For some time now, there have been a self-urge and numerous requests from the members of the erstwhile Danquah-Busia Club which was formed on Saturday 23rd February, 1991, to write about the footprints of the club which metamorphosed into the New Patriotic Party.
As the only surviving member of the Twelve foundation people who met on that historic day at the historic K.O Methodist school, I believe I have an impinging responsibility to respond to that self-urge and the numerous requests from people before this year tappers out. Of course, this year 2021, marks Thirty years ago when the club was formed.
As far as I can recollect, the 12 disciples of the Danquah and Busia tradition who responded to the invitation to the numerous adverts carried by Mr. Attakora Gyimah, the founder of the club in the ‘Pioneer’ Newspaper included Mr. K.A Sefa Bonsu, who was elected the Chairman, Nana Adu Tutu Amankwa – Ex-Akroponghene, Vice Chairman, Victor Owusu (my good self – Secretary), Master Arthur (former Headteacher of State Experimental school), S.B Arthur (Central market), Mr. A.P Acheampong (Tutor, Kumasi Academy), Mr. Gideon Opoku (Suame). The group waited for people to come for the meeting from about 9:00a.m and by 12 noon, we were twelve people. At that juncture, the late Rev. Dr. Asante Antwi, who offered us the meeting grounds, K.O Methodist School, was invited to address us and he thenceforth became the spiritual father of the club. So, on Saturday, 23rd February, 1991, the Danquah-Busia club was born.
THE CHANGING POLITICAL WORLD OF 1989/1990s
From 1989, a wind of change for democracy was blowing through countries that were brutal, tyrannical, dictatorial and iron curtained. In the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev had become the new leader and he came with new ideas. To help solve his nation’s problems, Gorbachev began a new economic reform movement. He called the new movement “PERESTROIKA” meaning restructuring. He encouraged a public discussion of the nation’s problems and he called this policy “GLASNOT” or Openness. By 1990, the power of the Communist party was being challenged. Requests were made to allow Soviet citizens to vote for people from other political parties.
The Soviet Congress for the first time met in 1989 and 2,250 delegates were freely elected to a new Congress of People’s Deputies. The Congress had the responsibility of electing a 542 member legislative body called the Supreme Soviet. Deputies were allowed to speak freely. The entire meeting was carried live on Soviet Television. Glasnost was being put into practice. Gorbachev told the newly elected deputies “we are learning democracy. We are now developing democratic culture”. The Soviet Empire described by American President Ronald Reagan as the “evil empire” had fallen by 1990.
The reform movement in the Soviet Union affected the whole of Eastern Europe. In Hungary, the government allowed its citizens more freedom of speech and assembly. The Soviet Union’s Glasnot or openness was quickly embraced. Hungary was the first country in Eastern Europe to allow its people to freely travel to a western country. The Iron curtain had been pierced. Poland, followed suit as it peacefully removed a communist government from power.
Perhaps the most historic of these changes blowing through Eastern Europe was the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Wall had long been a symbol of division between Communism and Democracy.
EVENTS AT HOME
Ghana could not remain isolated from the wind of change blowing in countries smarting under tyrannical rule. The country was under the brutal PNDC regime. The push for democratic rule in Ghana began to take steam in 1990 with the formation of the Movement for Freedom and Justice (MFJ). The PNDC regime had shackled the basic freedoms of the people and driven many Ghanaians into political exile. There was a culture of silence prevailing in the country. Even though Professor Albert Adu Boahen had broken the culture of silence in his lectures under the auspices of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences – The Ghanaian Sphinx – Reflections on the contemporary history of Ghana. Nonetheless, the culture did not go away. Like in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, ‘the ides of march’ had come but not gone. The PNDC continued to stifle the rights of the people and there was an atmosphere of fear of the PNDC’s ruthlessness still hanging around the necks of the citizenry like the Sword of Damocles.
The situation was bound to change and this happened when the Movement of Freedom and Justice (MFJ) was formed in August 1990. The movement had Professor Albert Adu Boahen as National Chairman, Johnny Hanson as Vice-Chairman, the late Lawyer Obeng Manu as National Secretary, Kwesi Pratt as Assistant Secretary, Kweku Baako, Nedebugre and others. It is worthy to note that apart from Prof. Adu Boahen, the leadership of the MFJ was of the CPP stock.
