A lot of brave men and women has fought to be make Ghana what it is today. From Yaa Asantewaa, The Big Six, Otumfuor Osei Tutu, Theodosia Salome Okoh, Afraim Amu and many others. Here we give you 4 heroes that aren’t celebrated enough for what they did.
DR. JAMES EMMANUEL KWEGYIR AGGREY (1875-1927)
One of the leading figures in the history of education in Africa was undoubtedly Dr James Emmanuel KwegyirAggrey, more popularly known as “Aggrey of Africa”. Noted as a great sociologist, orator, preacher, and a far-sighted politician, and equally famous for his witty and epigrammatic sayings, Aggrey, an apostle of inter-racial
co-operation, advocated and helped to cut the path of progress for the African race in many fields, particularly in the direction of Religion, Education, and Agriculture. Born on Monday, 18th October, 1875, at Anomabu in the Central Region of the Gold Coast, Aggrey was the son of Princess Abena Annuah of Ajumaku, and Prince Kodwo Kwegyir, Chief Linguist in the court of King Amonoo V of Anomabu. He was the fourth of eight children; his father had married three times, and Aggrey was a child last wife.
He was baptized on June 24th, 1883, with his brother Kodwo Awir when the Christian names of James and William, were by custom bestowed on him and his brother respectively. His father worked as a “Gold Taker” for several years in a company which belonged to George Kuntu-Blankson at Anomabu, his hometown, some fifteen miles east of Cape Coast. But the company went bankrupt and Aggrey’s parents moved to Cape Caost for his father to take up a similar job with John Sarbah. It was here in Cape Coast that Aggrey started his education at the Wesleyan School.
In no time, young Emmanuel distinguished himself in all branches of knowledge, and easily won the admiration of the Rev. Dennis Kemp, a Wesleyan missionary who had arrived in Cape Coast from Barbados, West Indies. In the spacious mission home, “the most palatial residence in Cape Coast,” Aggrey and twenty- three other lads received instruction in joinery, blacksmithery, home decoration and painting, in addition to formal literary education.
Two years afterwards, Aggrey completed his course at this college, and accepted the post of temporary pupil teacher at Abura-Dunkwa (20 miles east of Cape Coast) on a monthly salary of 35 shillings.
As a soldier in the Fanti-Ashanti war, we find Aggrey serving with the expedition under Colonel Sir Francis Cunningham Scott, a veteran of the Guinea and of the Indian Mutiny, who was the Inspector-General of the Gold Coast Constabulary, and who had on his staff two British princes, Prince Henry of Battenberg and Prince Christian Victor. Aggrey was an interpreter and was paid 7/6d. per day. He was attached to the Telegraph Unit under Captain R. S. Curtis and Lieutenant McInnes, who marched from
Cape Coast to Kumasi in December, 1896. He saw fighting in Kumasi the following year, and returned to Cape Coast unhurt. Immediately afterwards, his father’s people made him Tufuhene (Field Marshall) according to native custom, but although he accepted the honour he politely sought to be relieved of that office, as it would have stood in the way of his educational and other civic programmes. He was a co founder of the Achimota College and the Agrey Memorial School in Cape Coast was named after him.
TETTEH QUARSHIE (1842-1892)
It was due to the efforts of one man alone, whose wide experience and enterprise saved this country’s economy during the last quarter of the 19th century. During that time, the entire fiscal history of the Gold Coast ought to have taken a different course. It was an era in which rubber and palm-oil formed the staple industries of this country, but by 1880 these crops had failed miserably; and the supply of gold, ivory and pepper which had been the strong pillars of the country’s economy had also proved
fluctuating, meager and unreliable. The individual whose travels saved the situation was Tetteh Quarshie, an Accra man, born in 1842 at Christiansborg.
His father was Mlekuboi of Teshie and a farmer by occupation, and his mother was named Ashong a native of Labadi. Neither he nor his parents could read nor write, according to western standards, but nonetheless they came from good homes, and had considerable intelligence and wit. At the age of twelve, young Tetteh Quarshie was apprenticed to a leading blacksmith in a Basel Mission Workshop at Akropong where he learnt his trade with great diligence, soon establishing himself as a master blacksmith, and commanding a great reputation and respect in the Akwapim State. He established his central workshop at Akwapim- Mampong, but took short trips to various parts of the country to do repair works as we for government offices.
