POLITICAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENTS, 1897 - 1957Nationalism and the Nationalist Movement before and after the second World WarDefinition of nationalism
Professor Hans Kohn has defined nationalism as a state of mind, an act of consciousness in which supreme loyalty is felt towards a state". In the context of colonial politics in West Africa (Ghana), we could talk of nationalism as the struggle by a people with a common identify to free themselves from foreign control and exploitation, in order to embark upon a programme which would ensure their socio-economic and political advancement. In Ghana in the twentieth century this desire for freedom expressed itself in two different ways at two different stages. The first that emerged in the inter-war period (1919 - 1930), is referred to as proto-nationalism.
It is so described because nationalism during this period was marked by protests and demands of the nationalists were not for the immediate granting of independence but the trimming of the "rough edges" of Colonial Administration to allow their participation in government. They also asked for franchise for the indigenes and an end to all forms of discrimination against Africans. Composed mainly of the educated elite who resided in the urban centres, they relied on diplomacy and constitutional means in addressing their grievances on the shortfalls in British Colonial Administration. To them, independence was a long term goal. The second form of nationalism which became dominant after the Second World War was militant, mass or radical nationalism. During this period, nationalists adopted such radical methods as strikes, demonstrations, boycotts etc. to press home their demand for self determination.CAUSES OF NATIONALISM BEFORE 1939
A number of factors, accounted for nationalism before World War II. For the sake of convenience they will be grouped under external and internal factors.External FactorsPan-Africanism
The activities and literary works of Pan-Africanists such as Henry Sylvester Willams, W. E. B. Du Bois and Marcus Garvey had a tremendous impact on the political thinking of the West African elite.
These African- W.E.B. Du Bois Americans and Afro-Caribbeans emphasized the equality of the African to other peoples and the need for Blacks all over the world to strive to be at par with the European. As was stated by the Gold Coast Independent, the birth of the National Congress of British West Africa which was a pioneering group in the nationalist struggle, was influenced to a larger extent, by Garvey’s Negro Awakening. The Role of WASU
The formation of the West African Students Union (WASU) in August 1925 in London by Ladipo Solanke, a Nigerian also encouraged nationalist activities in the inter-war period. The Union which was an amalgamation of the Union for Students of African Descent (ASAD) formed in 1917, the Gold Coast Students’ Union and the Nigerian Progress Union formed in 1924, became the forum for discussing matters of common interest and its activities pressurised the Colonial Office to bring in changes that promoted the constitutional rights of West Africans. Moreover, WASU became the training ground for many future politicians of repute in West Africa. Nationalists like, Dr. J. B. Danquah -the Union’s first Vice-President and Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana, had a long association with the Union.Internal Factors Economic
The colonial economic system and the injustices emanating from it caused resentment among the people who then decided to champion their own cause. In their desire to preserve the colonies as sources of raw materials for the metropolitan nation and as markets for their products, the Colonial Administration made farmers to concentrate on the cultivation of cash crops (such as cocoa) needed for exports to feed industries in Europe. As there was little encouragement for diversification, the failure of a principal crop like cocoa in any crop season led to substantial loss of revenue to the state and economic hardships to the fanners in particular. Again, to ensure that the colonies continued to serve as market, little was done to promote the establishment of secondary industries. Small industries for the manufacture of soap and perfume, as well as the making of shoes etc. which started developing were short-lived because of the attitude of the expatriate firms which feared that such industries would reduce the profits accrued to them from the export of raw materials and the import of finished goods. Consequently, items for which raw materials are obtained locally had to be imported from Europe or America at prices which the consumer had no say in determining. Retail trade was also controlled by Syrians, Indians, Lebanese etc.
Moreover, local entrepreneurs did not have access to financial assistance because the banks were owned by metropolitan companies who had little trust in the African. This was confirmed in the 1951 Sir Cecil Trevor’s report on the banking situation in the country. The report noted that the banking system favoured the "European, Levantine and Asiatic communities to the detriment of the African," and therefore recommended the setting up of a National Bank, to among others, "... develop an indigenous banking system..." , Thus, not only was the initiative of any business-minded Ghanaian stifled, but the fixing of prices by the foreign companies exposed the Ghanaian consumer to the manipulation of the white merchants; a situation which exploded in the boycott of goods sold by European, Syrian and Lebanese merchants during 1930 and the 1937-38 cocoa ’hold-up’ in the Gold Coast.
The Colonialists also exploited the country’s natural resources such as gold, bauxite, diamond and timber as firms which were engaged in these industries were fully owned by foreign companies. The irony was that, though they made large profits, the companies paid token compensation in rents and royalties set out by concessions whose terms the people did not understand but were made to commit themselves to. Nationalist leaders therefore felt it was time to end the injustice being perpetrated against the people.Social
There was also discrimination in the provision of housing, health care and job placement. Ghanaians were considered inferior and thus lived in slums, shanty areas and were poorly paid while their European counterparts lived in well-furnished buildings in highly-developed residential areas. The provision of health care for Ghanaians was no better as Europeans had their own hospitals and most Ghanaians relied on self-medication and the use of herbs. In the Civil and Public Services, top positions were reserved for Europeans even though there were Ghanaians who were equally, if not better qualified than their white colleagues. Among the Ghanaians who suffered under this form of discrimination were Drs. R. S. Sawage and B. W. Quartey-Papafio.
With these developments, the Ghanaian strove for the immediate restoration of his dignity and independence to chart his own future. As more Africans received Western education, they came to be equipped with ideas which made them appreciate fully, the socio-economic and political abyss the country had fallen into as a result of colonialism. Moreover, literacy afforded people the opportunity to read newspapers and other publications that were very critical of colonialism and this facilitated the building of political re-awakening among the people who gave their full weight to nationalist activities.Political
The press also whipped up anti-colonial sentiments in the people. The Ashanti Pioneer and The Gold Coast Independent published views which carried nationalist sentiments. The people therefore took inspiration from the pages of these newspapers and braced themselves up for the breaking of the colonial yoke. The educated elite were not happy with the efforts by the Colonial Administration to strengthen the authority of the chiefs while they were marginalised. Under the 1925 Constitution for instance, the chiefs were used as a bulwark against the activities of the elite by having six (6) of the nine members to serve on the Legislative Council chosen from their camp, whilst the elite could elect only three (3) people to represent the cities of Accra - 1, Cape Coast -1 and Sekondi.
