On Tuesday 28 February, I was privileged to attend the wreath laying ceremony in remembrance of Ghana’s fallen heroes at Osu in Accra. The heroes namely Sergeant Adjetey, Corporal Attipoe and Private Odartey were killed in the company of the Gold Coast Regiment on their way to the Christianborg Castle to present a petition to the British Colonial governor at the time. The war veterans were promised pensions and jobs for fighting alongside British troops in Burma during World War II. On their return, jobs were scarce and their pensions were never paid them.
In their attempt to bring to the attention of the governor his unfulfilled promises, the war veterans were confronted by the colonial police at the Christianborg Castle crossroad and refused to let them pass. The British head of police, Superintendent Imray ordered his minor to shoot at the protesters but he shot into the air. Frustrated, Imray grabbed the gun and shot into the crowd Killing Sergeant Adjetey, Corporal Attipoe, and Private Odartey.
The aftermath of this event was the setting up of the Watson commission which examined the circumstances surrounding the riots and led to constitutional reforms that eventually culminated into Ghana’s independence.
At the re-enactment of the incident on 28th February 2017, I spotted a soldier shedding tears and complaining about how the families of the people who sacrificed their lives to make Ghana what it is today have been neglected. He talked about how some of these incidents are not approached with seriousness by our generation. It then dawned on me that, some privileges we enjoy in this country such as democracy, press freedom, Freedom, and Justice etc were made possible because of the selflessness, patriotism, bravery and sacrifice of some people.
The lands of the Gold Coast would have been under the control of the British if not for the timely intervention of John Mensah Sarbah. He was a Philanthropic lawyer, lay clergy, and an educationist. He was also the pioneer of the struggle for independence from British Colonial rule. He firmly opposed the Colonial Land Appropriation Bill which sought to place all lands in the Gold Coast under British imperial rule. He argued that land in Africa belonged to someone and any attempt by the British Colonial powers to confiscate indigenous lands was illegal. He together with J.P. Brown, J.W. de Graft-Johnson and others formed the Aborigine’s Rights Protection Society to oppose the Lands Bill of 1897 which threatened the traditional system of African land tenure. It was the successful opposition of the Land Bill that prevented the then Gold Coast from going the apartheid way or the Mau Mau struggle of Kenya. The University of Ghana dedicated its first mixed hall on the Legon Campus to the memory of John Mensah Sarbah.
June 30th, 1982 left a dark spot in Ghana’s political history after three high court Judges namely, Mr. Justice Fred Poku Sarkodie, Mrs. Justice Cecilia Koranteng-Addo and Mr. Justice Kwadwo Agyei Agyapong as well as a retired army officer, Major Sam Acquah were brutally murdered under strange circumstances at the Bundase Military Range in the Accra Plains. They were abducted on the night of 30th June 1982 by some unidentified assailants and their bodies were found on 3rd July 1982. It later emerged that all the three judges were sitting on review cases brought by citizens aggrieved by the treatment meted out to them by the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council that the military junta formed to rule the nation after the June 4th Coup d’état led by Flt. Lt. Rawlings.
Ghana wouldn’t have been among the largest exporters of Cocoa if not for the foresight of Tetteh Quarshie. In 1870, Tetteh Quarshie undertook a voyage to the Spanish colony Fernando Po (now Bioko in Equatorial Guinea). Six years later, he returned to Ghana with several cocoa beans. In 1879, Tetteh Quarshie planted the seeds at Mampong and some friends, relatives and other farmers followed suit. The Ghanaian cocoa beans were sent to other countries such as Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Between 1910 and 1980, Ghana was the world’s largest exporter of cocoa and currently earns millions of dollars annually from the export of the beans and processed materials.
The reason for bringing the likes of Tetteh Quarshie, John Mensah Sarbah, into perspective is because, they are among the numerous men and women, who have contributed towards today’s Ghana and have not even enjoyed the fruits of their labor. In trying to uphold justice, three high court Judges lost their lives. In trying to stand against unfairness, three ex-service men lost their lives. The theme for Ghana’s 60th Independence Day anniversary is “Mobilising for Ghana’s Future” and we the youth are that future. The big question is, are we preparing for that future? If yes, how well are we prepared? Can we efficiently manage whatever resources this current generation will handover to us?
When you look at the people I highlighted, they either initiated something, stood for something, fought for something or died for something. They were people full of conviction and patriotism for their nation Ghana. Does the current crop of youth in Ghana have these traits? I don’t think so (I stand to be corrected). From my observation and conversation with some friends of mine, I’ve realized that we have no sense of nationalism but rather we are self-centered. In most conversations with friends of mine, we always relish how we’d make it big in life. Our conversation is mostly centered on how to become rich, buy expensive cars and houses and make a happy family. We’re always blaming our leaders for the nation’s challenges but we never sit down to think about how we’d right the wrongs some leaders have committed.
We put our self-interest ahead of the larger interest of all. The youth have developed an insatiable obsession for money that, internet fraud has become the order of the day. The sense of integrity among us is scarce. We always want to cut corners to get to the top rather than going through the mill of life.
I doubt whether we even have the balls that the ex-servicemen and John Mensah Sarbah had, to confront injustice and challenge the status quo. We like being in our comfort zones and want to get our desires on a silver platter. Some friends of mine and i have an ambition of venturing into a particular industry but upon observing what pertains there, we came to the conclusion that we can’t survive there. We discussed how some particular crop of people brought life into the industry with their skills and professionalism but after their departure, the industry is now riddled with corruption and unprofessionalism. After our chat, it dawned on me that, the lucrative nature of the industry was as a result of the input of these crop of dedicated and professional individuals we admired. If we want the sanity that we desire to exist in this industry, the onus lies on us to make it happen. We have to be the game changers.
If we don’t change this self-seeking attitude of ours, obsession for money without hard work and start thinking of how we’d better our nation, the future the current generation is mobilizing for us will be a farce. If we don’t develop a sense of patriotism, posterity will judge us by the pledge we made to hold in high esteem, our heritage won for us through the blood and toil of our fathers and uphold and defend the good name of Ghana.
Information source:wikipedia & therawafrica.com