He subsidized his meager income as a blacksmith with farming which he undertook as a hobby, so that when in 1870, he visited Fernando Po, he maintained his interest in agriculture and returned home six years later, bringing back with him, seeds of the cocoa plant. These he plantea at Akwapim-Mampong, and they were later sold to many farmers of the district at two shillings per pod.
BABA YARA (1936–1969)
Baba Yara was one of the greatest football geniuses Ghana has produced. A great winger, his originality and dazzling dribbling talent made Sundays one of the most enjoyable times in the 1960s. He thrilled spectators with his prowess and charmed football fans with an uncanny ability to get goals from almost impossible angles. Being of unassuming and affable personality, his gentlene conduct and behaviour either on or off the field of made him a hero in his lifetime. So popular was many years after his death his image lingers on the of the sporting public in Ghana as well as other parts of Africa.
Baba Yara was born on October 12, 1936 at Kintampo. His father was Seidu Mardah, a farmer and tailor who hailed from Zini in the (now) Upper West Region; but became more or less a native of Kintampo becaus father, Ibraham Mardah, on being discharged from Gold Coast army after the Second World War had there. Seidu Mardah had two wives, Amina, the eldest wife, had five children. Her youngest, who happen be her only boy, was called Baba Yara. Baba Yara s sisters were: Shietu, Zinabu Fulera and Rahimatu. As
son of his mother, he was named after his unce Mardah. Osumanu was affectionately called Baba Yara therefore, by extension, young Baba Yara came to inherit this nickname also.
MRS. THEODOSIA SALOME OKOH (1922 – 2015)
From her childhood days in the back streets of Anum, her hometown, where she began drawing on any paper that came her way, Theodosia knew she was destined to become a painter. What perhaps she did not know was that her artwork would one day fly high on many buildings in her motherland, as well as be the best
ambassador of her country. Her talents are many and varied but she owes a great part to her parents.
Born on June 13, 1922 to the Very Rev. Emmanuel Victor Asihene (Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, 1951-1954), her father was an outstanding artist and one of the first teachers taken to do the Special Art Course, or the Hand an Eye course, as it was then called, in Accra. Her mother, Mrs Dora Asihene (nee Akyea) was also an artist in her own right, specialising in baking, weaving and design of her children’s dresses. Theodosia’s elder brother, Emmanuel Victor Asiy the professor and head of the Art Faculty of the KNUST Kumasi. Her elder sister, Emily (1915-1957), began education officer and Vice-Principal of the Winneba Specialist Training College.
Theodosia’s younger Letitia Asihene (now Dr. Letitia Obeng), was also an artist and now is an Aquatic Biologist of note and was Ghana’s first female scientist. Mrs. Theodosia Okoh designed the Ghana flag of which she says she derived the idea from the rich vegetations of Ghana, the blood of our fore fathers and mineral riches of Ghana.
Things Dr. Kwame Nkrumah Did To Win Independence For Ghana That You Probably Didn’t Know
Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah arrived in the Gold Coast in August 1947, determined to form his own political party. He honestly stated in his autobiography that he saw the invitation to become the secretary of the United Gold Coast Convention party as an opportunity to implement his own agenda.
Kwame Nkrumah inspired by communist ideals formed what is terms a ‘Vanguard Group’ of the West African national secretariat with a title ‘The Circle’, visualized as a gruo of politicians from various parts of West Africa menbers who were to work secretly in their own countries, ostensibly towards a ‘Union Of Socialist States Of Africa’, similar to the Soviet States Republics. Nkrumah’s contacts were firmly with the political left wing. He was impressed by the teachings of Carl Max and Lenin, Musolin and Hitler believing that their teachings held the secret of banishing imperialism from West Africa. In his own autobiography, he did not mence words when he declared that he had learnt and gained great deal of ideas from those renowned dictators.
Kwame Nkrumah carried in his pocket a Communist Party membership card. He eventually abandoned the idea of legal studies as he became more and more eager to involve himself in the battle for the emancipation of his beloved country – the Gold Coast and the entire continent of Africa.