Again, the Native Administrative Ordinance (1927) and the Native Authority Ordinance (1935) provided that, the installation and destoolment of chiefs must receive the consent of the Governor. Not only did the educated elite see these measures as deliberate attempts at entrenching the authority of the chiefs by insulating them against malfeasance and abuse of office but, more worrying was that, they were perceived of potentially becoming instruments of the oppressive colonial government. The chiefs were thus pitched against the elite who by the nature of their training were no doubt better equipped to scrutinise the activities of the colonialists. The elite thus found themselves leading the crusade for the country’s political emancipation as the chiefs were now seen as agents of colonialism.NATIONALIST MOVEMENTS
The Aborigines’ Rights Protection Society - 1897 Taking its roots from the Mfantsi Amanbuhu Fekuw - a Cape Coast movement, to among other things, protest against Governor Bradford Griffith’s drafted Lands Bill of 1894, as amended by Governor William Maxwell’s Lands Bill of 1897, the Aborigines’ Rights Protection Society was launched at Cape Coast in April 1897 by some chiefs and the educated elite of the Gold Coast. The Bill, as amended by Governor Maxwell, sought to vest in the Crown, all tribal lands not in visible use. Really, the idea of "Public Lands" raised a storm of opposition, for, as the Gold Coast Methodist Times was to describe the law, it was ’pregnant with butchery stratagems’. John Mensah Sarbah, a lawyer and one of the members of the movement who spoke on the Bill at the Bar of the Legislative Council, was even to declare more succinctly the position of the people when he opined that by the tenets of land tenure in the Gold Coast, every piece of land has an owner (s), including the living and the dead. The import of this stance was that all lands, which was not privately owned, was owned communally and held in trust, either by the head of the extended family on behalf of its members (including the unborn), or by chiefs on behalf of citizens of the area. The spirit of the Lands Bill, therefore, ran counter to the basic tenets of customary law on land ownership.
The society elected active officers: J. W. Sey - President, J. P. Brown -Vice President, a Secretary, a Treasurer and a Kyeame or Linguist to speak for the Executive Committee with the Chiefs at meetings. The Society established its own newspaper, the Gold Coast Aborigines. It must here be noted that the Society did not limit itself to opposing the wrongful acquisition of native lands by the colonialists but also to:
- Foster in the younger generation a knowledge of their historical past,
- Encourage the study of the laws, customs and institutions of the country,
- Serve as the medium of communication between the people and the government,
- Promote sound educational policy and
- Protect by constitutional means and methods, the rights of the Aborigines of the Gold Coast.
Perhaps the most remarkable achievement of the ARPS was that its three member delegation to London in May 1898 - Jacob W. Sey, T.F.E. Jones and George Hughes, succeeded in convincing Joseph Chamberlain, Secretary of State for the Colonies, to call for the withdrawal of the Lands Bill. Furthermore, it was through the Society’s efforts that a more acceptable legislation, the Concessions Ordinance was introduced in 1900. The law required all Europeans willing to use any land for any purpose - farming, mineral prospecting, timber etc. to seek clearance from the government before terms of concessions were concluded. Though the people were still suspicious about the Ordinance as they felt the Special Tribunal of the Supreme Court which was to review the terms of concessions before it became binding was still part of the colonial administrative machinery, at least, it limited the fraudulent activities of European merchants and the chiefs who collaborated in the encroachment on community and family ands.
The ARPS also put pressure on the Colonial Administration to suspend the Hut or Poll Tax and cancelled the Forest Ordinance of 1910. Again , it succeeded in forging ciose ties between the chiefs and the’ eiite who presented a unified front in fighting for preservation of the rights and privileges of the people. Moreover, through its publication, the Gold Coast Aborigines, it educated readers on the implications of the various bills and ordinances and covered fully the activities of the society. This strengthened the Society which also led the crusade for cultural revival in the Gold Coast as^it felt that missionary activities and Western education had had some negative effects on African culture. It therefore championed what was known as "Gone Fame Doctrine", which sought to make the people proud of their cultural heritage and imbibe what was, good in African dresses, dance etc.
As the Society became more powerful, it became the channel through which African opinion was heard. In fact, until the 1925 Guggisberg Constitution gave recognition to the Provincial Council of Chiefs as the "official mouthpiece" of the people, the ARPS had dutifully carried out this assignment. For instance, in 1923 the Government consulted the ARPS on the question of establishing an infant Welfare Association and on 26 March 1926, the Governor’s Secretary again communicated with the Secretary of the ARPS on the impending visit of Ormsby Gore, MP to Cape Coast. The Society was invited to state what its programme would be for the occasion. Being an early nationalists movement, the Society became the training ground for nationalists such as John Mensah Sarbah, J. E. Casely-Hayford, J.P. Brown etc. who later dominated Gold Coast politics. Up to 1930, and, to a less degree thereafter, the chiefs in the Society continued to keep burning the torch of federal union of states. Though a loose union, it was nevertheless a sign of progress and contributed in no small measure to the idea of a future Ghanaian nationhood.Failures
The Society suffered from petty squabbles between the chiefs and the educated elite. Ihe chiefs refused to give recognition to the elite whom they (chiefs) felt were usurping their legitimate authority while the educated elite also had the conviction that the chiefs could not claim to represent the people. To them, having traditional authority was different from receiving political mandate and representation. This development led to absence of co-operation from both sides and thus undermined the effective operation of the Society. Guggisberg’s constitutional reforms also brought the organisation to its knees. Under the 1925 Guggisberg Constitution, the Provincial Council of Chiefs came to be considered as the official channel for the expression of the peoples’ views and therefore the previous recognition given the Society as representative of the people was withdrawn. The withdrawal of recognition shook the very foundation of the Society as its voice was no longer given the attention it had earlier enjoyed.