On Saturday 15th September, 1990, the launch of the MFJ at Kumasi Abbey’s Park was shamefully and painfully disrupted by policemen heavily armed to the teeth. This was the handiwork of the PNDC. Consequently, the Kumasi Chapter of the MFJ made up of the late Lawyer Obeng Manu (the National Secretary), Dr. John Bilson, the late Mr. Amo Bediako, Mr. E.K Duah, Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu (now Hon. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Majority leader) and my good self together with the contingent from Accra led by Johnny Hanson (Assistant National Vice-chairman) and Kwesi Pratt in the midst of the chaotic situation at Abbey’s Park moved to Dr. Bilson’s mini sawmill at Ahinsan, where Johnny Hanson read a press statements covered only by the ‘Pioneer’ and Ben Ephson, then stringing for the BBC. We were later joined by the late Dan Lartey and B.K Nketiah, one time Ghana’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom at Dr. Bilson’s Danyame residence where we had retired to.
There was a loud silence on the political front after the state sponsored clatter of the MFJ. However, there were murmurings and whistling by pro-democracy elements here and there which found expression only in the ‘Pioneer’. The two state newspapers, the Daily Graphic and Ghanaian Times had no reams for publishing dissenting political opinions. Such was the political situation in the country when the Danquah-Busia Club was born on Saturday 23rd February, 1991.
THE RISE AND SPREAD OF THE DANQUAH-BUSIA CLUB
The preamble to the constitution of the club, encapsulated what it set out to do and it is worthy to take note of it.
“In the name of the Almighty God, we members of the Danquah-Busia Club;
In exercise of our natural and inalienable right of freedom of association;
In a spirit magnamity and friendship with all people of Ghana and the World;
And in solemn remembrance of the contributions of Joseph Boakye Danquah and Kofi Abrefa Busia, to the establishment of true Freedom, Justice and Democracy in Ghana;
Sadly aware that their relentless war against tyranny and oppression has been blatantly distorted by adventurous usurpers of political power;
Avowed to the revival and perpetuation of the democratic ideals of these two intellectual giants;
Believing that through the teachings of these two masters, true democracy can be built upon the ashes of politically moribund nation and thereby bring an end to the sad and shameful mirage that has been the unfortunate lot of our people for 34 years;
And in the solemn declaration and affirmation of our faith in the principle that all powers of Government spring from the sovereign will of the people and not through the barrel of the gun.
OBJECTIVES OF THE CLUB
The main objectives of the club were:
- To rehabilitate the image and ideals of Danquah and Busia throughout Ghana.
- To fight for the establishment of democracy and democratic institutions in Ghana and thereby set an example worthy of emulation by others.
- To commit itself to the upliftment of the Economic and Political welfare of Ghanaians through responsible leadership.
After the formation meeting of Saturday 23rd February, 1991, it became necessary to spread the message that a UP tradition organization has finally emerged. One very interesting thing is that, prior to the formation of the Danquah-Busia Club, the CPP tradition was visible and organized in limbo, than the UP tradition. The CPP tradition could boast of organisations like the Kwame Nkrumah Revolutionary Guards (KNRG), the African Youth Command (AYC) and the Kwame Nkrumah Welfare Society (KNWS). As to why they could not carry this organizational prowess into the 4th Republican politics is a matter for political scientists and my friend Kwesi Pratt to speak to.
In any case, the Danquah-Busia club had been set in motion as I travelled to Wenchi, the hometown of Dr. Busia to inform the family of the formation of the club to rehabilitate the image of their relative and deify him. I was warmly received by Nana Kusi Appea (Ex-Wenchihene) and a brother of Dr. Busia, Nana Frema Busia I (Ex-Queenmother of Wenchi) and a sister of Dr. Busia and Peter Busia an elder brother. I invited the family to join us in our meeting scheduled for Saturday 9th March, 1991. The family duly accepted the invitation and was represented by Nana Frema Busia at the meeting to give the blessings of the family to the club. An emissary was also dispatched to Kyebi for a similar purpose. Furthermore, I travelled to Accra from Kumasi to sound the big UP guys and invite them for meetings in Kumasi. With the assistance of my very good friend Dan Botwe (now Honourable Member of Parliament and Minister for Local Government, Rural Development and Decentralisation) who was then working at the Cocobod (Computer room), I located President Kufuor at his Tudu office and delivered the message to him. Through another friend, Lawyer Ben Annan, I met Lawyer Odoi Sykes and Kwaku Baah who as at that time was on board. I also went to the Chambers of the President, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo at Adabraka. However, I met his absence and left message with another friend, Lawyer Alex Quaynor. Nana Addo responded favourably to my message of the formation of the Danquah-Busia Club when in the company of his driver Joe, he personally came to Kumasi and delivered to me high quality T-Shirts with the effigies of Danquah and Busia.
