A documentary on Ghana’s political history screened last Wednesday as part of the country’s 60th Independence anniversary has generated a heated debate between the Convention People’s Party (CPP) and producers of the film.
But the Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Michael Aaron Oquaye, has said cocoa and education played a key role in mobilising the masses, as well as providing the needed funds to push the cause of the independence struggle.
While the Nkrumahists insist that some of the facts depicted in the film are selective and twisted to pursue a certain agenda, the film producer, Mr Paul Adom-Otchere, has discounted their claims and said the film is based on available facts.
The documentary, titled: “From Gold Coast to Ghana: A Glorious History of Self-Determination”, sets out to highlight the efforts of key individuals who laid the foundation for this country’s independence.
Broadly, the documentary provides a political history from the then Gold Coast to modern Ghana.
It was produced as part of activities marking Ghana’s 60th anniversary.
Key issues, including cocoa politics and players in the country’s anti-colonial struggle and latter-day leaders, including John Mensah Sarbah, James Kwegyir Aggrey, Casely-Hayford, Dr J.B. Danquah, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Paa Grant, Otumfuo Sir Agyeman Prempeh and J.J. Rawlings, had their roles dissected by legal luminaries and historians, including Prof. Emeritus S.O. Gyandoh, Prof. S.K. Date-Bah, Prof. Garth Austin of the University of Cambridge in the UK and a daughter of Paa Grant, Madam Sarah Grant.
Founders’ Day vs Founder’s Day
Earlier, Prof. Oquaye had stated that although he had a lot of respect for Nkrumah and would want a day set aside to celebrate him, it was wrong for the country’s independence to be credited to him.
“Nkrumah was a visionary with a lot of ideas for Ghana and Africa, but we should not teach our children that someone (Nkrumah) had the magical wand. It was also about a battle of the intellect, industry and skills,” he said.
He said when the history of the country was told that intellectual minds had a role in the struggle, Ghanaian children would be inspired to take their education seriously.
The former Political Science lecturer said he hoped for the a day the nation would celebrate Founders’ Day in appreciation of the numerous leaders who put their shoulders to the wheel even before Nkrumah arrived on the scene.
A Senior Research Fellow of the IEA, Dr Michael Ofori-Mensah, observed that the documentary “reminds us of the enormous sacrifices that have been made for us to experience our current freedom”.
“It also inspires us to shape our country for a better future, so that generations unborn may look back and say, ‘when it was our time we did our bit’,” he said.
After the show, hosted by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), ended last Wednesday night, the Second National Vice-Chairman of the CPP, Ms Susan Adu-Amankwah, and the Director of Elections of the CPP, Mr James Kwabena Bomfeh, were livid over some aspects of the documentary which they said sought to downplay the achievements of Dr Nkrumah, Ghana’s first President and founder of the CPP.
But the film producer insisted that the documentary was based on facts and evidence available and not concoctions, as its narrative depended on the various constitutions which had a sequence of events and were without the bias of the documentary maker.
While watching the film in the packed IEA Ambassador Birgit Storgaard Conference Room in Accra, the CPP stalwarts, as well as the Chairman of the party, Prof. Edmund Delle, shook their heads in disagreement with some of the narrations.
One of the disputed narratives was the fact that Dr Danquah, one of the country’s nationalists who were later to be known as the Big Six, had died for the country he created.
That appeared to have tickled the nerves of Mr Bomfeh, who accosted Mr Adom-Otchere outside with the question, “How can you say Dr Danquah died for a country he created? It is not true. This is a deliberate attempt to downplay Nkrumah and project Dr Danquah. You can’t twist history like this.”
Dr Danquah’s research
But Mr Adom-Otchere stood by the narration, insisting that it was Dr Danquah’s research and suggested name that Dr Nkrumah used to change the name of the country from Gold Coast to Ghana, adding that the issue was well documented.
For Ms Adu-Amankwah, it was remarks by Prof. Oquaye that Ghanaians would not have loved to live under what he described as the repressive Nkrumah regime today that got her turning in her chair.
Outside the conference room, she said the comment was not fair, as the two periods could not be compared, especially when Nkrumah’s life and his government had been threatened on a number of occasions.
Prof. Delle agreed with that assertion, adding that the filmmakers had been selective in choosing their facts and their interpretation.
He also had issues with claims in the documentary that members of the Young Pioneers, a national youth movement, became spies for the Nkrumah regime, to the extent that while employees reported their bosses, children were reporting their parents.
“I was a Young Pioneer and I can say on authority that it is not true that Young Pioneers were reporting even their parents. It cannot be true,” he told the media.
Although the film is rich in detail, as it takes the viewer on a historical journey, touching on the significance of the Bond of March 6, 1844, the suffocating military regimes and subsequent transition to multi-party democracy, some of the patrons were of the view that it had attempted to project Dr Danquah as a victim of Nkrumah’s high handedness.
Others too were of the view that the documentary was largely silent on the role of Nii Kwabena Bonnie III, the Osu Alata Chief, who led the boycott of European goods in 1948, as well as the work of the late Komla Agbeli Gbedema, who was instrumental in mobilising the masses while the members of the Big Six were in prison.