Ghana Will Be Truly Free And Happy

By Kofi A. Busia

Fellow countrymen and women,

How Is Ghana Faring Under One-Party Rule?

The one-party regime has cast a shadow of fear and anxiety and sorrowful gloom over the whole country. It has made a hollow mockery of the country's motto: Freedom and Justice.

Before Independence Nkrumah led men, women and children to shout Freedom! - at party rallies, in the markets, in the streets, in all the towns and villages in the country. But today, anyone who shouts Freedom risks imprisonment without trial. Why? Because there is no freedom in Ghana, and Nkrumah does not want to be reminded that he has betrayed his promises and deceived the people. His one-party regime has been accompanied by ruthlessness and cruelty and oppression, by unjust dismissals, house arrests, imprisonments without trial, mass poverty, unemployment, and all forms of economic hardship. I do not need to remind you of the large number of Brigaders and Young Pioneers, or the new Party Police, or the large number of paid secret informants in taxis, 'buses, public offices and private homes; nor do I need to remind you of the thousands of Ghanaians, young and old, men and women, who languish indefinitely in prison without trial, their families and the country deprived of their services. These arrests and detentions which started five years ago still continue.

As you well know, nowadays people are arrested in secret, sometimes at dead of night, and taken away to prisons. Their families do not know where they are detained or how they are being treated. No one is safe. Cabinet ministers and even security officers have themselves been arrested. Not even those who are thought to be close to Nkrumah or hold high posts in his party are safe. Everyone has heard of the detention of the former Minister of Information, or the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, or of Dr. Danquah; but few know that among recent detentions were the sister of the former Finance Minister and her husband (Mr. and Mrs. Cudjoe) or Chief S. Dombo, Leader of the "Minority Group" inPaliament,or Mr. William Ofori-Atta, of the United Party, or Dr. Kuta-Dankwa, known to be a close friend of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I could extend the list ad nauseam.

Many of you know the new slogan: "One o'clock:" It refers to the 1 p.m. news bulletin in Ghana for which everyone waits anxiously. Many people, including Cabinet Ministers and Regional Commissioners, heave sighs of relief if they do not hear, in the one o'clock news broadcast, that they or others for whom they care have been dismissed, or that orders for their detention have been signed! So people live from day to day in painful and anxious suspense.

Let me add that Ghana is the only country I know of in Africa where freedom of speech is not only denied, but has also been made an offence punishable by law. The recent so-called "rumour mongering" law means anyone can be tried and punished for saying anything or expressing any opinion of which Nkrumah does not approve. A taxi driver and a Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Information have already been sentenced to terms of imprisonment under this law.

It is a sad, sad state of affairs that Ghana should today be a country where
  1. there is no freedom of movement, for you cannot leave Ghana to go anywhere, far or near, without an exit permit; and, as you know, exit permits have become increasingly difficult to get;
  2. there is no freedom of association, since all organisations must be swallowed up by the One party; and
  3. there is no freedom of speech, since you risk being punished by law, or being sent to prison without trial, if you dare speak your mind.

There are no free trade unions in Ghana. The trade unions have long been under control, and instead of protecting the interest and welfare of the worker, and helping him to get what he needs, the unions have been used to keep the worker down, and make him a slave to toil for Nkrumah and his henchmen.

No aspect of social life is being left without control. It is now the turn of the Universities. Professors have been dismissed, and students have been arrested and sent to prison without trial. Everybody must conform or be crushed. As it has been made apparent in the party press, the guns will be trained against religion and beliefs, and that will give ground for more people to be thrown into prison without trial.

The press, which in some countries champions the freedom of the people, is now an instrument of oppression in Ghana. It denounces civil servants, judges, even party members, and all who do not toe the party line, and the denunciation is usually a prelude to demotion, dismissal or detention. Far from defending the rights of the people, the Ghana press frequently urges the Government to mete out savage punishments and ruthless oppression.

The press is also making enemies for Ghana by its irresponsible attacks on countries which it dubs as capitalist, such as Britain, France, the United States and West Germany. At the same time the Government seeks investments from these very countries. A Ghanaian delegation recently visited the United States. At a press conference it held in New York, a Ghanaian journalist, who was a member of the delegation, when questioned about the attacks on the United States in the Ghanaian press tried to justify them, and his futile performance wrecked any good the delegation might have done to attract investment.

