Danquah & Nkrumah Agree More Than Today’s Politicking Allows

In spite of the fact that President Kwame Nkrumah imprisoned his Big Six colleague, Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah, in 1961 with a bad law, and Danquah died in prison four years later, there is evidence that the two gentlemen, philosophers and statesmen, had greater areas of agreement than contemporary, caustic party politicking would have us believe.

This is revealed in an article published by Dr. Martin Odei Ajei, a lecturer at the Department of Philosophy at the University of Ghana, Legon, in the 2013 edition of the University of Ghana Readers, a set of books published by the institution to celebrate its Golden Jubilee.

In the Reader, A Celebration of Philosophy and Classics, Dr. Ajei pointed out that, yes, Nkrumah and Danquah have their points of divergence and even conflicts, yet there were key areas where the two were or are, in accord.

In the opening paragraph of his article, titled J. B. Danquah and Nkrumah’s Conceptual Congruences and Divergences, Dr. Ajei acknowledged the fact that “the lives and thought of J. B. Danquah and Nkrumah have influenced the historical and contemporary political narrative of the country.”

He stated that the Convention People’s Party (CPP,) National Democratic Congress (NDC) and People’s National Convention (PNC) profess one form or other of “socialist ideology and other forms of political conviction descendent from Nkrumah’s ideas,” and then there is the New Patriotic Party (NPP,) which acknowledges itself as the heir of Danquah’s “liberal economic and political viewpoints.”

Dr. Ajei added that contemporary “debate in the public sphere suggests deep, almost diametrically-opposed, conceptual divisions that are held as deriving ultimately from the ideas of Danquah and Nkrumah.”

However, he asserted, Danquah and Nkrumah “share more conceptually than what is commonly acknowledged as separating them,” and that they shared substantial philosophical positions inspired by traditional Akan culture and rudiments of German philosopher, Immanuel Kant’s practical reason, among others.”

Those shared, basic philosophical positions, Dr. Ajei argued, was the spring of the most significant political practices of Danquah and Nkrumah.

What separated Danquah and Nkrumah, Dr. Ajei added, “are divergent political interpretations of these basic philosophical positions and… such interpretations are more likely to have arisen from the demands of political strategy than from fundamental conceptual differences.”

(See the beginning of Dr. Ajei’s article on Page 5) 

Speaking at a public lecture on the 50th Anniversary of the death of Danquah on Wednesday, February 4, 2015, the 2016 presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP,) Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, said among other things: “We must all forgo all feelings of bitterness and say unreservedly to Kwame Nkrumah, his family and his supporters that we forgive what took place on that day.”

In compliance with the conventional, divisive nature of what Dr. Ajei refers to as the political “debate in the public sphere,” the above quote from Akufo-Addo – out of all he said – has become the focal point of all public discussions.

In an interview published the next day, a leading member of the CPP, Professor  Agyeman Badu Akosah, chided Akufo-Addo for making that statement.

Also, in the Thursday, February 12, 2015 edition of the Daily Graphic, the National Organiser of the erstwhile People’s National Party (PNP,) Samuel Adae-Amoako, said Nkrumah had no hand in Danquah’s ’s death, hence there was no basis for any forgiveness.  (It is on the PNP ticket that Dr. Hilla Limann became President in 1979, but he was overthrown 27 months later in a coup d’état by Flt. Lt. J. J. Rawlings on December 31, 1981.)

Adae-Amako explained that Danquah died in prison following his arrest and imprisonment under the Preventive Detentions Act (PDA.)

One of the going statements on the lips of some Nkrumah supporters is that Danquah and his United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) colleagues opposed the building of the Akosombo Dam.  However, in an interview granted at the Danquah lecture, the historian, politician and now pastor, Professor Mike Ocquaye, disclosed that Danquah and colleagues, indeed, offered valuable suggestions that encouraged Nkrumah to build the Akosombo Hydroelectric Project.

Today it is no longer news that Danquah is the one who suggested the name Ghana for the new independent nation, and Nkrumah adopted it.