Tribute in honour of the late Kingsford Nii Ahele Quarcoo – From GaDangme Nikasemo Asafo

Anyemi Nii Ahele Akwafro Matɔmatɔ Matɔade, yaa wo ojogbann ye Nuntso minshi

Gadangme Nikasemo Asafo

Tribute in honour of the late Kingsford Nii Ahele Quarcoo

Pleasant are Thy courts above,
In the land of light and love;
Pleasant are Thy courts below
In this land of sin and woe;
O, my spirit longs and faints
For the converse of Thy saints,
For the brightness of Thy face,
For Thy fullness, God of grace

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Our faith in God directs us to accept, with sadness, the passing of our brother and friend King Nii Ahele Quarcoo. For us whose lives he touched in his many roles, his untimely earthly departure, in answering the call of our maker, nevertheless leaves us shattered. His passing flashes a void physically and psychologically onto our consciousness, not only within our organisation Gadangme Nikasemo Asafo, but right through the Ga nation as well.

His dedication to his people’s cause on all fronts demand unquestionably that we pay tribute to King Nii Ahele…

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Another note on Atsiiimota the excellent school of our time!

Another note on Atsiiimota the excellent school of our time!

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Ade Sawyerr at Remembrance Service in London – 5th November 2017

Some 51 years ago, I entered Atsiiimota School, the Grey City on the Outlaws Hill, as a fresh-faced ’Nino’ boy.  In those days this great school was in my mind was situated miles away from Ga as we knew it then, bordering on the fringes of the city of Accra.

Tales were told of this strange and forlorn place, home to wandering spirits; a place where none dared to mention a name for fear of the named person being confronted by the mysterious spirits – jemanwojii – that roamed about. It was said that many slaves were kept hidden away from the authorities after the abolition of the slave trade. A place that could only be referred to as Atsiiimota – This was part of the folklore that gave rise to one of the most difficult riddles, – “Afoo taatso shi mifo ni miko” which translated means “no one cuts the root of the sponge tree but I have done so and taken it away”. The response was Atsiiimota Odonkofoi or in English Atsiiimota, a place of slaves.

The only other time that i had been to the school was when I attended the selection interview which was conducted by the then headmaster Mr Chapman Nyaho. I could hardly contain my excitement when I received my letter of admission; the school year had changed from January to September and I had done only 2 terms in Class 6.  On 23 September 1960, about a month short of my 10th birthday, I arrived in a taxi accompanied by a cousin, Kate Majorla Sawyerr, who was also in the school, with my trunk and Chop Box which I could barely balance on my head.   I was assigned to Guggisberg House where I was fortunate to have two older cousins, Ate Ofosu-Amaah  and King Ghartey Mould and a couple of classmates from Experimental School, Teddy Konu and the late Ekow Awoonor,  help settle me in.  And so it was that I was ‘protected’ from the usual bullying that was  meted out to all new students –Ninos.

My pocket money for the ten-week term was ten shillings, one shilling a week which I gave to the Housemaster Mr Pratt at the beginning of the term. From the one shilling, I could feast on ‘dotch’ from Mrs Angbah, buy treats from Mr Doe’s Coke shop or sometimes from the Cadbury House Coke shop and still have change, which sometimes I took to the post office down the road from Gberg House.

Atsiiiimota instilled in me the belief that l could succeed in anything I wanted to, as long as I did not break any rules. But!  There were about 10 school rules which had to be adhered to and I broke as many of them as I could get away with. My favourite school rule was the tenth one – Every breach of common sense is a breach of school rules. I caused an eleventh rule to be introduced; no cropping of hair right down to the skull.  This, however, was not entirely my fault but morebecause my hair at that time grew at a fast rate and I had many a budding barber try to experiment with my hair which always went wrong.

The structured, regimented day began with the sound of the Rising Bell 5:30am followed by morning trotting before bath time. Students then had to make their beds, complete their chores in time for inspection by the Dormitory Monitor, some quiet time before finally setting off for morning service at the Aggrey Chapel, Oh, I forget that we had morning milk too. There were a couple of lessons before breakfast and more lessons mid-morning after snack time and still more lessons leading up to lunchtime.