But even more reprehensible and disgusting are the attacks on other African States, among them Nigeria, Congo (Leopoldville). Liberia, the Ivory Coast and Tanganyika. This makes Nkrumah's avowed aspiration for African unity questionable. The much-advertised Ghana-Guinea-Mali union came to nothing because neither Guinea nor Mali wanted Nkrumah's dictatorship: and there have been subversive activities against other African governments, suspected or known to have been financed or directed from Ghana: such accusations have been made in respect of Togo. Liberia. Nigeria, the Ivory Coast. Sierra Leone, the Cameroons and the Congo: and Ghana's subversive attempts to prevent the creation of a union between Senegal and the Gambia, and also the Federation of the East African States of Uganda, Kenya, Tanganyika and Zanzibar is now common knowledge throughout Africa.

It is now generally accepted that Nkrumah is not really seeking unity, but only the domination of African dream which other African leaders regard as ridiculous and unreal. But Nkrumah continues to spend millions of pounds of much-needed public funds on his selfish schemes to spread his dictatorial rule. Consequently, there are top-level talks for more practicable steps towards cooperation and eventual unions from which Ghana for the time being is excluded. In our own interest, and for the good of Africa, we must learn to live on better terms with our neighbours. We must win their respect and confidence again.

There is also the make-believe about cleaning up corruption, given publicity in the C.P.P. press, whilst the "Adankos" and "Patakus" and the favoured few carry on extorting bribes. It is widely known that it is those who shout loudest about being apostles of socialism who have amassed huge fortunes which they have stored abroad or used in buying palatial mansions in foreign countries. They are the ones who have drained the country of its wealth, and brought suffering to the masses.

For the good of the country, and the happiness of the masses who suffer most under a corrupt government, Ghana must be saved from corruption. But the truth is that the corruption which has been allowed to grow to such menacing proportions cannot be effectively dealt with unless the cleaning starts from the top and moves downwards. It is not dealt with by exposing the weak at the bottom and protecting the strong at the top. Corruption still continues and causes injustice, inefficiency, and waste of public funds. The Government should not pretend to be stopping bribery and corruption while it passes iniquitous laws to deprive the people of their right to question its actions.

What About Justice Under One-Party Rule?

It has been blatantly announced to the whole world by the dismissal of the Chief Justice. Sir Arku Korsah, the subsequent dismissals of Justices Akufo-Addo, Blay, Bossman and Prempeh, and by the law which empowers the President to appoint and dismiss Judges as he likes, and even review court decisions he disapproves, that justice and the rule of law are extinguished in Ghana in Nkrumah's one -party regime. No citizen has protection in law against the whims of the President, however capricious and unreasonable these may be. It is not surprising that Mr. Koi Larbi, the Senior Defence Counsel in the recent treason trials, has been thrown into prison without trial. The "justice" in the motto is a hollow mockery. Ghana has enthroned tyranny.

Does Ghana's Experience Justify One-Party Rule?

What the one-party has done in Ghana is to empower one man to rule absolutely, without anyone having the right to disagree with him, and without giving the people any real opportunity to change him. It has been claimed that the one-party State accords with the traditions of Ghana and that the President must be seen as a Big Chief. This is false. I challenge anyone to produce evidence from the country's traditional institutions to substantiate the claim. Those who seek to justify this tyrannical and despotic rule on the basis of our tradition do us injury, as well as insult us. Wherever you look at our traditional political institutions, whether of the Ga, or Adangbe, or Krobo, or Ewe, or Akwamu, or Asante, or Fante or any of the Akan tribes; or Mamprusi, or Dagomba, or any Northern tribe; all of them, despite their diversities, had one thing in common. Each political organisation brought together heads representing the interests of various groups and communities who at the Central Council protected the interests of the respective groups and communities they represented, whilst at the same time they sought agreements on the matters which concerned them as a whole.

The wisdom of our ancestors lay in their ability to devise political institutions which reconciled sectional interests. Multi-interest representation was a fundamental principle of our traditional political institutions. The case for monolithic one-party rule cannot be based on our tradition. It should also be noted that the traditional systems provided alternatives from which to choose; and heads, whether of families, or tribes, or chiefdoms, could be changed by those whom they represented. If we care to learn from our past, we shall find pointers to the solution of our contemporary problems of government, central as well as local. We had foundations for a democratic system of government.

Does The One-Party Regime Truly Express The Will Of The People?

