDC Government reacted by introducing the Decentralisation and the District Assembly concept. By this, greater political, administrative and economic powers were to be ceded to the districts and were to be headed by District Secretaries, who were political appointees later renamed District Executives instead of District Administrative Officers, who were technocrats.
As a way of disapproval, some people disdainfully
Referred to the J.S.S. as Jerry’s Stupid Schools
This was supposed to be the first step in returning the country to constitutional rule.
In 1987, the third major educational reforms in Ghana were effected by the PNDC. A two-tier basic educational system comprising basic school, i.e. class 1-6 and Junior Secondary School Form 1 – 3, was introduced.
Thus, instead of 10 years, basic education was reduced to nine years with the B.E.C.E. Examination at the end of it.
Secondary education duration was, however, reduced form seven years to three years after which students could enter tertiary institutions. The results of the first SSSCE in 1988 after the change-over was, therefore, very appalling with a very high failure rate. The public education and preparation towards the change-over was rushed and not adequate enough and in spite of general misgivings the government persisted, thus making the JSS/SSS system to survive. As a way of disapproval, some people disdainfully referred to the JSS as Jerry’s Stupid Schools.
In 1991, the ban on party political activities was finally lifted mainly as a result of persistent and popular agitation championed by Prof. Adu-Boahen. Public fora were then organized throughout the country to solicit and elicit suggestions and ideas from the public on the form and manner the new constitution should take. After that, a Constituent Assembly was composed of people from all walks of life to draft a constitution which was subjected to a referendum before final approval in 1992.
Several political parties then emerged: First the Eagle Party which had to be renamed the National Democratic Congress (NDC) because of popular objection to the eagle, which is a national symbol.
Other parties which emerged were the New Patriotic Party (NPP) led by Prof. Adu Boahen, the People’s National Convention (PNC) led by Dr. Edward Mahama, the people’s Convention Party (PCP), led by Ekow Nkensen Arkaah, who became the running mate of Rawlings, because his party aligned itself with the NDC, People’s Heritage Party (PHP) led by Gen. Erskine, the National Independent Party (NIP) led by Kwabena Darko, a large-scale and prosperous Kumasi-based poultry farmer, whom Rawlings disdainfully referred to as “akoko Darko” and so on.
Fl. Lt. Rawlings then transformed the PNDC into the NDC and became the founder and leader. There was the general perception that having ruled the country for over 10 years, Rawlings should have stepped down and left the scene altogether and thus create a level playing field for the other political parties and personalities to contest the election.
This was not heeded and in December 1992 the election took place. First there was the presidential election to be followed by parliamentary. The NDC won the presidential election so massively that the other parties, led by the NPP, alleged fraud and termed it the “stolen verdict” and, therefore, decided to boycott the parliamentary elections. The parliamentary elections went ahead anyway and so the first Parliament of the Fourth Republic was inaugurated on January 7, 1993 under President J.J. Rawlings and NDC Government without the opposition parties in Parliament. Consequently, the system was amended to have a simultaneous presidential, and parliamentary elections in subsequent polls.
One fact worth mentioning about J.J. Rawlings is that, for the first time, a military leader of a government kept his rank on taking over power and maintained it throughout his rule without promoting himself unlike earlier coup makers such as Acheampong and Afrifa who promoted themselves to Generals within a few years.
This is so because that was one of the promises Rawlings made and kept throughout his rule. The other promise was to offer himself to face the firing squad if he failed the nation and that one is there for all to verify and ascertain.
In January 1993 the Fourth Republic was inaugurated under NDC Government with Rawlings as President and Mr. Kow Nkensen Arkaah as Vice President. This did not bring any drastic changes in the political and social life of Ghana, since the emphasis then was on continuity. With the change-over, most of the top hierarchy and influential members of the PNDC era – Kojo Tsikata, P.V. Obeng, Alhaji Iddrisu Mahamah, Owusu Acheampong, Kwesi Botchway, Obed Asamoah and Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings – were retained in different capacities.
The change-over to constitutional rule, however, brought greater freedom of speech, association and movement to Ghana. However, there were still some remnants of autocratic rule.
Thus, even though the constitution guaranteed freedom of speech and expression, when Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby established the first FM Station (Radio Eye) in Accra in 1995 it was forcibly closed down by the state apparatus and the equipment confiscated.
Wereko Brobbey was referred to as Tarzan for establishing a radio station without permit. However, soon after that, a lot more permits were granted and FM stations became proliferated throughout the country.