After the afternoon siesta, there was games or groundwork depending on the season and then back to the bathroom, evening duties, dining hall again prep and then soaking – light or heavy – common room and then lights out.  we were fed so much that not only did I put on weight but I found myself growing much taller than the less than 4.10″ that I was before I entered the school

This regime was only varied in the week by the early morning work at the school farm to care for the animals.  The weekends were less structured but we had to clean up the house for inspection ever so often and for a notorious boy like me included many doses of punishment: project, fatigue, and detention and the very many table clearing duties that I was I think unfairly apportioned and  once a term we went on exeats – a trip outside the school.

Continue reading “Another note on Atsiiimota the excellent school of our time!”

Proposed Founders Day is based on historical fiction

As usual, very well written and argued addition to the debate. Maybe the issue will never be resolved but that would be a real shame – countries must move forward together, nations must not be polarised and states will attain maturity. A principled approach is needed at all times and rewriting of history serves no purpose at all. The history of a nation is what happened not what one would have wished to have happened.

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Ekow Nelson

Last week the President sought to put the obsessive debate raging over the placement of the apostrophe in ‘Founders Day’ to rest. And he did so, like his immediate two predecessors, by authorising 21st September as a public holiday in honour of Ghana’s first Prime Minister and President while at the same time indicating his intention to seek legislation to declare August 4th Founders Day to commemorate the founding of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) in 1947.

Ghana already has a Founders Day called 6th March 1957 when the country came into being, so one wonders why we need another one. Far from settling the issue, this latter move runs the risk of reinforcing the perception that the President and his henchmen are pre-occupied with revising Ghana’s history to bolster the reputation of Dr JB Danquah.

Macaulay revisited

In his contribution to the debate on…

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Failed UGCC deserves no honour

We can debate who started the struggle for independence but we can’t dispute who achieved it. Surely, that alone should put this matter to rest.

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Ekow Nelson

Last Friday the organisers of Ghana@60 commemorated the founding of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) in Saltpond, positioning it as an overlooked significant national event. The founding of a political party with no notable accomplishments is being touted as Ghana’s Birthday along with, or perhaps, instead of, March 6th, 1957. Sadly, the current President lent the authority of his office to a commemorative farce that flies in the face of historical truth.

False starts with no accomplishments
It is argued that the founding of the UGCC represents the conception of Ghana’s independence struggle. But is it? When exactly did the anti-colonial struggle begin? It certainly is not 4th August 1947. Prior to that there was the Aborigines Rights Protection Society and the National Congress of British West Africa, preceded by the Fante Confederacy and many others. As Professor Emmanuel Kwaku Senah has argued, “national histories do not…

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The UGCC was a colossal failure – Ekow Nelson

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I  am struggling to see what is being celebrated here. The UGCC was formed in Aug 1947. Nkrumah joined as SG four months later. As a colonial office dispatch observed, prior  to Nkrumah’s arrival in December of that year the movement’s main supporters were “in the large coastal towns of Accra, Saltpond, Cape Cost, Sekondi and Kibi the home of Dr Danquah”. Aiken Watson of the eponymously named commission he chaired conceded that the UGCC did not get down to business until Nkrumah arrived.

The post war austerity boycotts and exservicemen changed the course of history. The infamous shooting of ex servicemen who sought only to present a petition to the Governor’s office did not include UGCC officers or members. While Nkrumah and Dr Danquah had met members of the legion the day before to help with drafts, the UGCC was not involved in the march and in fact disavowed the riots that broke out following the unlawful murders of three ex-service  men; they blamed it all on Nkrumah. William Ofori Atta and Obetsebi Lamptey ransacked his apartments looking for incriminating material to use against him.

But it WAS precisely these riots that led to the arrest of key UGCC officers (earning them the dubious sobriquet of the Big Six) and the establishment of the Watson Commission which recommended the appointment of a Constitutional Committee to draft a new constitution to pave the way to self government.

