October 21, 1954: Asanteman Council formally endorses the National Liberation Movement (NLM)

The National Liberation Movement (NLM) began in September 1954. On October 21, 1954, the Asantehene’s Council adopted a formal resolution endorsing a federal form of governance for the Gold Coast. The Okyehene, Nana Ofori- Atta II who was the Chair of the Joint Provincial Council of Chiefs (JPC) was more circumspect in insisting on political neutrality of chiefs. However, in December 1954, he very publicly honored his uncle JB Danquah. He had lost his seat in Kyebi to his nephew Aaron Ofori-Atta and left for the US for a UN fellowship. On his return from the US, he immediately announced his support for the NLM. There was less consensus among Akyem chiefs regarding support for the NLM as the Adontenhene Kwabena Kena II, for example was a CPP supporter.

his return from the US, JB Danquah was appointed a senior divisional chief in the Adonten Division of the Kyebi royal house, apparently without consulting Kwabena Kena II.  In the legislature, Aaron Ofori-Atta criticized this appointment, suggesting it was contrary to customary law and a waste of public funds and further alleged that JB Danquah was being paid an annual salary of £600 for the role.

This declaration by the Asanteman council caused some other chiefs to rebel against the center. The Bechemhene for example was destooled in December 1954 and other chiefs from Amansie, Atebubu, Dormaa and others fearing loss of development projects in their areas, cast their lot with the CPP. Brong chiefs in general, saw this as an opportunity to free themselves from Asante domination and seek a new region for themselves. However, by the end of 1955 the NLM had full control of local politics in Ashanti (NLM -17; CPP – 11). The role of chiefs in Ghana’s political life remains unresolved.