The Magic of A Comma

Kwame Nkrumah was a man of personal magnetism; a compelling speaker; a gifted orator and a man of exceptional organizational ability. He brought so much revolution into the politics of the Gold Coast and Ghana that, even if the country had not been declared a one-party state, Kwame Nkrumah and his Convention People’s Party could have continued to sweep the general elections from 1966 ad-infinitum. I propose that the declaration of Ghana as a one-party state and the making of Osagyefo a President-for-life were superfluous and a move that subsequent Ghanaian regimes and – indeed – all of Africa should take a serious lesson from.

Nkrumah was a farsighted politician that arguably lived decades ahead of his peers in the CPP and opponents in the United Gold Coast Convention or the United Party. The colossus of an institution admittedly dwarfed his contemporaries; no wonder an ordinary poll conducted by the British Broadcasting Corporation some 17 years ago evolved Kwame Nkrumah as Africa’s Personality of the Millennium.

But, therein lies a problem. We stand the risk of making Nkrumah a superhuman without whom nothing was achieved; a superhero without whom very little can be achieved. That is on the national front. On the party politics plane, a motley of parties stand the risk of remaining in oblivion, as they keep basking in the glory of the name Kwame Nkrumah, instead of reliving his positive and still relevant ideals to attract majority support to win elections.

The size of Kwame Nkrumah continues to stir controversy 45 years after his death. After President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo traced the history of the struggle for political sovereignty at the 60th Independence anniversary last Monday, the disagreement over whether Nkrumah was the founder of Ghana, or, he was among six eminent persons that founded this dear nation of ours has been renewed with fervor. Ghana

Today is a nation – not at war, thank God – but certainly divided over who founded the nation.

In all humility, I submit that Ghana was founded by some five million people, most of whom are dead and a fifth or less still living. I put it out also for my opinion that Joseph Boakye Danquah, William Ofori-Atta, Edward Akufo Addo, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Ebenezer Ako-Adjei and Kwame Nkrumah were – at the very peak of the struggle – at the helm and deserve to be styled the Founders of Ghana. I suggest thus that, when it comes to acknowledging the gallantry and sacrifice, we should set out to mark Founders’ Day and not Founder’s Day.

Nkrumah’s proper place in this nation’s history should never be denied. But the onerous laying of the cornerstone by George Grant, Kuntu Blankson, Nii Kwabena Bonne II, Sir Ofori Atta I, Prempeh I, Yaa Asantewaa, S. D. Dombo, Alex Quayson Sackey, Ephraim Amu, Philip Gbeho and the several others should not be ignored. In particular, their part in history should not be denied Ako-Adjei, Obetsebi-Lamptey, Akufo Addo, Ofori-Atta and Danquah.

Was it our forefather Kwegyir Aggery that once observed that, if you play the back keys alone on the piano you get music, if you play the white keys you get music; but, if you play both black and white keys together you derive melodious music? I urge that, from now on, let’s marry the diverse contributions of Danquah’s group with Nkrumah’s and we shall derive a more united Ghana; a more purposeful nation. And, history is big enough to offer enough space for trillions of people to stand and be recognized. Acknowledging just six people as the Big Six or Founders should not stress a nation out. Beyond the turf fight there is far more important things we can do with the names and memories of our illustrious forebears.

I have had the shock of my life interviewing graduates and post-graduate ‘scholars’ and realizing that they know next to nothing about the history of the only land they claim to be of their birth. We must eulogize the

good deeds of our illustrious leaders to eternalize them in the memories of the current and subsequent generations.

There is a William Ofori-Atta Memorial Lectures that come off once a year; but attendance is by a few octogenarian apostles of his and other New Patriotic Party oldies with fond memories of the dead pious democrat. The J. B. Danquah Memorial Lectures come in a similar vein. The crossing point on the Ringroad West beyond GBC was renamed Ako-Adjei Interchange after it had borne the name of Thomas Sankara for over two decades. But, how many people know the significance? Edward Akufo-Addo’s monument adores a roundabout at The Cantonments, but; less than half of area residents know he ever was a ceremonial president of this republic. But, even beyond the circles and monuments, we can do better to the memories of our good leaders.

Let our musicians weave good songs around the heights and traits of these unsung men. Let our jokers weave their lines around the Big Six and other illustrious sons and daughters. Television and radio stations pay good money for – or steal from the internet – telenovellas that have hardly any bearing on our cultural values. Even our trickster Kwaku Ananse, to whom some are opposed as a model, invariably taught us the lesson that shortcuts and dishonesty end in agony and disgrace. Ananse- sem is denied the poor mother’s child and rich man’s child alike. That is Ghana Today. Imagine the exceptional courage and vision of Nii Bonne or Yaa Asantewaa being told children in their formative years and they being guided as they grow to use such courage judiciously! Valor is what we would be imbuing the kids with.

Ghana Today is a nation with no folklore. Many so-called modern Ghanaians are second-rate Europeans by their hairstyles, clothing, food they eat and mannerisms. But, we have a history unparalleled; the first country south of the Sahara to attain political independence from European imperialists. We have a unique history and responsibility as torchbearers of African sovereignty and renaissance. Let’s cut the crap and settle to serious business. For starters, we should recognize that

onerous responsibility by acknowledging – not a part – but the whole history that led to our nationhood.

In the heyday of imperial Rome, a prince was convicted of stealing; a crime that was punishable by custodial sentence. With a heavy heart, but as a matter of principle, the King wrote under his own hand and signed: “Pardon Impossible, To Be Sent To Prison.” The convicted prince’s sister, unable to imagine her brother in jail, crawled into the King’s closet at night and stole the scroll on which the grim punishment had been written. With a pounding heart but a determined spirit, the princess frenetically erased the comma sign from after the word Impossible and firmly planted it after the word Pardon. So, it now read “Pardon, Impossible To Be Sent To Prison.” Still carrying the firm signature of His Majesty. When the clarion call was sounded for the city to meet at the durbar ground for the various ceremonies; when the time came for the sentence on the prince to be read, the town-crier’s word was unmistakable: “Pardon, Impossible To Be Sent To Prison.” The prince was freed! That is the magic of a comma.

I humbly but firmly urge Ghana to, today, resolve to move the apostrophe in Founder’s Day from beyond the letter r to beyond the s. Then, it will become Founders’ Day celebration. We will reap the magic of the apostrophe as much as the princess got satisfaction from the magic of a comma. Enjoy the weekend!

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