April 29, 1958: Ghana - Guinea Union formed

The Union of African States (FrenchUnion des Etats africains), sometimes called the Ghana-Guinea-Mali Union, was a short-lived and loose regional organization formed 1958 linking the West African nations of Ghana and Guinea as the Union of Independent African StatesMali joined in 1960. It disbanded in 1963.

The union planned to develop a common currency and unified foreign policy amongst members; however, none of these proposals were implemented by the countries. The union was the first organization in Africa to bring together former colonies of the British and the French. Although the union was open to all independent states in Africa, no other states joined. The union had a limited impact on politics as there was never any administration or permanent meetings to support the goals of unity. Its legacy was largely limited to longstanding political relationships between Kwame Nkrumah (President and Prime Minister of Ghana 1957–1966), Ahmed Sékou Touré (President of Guinea 1958–1984), and Modibo Keïta (President of Mali 1960–1968). The union again came into the news when Nkrumah was named as the co-president of Guinea after he was deposed as President of Ghana by a military coup in 1966.

Further reading: Peter Guignan: PanAfricanism: A bibliographical essay, I, no.1 Summer 1965 PP 105-107.

April 28, 1961: Ghanaian Peacekeepers killed at Port Francqui, Kasai, Congo

One the most troubling UN Peacekeeping Operations for the Ghana Army was the UN Mission in the Congo. Inadequate information on deteriorating political conditions exposed UN troops to extreme hazards. A bloody example is the Port Francqui incident of 28 April 1961. The incident was precipitated by the visit of the Congolese Interior Minister to Port Francqui, in northwestern Kasai province. During a public speech the minister accused the local Congolese National Army (ANC) of being the cause of trouble rather than a deterrent, and denounced them for being anti-Lulua. He also threatened that the UN would disarm them if their attitudes did not change. The minister was under UN escort. The ANC troops were offended by these comments, and believed that the UN shared the same partiality toward the Luluas in the tribal conflict in northern Kasai as the Interior minister. The next evening, ANC forces under the command of Col. Mobutu attacked UN troops stationed at Port Francqui. The ninety-man Ghanaian garrison was clearly unprepared for the attack. Dispersed in six different places in the town, the UN troops were quickly overpowered. According to UN records, 47 UN personnel were killed.

The official report of the incident concluded that the direct cause of the incident was the speech and attitude of the Interior Minister. What is striking about this is that the minister's UN escorts did not make the connection between the minister's threat and the potential for a violent reaction against the UN; nor did they report information on the minister's visit to intelligence-trained officers who could have made the connection and alerted command of the possible threat. As the report suggests, the principal weakness of ONUC that was evident in the Port Francqui incident was that there was 'no system of alert to warn troops against any aggressive action by ANC' in sum, poor procedures leading to no intelligence.




April 27, 1972: Kwame Nkrumah dies in Bucharest, Romania

In distant Bucharest (Romania), April 27, 1972, far from his green and lovely native land and from his own people, Kwame Nkrumah died of an unspecified but apparently incurable illness. His was a lonely death, without ceremony and without drama for a man who had been surrounded by both throughout his political career as President of Ghana and one of Africa’s most famous men. A man with a price on his head, he was unable to return to the country he had led to independence in 1957 and which he had ruled for nearly 13 years. The former Ghanaian leader, who had virtually disappeared from the active political scene since his overthrow by a military coup d’état in February 1966, had since that time been living quietly in the Guinean capital of Conakry……

Press reports shortly after Nkrumah’s death announced that Toure had attached four conditions to the return of the ex-President’s body to Ghana:

1.      Nkrumah’s complete rehabilitation in the eyes of the Ghanaian people (lifting all charges that had been pending against him)

2.     Liberation of all of Nkrumah’s partisans still held in Ghanaian jails

3.     Removal of the threat of arrest which hung over all of Nkrumah’s followers who had chosen to remain with him in exile

4.     An official welcome by the Ghanaian government of Nkrumah’s remains, with all the honors due a deceased chief of state.


Victor D. Du Bois
The Death of Kwame Nkrumah
American Universities Field Staff Reports. West Africa Series, Vol. XIV No.5 (Ghana), June 1972, pp. 1-11


April 18, 1956: Sir Arku Korsah becomes first African Chief Justice of the Gold Coast


Sir Kobina Arku Korsah (3 April 1894, Saltpond – 25 January 1967)[1] became the first African Chief Justice of Ghana (then the Gold Coast) on April 18, 1956.

He was born in Saltpond, Korsah and educated at Mfantsipim SchoolFourah Bay College (BA degree in 1915) Durham University and London University (LLB in 1919).

In 1942, Nana Sir Ofori Atta and Sir Arku Korsah were the first two Ghanaians to be appointed to the Legislative Councilby the then Governor of the Gold Coast, Sir Alan Burns. Korsah was one of the 20 founding members of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1959. After the Kulungugu attack on President Kwame Nkrumah in August 1962, Sir Arku Korsah presided over the trial of five defendants. At the end of that trial, three of the accused were found not guilty and this displeased the Nkrumah government. Nkrumah sacked Sir Arku as Chief Justice in December 1963.

April 17, 1967: NLC member Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Kotoka killed in coup attempt

On 17 April 1967, there was an abortive coup attempt involving junior officers of the reconnaissance regiment located at Ho in the Volta Region. It was code named "Guitar-boy" and was led by a young Lieutenant, S.B. Arthur, who announced over Radio Ghana that he had taken over the administration of the country. As part of the operations to capture members of the ruling National Liberation Council (NLC), Lt.-Gen Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka was killed by co-coup conspirator, Lt. Moses Yeboah and his men after heavy fighting. Lt. Moses Yeboah and Lt. S. B. Arthur were later tried and executed by a military tribunal. The Ghana International Airport was renamed Kotoka International Airport in his memory. He was killed at a spot which is now part of the forecourt of the airport, where his statue stands.