Another aspect of the change to constitutional rule was the recognition and acceptance of Ghana into the committee of democratic nations of the world. This might probably have contributed in no mean way to the election of Mr. Kofi Annan, a Ghanaian, to the highest international civil post – the Secretary General of the UNO in 1997. He discharged himself so well at his post that his mandate was renewed in 2001. His second and final term expired at the end of 2006.
With the greater degree of freedom enjoyed in the country under the Fourth Republic, there was rapid improvement in the economy and shortages and queues for commodities became a thing of the past. Thus, instead of price controls and State intervention in the market situation under the PNDC, the NDC rule allowed for the open market system.
Indeed in 1996, the exchange rate of the cedi
was about ¢1,200 to the dollar but the cedi
depreciated to about ¢7,000 to the dollar in 2000
The cedi was allowed a free fall to determine its own market value and this resulted in high inflation rate and rapid devaluation of the cedi. Indeed, in 1996, the exchange rate of the cedi was about ¢1,200 to the dollar but the cedi depreciated to about ¢7,000 to the dollar in 2000, over 500 per cent depreciation.
Mr. Kwame Peprah, the then Minister of Finance at the helm of the government economic team, did not appear to be in full control of the economy, since all kinds of abuses went on unchecked in the financial market, especially in the “forex bureau” and the Pyram Banking System, which exploited the gullible. The loss of confidence in the free falling cedi did have considerable adverse effect on the economy as productivity suffered.
SINCE the Fourth Republican constitution allowed for only two four-year terms for the President, which Rawlings won in 1992 and 1996, the scheduled 2000 general election was to be very crucial for the country.
The decision of President Rawlings to impose Prof. Atta Mills as presidential candidate on the NDC by the famous Swedru Declaration did much to undermine the cohesion in the NDC and considerably weakened the party.
Also, in 2000 there was a rapid increase in the price of crude oil on the world market and at the same time there was drastic fall in the price of cocoa and gold. Furthermore, the general mismanagement in the economy brought about discontent and economic hardship in the country. The NPP, the main opposition ·political party, took advantage of this situation and stepped up its campaign throughout the country with the messages "Hwe woasetena na to aba pa" meaning "Look at your lifestyle and vote accordingly" and “Positive Change”.
With the almost 20-year rule of PNDC/NDC
and the economic hardships, Ghanaians
were ready for a change in political direction.
With the almost 20-year rule of PNDC/NDC and the economic hardships, Ghanaians were ready for a change in political direction. The elections of December 7, 2000 saw the NPP winning an indecisive victory, which then had to go for the second round. On December 28, the second round voting saw the NPP winning the elections marginally with over 56% of the votes for the NPP Presidential Candidate, J.A. Kufuor. The second parliament of the Fourth Republic was thus inaugurated on January 7, 2001 under President Kufuor and the NPP government.
This change of government was very significant to Ghana and Africa as a whole; for, this was the first time in post colonial Africa that a government had been changed peacefully through the ballot box. Later on, several other African countries were to follow this lead by Ghana - Republic of Benin, Zambia, Tanzania and Malawi, etc.
The incoming NPP government and the Kufuor administration faced a great deal of economic problems. There was a high inflation rate of over 45% p.a. and a very high over-hang of foreign debt. The nation's debt repayment ratio was unsustainable.
One of the first major decisions of the new government, therefore, was to avail itself of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative by which Ghana openly declared herself broke and unable to service her debts.
Once more, the Ghanaian sense of humour and sarcasm came into playas the junction to President Kufuor's private residence near the Tetteh Quarshie Interchange in Accra was nicknamed and popularly referred to as "HIPC Junction".
Some conditions were imposed by the creditor nations and institutions and after some initial hardships Ghana passed on to the completion stage successfully. This resulted in the cancellation or rescheduling of huge amounts of Ghana's foreign debts by her donors and partners'. The economy regained much of its resilience and by 2003 inflation had gone down to below 20 per cent and the cedi largely stabilised.
One major action taken by the NPP government on assumption of office was to set up the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) in 2003 under the Chairmanship of Justice Amoah Sekyi, a Supreme Court judge, by which the injustices and human rights violations under all the previous military regimes were investigated and brought out to the open. All sections of the public who· suffered injustices and abuses under the military regimes were invited to state their cases before the commission.
Indeed, many harrowing experiences and instances of unacceptable abuses were narrated before the commission, which conducted hearings throughout the country. This exercise was meant to give the chance to victims to come to terms with their experiences. At the end of it all, a comprehensive report was presented to the government based on which compensation was to be paid and restitution made to victims of extreme abuses.