Everyone knows that the referendum which was supposed to have given the people's approval to the one-party State was a fraud. Ballot papers were marked and thrown into the voting boxes for people who never voted; the "No" boxes were sealed sotnat ballot papers could not be placed in them; the declared figures were much larger than the numbers that actually voted. The referendum was a gigantic fake. These facts were reported in the world press, and could not be challenged by the Ghana Government. It is known both outside and within Ghana that the referendum was an outrageous fraud. We of the United Party outside Ghana do not accept the results as a genuine reflection of the will of the people; they represent a fraudulent abuse of power. This is not the first time elections have been rigged in Ghana; rigging elections is in accordance with the teachings of Lenin, whose avowed disciple Nkrumah is, and he has used it to keep himself in power.

Is The One-Party State The Best Way To Economic Progress And Happiness For Ghana?

What is happening in Ghana has exposed Nkrumah's false theories that one-party government is the best way to economic progress. Ghana's bitter experience is clear for all to see. You know that the cost of living has been rising. You know that there has been scarcity of essential commodities, such as sugar, salt, fats, oils, onions and meat; that the cloths and consumer goods available in the people's shops are very high in price. You know that whatever you wish to buy, be it food, or shoes, or belt or dress material, you have a limited range to choose from, if you have any choice at all. You know that private cars, lorries and public 'buses have been standing idle for want of tyres or spare parts. You know that the crippling economic controls and the licence systems that were instituted have not only been used as instruments of corruption to enrich a few, but that they have failed to increase supplies, and have inflicted hardship on traders and consumers alike.

Ghanaian traders are being driven out of business. The saddest thing is the lack of needed drugs. The government just does not care about the health of the people. Deaths have occurred through snakebites for lack of anti-snake serum. Instruments have had to be sterilised in iodine in hospitals, for lack of methylated spirits. Some people have had to find their own drugs to take to hospitals 1 There has been a black market in drugs. The sick have suffered needlessly because of the shortage of anaesthetics, some even dying, for lack of drugs in common demand. All this has happened in Ghana, and yet the government shouts about being the people's government.

The signs are that the economic situation which has been deteriorating willgrow worse. This is largely because of the muddle in the issue of import licences, and the confusion between this and the arbitrary exchange control. The shortage in commodities will become more acute; because our foreign exchange, our earnings from our cocoa, our timber and our minerals, have been irresponsibly bartered for guns, the price of which could have bought life-saving drugs, food and clothes. Besides there are huge sums representing the ill-gotten takings of certain individuals tucked away in foreign banks. There is much talk about the establishment of factories, but what is the good of that when shortage of raw materials and vital spares for the factories holds up their activity? As a result, one factory has shut, and some traders and manufacturers have said that they will soon have to close.

The trade unions have given notice of pay claims, and in terms of the increase in price, their claim for wage increases is justifiable. But since more and more people are likely to become unemployed, the position is only likely to get worse.

Ghana had money which could have been used to provide employment and meet the pay claims workers are demanding, but the money is no longer there. It has been squandered on non-productive prestige projects, on gifts and so-called loans, and on subversive activities, in pursuit of Nkrumah's personal ambition to build a United States of Africa under his rule, and, above all, on expensive military equipment. The military equipment would be of little avail if Ghana were attacked by a major power: its real use lies in the fact that it terrorizes the people of Ghana, and so bolsters the Nkrumah dictator -ship. When the people needed jobs, food, houses and medical supplies, the government bought guns.

You are being asked to place your hopes in the £1,016 million seven-year development plan which has recently been launched. It is expected to bring in Nkrumah's paradise. In the meantime, while the bosses at the top wallow in luxury the rest are asked to tighten their belts and to pay taxes beyond their means. Unemployment and poverty grow for the many, while the privileged party bosses, who preach the blessings of one-party rule, grow rich at the expense of the masses.

Where Is The Money For The Plan Going To Come From?

After Western countries and investors have been denounced and abused, and crippling taxes have been imposed on those who ha vein vestments in Ghana, and Ghanaian traders have been saddled with intolerable restrictions to stifle them, there are now sugar-coated words inviting foreign investors to come in "a spirit of partnership", and delegations are sent round to woo investors: As though the investors were all born yesterday: They must have followed recent events in Ghana. They know about the compulsory subscription for Government Bonds for which there is no market, and about the unpredictable exchange controls and restrictions. They know also that neither they nor their investments are safe in Nkrumah's one-party State, where judges and the courts can offer no protection to them or to their contracts. This is not a reassuring invitation to the much-wanted investors.