There is controversy about the current name of the airport as Ghanaians struggle with coming to terms with the Nkrumah era and whether the NLC truly represented liberation or our first step backward from true independence.

April 11, 1954: The Northern Peoples Party is launched


The emergence of the Northern Peoples Party could be traced to the works and efforts of members of the Northern Territorial Council which was an active political body as well as members of the 1951 Legislative Assembly. The first attempt to form a different organization which could respond to the needs of the north was the formation of the Northern Youth Association in the early 1950’s (NYA). The NYA however, did not survive for long. 
J.A. Braimah and S.D. Dombo were the first to raise the possibility of a northern political party which could play the same role as had the Northern Group under the 1951 Constitution- that was championing the interest of the North in terms of development. J.A. Braimah, together with Dombo, Yakubu Talli and Mumuni Bawumia drew up a draft constitution for such a party and secured the support of other prominent Northerners such as J.A Nagbah, Secretary to the Northern Territorial Council. At a meeting in Accra in February 1954, it was decided that Mumuni Bawumia would act as interim chairman and J.A. Nagbah as interim secretary. 
A tour was quickly organized in March 1954 by the then Interim executives to speak to Chiefs and educate Northerners in order to secure their support. In the Northwest Corner (now Upper West) B.K. Adama, Jatoe Kaleo, Abeifaa Karbo, and James Momor prompted the idea of the Northern Party, while Yakubu Talli and J.A Braimah sough support in Dagbon and Gonja, respectively. The party symbol was a clenched fist, with words, “Always Together” as its party slogan. The Party came up with a song entitled, “The More we are Together”. The aims and objectives of the NPP reflected the desire for development, particularly of education, health, infrastructure and agriculture. A draft of the aims and objectives of the NPP drawn up in Accra was more explicit in the Party’s electoral ambitions: To capture as many seats as possible in the Gold Coast Legislative Assembly at all general elections so as to be able to have a commanding voice to be able to achieve the Party’s objectives.
The NPP held a delegates conference at the Tolong Naa’s house at Saabongida in Tamale on Apriul 10th, 1954. The delegates’ conference approved the draft constitution elected officers and discussed finances, staff and local branches. The officers elected at the conference include: 
• S.D. Dombo- Chairman
• Mumuni Bawumia- Vice Chairman
• Fuseini Darimanu- General Secretary
• Imoru Salifu- Propaganda Secretary
• J.B. Fuseini- Treasurer
A rally followed the delegate’s conference. This was held outside the house of the Dakpema , Chief of Tamale. Bawumia, the principal speaker at the rally declared that the NPP was “a party owned by the people of Northern territories and was formed to promote the rapid economic and social development in the North and to safeguard its internal freedom.” Other speakers at the rally were Imoru Salifu and two Chiefs, the Nandom Naa and the Wulugu Naaba, a Mamprosi divisional Chief. It was at this public rally on the 11th of April 1954, that the Northern Peoples Party was officially launched. 

Source:S. D. Dombo Foundation

April 10, 2006: The late murdered Overlord of Dagbon, Yakubu Andani II finally buried

Yaa Naa Yakubu Andani II (1945–2002) was the King of Dagbon, the traditional kingdom of the Dagomba people in northern Ghana, from 31 May 1974 until his assassination on 27 March 2002. He was born in August 1945 in Sagnarigu, a suburb of Tamale in the Northern Region of Ghana. Yakubu II was killed on 27 March 2002 at Yendi, the capital of the Kingdom of Dagbon, by supporters of Abudu royal family when clashes broke out between the two feuding Gates of Dagbon Kingship. For 600 years the Abudu and Andani clans, named after two sons of the ancient Dagbon king Ya Naa Yakubu I, cordially rotated control of the kingdom centred in Yendi, 530 kilometres (330 mi) north of Accra, the capital of Ghana. As of January 2014, a regent (installed in 2006) has acted as sovereign of the kingdom until a new ruler is chosen to occupy the revered Lion Skins of Yendi.

A new ruler of Dagbon could not be chosen until his predecessor was buried. A pathologist from the 37 Military Hospital confirmed that the body of Yaa-Naa Yakubu II was incomplete; his head, a hand or a foot were detached from the rest of his body. However the severed head and hand of the king were mysteriously returned to the Yendi District Hospital Morgue where the body was kept by an unknown person.

The burial of the king finally took place on Monday 10 April 2006 after a compromise was reached between the Andanis and the Abudus concerning his successor. The king was given a state burial in the royal musuleum at the Gbewaa Palace in Yendi. The elder son (Zuu) of the king was enskined as the Regent of Dagbon on 21 April 2006 to manage the affairs of the kingdom until the final funeral rites when a new Yaa-Naa will be enskinned. The traditional title of the Regent is Kampakuya Naa Abdulai Yakubu Andani. His successor is Yaa-Naa Abdulai Yakubu. On 29 May 2011, a court in Accra acquitted and discharged 15 persons who were accused of murdering the Ya-Naa. This sparked violent protests in Dagbon and other parts of the country.

The late king of Dagbon was survived by 103 children.


In March we revisited many consequential and interesting moments in Ghanaian history. Check out some of the topics that we covered below!

April 8, 1961: Nkrumah's Dawn Broadcast condemns corruption in the CPP and government

Dawn Broadcast 1


Accra, April 8, 1961


In accordance with the cherished customs of our fathers, whereby advice is sought or given at early dawn, I have come to the microphone this early I morning to share some thoughts with you in a homely chat.

