We’ve sucked so much myth that we’ve forgotten the importance of 28th February 1948 in our history. Burns Constitution was adopted on 29/03/1946 and was followed by legislative elections in June 1946. For the 1st time in colonial Africa, Africans formed the largest block in the assembly; 21 members out of 32 were Gold Coasters. The path to independence had started without a party; not UGCCC, not CPP. No party since the death of Casely-Hayford in 1930 and the collapse of his NCBWA.
On 4th August 1947, Paa Grant, JB Danquah and others inaugurated UGCC. Mid-December 1947, Kwame Nkrumah arrived from England as the General Secretary of the UGCC. Before Nkrumah would even get a chair to sit on, something happened that changed everything.
The catalyst 4
- Nii Kwabena Bonne, Osu Alata Mantse
- Sgt. Adjetey
- Cpl. Attipoe
- Pte. Lamptey
Nii Bonne turned Accra on its head when he organized with his own money boycott of European goods. The boycott was to last from 28th January 1948 to 28th February. Providence intervened on 28/02/48.
Ex-servicemen who fought for Britain in WW2 were going to petition the Governor at the Osu Castle for broken promises made to them before the war. Superintendent Imray opened fire on these ex-servicemen and killed the 3 guys above. It wasn’t a political show, and no politician was there. The effect was nationwide riots that called for the 1st ever imposition of state of emergency in the country.
The riots led to 1st, the Watson, and then Coussey committee. Coussey in his report to the Governor in Oct 1949 recommended independence within 10years – so factually, 6th March 1957 was on target.
Why is 28th February the day of catalysis? Let’s read how UK’s Parliament explained the catalysis.
House of Lords, UK 24/07/1952
‘’The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have put this Motion on the Order Paper because developments in the Gold Coast during the last six years have been moving with such astonishing rapidity that it seemed to me appropriate at this stage to take stock of where these constitutional developments have led us, and what is the present situation arising out of it.’’
‘’At the opening of the session of the Coussey Committee which led to the drawing up of the present Constitution of the Gold Coast, Judge Coussey said: Indeed, in 1946, the Gold Coast made in constitutional law the most important advance that a Crown Colony can make before it reaches the frontiers of responsible government. That was the situation in 1947, and it is probable that but for the EVENTS of 1948 that Constitution would have had more than the comparatively short run of life which was its lot. As your Lordships know, in 1948 there broke out a SERIES of TROUBLES in the Gold Coast which culminated in the ACCRA RIOTS. Those riots, in part, of course, were the outcome of post-war difficulties in the Gold Coast, and not only in the Gold Coast but else-where in the world.’’
The verdict is indisputably out; the Accra riots catalysed the astonishing rapidity of our independence. 6th March 1957 didn’t come because of Self-Government Now or in The Possible Shortest Time. But for the Accra riots, the Burns constitution would have run its full course, and there would have been no Watson and Coussey committees to truncate Burns and chat a new path for independence.
Regardless of the political actor (Nkrumah or Danquah), the year of independence wouldn’t have been materially different from 1957. By the way, who cares whether it was 1955, 57 or 59? Let’s stop the lies so our children learn the true history.
May the catalyst 4, RIP. Sikaman will never forget you.
Nii Amu Darko
*The 3 ex-servicemen were uneducated yet their blood catalysed the attainment of our independence, that is why the stupid statement (uneducated Ghanaians) from the Judicial Service aka Jokers Squad should be treated with the contempt it deserves. Buului awiemɔ.
Authored by Nii Amu Darko