JB Danquah, as all who knew him preferred to call him, was a member of the famous ‘Big Six’ (Ebenezer Ako-Adjei, Edward Akufo-Addo, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Emmanuel Obetsebi-Lamtey, William Ofori-Atta and himself, Joseph Boakye Danquah) – leaders of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) political grouping, who were thrown into jail by the British colonial masters following the 1948 political disturbances which led to the death of three World War II veterans.
Described by the Watson Commission as ‘the doyen of Gold Coast politics, Mr. JB Danquah was a Ghanaian statesman, pan-Africanist, scholar, lawyer and historian, who is credited with giving Ghana its present name (from the Gold Coast).
On 3rd October, 1961, on his alleged involvement in plans purported to subvert the Convention People’s Party (CPP) government, he was arrested under the Preventive Detention Act (PDA), freed, and was again arrested on 8th January 1964, for allegedly being implicated in a plot against Kwame Nkrumah, the then Ghanaian leader.
He suffered a heart attack and died while in detention at the Nsawam Medium Prisons on February 4, 1965.
Fifty-two years after his death, his grandson – Nana Akufo-Addo – has become Ghana’s President and could not let go the pain of the circumstances leading to his grandpa’s death.
This was what made him shed tears whiles paying glowing tribute to the late statesman.
Giving a short tribute in JB Danquah’s memory after laying a wreath at his graveside at the Presbyterian cemetery in Kyebi, Eastern Region, on Saturday, emotion-filled President Akufo-Addo, with tears rolling down his cheeks, said “We are here today to remember you and to let you know that you have not been forgotten and can never be forgotten as long as the state and nation of Ghana lives.
“The work you did, the values you stood for, are today the principles on which our nation is being built; you never held office and yet, the work you have done has gone beyond all those who held offices; they called you the light of the farmers [?kuafo? kanea]. You were indeed the light of our nation.”
He stated that “we came here today to let you know how much we value your work and your life; the Ghanaian people have embraced your teachings. They’ve opted to live in the conditions of freedom; the freedom that you gave your life for, to live under the rule of law, to live under constitutional government and to project what you believed was noble in the Ghanaian character.”
The president added, “We can never thank you enough for your sacrifice; in our modest pursuits, we will continue to make sure that those principles guide us and provide us with strength for what we do.”
President Akufo-Addo pointed out that “Like you, we are not for power for personal aggrandizement; we are not for power for wealth and riches; they were never your considerations, and they are not the considerations of our generation. It was as a result of your efforts we are called Ghana today; we will never ever forget you… You are not lost but gone before us, leaving behind footprints on the sands of time. There can never be bigger footprints than what you have left.”
He continued, “We are grateful for your life; we appreciate everything that you did; we will continue to do our best to honour you and to live by the principles that you gave your life for. God continue to bless you, continue to give you a peaceful rest and that on the day of resurrection, we shall all meet again in the presence of the Almighty.”
On his part, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Abuakwa South, Samuel Atta-Akyea, who is from the same family line, showered praises on JB Danquah, saying “There is no denying the fact that he is the president we never had.”
That, he said, was evident in the fact that “the sacrifices and sufferings of Dr Joseph Boakye Danquah we can’t catalogue – a man of great intellect, multi-gifted…”
“It seems to me that all that he did has paid off with the overwhelming victory of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as the President of the Republic of Ghana…I saw that this man was insulted and vilified and I saw President Akufo-Addo being insulted and vilified,” he noted.
He, therefore, took solace in the fact that “Seventy years down the line [because the proclamation of our independence was in 1947 at Saltpond] Dr Danquah, here stands your grandson Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, as your abundant compensation. All that you couldn’t achieve, the dreams you had, they have found fulfillment in your grandson.”
Present at the ceremony were the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Oquaye; Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo; Agric Minister, Dr Owusu Afriyie-Akoto; Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul; Interior Minister, Ambrose Dery; New Patriotic Party (NPP) elder, Hackman Owusu-Agyemang; Secretary to the President, Nana Asante Bediatuo; Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta and former NPP Vice Chairman, Stephen Ntim.
The rest included the Minister-designate for Roads and Highways, Kwasi Amoako-Atta; Minister-designate for Youth and Sports, Isaac Asiamah; Suhum MP, Fred Opare-Ansah; MP for Nsawam, Frank Annoh-Dompreh; Minister-designate for Chieftaincy, Culture and Religious Affairs, Kofi Dzamesi; MP for Akwatia, Mercy Ama Sey; former Western Regional Minister, Joseph Boahen-Aidoo; Kwame Akuffo and a host of others.
Nana and his entourage later paid a courtesy call on the Okyenhene, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin.
From Charles Takyi-Boadu, Presidential Correspondent