Four years ago, we achieved independence and set out on a new road to nationhood. On the 1st of July, 1960, we consolidated this political achievement by setting up the Republic as an expansion of our sovereign will. That day marked the real beginning of life of our nation and settled upon us, responsibility not only for the development and reconstruction of Ghana, but also for the faithful duty of assisting other African territories to achieve their freedom and independence.

This responsibility casts upon all Ghanaians, an obligation to protect the national stability we have so ably created and to guard ever jealously, the solidarity of our nation. For this reason, l have been rather unhappy about reports which I have received since my return from the United Kingdom; and this has led me to speak to you this morning, to examine the matters forming the subject of these reports, and to discuss them openly and sincerely.

When I was away, certain matters arose concerning the Trades Union Congress, the National Assembly, the Cooperative Movement and the United Ghana Farmers Council. These matters created misunderstanding and led to some regrettable demonstrations.

I do not think that this stage of our national life, when all our efforts should be concentrated upon building a first-class nation, we should allow petty misunderstanding and squabbles to divert our attention from our great and worthy aims and objectives.

What was the cause of these unfortunate circumstances? Some Parliamentarians criticised the Trades Union Congress and the other wing organizations of the Convention People’s Party. The officials of these organisations objected to the criticism and made counter-criticisms against certain Parliamentarians and this started a vicious circle of criminations and recriminations. This is clearly unfortunate. I have taken certain steps, and I hope that no occasion will arise to cause a recurrence of a similar situation.

The Convention People’s Party is a great brotherhoods Its strength is embedded in the unity of its membership and since both sides to this unfortunate dispute are members of the Convention People’s Party, I wish to examine the situation and look deeper for the causes of this incident.

I have stated over and over again, that members of the Convention People’s Party must not use their party membership or official position for personal gain or for the amassing of wealth. Such tendencies directly contradict our party constitution, which makes it clear that the aims and objects of the party, among other things, are the building of a socialist pattern of society in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all — a pattern or society consonant with African situations, circumstances and conditions.

I have explained very clearly, this socialist structure and have on many occasions elaborated the five sectors into which our economy may be divided.

These sectors are: first, the state sector, in which all enterprises are entirely owned; second, the joint state-private sector, which will incorporate owned jointly by Government and foreign private capital; third, the cooperative sector, in which all enterprises will be undertaken by cooperative organization   affiliated with the National Cooperative Council; fourth, the private enterprises sector, which will incorporate those industries which are open freely to private enterprise; and fifth, the workers’ enterprise sector.  

I have had occasions to emphasise the part which private enterprise continue to play in our economic and industrial life. A different situation with Ghanaian businessmen who attempt to combine business with political life. Being a party Member of the Assembly — and much more, being a Ministerial Secretary or a Minister means that the persons who take up these positions owe a duty to those who have elected them or who have given them their positions with confidence. To be able to maintain this confidence, therefore, they should not enter into any type of industrial or commercial undertaking. Any party Member of Parliament who wishes to be a businessman can do so, but he should give up his seat in Parliament. In other words, no Minister, Ministerial Secretary or party Member of Parliament should own a business or be involved in anyone else’s business, Ghanaian or foreign. 

In spite of my constant clarifications and explanations of our aims and objectives, some party Members in Parliament pursues a course of conduct in direct contradiction of our party aims. They are tending, by virtue of if functions and positions, to become a separate social group aiming to become new ruling class of self-seeking and careerists. This tendency is working to alienate the support of the masses and to bring the National Assembly into isolation. 

Members of Parliament must remember at all times that they are representatives of their constituencies only by reason of their party members and that on no account, should they regard party constituency representation as belonging to them in their own right. In other words, constituencies are not the property of Members of Parliament. It is the party that sends them there and fights for them to become Members of Parliament. I am sure that from now on all Parliamentarians will be guided accordingly in their conduct of representing the party in Parliament.

When I look at the other side of the picture, I must say that some Trades Union officials have now and again indulged in loose talk and reprehensible statements which do no good either to the party, to the Government or to the nation. This is not the time for unbridled-militant trade unionism in our country. Trade union officials must shed their colonial character and their colonial thinking. The approach of the Trades Union Congress to our national issues should be reasoned and constructive in accordance with our present circumstances.

Let me now turn to some other causes which I consider plague Ghanaian society generally and militate against undisturbed progress. A great deal of rumour-mongering goes on all over the country.

“Berko said that the Odikro informed Asamani that the Ohene said he paid a sum of money to a party official to become a paramount chief.

"Kojo said that Mensah told him that Kweku took a bribe”

“Abena stated that Ekua said Esi uses her relations with Kweku to get contracts through the District Commissioner with the support ofthe Regional Commissioner and the blessing of a minister in Accra."

So, day and day, night after night, all types and manner of wild allegations and rumours are circulated and they are always well sprinkled with: they say they say, wosee, wosee, akee, akee! 

Many members of the party and of the public are guilty of this conduct. I have directed that in future, any allegations or rumours so made or circulated against any person must immediately be brought before the central committee of the party for investigation.

One of the most degrading aspects of party conducts is the tendency on the part of some comrades to go round using the names of persons in prominent positions to collect money for themselves. Equally degrading is the tendency on the part of some persons in prominent positions to create agents for collecting money. This is a shameful and highly criminal tendency which must be crushed in the most ruthless manner.

May I take this opportunity to stress an essential point. Statements which may be regarded as Government policy are those which are clearly stated in the text to be the official policy of the Government. 

In recent months, people in Ghana and abroad have frequently been confused and the Government’s policies made uncertain as a result of unauthorized p statements which have been made by persons employed by the Government, or I quasi-Government bodies. Often, these statements have conflicted with the Government’s policies, and although they have been corrected subsequently by the Government, much harm has been done, and confusion and suspicion have resulted.