The lack of recognition by the Crown (in London) also caused the failure of the Society. In 1934, a delegation of the Provincial Council of Chiefs went to London to contest the i934 Sedition Biii (the Criminal Code Amendment Ordinance) and the Water Works Ordinance (1934) introduced by Sir Shenton Thomas. The delegation consisted of Nana Ofori Atta as leader, Dr. J. B. Danquah as Secretary with Dr. F.V. Nanka Bruce, Hon K. A Korsah, Akilagpa Sawyerr, James Mercer of the Survey Department, Asafo Adjaye, and I.K. Agyeman, President of the Asante Kotoko Society as members. The ARPS also sent a separate deputation (in July 1934) made up of Tufohene George Moore and Mr. Samuel Wood, on the same issue, but suffered humiliation as they were refused audience by the Secretary of State for the Colonies on the grounds that their petition was almost the same as that presented the same year by the delegates of the Provincial Council of Chiefs, who the British Government considered to be more representative of the Colony. Though the delegation’s petition was taken up by the League Against Imperialism in 1936 and questions were asked in Parliament as to why the Government had turned down the requests of the delegation, no pressure was brought to bear on the Government to change its decision. This affected the morale of the members and seriously dampened their commitment to the Society as this was ample evidence that they no longer enjoyed the attention of the Colonial Government.
As a proto-nationalist group, the Society could not adapt to the changes in the trend of political agitation that swept through British West Africa in the 1920s. By this period more radical groups such as the National Congress of British West Africa (NCBWA) appeared on the political scene. And as the ARPS’s position at a point came to be considered as lethargic as against the NCBWA which pressed for absolute control of African lands by Africans the NCBWA was seen by the people as a better group as far as the quest for self determination was concerned. Lastly, with the formation of the National Congress of British West Africa (NCBWA) most of the leading members of the Society such as Casely-Hayford, de Graft Johnson and a host of others crossed carpet to join the NCBWA. ITie ARPS thus lost its fighting spirit as most of its leading members did not show any commitment in its activities and survival.National Congress of British West Africa -NCBWA (1920)
The National Congress of British West Africa was formed in Accra in March 1920 by J .E. Casely-Hayford, a Sekondi lawyer. This movement differed from the ARPS in two main ways. The first difference was its middle ciass nature and the iack of attachment to the chiefs, and second, its activities and demands that went beyond the frontiers of the Gold Coast to the other British West African territories. The NCBWA could thus be seen as the first inter-territorial nationalist movement in British West Africa.
In all, fifty-two delegates attended its inaugural meeting - six (6) from Nigeria, three (3) from Sierra Leone, one (i) from the Gambia and forty-two (42) from the Goid Coast. Its elected officers were: T. Hutton-Mills, President, J. E. Casely Hayford-Vice . President, Dr. F.V. Nanka-Bruce and L. E. V. McCarthy-Joint Secretaries, A.B. Quartey-Papafio and H. Van Hein as Joint Treasurers. Among its eighty-two (82) resolutions covering twelve (12) topics were The Legislative Councils in British West Africa should have half i.e. 50% of its membership directly elected, ii) There should be a West Africa House of Assembly made up of all the members of the Legislative Councils plus six (6) financial representatives elected by the people to control revenue and expenditure. Municipal Councils dominated by Africans should be established, iv) The Civil Service should be Africanised. v) Syrian and Lebanese traders should be expelled, vi) The right of the installation or deposition of chiefs should continue
to be in the hands of the people, vii) A West African University should be established, viii) A Law making education compulsory be enacted and that the standard of primary and secondary education should be raised.With these demands, in September 1920 the Congress dispatched a deputation to London. It consisted of Chief Oluwa and J. Egerton Shyngle from Nigeria, T. Hutton Mills, H. Van Hein and J. E. Casely-Hayford from Ghana, Dr. H.C. Bankole-Bright and F.W. Dove from Sierra Leone, and E.F. Small and H, M. Jones from The Gambia. Though the deputation remained in London until January 1921, not only were all their demands for constitutional and judicial reforms rejected, but Lord Milner, the Colonial Secretary, refused to grant them audience.Achievements
Owing to the pressure mounted by the Congress, the Colonial Administration introduced limited constitutional reforms. The principle of elective representation was for the first time introduced into the 1922 Constitution of Nigeria, the 1924 Constitution of Sierra Leone and the 1925 Constitution of Ghana. The Congress was the first practical attempt of pan-Africanism, which sought to unite the African elite to fight for a common cause. The activities of the NCBWA no doubt popularised the concept in British West Africa. Through the instrumentality of the Congress, the Colonial Administration gave its blessing to higher education with the establishment of Achimota College in Ghana, Prince of Wales College in Sierra Leone and Armitage College in The Gambia. It was also through the agitation of the Congress that the Medical Service in British West Africa was opened to Africans. The policy of Africanising the Civil Service also began in earnest. Moreover, the Congress succeeded in getting established, the West African Court of Appeal to serve the four Colonies. The court was not subject to the control of the Governor and thus to some extent injected confidence in the administration of justice in the Colonies. Finally, the activities of the Congress (and earlier nationalist movements) served as a foundation on which future nationalist activity was erected in British West Africa. Failures
The Congress did not only court the displeasure of the colonial governors by its refusal to consult them before sending a deputation to the Secretary of State for the Colonies in London, but the fear that their powers were being usurped by the group alarmed the colonial officials and set them on a collision course with the Congress. Both Governor Guggisberg and Hugh Clifford denounced the delegates as unrepresentative to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, with the most scathing attack coming form Clifford. It was little wonder that the Secretary of State for the Colonies^ Lord Milner, also came to consider the demands of the Congress as "inimical to the best interest of the community" and therefore refused to co-operate with them. The inability of the leadership (mostly educated elite) to come down to the level of the ordinary man was a serious political set-back. By its failure to align with the ordinary people who constituted a greater percentage of the population, the Congress did not have a broad support base. And worst of it all, the general population seeing it as a class society, frowned upon its activities, making the Congress unpopular. In the circumstances, the Congress did not only lose the popular following it badly needed to carry out very effective programmes, but the British Government, using its narrow base as an excuse refused to co-operate with it.
