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Certain considerations on whether September 21st should be legislated as “The Founder’s Day” or “The Founders’ Day” in Ghana have tended to be based on the quest for national unity and peace – disregarding respect for historical facts. The facts of history indeed suggest that national unity and peace founded on a distorted history cannot stand the test of time. Any instrumentalist conception of history in such endeavours can only be Machiavellian and cannot be worthy of a self-respecting Parliament or Legislature

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah

In Dr. J. B. Danquah’s very instructive paper, ‘The Historical Significance of the Bond of 1844’, published in the Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana, Vol.3 No.1 (1957), he sets forth the criterion for determining who could be credited with the accolade of being a ‘founder’ in history. He scholarly presents a powerful legal analysis of the Bond of 1844 (normally understood to have created the Gold Coast Colony) to argue out that the founding of the Gold Coast Colony cannot be credited to Governor George Maclean, who constructed the Bond, since he was not interested in territorial expansionalthough the conditions he fostered led to it.

In the definition of a founder, our mind is essentially directed to synonyms like “creator”, “originator”, “initiator” and also “organizer”. In this respect, The Sage English Dictionary defines the verb “to found” as ‘(to) set up or lay the groundwork for’. Central to this understanding is the object or process that is founded. That object or process symbolizes the aim and intention of the creator, the originator, the initiator, the organizer. Hence, it becomes necessary for us to determine the scope of the founder’s aim and intention in their undertaking – they must show interest in the undertaking.

In the historical process, where that scope exhibits continual development of the aim and intention in order for the said aim and intention to assume final definition for an epoch, it behoves on us to determine their origin and evolution either in the individual founder or founding group. It is possible then that the origin and evolution of a concept find final definition in the mind and actions of an individual or group of individuals over a certain time frame.

Hence, in our appreciation of the specific phenomenon of nationalist struggle in Ghana the question arises as to whether the Fanti Confederation, as the so-called initial African response to British domination in Ghana, conceived African nationalism as the unity and liberation of Africans beyond the narrow premises of the “Fanti State”; as to whether the Aborigines Rights Protection Society (ARPS) similarly had the said conception; as to whether the National Congress of British West Africa (NCBWA) did likewise; as to whether the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) projected its aim and intention in that same vein; and, finally, as to whether Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s Convention People’s Party (CPP) had the concept. These are landmark organizations in the history of Ghana.

The Fanti Confederation, on its part, was initially and essentially a war machine uniting the “Fanti States” against Asante access to the sea upon the British-Dutch unilateral agreement to exchange forts – a deed that placed Fanti areas under the Dutch trading friends of the Asante and threatened to eliminate the Fanti from their middleman position in the trade with the interior. They fought both the Dutch and the Asante but not the British who they felt had betrayed them in abandoning them as a protectorate; for which reason they set up a veritable protest tribal ‘self-government’ whose Constitution they submitted to the British who in turn rejected it, re-established their control while tightening their grip on them till they formalized the evolved de facto relationship in the 1874 Proclamation.

The ARPS, on the other hand, as a protest movement protesting British Land Bills and other laws, never lost an opportunity, however, to assure its allegiance to the British Crown. Despite this, unlike the Fanti Confederation, it resisted the British and set its horizons beyond the Fanti tribal enclave and projected a Pan-African vision; for which reason it is here credited as the first but bourgeois nationalist movement in Gold Coast history. The Pan-African orientation of the NCBWA was rather short-lived but not without its impact. Certainly, no historian of African nationalism worth their calling ever denies Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s ultimate and holistic conception of African Nationalism as the pursuit of the unity and liberation of Africans across tribal, ethnic and racial entities over the entire continent (including Ghana) for the creation of a single socialist Republican State of Africa. 

It is that concept which informs his political understanding and pursuits – in theory and action. It is that concept which commits him, with a singleness of purpose, to resist and triumph over not just colonialism but also centrifugal forces that oppose his centripetal drive for a unitary state over a territory that incorporates not just the Gold Coast Colony but also the Asante Kingdom, the Northern Territories and Trans-Volta/Togoland; which latter, at least, might otherwise not have been part of the geographical space now defined as Ghana. He conceived Ghana as an independent sovereign unitary socialist Republican State and successfully pursued and realized that concept until his 1966 overthrow after which Ghana remained a unitary Republican State trimmed of its socialist aspirations but transformed into the neo-colonial state of today. The socialist struggle for reversal continues.

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