In spite of the freedom of speech which can reasonably be allowed in such cases, I consider that firm action should in the national interest, be taken. From now on, therefore, no public statement affecting Government policy will be made by any Minister, Ministerial Secretary, member of Government cooperation or institution, Government official or any other person employed by the Government, unless that statement has first had Presidential or Cabinet approval. It is my intention to take strong disciplinary action against any individual who infringes this procedure.

I am aware that the evil of patronage finds a good deal of place in our society. I consider that it is entirely wrong for persons placed in positions of eminence or authority to use the influence of office in patronizing others, in many cases wrong persons, for immoral favours. I am seeing to it that this evil shall be uprooted, no matter whose ox is gored. The same thing goes for nepotism, which is, so to speak, a twin brother of the evil of patronage. 

At this point, I would like to make a little divergence and touch upon Civil Service red tape. It amazes me that, up to the present, many civil servants do not realise that we are living in a revolutionary era. This Ghana, which has lost so much time serving colonial masters, cannot afford to be tied down to archaic snail-pace methods of work which obstruct expeditious progress. We have lost so much time that we need to do in ten years what has taken others a hundred years to accomplish. Civil servants, therefore, must develop a new orientation, a sense of mission and urgency to enable them to eliminate all tendencies towards red tape-ism, bureaucracy and waste. Civil Servants must use their initiative to make the Civil Service an effective instrument in the rapid development of Ghana.

In order to promote greater efficiency in the machinery of the Government, I have decided to re-organise slightly the existing ministerial set-up. In view of the increasingly important part being played by Ghana at the present time in the African liberation movement, I have decided to create a Ministry of African Affairs, as distinct from the present Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This new Ministry will be responsible for all African matters, including the present duties undertaken by the Bureau of African Affairs and the African Affairs Centre. It will also liaise with the All-African People’s Secretariat and the All-African Trade Union Federation.

The Ministry of Labour and Cooperatives and Ministry of Social Welfare will be abolished. Ministerial responsibility for labour, social welfare and community development matters will be undertaken by the Ministry of Education, which will therefore be known as the Ministry of Education, Labour and Social Welfare. The staff of the Cooperative Department will be seconded to the National Cooperative Council to assist the council in the supervision and co-ordination of cooperative activities throughout the country. 

Responsibility for consumer cooperatives, agricultural cooperatives and industrial cooperatives will be undertaken by the Ministry of Trade, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Development Secretariat, respectively. Let me say a few words about the purchase of cocoa. The report I have received so far indicate that, the statement made in Parliament some time ago by the Minister of Labour and Cooperatives, that a state buying agency would be established by the Government and that this agency would control the purchase of cocoa throughout the country, has not been favourably received by the farmers. After careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that this proposal, which was announced to Parliament, is perhaps not the best way in which we can handle this important matter of the purchase of cocoa. It is of the utmost importance that the arrangements for the purchases of our cocoa, which is not only the source of livelihood for the majority of people in the country, but also of such utmost importance to our economy, should be as simple and efficient as possible. I have therefore instructed that the United Ghana Farmers’ Council, which embraces all the farmers of Ghana, should be given the sole responsibility for organizing the purchase of all cocoa produced in Ghana on behalf of the Cocoa Marketing Board.

I am assured by the United Ghana Farmers’ Council that they have made all the necessary arrangements and are prepared to undertake the purchase of cocoa as from the main crop season this year.

A satisfactory safeguard in respect of this matter has been provided in an arrangement which I have directed for the auditing of the accounts of the United Ghana Farmers’ Council by the Auditor-General. By this arrangement, the accounts of the United Ghana Farmers’ Council, all public corporations, the Trades Union Congress and all other bodies concerned shall be audited by the Auditor-General who shall have the same powers in relation to them as are conferred upon him by the Constitution in relation to Government accounts. 

As I said at the recent civic luncheon arranged in my honour at the Ambassador Hotel by the Accra City Council, I am very anxious that, the city of Accra should be developed as quickly as possible in view of its increasing international importance. In order to speed up the process, I have appointed a Special Commissioner for Accra Development, who will be responsible to me through the Minister of Works and Housing for the rapid implementation of all public works in respect of the city of Accra and the general development of the city. 

In particular, he will be concerned with the development within the city of Accra of parks, children’s playgrounds, public swimming pools and other such amenities, and also with the construction of streets and slum clearance schemes and of a sewerage system. I trust that the Special Commissioner will receive the full cooperation of the Accra City Council and the people of Accra in this most important assignment.

I have recently been alarmed at the amount of travelling abroad which is undertaken by Ministers, Ambassadors, Ministerial Secretaries and Civil Servants of all ranks. In many cases, it is clear that approval is sought from no one before the journeys concerned are made. In future, travelling abroad unless approved by the Cabinet will not be paid for by the Government. The cost of any journeys which are undertaken without this approval will be surcharged to the person concerned. I have also directed that instructions should be given to the heads of all public boards and corporations, to ensure that no officers of these boards and corporations travel outside Ghana at Government expense without my specific approval or that of the Cabinet.

Ghanaian Ambassadors take their children with them when they proceed to their stations, at the expense of the Government. I am taking steps to discourage this practice for; it seems to me that on psychological and other grounds, it is better for those young children to begin their education at home.

At any rate, this practice cannot be justified on financial grounds. In future, Ambassadors and Foreign Service officers will not be allowed to take their children abroad unless such children are below the age of five years. The procedure will apply equally to civil servants and other Ghanaian public functionaries serving abroad. Let me now come back to the party. 