Moreover, the Congress failed to bring the chiefs, ( who were then more powerful and influential), into their fold. In fact, the chiefs became hostile towards the Congress as they regarded it as an attempt to usurp their traditional function as leaders of the people. In addition, with the policy of indirect rule the Colonial Administration looked for the expression of African opinion through the chiefs and not the educated Africans. And the chiefs were determined to hold on to such power. Therefore, when the Congress sent a delegation to London, Nana Ofori Atta gathered some chiefs and launched an attack on the delegation in the Legislative Council in December 1920 on the grounds that, it did not represent the people. This attack no doubt convinced the Secretary of State, Lord Milner, that the delegation represented nobody, and therefore refused to grant audience to the Congress’ deputation to London.
The Colonial Government was not also prepared to accept the demands of the Congress due to the fear that they would usurp its powers. The government therefore scoffed at the whole idea of the Congress. Really, the dispatches sent to London by Governors Clifford of Nigeria and Guggisberg of the Gold Coast, to a large extent, convinced Lord Milner to consider the Congress’ demands as "inimical to the best interests of the community" and therefore refused to entertain its members. The Congress did not set up any effective machinery to carry out its plans. The absence of a central secretariat to co-ordinate its activities in the colonies meant that it did not act in concert - a situation not ideal for an association whose membership cut across national boundaries, and more importantly, aimed at African participation in the governance of all British West Africa. Again, some of the leading members were bought off and silenced with appointments to positions in the Civil Service, and the Legislative and Executive Councils. The consequence was that, finding themselves positions in the government, their minds were taken away from me activities of the Congress. Lastly, the death of Casely-Hayford, the moving spirit of the Congress in 1930, brought the movement to its knees as his replacement was not immediately available.CAUSES OF NATIONALISM IN GHANA AFTER 1945 - (SECOND WORLD WAR)
ExternalThe Proclamation of the Atlantic Charter
The Atlantic Charter of 1941 which was proclaimed by the Allies when the American President Franklin Roosevelt and the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met on a battleship off the Canadian coast during the war called for "...the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live", and also expressed the desire to see "sovereign rights and self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them". On the cessation of hostilities, West African nationalists dwelt on this clause to argue for self-determination. Though Prime Minister Winston Churchill believed that the clause did not apply to the African colonies, by declaring to the House of Commons that : ’At the Atlantic meeting we had in mind, primarily, the restoration of the sovereignty, [and] self-government... of the States and Nations of Europe under the Nazi yoke ... so that this is quite a separate problem from the progressive evolution of self-governing institutions in the regions and peoples which owe allegiance to the British Crown’, with the coming into power of the Labour Party under the leadership of Clement Attlee, concessions with regards to the Charter were granted to the nationalists. Apart from the friendliness of the Attlee government to the cause of the nationalists, some Africans had the strongest conviction that the Charter applied to them". In April 1945 tor instance, the West African Students Union in London made a demand to the Colonial Office for dominion status. Also, a group of West African editors, with Nnamdi Azikiwe as leader, prepared a memorandum entitled ’The Atlantic Charter and British West Africa’, visited Britain, and asked for substantial political reform. And among the resolutions passed by the Pan-African Congress of Manchester in 1945 was one which demanded that ’the principles of the ... Atlantic Charter be put into practice at once’.The broken ’myth’
Psychologically, the black man came to do away with die ’myth’ surrounding the white. With the African soldier fighting alongside the whites in Burma, Kenya, Ethiopia and Europe, and living under the same conditions, it became clear to the African soldiers that the whites after all did not possess any exceptional qualities. Again, some Africans such as the Ghanaian, Seth Anthony, rose to become Army officers who had under their command, white soldiers. Ndabanangi Sithole, a Rhodesian nationalist leader made startling revelation of the "broken myth", in his African Nationalism in the following words: "The girls of England and France and Italy who went out with African soldiers did not help the preservation of the white myth ... African soldiers saw white soldiers wounded, dying and dead ... After spending four years hunting white enemy soldiers, the African never again regarded them as gods".3 Really, the war shattered the prestige of the white man and die myth about his inherent superiority and this removed an important psychological barrier to the African’s’ quest for self-determination.Formation of Negro movements
The formation of Negro movements in the post-war period greatly enhanced the activities of the nationalists. For instance, the activities of the West African Students Union (in London) and their call for "complete self government within five years after the war" for all the British West African countries had a tremendous impact on nationalist struggle in the colonies. Again, at the Fifth Pan-African Conference, political stalwarts such as Dr. Kwame Nkrumah made demands for an unconditional freedom for Africa. This development gave further inspiration to the nationalists.The stand of the USA and USSR
The end of the war saw the emergence of the USSR and the USA as two Super Powers who for different reasons, advocated for decolonisation. These two Powers then came in with intense pressure (largely through the UNO) on the colonial powers to grant independence to their colonies. Britain came up for special mention as the Life Magazine bluntly warned: "Great Britain had better part with her Empire, for the United States is not prepared to fight in order to enable her to keep it". Really, American-influence on Africa in the 1940s was not limited to international diplomatic level. At times it was direct. American armies fought in the Maghrib against the Germans. And in 1943, the Sultan of Morocco Sidi Muhammed met President Roosevelt at Casablanca, and was converted by him to favour nationalism. From 1943, the Sultan gave openly, his unflinching support to the Morocco nationalist cause. On her part, the Communist World in 1948 declared February 21 as the day of the struggle against colonialism, and from then on their broadcasts highlighted attacks on the colonial system. There is little doubt that the stand taken against colonialism by the USA and the USSR helped the nationalist cause as they (nationalist) saw their actions as having the full backing of the two Powers.Independence of Asiatic states
The independence of Asian states such as Burma, India, and Indonesia after World War II gave inspiration to the nationalists. The experience of these states (especially India) convinced the nationalists that with determination, their struggle would yield the expected results i.e. gain independence from British rule.Inspiration from the non-aligned group of nations