The nation then resolved never to allow itself to go through such experience again. Thirteen billion and five million cedis (¢13.5 billion) was voted by the government to be paid to the victims. Individual payments ranged from ¢2million to ¢30 million depending on the gravity of the abuses. Furthermore, properties which were unfairly confiscated were to be returned to the rightful owners.
A MAJOR incident of national significance, which occurred in the early part of the NPP rule, was the Dagbon chieftaincy conflict, which resulted in the brutal assassination of the Yaa Naa Yakubu Andani II and 40 others at Yendi on March 27, 2002.
There had been a long-standing conflict between the two gates in the Dagbon chieftaincy – the Abudu and the Andani.
This centered on the right of succession to the Dagbon Skin, which had dragged on for several decades. Thus, in March 2002, during the celebration of the "Fire Festival" matters came to a head and violence broke out resulting in the assassination of the Yaa Naa and others. The government was alleged to be biased in favour of the Abudu gate and thus implicated in the murder but it denied taking sides.
A probe made up of a committee of eminent chiefs and personalities was set up by the government to look into incident. The outcome was inconclusive and, therefore, rejected by one faction and this resulted in the delayed burial of the remains of the Yaa Naa till April 10, 2006 in Yendi after long and intensive negotiations. The issue is yet to be finally resolved.
Another major tragic incident was the
May 9, 2001 Stadium Disaster in which
136 football fans lost their lives
Another major tragic incident was the achievements of the first term by the May 9, 2004 Stadium Disaster in which 136 football fans lost their lives and a large number injured at the Ohene Djan Sports Stadium, Accra in a stampede after a match involving Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko football teams.
The police were perceived to be responsible for the tragedy for overreacting, by firing tear gas into the crowd when some irate fans started destroying properties due to perceived unfair officiating. The government set up a committee to investigate the incident after which compensation was paid to some of the victims.
General election for the President and Parliament were due to be held in December 2004. The NDC campaigned to regain power and again presented Prof. Atta Mills as their candidate. The campaign issues centered mainly on the economy and development.
However, some parties tried to introduce divisive and tribal politics into the campaign. On December 6 2004, presidential and parliamentary elections took place and the NPP won a one-time comfortable victory. The result showed that Ghanaians had matured politically and issue rather then tribal politics were the deciding factors for voting. This was particularly manifested in the Central Region where the voting pattern rejected Prof. Atta Mills and the NDC even though he hailed from the Region. The result of the election generally reflected the will of the people.
The Fourth Parliament and the second President of the Fourth Republic was therefore inaugurated on the January 7, 2005 under the incumbent President, J.A. Kufuor. His seconded term is still running till January 2009. During this second term, the NPP government has concentrated on good governance, human resource and private sector development, as well as consolidating the achievements of the first term by laying a sound economic and social foundation to usher Ghana into a middle-income economy by the year 2015.
However, the unexpected outbreak of hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians and the Hezbolla in Lebanon in July 2006 resulted in crude oil prices rocketing to almost 80 dollars a barrel in the world market. This sent shock waves to the Ghana economy with high fuel prices which the opposition used as propaganda to accuse the government of insensitivity to the people.
In the filed of sports, for the first time in the history of Ghana soccer, the national team, the Black Stars, qualified for participation at the June 2006 World Cup Championship in Germany at the expense of south Africa, Republic of Congo, Cape Verde Islands and Uganda, all in Group D. At the world Cup itself, the Black Stars performed wonderfully by beating the Czech Republic 2-0 to Italy and thus being the only African country to qualify from the group stages.
The Stars were, however, eliminated at the 1/16th stage by the ruling world champions, Brazil, 3-0. The team then returned to a rousing and heroic welcome back home.
A unique natural event under this regime was the occurrence of the full eclipse of the sun of Wednesday, March 29, 2006, from about 9.05 a.m. to 9.10 a.m. when there was total darkness preceded by a bright sunny morning sky. The last time such an event occurred in Ghana was in 1947 when I was too young to observe it. The next one is expected to occur in 2037 and I hope to be around to witness it again or to come back, specially for that.
The Daily Graphic - Wednesday, April 4, 2007 Pages 16 & 33
Wednesday, April 11, 2007 Pages 16 & 34
Wednesday, May 2, 2007 Page 34
Wednesday, May 16, 2007 Page 34
Wednesday, May 23, 2007 Page 33