It is most important to remember that, the strength of the Convention People’s Party is derived from the masses of the people. These men and women include those whom I have constantly referred to as the unknown warriors – dedicated men and women who serve the party loyally and selflessly without hoping for reward. It is therefore natural for the masses to feel some resentment when they see comrades whom they have put into power and given the mandate to serve the country on their behalf, begin to forget-themselves and indulge in ostentatious living. High party officials, Ministers, Ministerial Secretaries, Chairmen of Statutory Boards and Corporations must forever bear this in mind. Some of us very easily forget that we ourselves have risen from amongst the masses. We must avoid any conduct that will breed antagonism and uneasy relations. Let us always keep in mind the fact that constant examination and correction are necessary for maintaining the solidarity of the party. The aim of all correction, however, must be to build and not to destroy. The central committee proposes to issue instructions shortly on the duties and rights of party members.

Coming to the integral organizations of the party, I consider it essential to emphasise once more that, the Trades Union Congress, the United Ghana Farmers’ Council, the National Cooperative Council and the National Council of Ghana Women, are integral parts of the Convention People’s Party, and in order to correct certain existing anomalies, the central committee has decided that separate membership cards of the integral organizations shall be abolished forthwith. The membership card of the party will be only qualifications for membership within these organizations, namely the Trades Union Congress, the United Ghana Farmers’ Council, the National Cooperative Council and the National Council of Ghana Women, and no other membership card other than that of the Convention People’s Party shall be recognized by these bodies. In all regional headquarters, provision will be made for the central party and these integral organizations to be housed in one building. This is necessary for effective coordination and control. Also, the separate flags used by these organizations will be abolished and replaced by the flag of the Convention People’s Party.

At this stage, I wish to take the opportunity to refer to an internal matter of the Trades Union Congress. It has come to my notice that dues of 4s. per month are being paid by some unions, whereas others pay 2s. monthly as membership dues. I understand that this position is causing some irritation. I have therefore instructed, after consultation with the Trades Union Congress officials, that union dues shall remain at 2s.per month.

Finally, I wish to state that in considering remedial measures, I have found it necessary to direct that a limit be imposed on property acquisition by Ministers, party officials and Ministerial Secretaries in order to enable them to conform to the modest and simple way of life demanded by the ideals and principles of the Convention People’s Party. 

Countrymen, our mission to Ghana and to Africa and the unique personality of our party as a vanguard of the African liberation movement impose upon us increasing responsibility not only to set our own house in order, but also to set very high standards from which all who seek to emulate us shall draw devotion and inspiration in their own struggles.

I wish you all good luck and a good weekend.

April 3, 1978: Acheampong bans all organizations opposing "Union Government"

There was also considerable physical intimidation of UNIGOV opponents, who could expect very little police protection. Nevertheless, in spite of all the advantages that the government enjoyed, it was obvious, as March 30 drew near, that the UNIGOV campaign was faltering. The Ad Hoc Committee on Union Government failed to resolve just how the military would participate in the UNIGOV trinity. There was considerable confusion over whether soldiers should retire from the military or could remain on active duty. Against the background of increasingly chaotic social and economic conditions, this uncertainty added to the feeling that it was time for all soldiers to return to barracks. Neither did Acheampong's penchant for blaming Ghanaians for being a "problematic people" help him to convince those who were skeptical about his government's ability to lead the nation to prosperity. Recognizing that he was probably going to lose, Acheampong intervened on referendum day and demanded that all polling boxes be taken to regional centers for counting, rather than being counted at individual polling stations. The electoral commissioner, Justice I. K. Abban, tried to challenge this directive, which he knew would allow for tampering with the vote. He was fired and had to go into hiding. Initial results had showed a defeat for UNIGOV, but the next day the new electoral commissioner announced that UNIGOV had won with 55.6 percent of the vote. Anticipating opposition from his opponents, on April 3, 1978, Acheampong quickly banned The Association of Recognised Professional Bodies (ARPB), the Ghana Association of University Teachers (GAUT) and the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS). Their organizations were warned that "the days of leniency were past." Almost immediately, the SMC arrested prominent UNIGOV opponents like Komla Gbedemah, Victor Owusu, and William Ofori Atta, as well as several university lecturers and students. By June 1978 most of these opponents were either in jail or in hiding.


From “The History of Ghana”-Roger Gocking 2005.

April 2, 1969: Lt. Gen. Ankrah resigns as Head of State of Ghana

Lieut. Gen. Joseph A. Ankrah Chairman of the National Liberation Council (NLC) resigned as head of state of Ghana on April 2, 1969 after having admitted that he had received money for political purposes from a private company. He was involved in bribery scandal involving Arthur Nzeribe, a Nigerian businessman. Results of an opinion poll conducted by Nzeribe, contracted by the NLC for that purpose, showed Ankrah as the most popular person in Ghana from a field of prominent politicians including Afrifa and Busia. A commission of enquiry revealed that he received C6,000.00 from Nzeribe which might have influenced the outcome of the polls. As a result Ankrah was forced to resign. It is suspected that other political machinations were at play beyond the bribery story that was circulated, that might have had a role in his resignation.

April 1, 1852: Gold Coast Poll Tax Ordinance Proclaimed



In a bid to raise funds for the provision of social amenities for the people of the Southern States of the Gold Coast, the Poll Tax Ordinance of 1852 was passed by the British colonial authorities. According to the terms of the Ordinance, every adult citizen was to pay a tax of one shelling annually and this was to be applied to the provision of amenities such as schools, hospitals, water etc. The Ordinance was signed by Stephen John Hill on behalf of the British Crown.


The Ordinance did not operate for long, because it was fraught with myriads of problems. In short, the quest to raise the needed money through the Poll Tax, to provide amenities for the people failed. In the end, the Ordinance was withdrawn in 1861.


Several reasons were given for the failure of the Ordinance.




Misapplication of proceeds

One of the causes of the failure of the Poll Tax was diversion of the fund for a purpose other than it was slated for in the Ordinance. The funds were meant to provide social amenities for the people of the Southern states but part of it was rather being diverted to pay salaries for the Civil Servants. This was vehemently opposed by the people.