In any case, the plan is so unrealistic that it will prove just as illusory as the previous plans launched by Nkrumah's Government, always loudly heralded and trumpeted, only to be scrapped mid-stream. It cannot provide the barest essential needs of the people fast enough to meet even the most urgent demands.

The comments of the economists called in to study the plan would make revealing and interesting reading. One of them said that even if a kindhearted nation could be found to give all the money being sought, the impact of the plan on the standards of living of the people would be negligible , because the whole plan is misconceived. We need an economic policy which will seek first to meet essential needs for employment, for food, health, clothing, shelter and education.

And is it not also revealing that Nkrumah, who has been screaming so loudly about neo-cokmialism. should be making Ghana more and more dependent on Soviet Russia? By means of a series of agreements and commercial transactions, and the employment of hordes of Russian experts maintianed at fantastic cost, the economy of Ghana is being increasingly tied to the Soviet Union, and whilst the Soviet Union always gains, Ghana is always the loser in these cunning transactions. And another point - why copy the Soviet Union in the one field in which she her self, by buy ing wheat from the United States, Canada and Australia, has admitted failure? I refer to agriculture. Soviet agricultural policy has failed; it constitutes one of her most difficult hurdles, and Kruschev himself has recently praised United States agriculture. We have a saying in Twi: "No one takes the medicine-ball of the man who has died, and says to it 'give me health, give me life"." If it could not save its own master, how could it save you? The Ghana farmer will not be saved by Soviet methods. Ghana will not get cheap and plentiful food that way, despite all the trumpeting about State farms.

The Soviet Union could doubtless help Ghana in some ways: but proof must first be given of her sincerity to give genuine help. Agencies like the W.H.O., or F.A.O., or Unesco of the United Nations are giving valuable help to African countries. Their work is held back if countries like Russia do not pay their dues to the United Nations. The Soviet Union has helped with scholarships to African students to study in the U.S.S.R.; but there have been reports of the bad treatment of African students, and even of brutality and suspected murders. There was the story of the Ghanaian student who died near Moscow and the demonstrations which followed. Since then there has been a report of the death, under suspicious circumstances, of another African student, This was reported in the French paper "Aurore" for 14th April, 1964. Yet the Ghana press, which consistently upbraids Western countries, refrains from attacking such incidents in the Soviet Union.

One-Party Rule Is A Step Backward

It must even now be clear that the one-party regime does not hold the magic wand for prosperity it is supposed to hold. It is merely an instrument of oppression; an instrument to muzzle protest, to do away with all opposition, and with all independent associations; an instrument to prevent any persons or groups of persons from providing alternative leadership to the nation. It is an instrument which denies the people of Ghana that without which democracy is only a mockery - the right to choose between alternatives. If there are no alternatives to choose from, then elections are a meaningless exercise.

Let me remind you of another Twi proverb. "One head does not form a Council." That is why traditional political institutions were based on councils of representatives of different groups or communities coming together to give advice, to talk things over, to settle questions together . Where one head constitutes a Council, there can only be folly and disorder. One-party rule for Ghana, in the light of our traditions, is a step backward from the accumulated wisdom we inherited from our ancestors.

There is no doubt that many Ghanaians, those who belonged to the C. P. P. as well as those who never joined, feel for the prisoners suffering in jail; there is no doubt that we all love freedom; that we all like to be free to speak our mind; to join what associations we like; to criticize our rulers and to be able to change them. The one-party regime in Ghana does not allow any of these things. It rests on force, and it therefore encourages simmering discontent which is bound to explode dike a volcano one day.

Ghana Will Be Truly Free And Happy

The change has already begun. You have only to join in to play your part. Your part is to say and do the things you know to be right, and which fall to your lot to say and do in the service of the community. You will discover to your surprise that you have joined a mighty, irresistible force which will soon drive away every trace of dictatorship and oppression. Others are playing their part. Do likewise.

Five years ago, at apolitical rally of the United Party held at Bukom Square, Accra, I told the following story: "A man thought himself very strong; he repaired to a castle built on a rock; he surrounded the castle with stone walls; he mounted on the walls the mightiest weapons of destruction he could find; his armies stood on guard night and day; then he said, 'now I am safe; anyone who defies me must perish'. One thing he did not know. Beneath the rock on which the castle stood was a small, silent river. Every day, silently, the river eroded the seemingly impregnable rock; it gathered force, till one day it burst through; and all the arms and all the soldiers were useless. In nature, the strongest forces build up and work silently; then they burst out in irresistible strength." Those who heard me will no doubt remember, and understand better now what I tried to convey then. There lare forces of the human spirit which no arms, imprisonments, threats or intimidation can overcome.

