Former President John Mahama says although many people contributed to the independence struggle of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah remains the nation’s founder.
He told students and faculty heads at the University of Ghana English Department Tuesday roles played by others are not undermined when the first President is accorded the founder title.
“We don’t undermine the role other people played…but you cannot recognize all those who took part,” he said.
Ghana’s independence celebrations have over the years been marked by a strong debate over whether the nation has a founder or founders.
The Convention People’s Party (CPP) founded by Nkrumah and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) have maintained Dr Nkrumah founded the country because he moved the “motion of destiny” that led to independence.
This has been disputed by members of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) who have said several people contributed to the independence of the country and they all deserve to be accorded that respect.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo stoked the debate when he stated during his speech at the 60th independence celebration in March that the independence struggle started 10 years before it was granted.
He listed his uncle J.B Danquah, Emmanuel Obetsebi-Lamptey, William Ofori-Atta, Ebenezer Ako-Adjei and his father Edward Akufo-Addo as key people who met the British to demand independence.
The President said Dr Nkrumah was brought into the country when the leaders of the first political party, United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), decided they needed a dedicated secretary to manage the party’s office.
Hours after the speech, the CPP and NDC attacked the President’s account of the nation’s history, describing it as “revisionist.”
Executive Director of Third World Network (TWN), Dr Yao Graham, said President Akufo-Addo “cleverly” revised Nkrumah’s role to project that of his father and uncle.
The socialist said one thing that distinguished Kwame Nkrumah from other members of the ‘big six’ was his involvement with the masses which led to the use of the word “Peoples” in the name of the CPP.
Joining the debate three months after he lost his re-election bid, Former President Mahama said Dr Nkrumah is the person who gave the “critical spark” which eventually led to Ghana’s independence. “You cannot run away from the fact.”
He explained many people including John the Baptist in the Bible contributed to the spread of Christianity, but the “champion of Christianity [is] Jesus Christ.”
“I believe that one of the things he [Nkrumah] tried to do was to build the infrastructure of this country and use it as a platform to industrialise the country.”
“I believe his vision was far ahead of the country itself and most of us didn’t understand what he was trying to do. But today when we look back, we can see what he was trying to make of the country,” he added.