June 23: Gov. Guggisberg announces plan to increase African recruitment in Government service -- 1921

 JE Casely-Hayford, Leader of the National Congress of British West Africa

JE Casely-Hayford, Leader of the National Congress of British West Africa

Prior to 1921 the priority of the British Empire was to develop Ghana for the priority of European capitalists and the crown without focus on native development. A fervent nationalist movement began forming in Ghana in the late 20th century and soon after the appointment of Governor Gordon Guggisberg--a Canadian brigadier generial--in 1919, the Crown faced heavy pressure for drastic reforms to benefit the native Ghanaian population. This movement reached a climax in 1920 when Joseph E. Casely-Hayford organized the National Congress of British West Africa. The group sent a delegation to London with a list of demands, including elected representation for the local population. Although this group was not received by the Colonial Office in London, the incident spurred heavy support throughout the intellectual elite in West Africa and soon began applying more pressure to the colonial government to include Africans in the development of the region.

 Governor Gordon Guggisberg

Governor Gordon Guggisberg

Guggisberg was appointed Governor of the Gold Coast in 1919. His legacy was one of great development in infrastructure and education for the colony. He spearheaded development of an extensive railway system and deepwater harbor in Takoradi to spur an influx of intercontinental trade. To develop much of this infrastructure, Guggisberg relied heavily on the counsel of Albert Ernest Kitson, who had assisted him in the development of Nigeria during the previous decade.

 Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra

Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra

The shining jewels of this campaign for development are manifested today in the educational institutions that were formed. In 1923 Korle-Bu teaching hospital was founded and Western medical education for indigenous Africans was accelerated. Today Korle-Bu is affiliated with the medical school at the University of Ghana. Achimota College in Accra was also founded during this time and has educated many national leaders in government, science, and sport over the past century. Unlike many of his peers, Guggisberg believed that Africans could achieve development and be trained with the proper education. In his memoirs he wrote, "My practical experience... during the last twenty-seven years has convinced me that what individuals have achieved, in spite of ill-selected systems of education, can be achieved by the race generally, provided we alter our educational methods."

The constitution of 1925, created under Guggisberg's administration, created provincial councils in the Southern part of the colony. The council still maintained a British majority, but provided African leaders a seat at the table and precipitated the independence movement that was to follow over the next three decades.