The Ghana We Want

We of the United Party have always laid emphasis on civil liberties and personal freedom, on the right of every individual to the protection of the law and the courts, against illegal or arbitrary action of the government and its agents; on the right to free speech, association and movement; and on the right of the people to choose their own government through free and honest elections. We have fought for these things because we realised that without them there would be no happiness for the people of Ghana, and no foundation for stable and lasting progress. We still believe that national planning, private enterprise, and political freedom can and must go together. We believe that the resources of the nation should be used by the government to attain social justice. The government should ensure equality of opportunity and protection against poverty for every individual, and prevent exploitation of the people by individuals, or groups, or by those in power.

We believe that planning should not mean indiscriminate, excessive and rigid central control, but should aim primarily at the fair distribution of the wealth and produce of the nation among all citizens, and the narrowing of the gap between the well-to-do and the poor; not as at present, where the so-called Nkrumahist "socialism" concentrates on controls and on an unjust legal system to create a widening gap between the newly-rich party bosses, whose help Nkrumah needs, and the majority of the people who are made poorer and less free by harsh and oppressive measures. This is to reduce socialism to an immoral economic and political system.

It is to make Ghana really free and happy that members of the United Party have fought for so long and endured so much suffering, mass arrests, false accusations, imprisonments without trial, deliberate misrepresentation and distortion of our aims by Nkrumah and his henchmen. People do not make such heavy sacrifices and suffer such persecution for so long unless they firmly and sincerely believe in what they are fighting for. We shall see to it that Ghana gets afresh start. To this end, we shall achieve, among other things, the following:

  1. The release of all political prisoners (including both U.P. and C.P.P. members) detained under the Preventive Detention Acts. They will be given adequate assistance to enable them to make a fresh start in life.
  2. The abolition of exit permits, the existing Industrial Relations Act, and other restrictions on the freedom of movement, of association and of free speech.
  3. The abolition of inefficient and restrictive controls which hinder economic activity and prevent adequate supply and fair distribution of essential goods; and the abolition of oppressive and inequitable taxes.
  4. The repeal of the present Constitution to be replaced by a democratic Constitution which will be the work of a genuinely representative Constituent Assembly of the people, not of hired expatriate legal officers; one which will express the people's identity and aspirations, ensure fundamental human rights and personalfreedom, and establish a truly free, independent and respectable judiciary.
  5. The abolition of the one-party regime, and the holding of fresh elections in an atmosphere of tolerance and freedom.

We shall build a Ghana peaceful and free in which citizens do not live in fear, under constant threats and intimidation. We shall build a Ghana in which all of us join in freedom in the battle against poverty, disease, and ignorance, in a common purpose which promotes human dignity and democracy. We shall build a Ghana in which economic development will provide opportunities for the uplift of man, and not be used as an excuse for oppression; development in which everyone will have a job to do, a house to live in, and a decent standard of living.

We shall build a Ghana which will treasure friendship with its neighbours; a Ghana dedicated to the building of a free, peaceful and united Africa through genuine co-operation and respect for the rights of all.

Let me end by assuring you that though the parent body, the United Party at home, has been allegedly dissolved, and thousands of the supporters of the party, and many of its officials and leaders have been thrown into jail, the United Party outside Ghana continues to flourish and to work with ever increasing determination for a free Ghana. Our numbers are growing rapidly. We have been joined by many Ghanaians who are outside, including professional and business men, and a large number of students in Britain, on the continent of Europe, and in the United States, who have brought youthful determination and enthusiasm and eagerness to our struggle against tyranny.

We know there are those who, having grown fat on ill-gotten gains, and fearing their personal losses, go about, both in Ghana and abroad, telling us: "We agree things are bad; but there is nothing you can do about it; it is hopeless; do not sacrifice yourself in a lost cause". They find it necessary to do this, because they know the change is coming, but they want to delay it as long as possible so that they may selfishly enjoy their ill-gotten gains, while the majority suffer. We know them for what they are. Nothing can shake our faith and determination. Cast away the fear and defeatism which they try to instil in you in order that you may accept and support dictatorship and tyranny. Ghana will be free.

Be prepared. More will follow.

K. A. Busia
December 21, 1964
Busia 1964