From yesterday’s issue
From Nana Addo’s chambers, my next stop was Amandla Jewellery also in Adabraka where I met the late Mrs. Mary Adu Boahen who took me to Professor Adu Boahen’s residence at the Airport residential area. I ended my assignment with a visit to Mr. Victor Owusu, the Popular Front Party (P.F.P) presidential candidate at his Switchback road residence with the same message of the formation of the Danquah-Busia club and an invitation to him to attend the meetings of the club in Kumasi. My assignment in Accra had proved very successful and the next general meeting of the club on Saturday 23rd March at the K.O Methodist School classrooms was filled to the rafters.
The club captured the attention and imagination of many people including even the Nkrumaists and many Ghanaians desirous of a return to multi-party democracy anchored on a constitution. The club became the only outdoor pro-democracy organization in the country holding meetings publicly on every Saturday. The club created a platform for the fearless and courageous of those times to criticize the PNDC regime.
The K.O Methodist School classrooms, the meeting place of the club became Ghana’s Hyde Park where fiery speeches were made and the likes of the late Dr. John Bilson, the late Lawyer Obeng Manu, Rev. Dr. Asante Antwi, Professor Adu Boahen and Mr. Attakora Gyima (the founder) and others too numerous to mention here roared to the applause of the crowd. Of course, operatives of the then dreaded BNI mingled with us. I knew them and they also knew me. As to how and why as the General Secretary of the club who did all the leg work and attracted the surveillance of the BNI escaped arrest and detention is best known by my Social Club members-The Great Gyensiamoah Club of Kumasi. They can tell the story.
GETTING TO THE STUMPS
The club hit the ground running with the formation and inauguration of branches throughout the country. In the initial stages it was by no means an easy task as we had to contend with the fear factor that the PNDC had succeeded in imposing on the country. A good number of people were afraid to identify themselves with any organization that opposed the PNDC. There was a reign of terror in the country. However, the perseverance and tenacity of members of the club prevailed over the intimidating PNDC and its surrogate People’s Defence committees (PDCs) which were used to disrupt some of our meetings in some places outside of K.O. Methodist.
An organizational and political committee was set up to facilitate the opening of branches. This led to branches springing up throughout the Ashanti Region and beyond. The first branch to be formed and inaugurated was the Jachie branch in the Bosomtwe Constituency. Typical of what was to become the trend, the inauguration took place in a school classroom. The team that inaugurated the branch was made up of Dr. John Bilson, Lawyer Obeng Manu, S.B Arthur of Central Market and my good self. The next branch to be inaugurated was the Adwumam branch in the Kwabre Constituency.
As the weeks and months passed by requests for inaugurations flooded the secretariat such that hardly a week passed by without an inauguration taking place. Whilst some of the inaugurations were smooth, others were eventful. For example when we went to inaugurate the Kokofu branch in the Bekwai Constituency, we had booked and paid for a Guest house in town for the event. To our dismay on arrival, we were told that the booking had been cancelled. We therefore, proceeded to a nearby Methodist church where we had the inauguration. At another time at Edweso, our inauguration at Yaa Asantewaa Nite Club which we had paid for was broken up by the police. We were not deterred. We crossed the nearby railway line and performed the inauguration in a school close to the railway line. Such was some of the frustrations that we encountered in spreading the reach of the club.