Embezzlement of tax proceeds

It was soon discovered that part of the tax funds was being embezzled by the tax collectors. The people felt that the collection of the tax was no longer justifiable if it was going to be literally pilfered by the very people who were assigned to collect and protect it. This also contributed to the collapse of the tax.


Weak monitoring

Another problem which led to the failure of the Poll Tax Ordinance was the absence of an adequate monitoring system. This was the main reason why any tax collector could pocket part of the money he or she collected from the people. This also created lots of problems for the tax regime.


Poor patronage

According to the terms of the Ordinance, every adult was to pay an annual tax of one shelling. Most of the residents could not meet this obligation because they were poor and could not afford it. This led to poor patronage. In effect, many people ended up not paying the tax at all.


Lack of consultation

The local people of the Southern parts of the Gold Coast were angry with their traditional authorities for going into an agreement, concerning tax payment, with the British without any consultation with the subjects. For this reason, they, at a point stopped paying the tax all together.


Failure of the British to protect the coastal states from the Ashantis

Also, the chiefs of the coastal states felt that the British were not providing enough protection for them against the risk of Ashanti invasion. One of the ways the chiefs reacted to this lack of adequate protection from the British was to call on their subjects not to fulfill their tax obligation to the colonial authorities. This also contributed to the failure of the Poll Tax.



As a result of all the problems associated with the Poll Tax Ordinance, the Ordinance was finally scrapped by the colonialists in 1861.


Culled from Chester Morton – www.virtualkollage.com

March 30, 1978: Union Government Referendum held with low voter turn out

In January 1977, the ruling Supreme Military Council (SMC) appointed members to the Koranteng-Addow Ad Hoc Committee charged with collecting public input on the type of civilian government Ghana would return to. The military heavily backed a union government in which the military, civilians and police would serve. In July 1977, after opposition led by a coalition of professionals held repeated strikes and clashed with the military regime, the SMC announced a timetable for Ghana to return to civilian rule. The timetable called for a public referendum to decide what kind of government Ghana would transition to, general elections in June 1979, and the appointments of a Constitutional Commission and Constituent Assembly to draft and approve a new constitution.

In October 1977, the Ad Hoc Committee, after having received 806 memoranda and traveled to each regional capital to gather public input, issued its report recommending the country adopt some form of union government. The Bar Association denounced the Ad Hoc Committee and its report as a sham and others criticized the Committee Chair’s decision to only allowed testimony of a union government. On March 30, 1978, a public referendum was held for Ghanaians to decide whether to endorse transitioning to a union form of government. The SMC announced the results on April 4, in which Ghanaians overwhelmingly supported the SMC-backed union form of government. However, serious allegations of fraud accompanied this referendum and it is estimated that less than 40% of all eligible voters voted. Independently calculated results predicted that, had a larger portion of eligible voters participated, only 46% would support a Union government.

The ad hoc process to draft a new constitution formally began in May 1978, when the SMC appointed a 23-member Constitutional Commission to produce an initial draft that endorsed a union government. The push to promote a union government fell by the wayside shortly after its main proponent and SMC leader, General Acheampong, was ousted in a palace coup in July 5, 1978. Following the coup, the new leadership reconstituted the Constitutional Committee with 58 members (though only 52 participated in the subsequent deliberations). Two groups, the Bar Association and the Association of University Teachers, were offered places on the Constitutional Committee but refused to participate. The committee allowed limited public comment during its deliberations. In November 1978, the committee submitted its completed proposal to the SMC.

The Constituent Assembly convened in January 1979, charged with approving the final draft constitution, which would then be submitted to the SMC for final approval. The assembly contained 64 members indirectly elected by district councils, 29 nominated by the SMC, and 27 nominated by corporate bodies. The assembly made 350 amendments to the initial draft and proceeded to vote on each provision for final approval. The assembly completed its work on April 28. The final submitted draft included a provision indemnifying all members of the SMC.

March 30, 1850: All Danish possessions in Gold Coast sold to the British

The first Danish East India Company was chartered in 1616 under King Christian IV and focused on trade with IndiaThe first expedition, under Admiral Gjedde, took two years to reach Ceylon, in the process losing more than half its personnel. The island had been claimed by Portugal by the time they arrived, but on 10 May 1620 a treaty was concluded with the Kingdom of Kandy and the foundation laid of a settlement at Trincomalee on the island's east coast.

In 1670, a second Danish East India Company was established, before it too was dissolved in 1729. In 1730, it was refounded as the Asiatic Company and opened trade with Qing China at Canton. The first expedition went badly, with Den gyldne Løve lost with its cargo of silver off Ballyheigue, Ireland, on the outbound journey. The local landowners held the silver at their estate and pursued a salvage claim, but a gang of locals overpowered the Danish guard and made off with the hoard, causing a diplomatic row between Denmark-Norway and Britain.

During the Napoleonic Wars, in 1801 and again in 1807, the British Navy attacked Copenhagen. As a consequence of the last attack, Denmark (one of few West European countries not occupied by Bonaparte) lost its entire fleet and the island of Helgoland (part of the duchy of Holstein-Gottorp) to Britain. Denmark finally sold its remaining settlements in mainland India in 1845 and the Danish Gold Coast on March 30, 1850, both to the British.



March 29, 1946: Constitutional Amendment allowing for the Burns Constitution in the Gold Coast

Sir Alan Burns Constitution of 1946 provided new legislative council that was made of the Governor as the President, 6 government officials, 6 nominated members and 18 elected members.

Legislative elections were held in the Gold Coast in June 1946. Constitutional amendments on 29 March 1946 enabled the colony to be the first in Africa to have a majority of black members in its legislature; of the Legislative Council's 32 members, 21 were black, including all 18 elected members.

