General News of Friday, 4 August 2017
A thanksgiving and memorial service, as well as an anniversary lecture will be held today to commemorate the establishment of the Aborigines Rights Protection Society by John Mensah Sarbah and others and the formation of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC).
The non-denominational service would be held at Saltpond, where the first nationalist political party, the UGCC, was formed while the anniversary lecture would take place at 6pm on the same day at the National Theatre.
Making the announcements at a press briefing at the Flagstaff House in Accra, a Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor said the 60th Anniversary Planning Committee had been tasked by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to ensure that the anniversary was celebrated in an elegant but modest manner.
The United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) was a political party whose aim was to bring about Ghanaian independence from their British colonial masters after the Second World War.
In the 1940s, African merchants, such as George Alfred Grant (“Paa Grant”), were ready to finance the organisation of a political movement to assure their commercial interests in the face of unfair colonial practices. The party was founded by J.B. Danquah on August 4, 1947 by a combination of chiefs, academics and lawyers, including R.A. Awoonor-Williams, Edward Akufo-Addo, and Emmanuel Obetsebi-Lamptey.
On December 10, 1947, Kwame Nkrumah returned to the British colony, accepting Danquah’s invitation to become the UGCC General Secretary. Big Six member Ebenezer Ako-Adjei recommended inviting Nkrumah, whom he had met at Lincoln University. Nkrumah was offered a salary of £250, and Paa Grant paid the boat fare from Liverpool to Ghana.
Mr Jinapor said August 4 was a very momentous and significant day in the history of Ghana, saying on that day in 1897, a patriot, John Mensah Sarbah and his colleagues, established the Aborigines Rights Protection Society to fight against the Crown Land Bill of 1897.
He said they did so successfully and ensured that a decision was made that in Ghana, unlike Zimbabwe and South Africa, that ensured that the lands of the indigenous people were preserved.
Mr Jinapor said the views of many pundits and those in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) was that it was the fight by John Mensah Sarbah and his colleagues that led to the stability of the country and the land tenure system the country had today.
Going on, he said exactly on August 4, 1947, Paa Grant and his colleagues, the likes of J.B. Danquah and many others converged on Saltpond to establish the first nationalist political movement of the country, the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC).
“It was at this gathering that the ingredients of the Ghana of today, the democratic, free and prosperous country was conceived and out of that Ghana attained independence,” he added.
Mr Jinapor said President Nana Akufo-Addo had accepted to be the guest of honour at Saltpond and that later on in the day at 6pm, at the National Theatre, there was going to be the 60th-anniversary lecture.
“We have deliberated on it as a committee and decided that the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Ocquaye, delivers the 60th-anniversary lecture on the topic ‘August 4 – Ghana’s Day of Destiny’”, Mr Jinapor said.
He explained that the choice of the topic had been deliberate because the date was very significant in the history of the country both on the account of the struggle of John Mensah Sarbah and his colleagues in 1897 and the formation of the UGCC in 1947.
Mr Jinapor said the committee was sure that such a move would generate a lot of discussions in Ghana’s political environment, but it came to this conclusion upon very thorough and deliberate thought.
“We can have differences in opinion or different inferences from historical facts. But we must be unanimous on the historical underpinnings of our country,” he pointed out.
More so, he added that “it is our contention that the Ghana of today was conceived on that day and that is why we have placed so much significance on the day and that is appropriate to honour that day and ensure that the importance of that day is told to the people.”