Bedtime Stories; Kweku Darko Ankrah writes…

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Kweku Darko Ankrah


The period from 1951-1954 was ruled by the CPP majority in the Legislative Assembly, with Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah as the Prime Minister. The period also saw some bye-elections. For instance, in 1953 Fori Dwumah, the CPP member for Kumasi East resigned his position to further his education in England and his seat was won by the CPP. At Cape Coast, the sudden death of the CPP firebrand politician and Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Cape Coast, Kwesi Plange in 1953 also led to one of the most fierce political contest in Ghanas political history. The CPP fielded N. A. Welbeck and the UGCC brought in a business guru and an intelligent gentleman with a knack for law and litigation, K. Amponsah Dadzie. He was known locally as a “Pocket Lawyer.” In the final declaration of the result, the Welbeck of CPP won the contest, but Amponsa Dadzie challenged Welbecks legitimacy to stand in the elections as he was not a member of the municipality. Amponsa Dadzie won the case. This makes Cape Coast as the first and second place in Ghana where first election petition cases were heard. The first case was the electoral petition case against Sir Kobina Arku Korsah in 1928 by the Omanhen of Cape Coast, Nana Mbra III, against his elections as the Municipal Member of the Gold Coast Legislative Council representing Cape Coast. Korsah won the case.

1954: The 1954 elections was a product of Justice William Bedford Van Lare Commission which recommended a new constitution for the country. The Van Lare Commission recommended that the new legislative elections should be scheduled for the 10th and 15th of June 1954. The elections were the first country-wide poll of direct voting. As a result, elaborate plans were made and some 60,000 returning officers were engaged. Provision was made to disseminate the results in a timely manner. The government procured a floor-lit master scoreboard to display the results at the Old Polo grounds in Accra. The number of political parties running candidates increased.

Political Parties which Contested 1954 Elections and their Leaders:

I must say, the 1954 elections was the beginning of an ethnic, sectional and religious politics in Ghana.
For the first time the Northern Peoples Party (NPP) formed in the Northern Territories (NTs) contested this elections with Chief Simon Diedong Dombo, an ethnic Dagaaba man and a chief of Duori, as their Presidential Candidate. The NPP`s symbol was a clenched fist in black on a white background. Its high profile members included: Yakubu Tali (Tolon Naa), Jatoe Kaleo (Kaleo Naa), Abayifaa Karbo (chief of Lawra), Mumuni Bawumia (father of the current vice-president), J. A. Braimah, R. B. Braimah, B. K. Adamah, K. Akumolga, Z. A. Eddy-Cockra and others.

From the Southern Ewe side of the Gold Coast, Anlo Youth Association (AYA) political party contested the elections with Modesto K. Apaloo as their Presidential Candidate. AYA`s symbol was crossed keys in white on a green background.

The Trans Volta Togoland made its first entry in this elections with indubitable S. G. Antor as the Presidential Candidate of the Togoland Congress Party (TCP). Antor, the TCPs prime mover, was normally described as an Ewe, but actually hailed from Logba. Given the close co-operation between Ewe and minority politicians, it is perhaps appropriate that the headquarters of the party was located in Hohoe. Its high profile members include the Chief of Avatime, the Regent of Buem and Togbui Akototse from Likpe (who also seems to have served briefly as Chairman of the party). Surprisingly, it also managed to secure the defection of some early leaders of the Togoland Union such as Kofi Dumoga, Gerald Otto Awuma (formerly with the UGCC) and F. Y. Asare from Buem. The TCPs symbol was a five pointed star in yellow on a white background. Their famous slogan/motto was Ablɔdɛ (Freedom).

The Muslims, largely the Hausas, Fulani, Kotokolis and other Gold Coast northern migrants who are Muslims residing in the Zongos), also entered the elections with their newly formed party, Muslim Association Party (MAP) and their Presidential Candidate was the Elmina-born iron-hot Marxist-Communist politician with Sierra Leonean ancestry and the first professionally trained journalist in Ghana, Kweku Bankole Awoonor-Renner. For taken this cause, Awoonor-Rennerr converted to Islam and changed his name to Mustapha Renner. The CPP newspaper, Evening News, ridiculed him and called him Kafir Renner. MAP`s symbol was a crescent and a star in white on a green background. Some the leaders were Alhajis Othman Larden, Amadu Baba, Salami, Alufa Lelemi, Balogun and others.

The UGCC at this time was in deep internal conflicts, leading to serious factionalism. Consequently, the party was divided into three and the original UGCC became defunct. Out of the belly of the UGCC emerged:
(1) Ghana Congress Party (GCP). This party had Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia as the Presidential Candidate and it pulled it strength from the Ashanti/Brong Territories. The GCP was a union of the remnants of the UGCC which merged with the National Democratic Party (NDP) or the Domos. It was formed under the leadership of Nii Amaah Ollennu. The internal struggle to lead the GCP was initially between Nii Amaah Ollennu and Dr J.B. Danquah, but Dr Busia later emerged as preferred and compromised candidate. The GCP had powerful UGCC members such as William Ofori Atta, Dr J B Danquah and others. The party`s symbol was an Elephant in blue on a white background (current New Patriotic Party members must take note!). The elephant symbolized greatness or power in the indigenous Akan government system.

(2) Ghana National Party (GNP). This largely Accra-based party had the enterprising and freedom-loving renowned Ga lawyer, Emmanuel Odarquaye Obetsebi Lamptey, aka “Liberty Lamptey” or “Mr Liberty”, as their Presidential Candidate. The GNP was a product of a second internal struggle in the GCP between Dr K.A. Busia and Obetsebi Lamptey over who should lead the party. Eventually the GCP split into two factions when Obetsebi Lamptey formed the Ghana Nationalist Party (GNP). Their symbol was an Elephant with a raised trunk in black on a brick-red background (current New Patriotic Party members must take note!). The elephant symbolized greatness or power in the indigenous Ga government system too.

(3) Ghana Action Party (GAP). This was an Accra-based party with intention to pull support from the Akwapim hills because its Presidential Candidate Dr Ansah Koi hails from there. Ansa Koi was a member of the UGCC and had formed the GAP after the division in the party. GAPs symbol was a house and a linguists stick in red on a green background.

The CPP entered the 1954 elections as an incumbent party, strongly organised and nationalistic in character. It was the only party which has mass following and with strong political and structural presence in every part of the country. It still had strong young Asante intellectuals such as R. R. Amponsah, Victor Owusu, Joe Appiah, Edward Okyir Edmund Asafu-Adjaye, Dr Isaac Adonten Asafu-Adjaye, Clifford Akosah, the Jantuah brothers and others in its fold. Archie Casely-Hayford, Krobo Edusei, Kojo Botsio, Dr Ebenezer Ako-adjei, Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, N. A. Welbeck, Kofi Baako and others. The CPP’s symbol was a Cockerel in red on a white background.

Wait for the PART II on the campaign style and Elections results.