The executive council was not responsible to the legislative council. They were only in an advisory capacity and the governor did not have to take notice. It was the first major step towards recognition of a role for Gold Coasters (Ghanaians) in their own governance.

The Colony and Ashanti achieved representative government with the coming into force on 29/3/46 of the Burns Constitution. The operation of the Legislative Council was extended to Ashanti; elected members were increased from 11 to 18; the ex officio members were reduced from 13 to 6 and the nominated members were increased from 2 to 6. Elected members therefore, had a majority of 6 over the official and nominated members. The elected members comprised 9 provincial members elected from the Eastern and Western Provinces by the Joint Provincial Council; 4 Ashanti members elected by the Ashanti Confederacy Council; and 5 municipal members of whom 2 were elected from Accra and 1 each for Cape Coast, Sekondi-Takoradi and Kumasi. The ex officio members were the Colonial Secretary, the chief Commissioners of the Colony, Ashanti and the Northern Territories; the Attorney-General and the Financial Secretary. Of the 6 nominated members 3 were Africans, making a total of 21 African members out of 30. Three African members were also appointed to the Executive Council, namely Nana Tsibu Darku, Mr. C.W. Tachie-Menson and Dr. I.B. Asafu-Adjaye. Also, in 1946 an agreement for the administration of British Togoland as a trust territory by the United Kingdom Government was approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Sir Alan Burns was governor of the Gold Coast from 29 June 1942 until 2 August 1947. He was made Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. George in 1946 and after retiring he served as Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom on the UN Trusteeship Council until 1956. Burns died at Westminster Hospital in London on September 29, 1980.

March 27, 1952: Local Government Ordinance reduces role of Chiefs in local and municipal affairs

The 1883 Native Jurisdiction Ordinance (Gold Coast Colony) of the colonial state, allowed Paramount Chiefs or head chiefs as they were termed, and their councils to have the option of making bylaws dealing with such local government functions as building and maintenance of roads, forest conservation, the prevention of abatement of nuisance, the provision of burial grounds and the regulation of burials.

According to section 29 of 1883 Gold Coast Native Jurisdiction Ordinance, the Governor-in-Council could remove a chief if he proved incompetent or unsatisfactory to the colonial state. However, traditional leaders were not compelled to seek recognition from the governor before they could exercise your jurisdiction, which was mainly in rural areas.

The 1904 Chiefs Ordinance was designed to enhance the authority of traditional rulers in the Gold Coast by having the governor officially recognize them as chiefs. This measure was optional and was not necessary for a traditional leader to act as a chief. It was designed to enable traditional leaders to enforce the laws of the colonial state. The 1902 Ashanti Administration Ordinance, in the wake of the Yaa Asantewaa War, stated that a traditional leader could not act as a chief until the governor had granted him formal recognition. Contrary to the legislative instruments used in the Gold Coast colony, the Ashanti Protectorate had security concerns that required more stringent control of the role of chiefs.

The 1935 Ashanti Ordinance and the 1944 Gold Coast Colony Ordinance also allowed the Colonial State, in the form of the governor to withdraw recognition for traditional leader acting as a native authority at any time. The 1944 Native Ordinance also required that the traditional leaders of the Gold Coast Colony on the coast had to be selected according to custom but they could not exercise the Native Jurisdiction until they had been recognized by the governor and only if the traditional leader acted in conformity with the policies on the colonial state.

By the time Kwame Nkrumah became Leader of Government Business in 1952, it had become obvious that having Chiefs who were not elected by universal adult suffrage, were a contradiction to the postcolonial state which was to have democratically legislative and executive institutions from Parliament down to local government. The first local government ordinance to reduce the power of chiefs was proclaimed on March 27 1952. This dismantled direct control by traditional leaders of local government but allowed chiefs to have 1/3 of the seats in the new local government councils compared to 2/3 of the council members who are elected.

The local government councils administered areas of jurisdiction matters as diverse as public order, building, road construction, forestry, wildlife and agriculture. In 1953 Municipal Council Ordinance, dealing with major urban centers reduced traditional leadership membership of Municipal Councils down to 1/6. The paramount chief of the area was a non-voting President of the Municipal Council. By 1957, the participation of traditional leaders in the municipal councils was again reduced. In spite of reducing the powers of chiefs, at the local government level, the 1958 House of Chiefs Act and the 1961 Chieftaincy Act reassured traditional leaders that the institution of chieftaincy and their powers to deal with customary matters were guaranteed. The establishment of Regional Houses of Chiefs also reinforced this.

March 24, 1966: Dr. Busia returns to Ghana from 7 years in exile

Dr Busia, whose government succeeded the NLC, returned from exile on March 24, 1966 after the coup to become vice chairman of the political committee of the NLC, and became also the chairman of the Centre for Civic Education, a body set up by the NLC to return the country to the values of democratic government. Busia had left for exile in 1959 in the wake of the events following the 1958 attempted coup and the expected publication of the Sharp Report.

The NLC left a three-man presidential commission to act as the President of this country pending the election of a President. The commission comprised Akwasi Amankwaa Afrifa as chairman, Ocran and Harlley. Afrifa had become chairman of the NLC in early 1969 after the original chair, General J.A Ankrah, had resigned in the wake of a corruption scandal involving a Nigerian businessman, Francis Arthur Nzeribe.

When finally the NLC baby, the presidential commission, left office, it was replaced by a sole President of Ghana elected by a special electoral college. The person elected was Edward Akufo-Addo, who was chief justice at the time. He was one of the Big Six leading lights of the UGCC in 1947 and remained in frontline politics up till the demise of the UGCC in 1951. But more significantly, President Akufo-Addo had become the chairman of the constitutional commission of the NLC, which collated and drew up proposals for the second Republic constitution under which Dr Busia exercised power. The secretaries of this commission were the civil servants EAB Mayne and Dr Hilla Limann who became our President in 1979. In addition, and most significant, President Akufo-Addo was the chairman of the political committee of the NLC whose vice was Dr Busia.