Perhaps with an ambition to take up the mantle of leadership of Africa. Nkrumah grabbed the opportunity he had been looking for when he received an invitation from the leaders of the newly inaugurated political party – the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) to become the secretary.
He honestly informed the UGCC leaders of the financial predicament in which he found himself while in England and pleaded for financial assistance to enable him to pay for his flight home. On receipt of Nkrumah’s cablegram, Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah who was anxious to have a permanent and competent secretary to man the secretariat of the UGCC persuaded the financial giant of the UGCC Paa Grant to send as much as £100 to Kwame Nkruman. Later that year, Nkrumah packed his bags and left for home – Gold Coast.
Within two months of his assumption of office as general secretary, he and his senior colleagues were imprisoned for a trumped up charge of their part in the organization of the boycott of foreign owned stores and goods led by a chief, Nii Kwabena Bonne – the Osu Alata Mantse.
While Nkrumah and other UGCC members were languishing in prison, the British government appointed a commission led by Mr. Aiken Watson to inquire into and report on the recent disturbances in the Gold Coast and the underlying causes, to make recommendations on any matter arising from the inquiries. This was followed by the appointment of an all African commission under the chairmanship of Mr. Justice Coussey charged wuth the responsiblity of drawing up a new constitution for the Gold Coast.
On their release from prison, the leader, Kwame Nkrumah having familiarized himself with all the structures and key activists of the branches of the UGCC particularly, the Young Wing began to indulge in underhand dealings prejudicial to the solidarity and unity of the mother party – the UGCC. The leadership of the UGCC had no alternative than to relieve him of his post as the general secretary.
In effect, he virtually converted the committee on the Youth organization (CYO) of the UGCC which was headed by the two main personalities namely, Kojo Botsio and K.A Gbedemah as secretary and chairman respectively to form what was to be known as the Convention Peoples Party (CPP). By then the CYO had grown into a powerful organization capable of challenging and toppling the parent party.
When Nkrumah realized that the Cousset committee proposals were pavinv a way for the take over of yhe administration of the country in nit too distant future, he gree increasingly impatient with the moderate lawyers and traders – the Danquah’s and the Paa Grant’s who still controlled the UGCC. He felt that his colleagues in the UGCC were deliberately dragging behind the pace of of the agitation for self rule and in order to use the support of the masses made an unfounded allegation to bribery and corruption against the leaders of the UGCC. Nkrumah proved to be very dishonest because he knee that the British government did not have to bribe anybody to refuse granting self rule to any Colony.
The approach to attain self rule was the cause of the conflict between Kwame Nkrumah and the leaders of the United Gold Coast Convention party. While J.B Danquah and his colleagues of the UGCC believed in step by step approach to free the country from the colonial rule, Kwame Nkrumah wanted self governance without delay. He declared ‘we prefer self government with danger to servitude in tranquillity’. Nkrumah won the masses by the deceptive slogan ‘Self Government Now’ and yet it took him almost 8 months to get independence for the people.
When the Coussey Commission weighty proposals were made public, Nkrumah convened a Ghana Peoples Representative Assembly at a few days notice and the Assembly withvno impudence rejected the Coussey. Report and demanded immediate independence. Although the Assembly had no constitutional significance, it had kne advantage over the Coussey Commission. When he perfectly expressed the impatient nationalism of a great many citizens of the country. Nkrumah encouraged by the reaction of the masses began to preach his nee doctrine of ‘Positive Action’, the Trade Union Congress declared her support for the action taken by Kwame Nkrumah and called for a strike. Kwame Nkrumah saw this as an opportunity to call for a national strike.
The ‘Positive Action’ with it’s attendant strike action dislocated national life fron January 6, 1959. In the course of the disturbances which followed the strike, two policemen lost their lives. Nkrumah and some leaders of the Convention Peoples Party were arrested, tried and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment on charges of inciting workers to go on illegal strike with sedition.
