Middle Class Activism, Regional Devolution and Cocoa Politics in the Gold Coast (Circa 1955)

Extracts from The Times newspaper of 1955

(1) “Throughout the country the middle classes, men in the upper ranks of the law; the professions and education are instinctively against the C.P.P. These middle classes interrelated with but distinct from, the chieftainship date from the last century when owing to the prevalence of the malarial mosquito, Africans took a larger share in the running of their own country than they did in the twentieth. To these families, the CPP leaders were novi homines – i.e. “new citizens”. In the Gold Coast, it is often the uncle, rather than the father, who brings up a child. Describing the lack of background [or provenance] of the CPP Ministers, a

Extracts from The Times newspaper of 1955

(1) “Throughout the country the middle classes, men in the upper ranks of the law; the professions and education are instinctively against the C.P.P. These middle classes interrelated with but distinct from, the chieftainship date from the last century when owing to the prevalence of the malarial mosquito, Africans took a larger share in the running of their own country than they did in the twentieth. To these families, the CPP leaders were novi homines – i.e. “new citizens”. In the Gold Coast, it is often the uncle, rather than the father, who brings up a child. Describing the lack of background [or provenance] of the CPP Ministers, a member of this African haute bourgeoisie [a.k.a upper middle class] remarked scornfully to your correspondent: “nobody who knows their uncle or their grandfather was”…The middle classes played a great part in the movement for self- government. They feel now that they have raised a Frankenstein [i.e. CPP and Kwame Nkrumah]. In common with all these minority groups, they fear that they may enjoy LESS INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY than under colonial rule. They thought in terms of self-government in 15 or 30 year. Now they see it just around the corner. “Every responsible African in the country is against it”, one of them recently remarked”.

 

(2) “ACCRA “Gold Coast), Friday – A report by Sir Frederick Bourne, constitutional adviser to the Gold Cost, released today recommended “a substantial transfer of power FROM THE CENTRE TO THE REGIONS”. Sir Frederick, an authority on constitutional matters, spent two months in the Gold coast studying conditions to make recommendations for a new constitution. He met representatives of the organised political parties. Two parties which he did not meet officially, the Asanteman Council and the National Liberation Movement (NLM) – the NLM was demanding a federal constitution [as opposed to amendments which gave the colony more unitary constitution]….He said Accra should be left as it is and regional assemblies should be limited for the time being to Eastern, Western, Ashanti and Northern Territories…The devolution of power to the regions was a matter which required most careful consideration, but could be OF GREAT VALUE TO THE GOVERNMENT in relieving Ministers of a great deal of LOCAL BUSINESS which could be BETTER PERFORMED IN THE REGIONS…Ministers would thus have MORE TIME to consider BROAD ISSUES OF NATIONAL POLICY.

 

(3) “The Cocoa grows in Ashanti. The Gold Coast lives on Cocoa [and still does to date]. The Cocoa price is dictated by the Cocoa Marketing Board (CMB), which is dominated by the CPP. “CPP candidates came up here waving £5 notes and saying this would be the price of a load. They deceived us. After the election [i.e. 1951 elections] they fixed it at £3 15s. The politicians from the South have taken our money to spend on “The Colony” (coastal strip of the Gold Coast) on themselves, their cars and their women. They promised us social services. Master, come and look at our well [i.e. wellbeing]. Is this water fit for us and our children to drink?”

Commentary: Hmm! Why did we abandon all these brilliant legislative provisions especially that of devolution of power to the regions which would have inured to our overall socioeconomic wellbeing? Methinks our Accra political elites have done this country a great disservice ever since the period leading up to independence and thereafter. Regional devolution of power would have been great. What has been our lot after 50 plus years of independence? Same old same, and like the guy complaining in the third extract in 1955, I cannot help but agree in saying the politicians have taken our money to spend on themselves, their cars and their women. They promised us social services but come and look at our wellbeing. Is this water fit for us and our children to drink? Ghana abrε!

 

Notes:  […] – Emphasis mine

 

Download: https://www.dropbox.com/s/n10ln2h1keg7laz/Gold%20Coast_The%20Times%20Newspaper%20Clippings%20from%201955.pdf?dl=0

 

 

About the Author

Theo Acheampong
Theo is an economist and social media enthusiast who provides regular commentary on socioeconomic and political developments in Ghana and Africa at large. Theo is passionate about leadership, entrepreneurship and the role of innovative technologies in solving Africa's developmental challenges.