March 23, 1998: US President Clinton marks historic visit to Ghana

On March 23, 1998, U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton arrived in Accra, Ghana, to begin a six-country, 12-day visit to Africa, the most extensive journey to that continent ever undertaken by a U.S. leader. He went with high hopes, hailing "the beginning of a new African renaissance." In retrospect, however, it seemed that the visit might instead have provided grounds for scrutinizing more carefully the premises upon which U.S. policy toward Africa was formulated.

The visit began on an upbeat note with enthusiastic crowds assembling to offer their greetings. The president, in turn, seemed genuinely eager to improve trading opportunities between the U.S. and Africa. The African growth and opportunity bill was being debated in the U.S. Congress with the object of promoting his aim, and his slogan "Trade Not Aid" underlined his determination to replace the discouraging feelings of dependency on the part of the Africans with a dynamic and mutually beneficial partnership.

To that end Clinton initially targeted a handful of countries deemed to have already demonstrated reformist tendencies--countries in which progress had been made toward a more democratic form of government, toward the establishment of internal security, and toward economic recovery and the elimination of corruption. These, henceforward, would be the criteria upon which further opportunities for profitable cooperation with the U.S. would depend. Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Rwanda in particular were singled out as fulfilling these requirements and also because they were led, it was thought, by men of a younger, pragmatic generation with whom the U.S. could do business. Further, there was also South Africa, a nation that had set an example of magnanimity and renewal.

Yet even for the most optimistic observer, there were discernible obstacles to the fulfillment of this well-intentioned plan. In the first place, all the countries on which the president focused attention had been, and still were, heavily dependent upon foreign aid for whatever economic progress they had made. In addition, discussions that took place in a meeting with East African heads of state, held in Entebbe, Uganda, forced Clinton to revise fundamentally his interpretation of what constituted progress toward a democratic form of government. Multiparty democracy, which he had taken as his aim, was conspicuously absent from the countries singled out for approval. Nor, to the dispassionate observer, was there much evidence that a multiparty system had provided the best recipe for internal political stability elsewhere in the continent. In South Africa too, the highlight of his visit, Clinton had to review his plans when Pres. Nelson Mandela made it clear that trade was no substitute for aid in countries as poor and as lacking in natural resources as were those in Africa.

The outbreak of hostilities between Eritrea and Ethiopia on May 6 inscribed a powerful question mark against the president’s faith in the good intentions of the pragmatic young leaders who were to bring in a new era of cooperation in the Great Lakes region of Africa. The rebellion that began shortly afterward, with the support of Uganda and Rwanda, in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo raised yet further doubts.

The question then arose as to why President Clinton, whose intentions were patently sincere, assumed that the African leaders with whom he was dealing were at one with him in his aims. One explanation was the information that had been supplied to him. U.S. policy in Africa since the time of the Cold War had been bedeviled by the phenomenon immortalized by the novelist Rudyard Kipling as the "Great Game." In the late 19th century, British attitudes toward Russian intervention in Asia had been coloured by the reports of official, semiofficial, and private adventurers enjoying the thrill of clandestine operations beyond the frontiers of India and not infrequently embellishing, if not actually inventing, accounts of Russian machinations and the vacillating loyalties of local chieftains. These activities were repeated in Africa during the Cold War by Americans of a similar cast of mind. As a result, an opportunistic power seeker such as Jonas Savimbi was regularly described as "pro-Western" and supplied with arms to conduct a profoundly damaging rebellion against the self-styled Marxist government of Angola. Similarly, the unscrupulous "pro-Western" Mobuto Sese Seko was helped to become president of Zaire and oppressor of his people as a "bulwark against the spread of Communism in Tropical Africa."

Even before the Cold War had ended, the exponents of the late-20th-century version of the Great Game had discovered the wellspring of a new series of plots against the interests of the West in the Muslim governments of Libya and The Sudan. Thus accused, the Muslim leaders’ not- unnatural reaction had been to conform more closely to the character defined for them by their opponents. In this situation of heightened tension, the readiness of the presidents of Uganda, Eritrea, and Ethiopia to give assistance to the rebels against the Sudanese government may well, whatever their underlying reasons, have been represented to U.S. policy makers as reinforcing the reformist and pro-Western character currently attributed to them.

These considerations reveal the need for a reassessment of U.S. policy toward Africa. If, as President Clinton clearly intended to demonstrate by his visit, the U.S. is eager to help Africa overcome the constraints that poverty, corruption, and political instability have imposed on the continent’s development, it is necessary to understand and give priority to the genuine needs and aspirations of individual African countries rather than using them as pawns in a geopolitical power struggle.


Kenneth Ingham is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Bristol, Eng.

March 21, 1952: Nkrumah elected Leader of Government Business (Prime Minister)

On March 21st 1952, Nkrumah was elected by secret ballot to the Legislative Council after winning by 45 votes to 31 with 8 abstentions. Nkrumah requested independence within the Commonwealth. He went to Parliament to lay before it his Motion of Destiny. At the time, his challenges included holding together the fractious and incongruous 4 territories which were juxtaposed in proximity and propinquity, namely the Gold Coast Colony, Ashanti Colony, Trans-Volta Togoland and the Northern Territories. 

At 12 a.m. on 6th March 1957, the Gold Coast became Ghana, exactly 113 years after the Bond of 1844 was signed by Commander Hill. Danquah had researched and proposed the name Ghana. Danquah had wanted independence to be granted in 1954, but the push for federalism by the NLM made this most unlikely. 

https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Special-Tribute-to-Dr-Kwame-Nkrumah-286481 - Kwame Atta Sakyi