The Coussey Committee included UGCC officers who repudiated the riots that created the circumstances for their membership and many sections of society except Nkrumah (blamed for the riots that led to the Committee’s establishment) and Trades Unionists. Even with the scales tipped in their favour, the UGCC managed to botch the elections organised under the auspices of the constitution they drafted and gerrymandered rules they defined and lost in a landslide to the CPP. And with that, they passed on to Nkrumah, who they excluded from the Committee, the mantle of carrying through the programme for self government. That was momentous! It is probably THE day worth celebrating : when Dr.  Danquah’s command of Gold Coast politics ended and Nkrumah’s took off.

So what exactly are we celebrating? What was the singular contribution of the UGCC to an independence struggle they did not trigger? The 1951 constitution? which prominent members among them  (Ofori Atta and Dr Danquah included) and Nkrumah described as “bogus and fraudulent”?

The UGCC were not the handmaidens of our independence. They had no role in the events that caused the British to initiate the process of self-government with the establishment of the Coussey Committee – Nii Kwabena Bone, his boycotters and the ex service men did.

They could not win the first All-African general elections whose rules they wrote and they ceased to exist after the 1951 elections and reconstituted themselves into various opposition parties whose raison d’être was to stop Nkrumah from leading Ghana to independence.

This is a celebration of a party with no singular political achievement or historical contribution!

Here is the crux: There is a dangerous historical conflation here; of projecting Dr Danquah and the UGCC as one. Dr. Danquah’s contribution to the anticolonial struggle is immense and it predated the UGCC by more than a decade. An intellectual colossus of all time, he paved the way for Nkrumah and those that came later. But Dr Danquah’s achievements are not the same as those of the UGCC. In fact by the time of the establishment of the UGCC Dr. Danquah had peaked. His best and most productive years were prior to that.

I have no qualms about celebrating Dr Danquah’s contribution. It has meaning. The celebration of the non-performing UGCC with no singular political achievement makes no historical sense. To the extent that the UGCC achieved anything it was their  invitation of Nkrumah to head the party’s secretariat which together with the boycotts and riots altered our history. But that too was Dr Danquah’s (and Ako Adjei’s) achievement – perhaps his final and crowing glory.

In battle, business and in politics, sometimes the best  and most transformative decisions are in the choice of personnel. The choice of Nkrumah was the finest decision Dr Danquah made – it gave finality to his life’s work.

Danquah, Kwame Nkrumah wa yer wo den? – Ade Sawyerr

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Danquah, Kwame Nkrumah wa yer wo den? – Ade Sawyerr

The Ghana@60 team came over to England in May 2017 to talk about the 60 glorious years of our independence won for us by Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah on the 6th of March 1957.

They treated us to a very well-made film by a charming young man ‘From Gold Coast to Ghana’, that had been premiered in Accra 2 days before the celebration of our 6oth birthday to some acclaim but also to a lot of controversies.  Incidentally, I had written a piece with the same title for our national black newspaper in the UK, the Voice – http://www.voice-online.co.uk/article/gold-coast-ghana

So I thought great! Let me listen to this young man and watch his film which must be a bold attempt to depict our history from his perspective, a different light or angle that I may have missed. In his introduction to the film he talked about how our unreconciled history may have affected our development and gave examples of how in places such as the West, most of the contributors to the founding of the nation had been given their due place, recognised and adequately celebrated.  The examples from Nigeria and South Africa were not very convincing, indeed Oliver Thambo had always been the head of the African National Congress and there was no question or debate about that except that because of the incarceration of Mandela for a very long time he had become the international symbol in the fight against apartheid.

But then in the main introduction for the event, I heard quotations from Danquah flowing all over the place and should have realised that something was going on when South Africa was mentioned in relation to Ghana.  What came to mind was Busia’s feeble attempt for dialogue with South Africa and then I remembered that Kufuor had set up a National Reconciliation Commission copying from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa – so in truth our history had been reconciled already!

Paul Adom-Otchere said that his film was about the various and different constitutions of our land so I thought that this was going to be interesting for me and I must suspend judgement so that I would enjoy what this film is all about.

