Report: National Anthem Was My Masterpiece

Philip Gbeho, the man who composed the independent Ghana’s national anthem was paid three thousand pounds for his effort.

The adoption of the anthem was one of the last rites after the lowering of the Union Jack, the flag of England.

Until the adoption of the new anthem, all citizens of the Gold Coast went by the British’s ‘God Save The Queen’ anthem.

He was paid the amount as his copyright for the piece of music during the first week of September 1957 shortly after independence.

The gentleman was a Music Master at Achimota School and entered the competition for interested persons to submit their works for consideration. He beat them all and was paid an additional one hundred pounds for emerging the winner. There were four final contestants after a shortlisting exercise.

The cheque for the three thousand one hundred pounds was paid to Philip Gbeho at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Accra on September 5, 1957.

The transfer of the copyright was signed by the Information and Broadcasting Minister, Mr. Kweku Baako on behalf of the government and Mr. Philip Gbeho.

He was reported to have said in an interview shortly after the event that, “I regard the composition as my masterpiece and something from inspiration. I do not know how I did it myself.”

Mr. Gbeho was not only a musician but a person interested in the politics of the times. He showed particular interest in the referendum on the issue of French Togoland.

He spoke a lot about it; some aspects of it were captured in the Daily Graphic.

He is reported to have said that the issue had occupied the attention of Ewes in both French and British administrations.

Mr. Philip Gbeho said “the referendum, for all that I know, aims at separating the Ewes on the French side permanently from their brothers in the Gold Coast and British Togoland.”

For him, therefore, the referendum was no solution to the Ewe problem adding “the Ewes from the beginning have only one aim, that is, to live together as one tribe. The barriers separating us and making us French Togoland, Ewes, British Togoland are artificial and are not in our interest. Our fathers have always condemned these lines of demarcation and the imperial powers certainly know about all our grievances in this matter.”

He said the struggle over the British Togoland was an effort to unite the Ewes under a single administration. “That struggle is now over and we are now awaiting the results of the UNO in November or December. Of course, British Togoland will receive independence with the Gold Coast: if that happens then three quarters of Ewes will be permanently united.”

The problem about the Ewes is not for the political parties to solve but for the people themselves to address.

The French, he said, only took over what formed French Togoland after the First World War: the decision having been taken at a colonial dinner table.

The late Casely Hayford, he recalled, through the National Congress of West Africa fought the issue from the Gold Coast to No. 10 Downing Street but did not achieve his objective.

The aim of the French to absorb the Ewes in French Togoland into the French Empire, he said, is unacceptable.

The referendum, he continued “falls short of the aspirations of the Ewes. Let us, therefore, return to the aims of the All-Ewe Conference which seeks the unification of the entire Ewe country under a single administration. I must make it clear that by single administration the All-Ewe Conference had in mind the British Administration in the Gold Coast.”

He paid tribute to the British people for making it possible for the people of the Gold Coast to become self-governing.

“I wish to mention people like Maclean, Guggisberg and Fraser. They could have planned to let the Gold Coast remain forever a colonial territory or another South Africa,” he said.

He said the Ewes have watched the two sides and prefer the British segment which is being almost ruled by Africans. “At the moment, the Ewes in French Togoland are not free to express their views in public without incurring the displeasure of the ruling authorities.”

Ewes in French Togoland, he said, at the time must aim at following the rest of the Ewes wherever they may be. “In fact that was our aim when we were fighting for the removal of the artificial barriers in Eweland through the All-Ewe Conference.”

A Daily Graphic cutting of the 50s is the source of the foregone.

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