The demand by large group of non-aligned lesser powers at the UN for an end to colonialism throughout the world was another source of inspiration. The first big conference of non-aligned nations was held at Bandung in Indonesia in 1955. Bandung marked not the end of colonial rule in Asia, but the beginning of the final phase in Africa’s progress towards independence. Africa was represented at the conference by only a few independent nations, but observers were sent by the main nationalist parties of the Sudan, Gold Coast, -South Africa and Algeria. The conference greatly encouraged African nationalists, made them feel less alone, and demonstrated dramatically the unity of the coloured peoples of the emerging Third World.InternalShortage and price hikes
The post war period saw the shortage of basic goods such as soap, sugar etc. which had always been imported. The shortages led to price hikes beyond the purchasing power of the people. This fuelled the demand for independence as the colonial government was seen as unable to see to the needs of the people.Unemployment and failure to honour promises
The war led to the forcible recruitment of thousands of Ghanaians to fight on foreign fronts. On their return home, these veterans, some of whom had learned useful trades and professions were hard-hit by unemployment on their discharge from the military. This was against the background of very attractive promises (packages) made to the soldiers concerning their upkeep after the war. With the promises not fulfilled, and their appeals to the colonial government not yielding any response, these ex-servicemen, numbering between 50,000-65,000 and already suffering due to joblessness became more frustrated and embittered as their persistent appeals to the Colonial Office to do something about this unfortunate situation fell on deaf ears. It was in a bid to secure a better deal from „the Colonial Government that three ex-servicemen, Sergeant Adjetey, Corporal Attipoe and Private ’Odartey Lamptey, who were among a group of unarmed ex-servicemen marching to present a petition on, their deteriorating conditions to the Governor, were shot dead by a poli.ee officer. Th6 consequence of this accident was spontaneous rioting— a development which no doubt hastened the pace of the struggle for independence.The desire to see democratic ideals practised in Ghana
On recruitment, the soldiers were made to believe that the Western Allies were engaged in a war to free the world from German and Japanese racism and imperialism. The war propaganda machinery of the Allies preached the ideals of democracy, liberty and fundamental human rights - ideals which were later to be expressed in the Atlantic Charter which gave birth to the UNO. On their return home, the soldiers did not see the ideals in operation but strongly felt that they should be practised in Ghana, for , as it were, these were the very ideals for which they had sacrificed their lives on foreign lands. They therefore supported the struggle for independence, to experience the conditions or developments under such ideals.THE GOVERNMENT OF SOUTHERN GHANA
In the colonial era, Southern Ghana was administered differently from Asante, the Northern Territories and British Togoland (Volta Region). The reason for this difference in administration was that Asante was regarded as a conquered state whereas the Northern Territories and British Togoland were ruled directly by the Governor assisted by Chief Commissioners, Commissioners and District Commissioners. Southern Ghana or "the Colony Proper’ on the other hand had an Executive and a Legislative Council to help the Governor in administering the area under his jurisdiction.The Executive Council
It was the highest administrative institution in the Crown Colony - "the Colony Proper". Until 1943, its membership (according to the 1897 Constitution), included the Governor as the head, and some heads of departments or high-ranking British officials: the Colonial Secretary, the Attorney General, Financial Secretary, Inspector General of the Troops (Commander of the Colonial Army of the Territory). All these officials were Europeans. Its meetings were held in camera. The 1903 Constitution added the Director of Public Works who replaced the head of ;the Military. The change was effected probably as a result of the importance attached to public works. Later, the Director of Public Works was dropped and the Director of Medical Services and the Secretary of Native Affairs made members. After continuous demands by the people, in 1943 Sir Alan Burns appointed two Ghanaians, Nana Sir Ofori Atta I, Paramount Chief of Akyem Abuakwa and a leading lawyer, Sir Arku Korsah, as members. Among its functions were: serving as an advisory body to the Governor, discussing major policies and plans put forward by the Government for their proper implementation and controlling of expenditure of public money. It was also to make regulations and issue orders. The Council had to be consulted by the Government before an order for the Nana Sir Ofori Atta acquisition of land was issued. Moreover, in exercising his prerogative of either pardoning, suspending or dismissing any official, the Governor had to consult the Council. The Executive Council had a limitation in that, being merely an administrative body, the Governor was not compelled to take its decisions or advise. Moreover, it was not a true Cabinet in the real sense, because unlike the British Cabinet, it was not guided by the principle of collective responsibility.The Legislative Council
Also chaired by the Governor, the Legislative Council was made up of official and unofficial members, with the official (all Europeans) always being in the majority. The unofficial members were appointed by the Governor from the European population usually. In 1886 an African, George F. Cleland of Accra together with an Englishman were appointed unofficial members. It debated and approved policies introduced by the Government through the Executive Council, considered bills necessary for the proper administration of the colony and passed them into ordinances, and served as a forum to air grievances. Again, the Legislative Council debated the Government’s draft annual budget and how national revenue should be disbursed. However, the budget had to be approved by the Secretary of State for the Colonies before it could be implemented. If for any reason, the Legislative Council failed to approve the budget, the Governor was empowered, with the approval of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, to bring it into effect. Like the Executive Council, the Legislative Council also had some shortfall. For instance until 1925 there was no elected representation on this important Council, and for a long time the leaders of the people fought strongly against this unsatisfactory state of affairs. Moreover, its opinion and advice were not binding on the Governor.The Clifford Constitution - 1916
The Clifford Constitution of 1916 introduced changes in the membership of the Executive and Legislative Councils. The Legislative Council was now made up of 21 members, 11 official and 9 unofficial with the Governor as the President. Of the unofficial members, three were Europeans representing mining, commercial and banking interests and three nominated educated men. The other three were chiefs representing the Twi, Fante and Ewe communities respectively: They were; Nana Ofbri Atta, Nana Amoako Kwesi Twe of Anomabo and Togbi Sri Awomefia. Thus both the official and unofficial members were appointed by the government. Ghanaians formed less than one-third of the 21-member council. The 1916 Clifford Constitution was therefore a proof of inadequate representation of the people and this heightened political tension. The Legislative Council under this constitution was supposed to make laws for the Colony. But it tended to be regarded as merely advisory and therefore the Governor was not bound by its advice or views. He could also veto a Bill from the Council if he found it unacceptable.