And then the film started and I started noticing several things in the script.  Achimota School and there the names of the mothers of President Nana Addo and the other flagbearer aspirant Kyeremanten came up.  Aggrey was celebrated all right as was Fraser.  The grandees of the Aborigines Rights Protection Society were recognised and celebrated in the film and there was a brief mention of the National Council of British West Africa.

Suddenly from nowhere appeared JB Danquah, framed as one of the leading lights of NCBWA, who was to be the bridge between the past and the future of Ghana looming large in the rest of the narrative and central to the transition between Gold Coast and Ghana.  Sarah Grant was excellent in her account of the events and very balanced but from that point came justification after justification of the role of Danquah had played in our independence including the laughable suggestion that if Nkrumah had allowed his motion of destiny to have been amended our independence would have happened in 1954 instead of 1957.

Of course, Danquah did play a role in our independence, but more as a leader of sorts of the opposition.  He has been honourably rewarded with a Circle as has Obetsebi Lamptey and Ako Adjei with an underpass, maybe the others in the Big Six now need to be celebrated: Akufo Addo pere, and Paa Willie must also have things named after them so that all the Big Six would have been eventually recognised.

There was mention of Sgt Adjetey, Lance Corporal Attipoe and Private Odartey Lamptey.

Then there was a map of Ghana and how Danquah was supposed to have persuaded the Asantehene about Ashanti being part of the nation. But hear this, folks – if Danquah was that persuasive in Ashanti how come that in the 1951 election, the UGCC his party did not sweep that Ashanti Region but ended up with a single seat courtesy of an electoral college.  And here was I wondering why the role of the NLM, who the renamed Ghana Congress Party begged to merge with was not given the coverage they deserved in this film.

There certainly was something really surreal about this film – it was as if all the lofty pronouncements about an attempt at reconciling our history, so that the nation would move on,  had been jettisoned under another agenda.  This agenda was to rehabilitate Danquah who was never a leader of our country and who despite his academic brilliance and hard work never achieved the accolade that he went by – the doyen of Ghana politics, a title that he reminded Nkrumah of, in his letter of congratulations on our independence.

It is not everyone who is successful in politics, it is not everyone who is destined to be a leader of the country that they fought for, not all of us will attain the political heights that others do.  That is the fact of life and no amount or attempt to rehabilitate them will let history be any kinder to them.

The film in my view air-brushed out some of the more important people of our story of independence.  No mention of Gbedemah and Botsio who ensured Nkrumah’s victory at a time that he was in prison. No mention of the other active players Dombo no, Apaloo, nada, Antor, nary a mention, Bankole Awoonor Renner, nothing.  Ayeke did not feature and these were all leaders of their parties at independence.

I was incredulous, you cannot talk about the history of Ghana without mentioning a political giant like Baffour Osei Akoto who caused the CPP to split in Ashanti and went on to form the formidable NLM or Matemeho.

And truly in discussing our independence, if you can mention, the Big Six, incidental heroes, three of whom the film reminded us were related to president Akufo Addo fils, you cannot fail to mention the central figure of the time – Theodore Taylor in private life but better known as Nii Kwabena Bonne Nii Kwabena Bonne III, Osu Alata Mantse, also Nana Owusu Akenten III, Oyokohene of Techiman, Ashanti.  This man who took on the AWAM and initiated the boycott of the English merchants that coincided with the shooting and the riots certainly deserves a mention in the story of our independence even if the story is based on constitutions of our country.

After watching this film, I just thought that I needed to comment on how revisionist this is and how the current president has bought into this attempt to rehabilitee a fine scholar who was never destined to be the leader of our country.  If this film is a state or party sponsored rewrite of our history, then i can say that our history will never be reconciled.  Fairy tales and  ‘Tsier Ananu stories will not satisfy our youth in their quest for the story our independence if Nkrumah is cast as an incidental character with Danquah as the central figure.

We wish the president well in his mobilisation of the country for the future and in his vision of Ghana beyond aid, but as for his version of history – it has been rejected not only by the youth but by most of us senior citizens.

