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My fellow Ghanaians, 3 score and 7 years after formal independence, our quest for true independence continues. Even though the Union Jack came down on 6th March, 1957, the imperialists and colonialists continue to dominate our thinking, our historical narrative and our priorities.

Even today, our priorities are largely determined by foreign actors. Our Parliament has passed the LGBT bill but the President and the establishment are weighing, not the opinions of people in Wa or Labadi but that of those in Washington and London. Indeed, even the fact of the passage of this bill demonstrates the outsize influence of foreigners on our priorities. Today, we face child labour, domestic violence, endemic poverty, crushing debt, debilitating corruption and environmental degradation— and yet, in response to outside prompting, we are pre-occupied, not with any of these but the very peripheral issue of alternative lifestyles.

This, sadly, has been the case throughout our history.
We blow repeatedly past the life of struggle and greatness of those who laid the foundations of this nation and focus on trivia, while adopting as our own, foreign narratives about us.
Even during our seminal period leading to independence, we allowed the British to define for us our heroes, “THE BIG SIX”. Yes, our “big six” were defined for us by our colonial masters! Nkrumah, Danquah, Obetsebi-Lamptey, Ako-Adjei, Paa Willie and Edward Akufo-Addo became our independence heroes because the British arrested them. There were 9 momentous years between the 1948 riots and independence. Keep that in mind as I respectfully remind you of some gentlemen who had serious claims to membership of the “Big Six”.

First, Alfred Pa Grant, a wealthy timber merchant, activist and philanthropist, was the person who summoned the leaders of the Gold Coast to gather under the banner of the UGCC. On March 21st, 1947, he wrote to leaders inviting them to a meeting to form UGCC and he put his treasure and energy and prestige into it. Indeed, after the 1948 riots, he wrote to the Governor expressing the readiness of the UGCC to assume the management of the Gold Coast. And this man was NOT in the “BIG SIX”?

That would be like excluding Madison or Gandhi from the founding fathers of America or India!
Second, Nii Kwabena Bonnie III, a traditional ruler, was the man who painstakingly organized the movement that led to the boycott of AWAM through the anti-inflation Committee culminating in the riots of 1948 and he is NOT in the “BIG SIX”? Without his organizational acumen, there would be no boycott and no riots and was not part of the “BIG SIX” probably because the British chickened out of arresting him?

Third, Sir James Henly Coussey, KBE, chaired the committee of 40 Africans that examined the report of the Watson Commission in the light of the 1948 riots and made constitutional proposals to the British government. Their proposals defined our constitutional architecture for the future Ghana. His committee laid the foundation for our local government and set an example for the colonial world. He wrote, contrary to the Watson Commission that ” the whole institution of chieftaincy is so closely bound up in the lives of our communities that its disappearance would spell disaster.” The Gold Coast Express, a newspaper wrote, “Even the most fastidious will admit that the Coussey Committee recommendations have given us a mighty jump in our political history. ” The Secretary of State for Colonies described the report as “without precedent in colonial history.” In 1952, Henly Coussey was knighted by King George VI, and he was NOT in the “BIG SIX”?

Fourth, if the CPP was indispensable to the independence struggle, K.A. Gbedemah was indispensable to the CPP during Nkrumah’s incarceration. Without him, Nkrumah may not have become the unifying matyr he became. And he, Gbedemah, is NOT celebrated as part of the “BIG SIX”?

My fellow Ghanaians, I know this is ancient history but as our people say, “Edwa beba a efiri anopa” ( A good market day starts in the morning ). Throughout our independence, we have permitted imperialists and neo-colonialists to dictate our politics, our thinking and our priorities. We must, in the words of Bob Marley, “emancipate ourselves from mental slavery”

It is the reason why, despite the clarity of Nkrumah’s vision, we are debating LGBT instead of child labour or Galamsey and we are building a NATIONAL Cathedral instead of schools and hospitals for our children.


Happy Independence Day!
God bless Ghana!
Arthur Kobina Kennedy
March 6th, 2024


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