The Executive Council was made up of six members including the Governor who presided. The other five were heads of the departments in the Colonial Administration - The Director of Finance, the Attorney General, the Colonial Secretary and the Commander of the Troops. It met regularly to advise the Governor on all policies leading to initiation and formulation of major policies. The Council assisted the Governor to ensure the proper implementation of policies. It also dealt with matters raised in the Legislative Council and all tiiose referred to it by the Colonial Office in London. Again, the Governor was not bound to accept their advice.The Guggisberg Constitution - 1925
On taking over the Governorship of the Gold Coast in 1919, Gordon Guggisberg initiated some changes in the political deve/opment of the country in a bid to reduce the agitation of the nationalists. After consulting the ARPS and prominent traditional rulers, he promulgated a new constitution in 1925. The 1925 Constitution conceded the right of elective representation. It provided for 15 official (i.e. officers in government) and 14 unofficial members in the Legislative Council. The unofficial membership was made up of five (5) Europeans - three (3) nominated by the Governor and two (2) representing mining and commercial interests. The remaining nine (9) were Africans. Of the nine (9) Africans, three (3) were elected on property franchise to represent the three (3) municipalities of Accra, Cape Coast and Sekondi. The remaining six (6) were elected by the newly-created Provincial Council of Chiefs to improve upon the native administration in the Western, Central and Eastern Provinces. Asante, the Northern Territories and British Mandated Togoland had no representation as these territories were governed by separate sets of laws made by the Governor himself.
The Executive Council, however, continued to be the preserve of Europeans as it was still composed of the Governor and five (5) British officials of the most important departments. Even though by its introduction of the elective principle, the Constitution admitted that the people should have a say in how they were governed, it fell short of the expectations of the educated elite due to the large representation given to chiefs. Led by J. E. Casely-Hayford, they argued that by their education, they and not the illiterate chiefs should be recognised as the true representatives of the people. Their pleas were however ignored and the 1925 Constitution remained in force until 1946. Really, if the Colonial Administration had consented to the suggestion made by J. B. Danquah (in a letter published by West Africa) that provision be made for election of lawyer-politicians and Chiefs, so as to increase the number of commoners in the Legislative Council as Casely-Hayford hoped, it would have brought unity between the chiefs and the educated commoners, instead of driving a wedge deliberately, as the nationalists saw it) between the two. The Burns Constitution - 1946
After years of continuous representations made by the youth movements and other nationalist organisations, Sir Alan Burns, in consultation with the Secretary of State for the Colonies and some community leaders, promulgated a new Constitution in 1946. The 1946 Constitution substantially reduced the official and the nominated members of the Legislative Council to twelve (12) and doubled the African representation (elected members) to eighteen (18). For the first time, members came from the Ashanti Region (including present day Brong Ahafo Region). The composition of the expanded Legislative Council was as follows: The Governor as President, six (6) official and twenty four (24) unofficial members. The breakdown of the twenty four (24) unofficial members was: six (6) members nominated by the Governor, of whom three (3) were Europeans representing special interest and three (3) Gold Coasters. The remaining were nine (9) members elected by the Joint Provincial Council of Chiefs, four (4) elected by the Asanteman Council8 and five (5) elected through universal adult suffrage from the municipalities of Accra - two (2), Cape Coast, Sekondi andKumasi-one(l) each.THE FORMATION OF THE UNITED GOLDCOAST CONVENTION (UGCC)
The formation of the United Gold Coast Convention - UGCC, was necessitated by the dissatisfaction of the Gold Coast intelligentsia with the Burns Constitution of 1946, and their desire to see to the rapid socio-economic and political advancement of the country. With only two non-chiefs serving on the Executive Council (which was against the expectations of the educated elite), George Grant, a wealthy timber merchant with his close associates - J.B. Danquah, Awoonor-Williams and R.S. Blay mooted the idea of forming a political party. So on 4 August, 1947, the UGCC was formed at Saltpond following earlier discussions at the same place in April. In an inaugural speech, J. B. Danquah ended with the words "... this is the clarion call to which all of us should respond to demonstrate that our forefathers, our predecessors, shall not have fought in vain."
The executives of the Convention were: A. G. Grant - President, J. B. Danquah and R. S. Blay - Vice President, Awoonor Williams, Treasurer, E. Akuffo Addo, member, Obetsebi Lamptey, member. Other leading members were J. W. de Graft Johnson, E. A. W. Ofori Atta, Kobina Kessie and John siboe - proprietor of the Ashanti Pioneer. Kwame Nkrumah was later invited (upon the recommendations of Ako Adjei) from the United Kingdom to be its full time secretary. Aims and objectives
- to ensure that persons elected to represent the people and their natural rulers on the Legislative Council be elected by reason of their competence and not otherwise,
- To ensure by all legitimate and constitutional means, that the direction and control of government should pass into the hands of the people and their chiefs in the shortest possible time. Similarly, on September 20, 1947the Working Committee, resolved that:
- he Convention is of the opinion that the contact of chiefs and government is unconstitutional, and that:
- in consequence, their position and the Legislative Council is anomalous.