Let us work together to fix the country let us use our resourcefulness to transform our resources into wealth for future Ghanaians and beyond so that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo will leave an enduring legacy that we will all be proud of.

But frankly, this revision is not going to go down well. As Sarah Grant sang in the film

Danquah, Nkrumah wa yer wo den?

Ade Sawyer is an associate at community engagement and business development consultancy Equinox Consulting and comments on social, political and community development issues. He can be reached at www.equinoxconsulting.net or at jwasawyerr@gmail.com

 

Jennifer Sara Awula Adjiko Abbey nee Hansen – Sleep well my Soul Sister

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Jennifer Sara Awula Adjiko Abbey nee Hansen – Sleep well my Soul Sister

27 Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God?
28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
31 but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Isaiah 40:27-31

I am still struggling to come to terms with my shock over the passing of this beautiful, confident and virtuous lady who I feel privileged to have known over the years.  She was first introduced to me by a relative, Bob, who was totally besotted with her and had put her on the pedestal she deserved

Adjiko became my soul sister from then on and was supportive of my mission whenever I visited at her mother’s house.  I was also a frequent visitor to the house at Akwashong Link that Bob shared with his mate Kwame Akoto and their ‘housemaster’ Mr. Joseph Adama.  Those were happy days talking about any and every issue and she expressed her views to us ‘hustlers’ trying to get a foot on the ladder of independent life, providing intellectual dimensions to our discussions. Her views were refreshingly innocent.

She and Bob were married after a fairy tale courtship that included a sojourn in England. Their son Adotey was born in Ghana and soon after that the family moved to Liberia, the start of many more moves as her husband pursued his career.

Because we lived on different continents we saw each other infrequently but Adjiko and I kept in touch by telephone and email, most of these calls just to catch up and reminiscence about the good old days.  I was full of admiration for her determination to challenge herself and go back to college to undertake a Master’s degree despite having a young son in tow. This was after many years as a teacher in several countries around Africa.

A pattern developed to our conversations, an indication that ‘the troubles’ as I called them could not be resolved.  She would vent her frustrations and I would listen, then ask her about her career and her plans for the future and always assured her that all would be well. We would talk about almost everything.  Whenever I sent her an article I had written for comment, she would give me her honest feedback thereby giving me an opportunity to write back or call to talk about all sorts of things.

Years ago, she called and asked me to find her son for her. I was taken aback because he was somewhere in Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso and I was in London.  This was a tall order as I had no idea how I was going to be able to do what she was asking as I had never been to that country. Nevertheless, I assured her that I would do my best to honour my promise to find the young man.  I persevered and after numerous efforts armed with a telephone number, the young man was eventually found. Adjiko was very grateful and relieved that she now knew where her son was, he was safe and sound.

How was I to know that our last conversation about a month ago was an obvious farewell? We spoke for over two hours and it was not tittle tattle at all.  We discussed our Ga and Ghanaian culture and about her mixed roots and heritage; it was a deep exposition of knowledge about the family that had been passed on to her. We talked about why she still valued maintaining family ties, wondering how we can transfer those values down to our children despite having chosen a life as a near recluse herself.  She also talked about pining for her grandchildren one of whom she had never seen because they were far away in Canada. She told me how happy it would make her if the waving of a magic wand would grant her greatest wish of seeing both grandchildren one day. But alas, it was not to be!

The discussion was tinged with nostalgia, religiosity, emotions.  She was deep and I sensed that there was some relief when I assured her that I was in contact with her son and that I would do all in my power to support and guide him.  Adjiko and I did not speak again but continued to exchange texts on Facebook, WhatsApp and the social media that some of us are now slaves to.

I now realise that as a mere mortal what I said were just words and that I would never be able to achieve what I hoped I could; making everything right in this word.

All I know is that you Awula Adjiko have gone to a better place and your memory will forever be cherished by all those you met in this life.

Sleep well elegant majestic lady that I once knew, sleep well my soul sister.

From the older brother that you claim you always wanted but never had

Ade Sawyerr

London, June 2017