Bearing in mind that we were going to turn the club into a political party, the executives who were put in place were told to nurture the constituencies prior to the lifting of the ban on political parties. There was whisperings of that in the air and we were prepared for it. These Executives in many instances became the constituency chairmen and other executives when the NPP was formed. Meanwhile, the K.O meeting was shaking the political landscape and people eagerly waited for the Saturdays. Prominently present at the meetings were the likes of President J.A Kufuor, Dr. Kwame Addo Kufuor, the late Dr. Dzane Selby, the late Mr. Amo Bediako, the late Mr. Osei Duah (former Progress Party member of Parliament for Asutifi), the late Lawyer Darkwa Dwamena (former Progress Party MP for Offinso), Lawyer John Kwame Koduah, Lawyer Kissi Richardson, a lecturer at the KNUST. Also present were the likes of the late Nana Bonsu, Ashanti Regional Chairman of the Progress Party and Popular Front Party, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, as he then was, now Hon. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Majority Leader, Hon. Alex Korankye former Member of Parliament for Asante Akyem North (Juaso), the late Hon. Akwasi Afrifa, former Member of Parliament for Fomena, Hon. S.K Boafo, former Member of Parliament for Subin and Mr Antwi Agyei of NPP National Headquarters. The club was a breeding grounds for future Parliamentarians and Presidential candidates. All the 1992 Presidential candidates of the NPP, Professor Adu Boahen, Dr. Dzane Selby, President J.A Kufuor, Dr. Kwame Safo-Adu, Dr. J.A Addison and Lawyer John Kwame Koduah were all card bearing members of the Danquah-Busia Club.
From other parts of the country trooping to the K.O Methodist school were people like Lawyer Ansong from Koforidua, Lawyer Owusu Sekyere from Sunyani, Salifu Dy-Yakah (former MP of PFP in 1979) from Tamale, Mr. Odoi Sykes (former MP of PFP Ga-Mashie) and former National chairman of NPP from Accra. By close of the year 1991, four high flying inaugurations were carried out. The first was on Sunday 24th November at the Wenchi Community Center. The principal speaker for the occasion was President J.A Kufuor. This was followed by the inauguration of the Tamale branch on Saturday 14th December, 1991 at the Tamale Cultural Center. That day was a memorable one for the people of Tamale because it was the day Television transmission in real time was extended to the North. Before that day Television transmission to the North was aired days after the events. Jack Rawlings was in town for the occasion and the Danquah-Busia Club was also making its presence felt in town the same day. The Danquah-Busia Club in Tamale was made up of people like Lawyer Roland Alhassan (R.I) who became Professor Adu Boahen’s running mate in 1992, my very good friend the late Alhaji Mustapha Idris (former MP and Northern Regional Minister), Mr. B.A Fuseni, former Headmaster of Tamale Government Secondary School (he as with us at that time), Alhaji Yahya Iddi and the late Alhaji Shani Mahama (PFP Member Parliament for Yendi in 1979).
On Saturday 15th December, 1991, it was the turn of Bolgatanga and personalities like the late Colonel (Rtd) George Minyila, Lawyer Ben Kaba, Mr Imoro Salifu, Lawyer William Atuguba (as he then was), Kofi Kharma, Adam Amandi, Alhaji Sulemana Yeremia (now Member of the Council of State) W.A Ayeleyine and Rockson Bukari were leading members of the club. On the same day, Sunday 15th December, I descended from Tamale to join Lawyer Obeng Manu to inaugurate the Sunyani branch of the club.
I am saying on authority that the trilogy of “Danquah-Busia-Dombo” tradition was coined by the late Dr. Dzane Selby at one of the meetings of the club. Subsequently, this was picked on and amplified by members and gained currency in the scheme of things in the tradition. That is how now we make reference to the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition. In explaining the role of Dombo, Dr. Selby said without Dombo there would have been no Busia. Dombo subsumed his position as leader of the Northern People’s Party with the majority in the Legislative Assembly of 1951 to Dr. Busia. That’s how Dr. Busia became the leader of opposition and wrote his name in history as a Patriarch of the tradition.
Article Eleven of the constitution of the club required of it to hold memorial services in February and August of each year in remembrance of Dr. Danquah and Dr. Busia at the Presbyterian and Methodist churches respectively. The club was also to organize annual pilgrimages to the tombs of Dr. Danquah and Dr. Busia. During the period of its existence, the club was able to perform the pilgrimages to the tombs of the two patriarchs.
On Saturday 31st august, 1991 the club performed the first ever pilgrimage by any group of people to Wenchi to pay homage to the late Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia. This coincided with the 13th Anniversary of the death of Dr. Busia. A delegation of two 33 seater Benz buses led by the chairman of the club the late Mr. Seifa Bonsu, and which included the late Lawyer Obeng Manu, the late Lawyer Darkwa Dwamena, myself and other leading members made the trip.
