This Thursday, September 21 is supposed to be observed as Founders Day, to mark the birthday of Ghana’s first president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and to celebrate the country’s founding fathers. But here comes some adjustments…
President Nana Akufo-Addo is taking a bold step of unity believed to be directed at finding permanent closure to the lingering controversy over the celebration of Ghana’s founding fathers, and that of the country’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah.
Recall that Nana Addo and the New Patriotic Party have repeatedly been accused of downplaying the role of Dr. Nkrumah in securing Ghana’s freedom from colonial rule, while exalting that of their party founders whom the NPP celebrate on August 4 of every year.
See: Lesser Known Facts Why August 4 is Celebrated in Ghana
The NPP on the other hand, has also been complaining that the long established and celebrated Founder’s Day every September 21, promotes Kwame Nkrumah’s contributions to Ghana’s Independence while making little mention of the others who also suffered for the country’s emancipation.
But the President appears to be seeking to end the debates and bring unity by proposing one unanimous day for the celebration of all Ghana’s founding fathers and one separate day to celebrate Kwame Nkrumah.
The President in a statement released on Friday, September 15, is proposing to Parliament to designate August 4 as Founders Day to celebrate Ghana’s freedom fighters, while preserving September 21 solely for Kwame Nkrumah’s Memorial.
According to the statement signed by the Director of Communications at the presidency, Eugene Arhin, both days – Founders Day (August 4) and Kwame Nkrumah Memorial (September 21) – will be observed as nationwide public holidays.
Also See: Mahama’s Stand on Controversy over Ghana’s Founder
It further stated that in the meantime, the President has issued an Executive Instrument to commemorate this year’s September 21, that is, Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day as a public holiday.
Read full statement from the presidency below.
It is unfortunate that 60 years after independence, the history of the events leading to it continues to be embroiled in unnecessary controversy, due largely to partisan political considerations of the moment.
It is clear that successive generations of Ghanaians made vital contributions to the liberation of our country from imperialism and colonialism. It is, therefore, fitting that we honour them, as those who contributed to the founding of our nation.
The most appropriate way to honour them is to commemorate the day on which the two most significant events in our colonial political history, that led us to independence, occurred – 4th August.
On that day, in 1897, the Aborigines Rights Protection Society (ARPS) was formed in Cape Coast. The Society did a great job to mobilise the chiefs and people to ward off the greedy hands of British imperialism to ensure that control of Ghanaian lands remained in Ghanaian hands. It represented the first monumental step towards the making of modern Ghana, enabling us to avoid the quagmire of land inheritance that our brothers and sisters in Southern and Eastern Africa continue to suffer, from the seizures of their lands by white minorities.
In a deliberate act in the continuum of Ghanaian history, exactly fifty years later, on 4th August, 1947, at Saltpond, the great nationalists of the time gathered to inaugurate the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), the first truly nationalist party of the Gold Coast, to demand the independence of our nation from British rule, at a gathering which included “paramount chiefs, clergymen, lawyers, entrepreneurs, teachers, traders and men and women from all walks of life in the Gold Coast”, according to an eye witness.
The inauguration set the ball rolling for our nation’s attainment of independence, and for the dramatic events, including the birth in 1949 of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP), that ushered us into freedom.
That day, 4th August, is, thus, obviously the most appropriate day to signify our recognition and appreciation of the collective efforts of our forebears towards the founding of a free, independent Ghana.
It is equally clear that the first leader of independent Ghana, and the nation’s first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, played an outstanding role in helping to bring to fruition the works of the earlier generations, and leading us to the promised land of national freedom and independence. It is entirely appropriate that we commemorate him for that role, by designating his birthday as the permanent day of his remembrance.
The President has, therefore, decided to propose legislation to Parliament to designate 4th August as FOUNDERS DAY, and 21st September as KWAME NKRUMAH MEMORIAL DAY, both of which will be observed as public holidays. In the meantime, the President has issued an Executive Instrument to commemorate this year’s celebration of KWAME NKRUMAH MEMORIAL DAY as a public holiday.