The party became so popular that by 1948 about 200 branches had been opened throughout the country. Moreover, it was able to raise national awareness and helped the people to understand the colonial situation and how everybody was to contribute to the attainment of independence. Again, the popularity of the Convention was enhanced after the 1948 riots. The establishment of the Watson Commission to investigate the causes of the 1948 riots was a response to calls by the UGCC. After the Watson Commission’s Report therefore, the colonial government invited some of its members to serve on the Coussey Committee.Failures
The UGCC failed to win self-government for the people through legal and constitutional means. Moreover, it was in disagreement with Kwame Nkrumah over strategy, ideology and the timing of independence. This development led to the resignation of Kwame Nkrumah, its energetic secretary, to form h,is own party. This affected the UGCC’s organisation and support base. The UGCC failed to enlist the support of the masses after the withdrawal of Nkrumah to form the CPP. As a driving force in enlisting the support-of the masses to the cause of the UGCC, Nkrumah’s absence created a vacuum in the UGCC’s organisation as it continued to draw its support from the middle class whose number was very small. The party therefor came tp lack a broader support base that’was needed to carry on the task it had set for itself.THE CONVENTION PEOPLE’S PARTY (CPP)
The Convention People’s Party was formed in Accra on 12 June, 1949 by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah after he had resigned as secretary of the UGCC due to differences with the Working Committee. Its leading members included: K. A, Gbedemah - Vice Chairman, Kojo Botsio- Secretary and A.Y.K. Djin -Financial Secretary. Aims and objectives
- To achieve immediate "self-government NOW for the chiefs and people of the Gold Coast,
- To serve as a vigorous political vanguard for removing all forms of political oppression and for the establishment of a democratic government,
- To secure and maintain the complete unity of the chiefs and people of the colony, Ashanti, Northern Territories and Trans-Volta.
- To work with and in the interest of the Trades Union movement in the country for better conditions of employment,
- To work for a proper reconstruction of a better Gold Coast in which the people shall have the right to live and govern themselves as a free people,
- To assist and facilitate in any way possible the realization of a united and self-governing West Africa.
One notable achievement of the CPP was the attainment of independence for the country. This was a major objective of the CPP and with the catch word "self government NOW", many people were attracted to the party. By this realization, the country became directly or indirectly responsible for the liberation of other African countries. The CPP won all parliamentary elections between 1951 and 1956.REASONS FOR NKRUMAH’S BREAK WITH THE UGCCIdeological
As a student in the USA and Britain, Kwame Nkrumah Was considerably influenced by Marxist-Leninist and other communist ideologies. Nkrumah admitted his ideological stand being in contrast to that of the members of the UGCC when he asserted in his Ghana: the Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah (probably an after-thought) that when he received the letter from Ako Adjei on the UGCC Working Committee’s decision to appoint him as General Secretary, his first thought was that it would be quite useless to associate himself with a movement backed almost entirely by middle class lawyers and merchants, for his (Nkrumah’s) ’revolutionary’ background and ideas would make it impossible for him to work with them. He however accepted Danquah’s invitation bearing in mind that he would be ’fully prepared to come to loggerheads with the Executive of the UGCC if I found that they were following a reactionary course’.Therefore, from every indication, "Nkrumah’s break with the UGCC was due to differences in the ideological background of Nkrumah and the Working Committee members.Differences in methods
Nkrumah’s radical approach to the nationalist process conflicted with the slow and deliberate approach of the original members of the UGCC. For, whereas Nkrumah was advocating for ’self government NOW’ which required swift, radical and uncompromising steps against colonialism, the UGCC was committed to ’self government in the shortest possible time’, which meant the adoption of constitutional legalities for independence. Obviously, people who belong to these different positions could not be a single fighting force and therefore there was bound to be a break.Nkrumah’s ambition and the UGCC’s stand
The leadership of the UGCC came to be increasingly suspicious of Nkrumah’s motives, more especially, his radical methods of carrying out the struggle for self-rule and the use of Communist phraseology of "Comrade" to address his colleagues. They also came to dislike Nkrumah’s militancy. Nkrumah no doubt had organisational abilities and was quite popular with the people; but when he established the "Committee on Youth Organisation’ -CYO, and the newspaper -The Accra Evening News, within the UGCC, the leadership of the UGCC were not happy as Nkrumah did these without their full involvement. Also in the pages of the paper, he whipped up anti-colonial and anti-chief sentiments which was contrary to what the UGCC stood for. In reality, Nkrumah’s activities confirmed the fears of the leaders of the UGCC that he wanted to make himself more popular with the people at the expense of the elected leaders, a development which the founding fathers detested.
Nkrumah therefore had to break away from the UGCC and form his own party where he would stand unchallenged, for leadership, and also be able to go ahead with his militant struggle for independence without any obstacles. As observed by Dennis Austin, so egotistical a leader as Nkrumah was unlikely to accept second place to Danquah and the rather lordly members of the UGCC working committee.’’Nkrumah’s exclusion from the Coussey Committee
Another cause of the break was Nkrumah’s exclusion from the Coussey Committee. The appointment of all the members of the ’Big Six’ (minus Nkrumah) to work on the Coussey Committee was seen by a majority of the people as a betrayal on the part of the five. Nkrumah was therefore urged on by the youth in the UGCC to break away from the "traitors".Nkrumah’s suspension from the UGCC
Kwame Nkrumah’s suspension from the post of General Secretary of the UGCC and its refusal to re-instate him despite demands by the CYO, led to anger and frustration at the grassroots level of the party who pressurised the young men in the UGCC to urge Nkrumah to break away.THE 1948 RIOTS
The continued control of the socio-economic and political life of the Gold Coast by the British was a time bomb which finally exploded in 1948.’ In that year, Nii Kwabena Bone HI, Osu Alata Mantse and leader of the "National Boycott Movement" organised a very successful boycott of goods sold by immigrant merchants (Europeans and Syrians) owing to high prices. An agreement had been reached with the Colonial Administration to do something about the prices on 28 February, 1948. That day, a reduction in the prices of consumables was to be effected. It was on the same day that a group of unarmed ex-servicemen decided to go on a special peaceful march 2 to present a petition on their deteriorating conditions to Sir Gerald Creasy, the. Governor, at his residence - the Christiansborg Castle, Osu. On reaching the Osu-Labadi cross-road not far from the Castle, they encountered a contingent of policemen on duty under the command of Captain Colin Imray, who ordered them to stop. As the ex-servicemen were marching forward in defiance of the order, Captain Imray ordered his men to shoot. On the men’s refusal, he took a gun and fired at the marchers. The result was the death of Sergeant Adjetey, Corporal Attipoe and Private Odartey Lamptey. Five other ex-servicemen were wounded.