Under the existing law, a terms of imprisonment nit exceeding one year did not disqualify Kwame Nkrumah from being on the electoral roll and from standing for election. Nkrumah took advantage of this law and filed his papers ti stand fir election which was held in February 1951. Nkrumah won his seat while his CPP won all five directly elected seats and 29 of the 33 seats conducted through the electoral colleges. Sir Charles Arden Clarke had no choice but to concede victory to Kwame Nkrumah who was nearing the end of his first one year sentence in James Fort prison.
Kwame Nkrumah was the next day ushered into the presence of the Queen’s Representative to be entrusted with the responsibility of forming a government.
This Is The Real Reason Why Gold Coast Was Renamed Ghana
In 1874 after the British has successfully merged the independent states of Ghana into one territory, they proclaimed it as a Crown Colony and named it the Gold Coast.
87 years later, Gold Coast was changed to Ghana on attainment of Independence, following a research conducted into the origin of Akans among the inhabitants of the country. The research revealed that the Akan tribe which contribute more than half of the country’s population migrated from the south-eastern Mauritania and part of Mali known as the Ancient Ghana. So they came to conclusion that as their mind is made up about changing the name giving to them by a foreigner (Gold Coast), why not replace it the name of the place that most of the country’s population originally originated from – which is the Ancient Ghana.
Below is a brief history of the ancient Ghana and what inspired the Asantes to move to current Ghana.
The ancient Ghana Empire existed between 750 and 1036 and derived her power and wealth from the trans-saharan trade in gold and salt. Much of what is written about the empire come from Arab historians and researchers, such as Al-Hamdani who described Ghana as having the richest gold mines on earth, mostly situated at Bambuk on the Upper Senegal River.
The citizens were well known for their trade in slaves and copper in exchange for textiles, beads, and other finished goods. The capital city of the ancient Ghana known as Kumbi Saleh was built on the edge of the Sahara and it rapidly became the most dynamic and important southern terminals of the Saharan trade routes. Ancient Ghana became one of the major trading centres with it’s route taken by traders of the Maghreb to Ghana, starting inNorth Africa in Tahent coming down through Sjilmasa in Southern Morocco. From there the trail went south and inland, running parallel with the coast, then South- eastwards through Audaghust and finally ended in Kumbi Saleh.
Eventually, Islam was introduced into the country by traders who were mostly members of the Islamic religion. Islamic worshippers developed their own community at a distance away from the king’s palace. They had their own mosques and schools while the King retained his traditional beliefs. The two religious beliefs were bound toresult in a conflict between the adherents and the traditionalists. The King by tradition and customary practice had to exercise some sort of control over the entire country which included the state of Takrur which had adopted Islam as it’s official religion. Nonetheless, the King drew on the book-keeping and literary skills of Muslim scholars to help run the administration of the empire.
Evidence produced by archaeologists confirms the vibrancy and prosperity of the ancient Ghana abound in sheep, cows and even goats. But by the end of the 12 century, the country was faced with a disaster. Draught! Had begun with a long-term effect on the land and its ability to sustain cattle and cultivation. In addition to the woeful effect of the draught which resulted in famine and it’s untold hardships, the King also had lost his monopoly of the trade which was the mainstay of the economy of the country ancient Ghana. In the 11th and 12th centuries, new gold fields had been discovered at Bure in modern Guinea with new trade routes opening up further east. Ghana from that time became the target of attack by the Sosso ruler, Sumanguru. It was generally believed that the attacks on Ghana were spearheaded by the Almoravid muslims who came from North Africa to invade the country.
The muslims whose population had gradually grown over the years began to force the indigenes of the ancient Ghana to accept Islam as a national religion. The traditionalists initially put up resistance which resulted in civil strife, as more and more muslim reinforcement came from North Africa to support the Muslim community to overcome the indigenous resistant forces.
From this conflict emerged the Malinke people under a new dynamic ruler Sundiaka Keita. With the advent of the Malinke dwellers, a new Empire surfaced which eclipsed the ancient Ghana. This new empire was later discovered to be the Mali Empire. As the Muslims intensified their attacks on the indigenes, they decided to migrate southwards, Groups of families traveled several months through the desert until they crossed the White and Black Volta Rivers and settled at Takyiman in the savanna forests of Bono.
After a while, some of the families decided to continue the journey down the south with individual families settling in the forest areas whilstvothers moved further down and settled on the coastal lands.