Similarly, the leaders of the club travelled from Kumasi to Kyebi to visit the tomb of Dr. Danquah on Sunday 9th February, 1992. This was also the first homage by any group of people since the burial of Dr. Danquah in 1965. We paid a courtesy call on the late Osagyefo Kuntunkununku II and informed him about the club and to seek his blessings. Leading the entourage was the founder of the club, Mr. Attakora Gyimah, Dr. John Bilson, the late Lawyer Obeng Manu and myself. We were joined at Kyebi by Prof. Adu Boahen from Accra.
In commemoration of the 13th Anniversary of the death of Dr. Busia, the club organized a three day lectures on the theme: “Ghana in search of Democracy” at the Prempeh Assembly Hall on Wednesday 28th of August 1991. The club wrote to the late PNDC Metropolitan secretary for Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly Commander Yaw Mensah for the usage of the Prempeh Assembly Hall from Wednesday 28th to Friday 30th of August, 1991 but was granted only Wednesday the 28th of August, 1991. Even though this fell short of the three days that was requested, it was deemed to be a great victory for the club to have secured this concession from the Metropolitan Assembly given the political climate of the day. Speakers at the symposium were Mr. E.K Duah (NPP Parliamentary candidate for Asokwa-East in 1992), who spoke on the Topic – Multi-Party Democracy in the 4th Republic, Lawyer Obeng – The Rule of Law in the 4th Republic and Professor Adu Boahen – Democracy and Development-The case of Ghana.
The other 2 days lectures were held at the K.O Methodist School.
In concluding this write up, let me take the opportunity to pay tribute to the members of the club who have passed away in the course of time. The sacrifices made by these gallant people are worth remembering. I have in mind people like the founder of the club, the late Mr. Attakora Gyimah who had the dream of founding the club to honour Danquah and Busia. He was a visionary person. People who shared in the dream in a suffocating environment of a vicious and tyrannical PNDC regime, the late Lawyer John Bilson, the courageous late Lawyer Obeng Manu, the crowd puller, the late Professor Albert Adu Boahen, the chairman of the club, the late Mr. Seifa Bonsu, Vice-chairman Nana Adu-Tutu Amankwaa (Ex-Akroponghene) and the foundation members who met on Saturday 23rd February, 1991. I also have in mind Nana Opuni Gyaateng, the first organizer of the club who later on became the Regional Organiser of the NPP between 1992-1998. Mr. Gyasi Nsiah, Nkrumah Fordjour (of Subin constituency), Opanin Mosie, Nana Osei Mensah (Manhyia constituency chairman of the NPP), Nana Adu Asabre (NPP Chairman of Asante Akyem South constituency, Konongo). I have a special place of honour for the twin brothers Atta Kwasi Snr and Atta Kwasi Jnr (the C.O Brothers) who selflessly placed their two Mercedes Benz buses at the disposal of the club for our numerous inaugurations outside of Kumasi for free of charge and of course not forgetting the late Osei Kofi who worked at Kumasi Ford station.
To the living, let me place on record the bravado of the women who thronged the K.O Methodist School every Saturday at a time even men were afraid and running away. I cannot forget to remember Helena Kuffour our Treasure, permit me to say with all due respect “a tiny young lady” at that time, Abena Manu of Suame who later became the NPP Women’s organizer of Suame constituency, Afua Serwaa (Iron Lady) who later became the NPP women’s organizer for Manhyia constituency, Mrs Helena Achamfour, AfuaMprengo (now referred to as “Osono Maame”) and Maame Badu of Suame (who just passed on as I sat down to write this piece and all the other women I cannot readily remember. To men like Mensah Nyarko (GBC), Charles Owusu Ansah (Bursar), Yaw Aduse Poku (Tafo), AddaeNsiah (Subin), Baba Wala, Akuffo-Addo, Yarro (NPP Regional office). Mr. Ivor AgyemengDuah who was a journalist with the ‘Pioneer’ newspaper who covered all our events for the consumption of the general public. If today, tyranny is buried and we are all breathing the air of freedom take pride then, that your sweat and toil as dedicated members of the Danquah – Busia club has not been in vain. I say well done.
My last recognition goes to President J.A Kuffour and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo card bearing members of the club. They have done us the honour of emerging as presidents of the 4th Republic of Ghana. Finally, in truth the Danquah – Busia club provided the platform on which like-minded liberal Democrats who believed in the Danquah – Busia tradition coalesced and eventually GAVE BIRTH to the New Patriotic Party which indeed originally was to be named the New Progress Party (NPP). The Danquah – Busia club is the Putative Parent of the New Patriotic Party.