The news of the incident aroused violent anti-government protests, looting and general anarchy in Accra. There was spontaneous reaction in other towns like Nsawam, Koforidua, Akuse and Kumasi. When normalcy returned, 29 people had lost their lives while 237 others sustained injuries of varying degrees. Property damage was estimated at £2 million. The UGCC was blamed for the disturbances and its six leading members - Dr. J. B. Danquah, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Akuffo Addo, William Ofori Atta, Ako Adjei and Obetsebi Lamptey were arrested and detained in various isolated areas in the Northern Territories. These people later became known as the "Big Six".
REMOTE CAUSES OF THE RIOTS
The post-war period saw shortages and a subsequent rise in the prices of consumer goods. This was against the background of a drop in the real wage index for daily-rated workers from 100 in May 1939 to 66 by November 1941. Even after the increase in wages in December 1941 the real wage index was still only 81. A second award in July 1947 raised the index to 91, but this again was eroded by a further period of inflation, when the purchasing power of the labourer’s wage, now at 2s. 9d. a day, dropped to 86 by November 1947, and 75 by August 1948. One particularly hard-hit group of artisans were the drivers, many of them ex-servicemen who found it difficult to get petrol except at black market prices under an inefficient system of rationing. The mass of the people then started pointing accusing fingers at the government and even became more incensed that whereas the British government was trying to alleviate the hardships of its nationals back home through measures like price regulation and other controls, the Ghanaian was left at the mercy of profiteering foreign businessmen and their agents and commodity speculators. Moreover, the Gold Coast economy was monopolised by European firms such as UAC, SCOA and CFAO. These firms had formed an association -Association of West African Merchants (AWAM) to control the sale of goods and dictate prices. Working in concert, the firms succeeded in selling goods at high prices regardless of the effects on the people. What worsened the already bad situation was that conditional sales became a prominent feature in the retail trade. People were thus compelled to buy goods which they did not need. The nationalists therefore saw no difference between colonial rule and European exploitation. To them, they were two faces of the same coin and must therefore be dealt with.
Closely linked to the above was the absolute control of the internal petty trading by Lebanese and Syrians. These foreigners succeeded in pushing, out any indigene who wanted to earn a decent living through petty trading. The banks did not help either as they gave loans only to whites whilst denying them to Ghanaians who wanted to improve their businesses. Again, one of the economic causes of the 1948 riots was the measure of controlling the spread of the swollen shoot disease which had hit many cocoa farms ( an estimated 50 million trees were affected). This caused a considerable reduction in both the quantity and quality of cocoa output. The government’s reaction to it was to order the cutting down of diseased trees.14 The directive did j not go down well with the farmers especially at a time when the cost of living was very high. To them, the government should find a cure for the disease instead of cutting the trees down. They took the government’s action as i further move to worsen the plight of the already impoverished farmers. Cocoa farmers thus came to bear the government a grudge, more especially when wild rumours spread that the British wanted to destroy the industry in Ghana in order to boost its production in other tropical colonies with more subservient subjects than those in Ghana. Social
Socially, the people were not satisfied with the available facilities for second cycie education because even though by 1948 the number of pupiisin elementary schools was 200,000, the number of those in assisted schools was 4,000. The assisted schools were even ill-housed and poorly equip Facilities for higher education were almost non-existent. Higher education was confined to intermediate courses in Achimota where enrolment was just about 100 students. At the same time however, there were 200 Gold Coast students in institutions of higher learning in the UK, an indication that the Gold Coast lacked the facilities for higher education even though the Elliot Commission had recommended the siting of a university in the Gold Coast. Another problem was the acute shortage of houses in the urban areas. As more people from the rural areas drifted to the urban centres in search of jobs and better life without a corresponding increase in houses, the cities became congested - a situation which the people felt the British Administration had no immediate remedy for.Political
To the educated elite, the Burns Constitution was designed to give more power to the chiefs and was therefore a deliberate attempt to stifle their political aspirations. The intelligentsia thus became frustrated. There was great dissatisfaction at the extremely slow pace at which the Africanisation of the administrative set-up was moving. In 1908 for instance, only five (S) out of the 278 senior posts in the administrative set-up were held by Africans. As late as 1946, all the senior officials in the public sector were Europeans. There were only two (2) Africans, namely, Dr. K .A. Busia and Mr. A. L. Adu who were Assistant District Commissioners. In the legal field, the bench was the preserve of whites. The ex-servicemen were not happy with the non-fulfillment of promises of rehabilitation after the Second World War. As noted earlier, in their attempt to bring to the notice of the Governor their frustration and deprivation, a group of the demobilised soldiers decided to present a petition to him at the Christiansborg Castle. It was at the cross-road not far from the castle that three of the ex-servicemen were shot and killed by a police officer on guard duty. The reaction of the people to the shooting incident was mass looting and rioting in Accra, Nsawam, Koforidua, Kumasi etc. Thus, we can conveniently state that the people of the Gold Coast nursed serious resentment which needed the slightest spark to explode. This was amply provided by the 1948 cross road shooting incident. The Watson Commission - 1948
The aftermath of the 1948 riots was the setting up of a Commission by the British government to investigate the causes of the riots and to make appropriate recommendations to avoid the recurrence of such incidents in the Gold Coast. The Watson Commission (it was named after the Chairman -Andrew Aiken Watson) was then set up. Other members were Dr. Keith Murray, Rector of Lincoln College, OxfoFd, and Andrew Dalgleish of the British TUC. The Commission which concluded its sittings on 26