Is Founder’s Day Worth Celebrating?

The National Founder’s Day was set aside as a public holiday to commemorate the birthday of Ghana’s first president, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of blessed memory. The event is observed on September 21 of every year to honour the founding fathers of our Motherland.

Apparently, the declaration of Nkrumah’s birthday as a statutory public holiday was strongly opposed by some politicians, opinion leaders and well-meaning Ghanaians who are touted as anti-Nkrumaiasts.

Let me ask the burning question that runs through the mind of many. Is Nkrumah the founder of this country? This article seeks to address the above question as regards the subject.

This country, which was known as Gold Coast, was changed to “Ghana” after independence by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and Dr. J.B. Danquah. The name “Ghana” was adopted after thorough research into the history of our forefathers.

But some still doubt this fact, since rumours has it that the letters G.H.A.N.A means “God Has Appointed Nkrumah Already”. This perception is erroneous; since the name was not adopted by Nkrumah alone.

It would be recalled that in 2009, the late President JEA Mills commissioned the Nkrumah Centenary Celebration Planning Committee to plan the activities marking the 100th birthday of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.

Consequently, the Planning Committee did a good job for organising a memorable ceremony in honour of the first president of the land.

Thinking aloud, I wonder if the National Founder’s Day can stand the test of time, especially in the event of change of government in future.

To one school of thought, the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) believes in the ideology of Osagyefo, since some of its figures are said to be Nkrumaiasts or defectors from the CPP.

To another, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is seen as anti-Nkrumaiast since it follows in the Busia-Danquah Tradition that formed the United Party (UP). The UP was the strongest opposition party that contested the CPP in the late 50s elections.

For instance, under the era of President JJ Rawlings, June 4 used to be a public holiday until the opposition NPP led by President JA Kufuor wrestled power in 2000. Subsequently, Parliament passed a bill to scrap the event from our national calendar.

Born on September 21, 1909, at Nkroful in the Western Region of the then Gold Coast as Francis Nwia-Kofi, but later changed his name to Kwame Nkrumah.

Nkrumah attended the Achimota School and later trained as a teacher. He studied in the United States between 1935 and 1939 to obtain a Bachelor of Art degree from Lincoln University.

He also earned a Bachelor of Sacred Theology in 1942; a Master of Science in Education and a Master of Arts in Philosophy respectively, both from the University of Pennsylvania in 1943.

During his lifetime, Nkrumah was awarded honorary doctorates by some institutions including Lincoln University, Moscow State University, Cairo University, and a few more.

When Nkrumah arrived in London to study Law and complete his thesis for a Doctorate degree in 1945, he met the famous African-American author, George Padmore.

Unfortunately, he abandoned his education when he was invited to serve as the General Secretary to the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) in 1947.

As a result, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah joined five founding members of the UGCC to form the Big Six of Gold Coast. The Big Six were the executive members of the first leading political party under the British colony.

The famous Big Six were, Ebenezer Ako-Adjei, Edward Akuffo-Addo, Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah, Emmanuel Obetsebi-Lamptey, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, and William Ofori Atta.

Dr. Nkrumah broke away from the UGCC in 1949 to form the Convention People’s Party (CPP). In 1956, the CPP won the elections leading to independence which saw Kwame Nkrumah into office as the first Prime Minister and later President of Ghana.

The achievements of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah distinguished him among his contemporaries. His ideology for pan-Africanism, Africa liberation, and self-governance earned him an enviable reputation on the globe.

As an international icon of freedom in Africa, Kwame Nkrumah was the first black leader to succeed in championing the cause for independence from the British colony in 1957.

Following his stupendous legacy, Nkrumah was adjudged Africa’s greatest “Man of the Millennium” in the year 2000. His social policies and style of leadership were impeccable.

Ideally, the significance of Founder’s Day is to acknowledge our founders, including the Big Six for their stewardship as statesmen and founding-fathers of early Ghana.

It is, however, important to celebrate the effort and sacrifice of our founding leaders because “A nation that does not honour its heroes is not worth dying for”.

Unsurprisingly, during the African Union (AU) 13th Ordinary Summit in Libya, the heads of State unanimously agreed to celebrate Nkrumah’s centenary birthday. The event has been added to the AU’s calendar of Special Events.

Today, Kwame Nkrumah who was once vilified by his own people following the 1966 coup de’tat is now celebrated for his exemplary leadership in Africa.

He is fondly remembered for the improved roads, schools, hospitals, factories, the Akosombo Dam, the Tema Harbour and the economic stability, just to mention a few.

Following the overthrow of his government on February 24, 1966, Dr. Nkrumah left for Conakry. He was appointed Co-President of Guinea until his death on 27th April, 1972. He died at the age of 63.

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah demonstrated patriotism and eschewed parochialism as a visionary leader; hence, the need to honour him on the occasion of his birthday.

As we celebrate the 106th birthday of Osagyefo, it important for every citizen of this country to exhibit a sense of patriotism and unity in all spheres of life.

Let’s draw inspiration from the achievements, ideology, and vision of Kwame Nkrumah for the purpose of nation building.

ASP James Annan
Head of Publications
Prisons Headquarters, Accra

Leave a Comment