The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, says Founders’ is the most appropriate day to signify Ghana’s recognition and appreciation of the collective efforts of her forebears towards the founding of a free, independent Ghana. According to President Akufo-Addo, “Government believes that the most appropriate way to honour them is to commemorate the day on which the two most significant events in our colonial political history, that led us to freedom and independence, occurred – 4th August.”
The President made this known on Sunday, 4th August, 2019, at the luncheon for Senior Citizens, on the occasion of the celebration of Founders’ Day, at the Accra International Conference Centre, Accra.
Addressing the gathering, the President bemoaned the fact that 62 years after independence, the history of the events of 4th August continue to be embroiled in needless controversy, due largely to partisan political considerations of the moment.
“It is time we rose above partisan considerations, set the record straight, recognise the collective efforts in gaining our freedom and independence from colonial rule, reject the trivialisation of our past, and do right by our history. I am glad that this date has now found root in our nation’s calendar by Act of Parliament, and long may it so continue,” he added.
Recounting the events that led to the imperialist annexation and division of Africa in the Treaty of Berlin in 1884, and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, President Akufo-Addo noted that “we, in what was then the Gold Coast, did not escape these events, indeed, we were at the very heart of the obscene trade.”
He continued, “It was here that 75 per cent of the slave dungeons on the West coast of Africa were built, and it was through them that the slaves were transported, and we became a British colony after the signing of the Bond of 6th March 1844.”
Formation of ARPS
The formation of the Aborigines Rights Protection Society on 4th August, 1897, in Cape Coast, according to President Akufo-Addo, marked the start of the struggle for national independence.
The Society, he explained, was formed to resist the application and implementation of the 1897 Crown Lands Bill, which sought to sequestrate and expropriate the country’s alleged public lands to the benefit of the British Crown.
“The Society mobilised the Chiefs and people and public opinion in the Gold Coast to agitate against this pernicious legislation… Their agitation forced the colonial power to withdraw the Bill, and the ownership of our lands was never in issue again during the rest of the colonial period,” he added.
The Ghanaian people, President Akufo-Addo stressed, would appreciate the importance of the agitation of the ARPS when “we remember that the very same objectives of the Crown Lands Bill were introduced at the same time, and became law in countries like Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and other British colonies in southern and eastern Africa, which changed the course of their history.”
The names of the patriots of the ARPS – Jacob Sey, Joseph Casely Hayford, John Mensah Sarbah, Kobina Sekyi, J.W. de Graft-Johnson, J.P Brown, and their colleagues were the men who stood up to defend our heritage, and establish the platform for our future advance to freedom – the President indicated, must be etched boldly in the annals of Ghanaian history.
Formation of UGCC
The second of the two significant events in the struggle, after the agitations of the 1920s, 1930s and early 1940s, President Akufo-Addo said, then occurred on 4th August, 1947, exactly fifty years later to the day of the formation of the Aborigines Rights Protection Society, i.e. the formation of the United Gold Coast Convention, the first political party in our country.
The UGCC, he explained, was the first to make a formal demand for independence, indeed, the first time any such demand was made in colonial Africa, a demand made eleven (11) days before the declaration of India’s indepen