A Collection of Articles and Speeches by Kofi Abrefa Busia

Introduction - Index


One of my side-projects, much neglected in the years since I came upon this material, is the editing of a collection of the writings of Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia, the former Prime Minister of Ghana. He lead the country during the Second Republic from 1969 to 1972 and was overthrown by a military coup on January 13, 1972. An eminent sociologist, he had turned to politics out of necessity and his brand of conversational politics has had a lasting legacy in Ghana. His writings however have not been as widely disseminated as they should and, sadly, many are now out of print. The Busia Foundation in recent years has sought to remedy this state of affairs.

Busia interests me as a prime example of Ghanaians as cultural interpreters. His academic career was distinguished and the scholarly works were numerous. Along with the public intellectual persona, there was the family man, the religious man. Of course there was also the politician and his was a lifelong struggle for Ghana. There was the anti-colonial struggle along with J.B. Danquah and others. There was the post-colonial struggle and disappointment - he had to live in exile from Nkrumah's one party rule watching the country decay and his friends and colleagues detained and persecuted. There was the elation of gaining power in 1969 and the promise of putting the country back on the right footing. Then again in the bitterest setback, his government was overthrown and again the sight of the looting and worse of his country in his dying years. His political progeny are currently in ascendance in Ghana and his positions have on the whole been vindicated. Still having foresight and being right in politics while ending up on the "wrong" side is little consolation.

The thread that runs through the writings is the working of extraordinary and methodical mind. One sees the intellectual energy and deep thought of a great academic. It is the sociologist who had keen political instincts and great curiousity. "People matter" was his favourite talking point. He was willing to sacrifice some measure of rapid economic development on the altar of social living. His legacy is about conversational politics, about an openness to participation. There's even the minor controversy he raised about "not ruling out 'dialogue'" with the apartheid regime South Africa. Even if his nuanced position would foreshadow what transpired 20 years later, it was not a popular position for an African head of state in 1971.

In the spirit of Ghana's Jubilee Year, our 50 years of independence, I thought it would be worth sharing a sample of the articles in the collection. I hope you find them interesting. There is much more to say and hopefully this will give me the impetus to find a more fitting repository and bring the project to completion.

The Busia Papers

Busia 1964Busia portrait Busia and J.H. Mensah
Kofi Abrefa Busia