Re-Kwame Nkrumah’s Tattered Legacy
Date published: January 21, 2013
By Dr. Kofi Ellison, Washington, D.C
The author of the article writes: “The term Veranda Boys was first used on CPP activists who moved round the country to share the gospel of the party and win converts, sleeping wherever possible during those travels.” The above statement regarding how the sobriquet ‘Veranda Boys’ came to be is totally incorrect. The term arose out of what some perceived to be the snobbish attitude, and elitism found in the attitudes and behaviour of some of the members of Ghana’s then only political party – The United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), formed in August 1947 at Saltpond.
The leadership of the UGCC was drawn largely from the professional and merchant class, made up of graduate teachers, lawyers and businessmen. There was a perception that the ‘leading members’ of the UGCC, who were more highly educated and drawing handsome salaries from their professions, did not mingle with, and also had little respect for the lowly-educated rank and file members from the various Congress of Youth organisations, or CYO who attended UGCC events! Unfortunately, those leading members did nothing to quash that perception! Their aloofness made that perception stick.
According to Krobo Edusei, a founding member of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP), and later a Minister in the Nkrumah government (as told to Prof. Adu Boahen in his book: Ghana: Evolution and Change in the 19th and 20th Centuries”), whenever there was a meeting of the UGCC, the elite would be in one room while the rest were left on the outside, on the veranda! When it came to enjoying a lunch, the elite would separate themselves from the rank and file, who would be left to eat their meals outside, literally on the veranda! In the words of Krobo Edusei, only Kwame Nkrumah would come outside to sit on the floor and eat with all and sundry, regardless of education or employment!
Others such as Komla A. Gbedemah have repeated what Krobo Edusei had said on record. Those who had their lunch outside of the main building, or room, came to be known derisively as Veranda Boys, a term that was embraced by people like Krobo Edusei and K.A. Gbedemah. It was these so-called Veranda Boys of the CYOs who broke away from the UGCC, and invited Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to lead them in a new organisation that was named the CPP in June 1949 at Saltpond. And the rest as they say, is history.
The term Veranda Boys predates the CPP, and has absolutely nothing to do with the sleeping arrangements of traveling political party hustlers and campaigners!! Furthermore, I believe Ghanaian custom and hospitality would never let a stranger or visitor, who properly announced his entrance to a town or house, to sleep in the street!
The CPP quickly embraced the term Veranda Boys to distinguish the CPP from the UGCC, which was considered to be elitist. Since then, other parties formed in Ghana, such as the Peoples National Party in 1979, and later the National Democratic Congress (NDC), have tended to resurrect the usage of the term Veranda Boys to further distinguish their party from any party they considered to be a successor of, and beholden to the ideas and ideals of the UGCC, such as the United National Convention in 1979, and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) current.
In Ghana today, we are bombarded by all manner of falsehoods being paraded as the truth, further corrupting the minds of the youth, and fudging the debate!! A little research, and asking the right questions from the appropriate quarters, would certainly help!!!
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