The Statesman, Ghana’s oldest mainstream newspaper, was first published by the eminent lawyer Edward Akufo-Addo in 1949. Together with Ebenezer Ako-Adjei, Joseph Boakye Danquah, Kwame Nkrumah, Odarkwei Obetsebi Lamptey and William Ofori-Atta, Akufo-Addo was one of the Big Six, the group which led the fight for Ghana’s independence from British colonial rule. The previous year, in 1948, the Big Six had been arrested after the public unrest that followed the shooting of three unarmed World War II ex-servicemen by British officers at Christiansborg Crossroads in Accra. Accused of orchestrating the disturbances, they were detained for a month.

Edward Akufo-Addo was a founder member of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), the pioneer group agitating for freedom in the then Gold Coast whose main objective was winning independence for the country. He served as Chief Justice in the 1960s and then President of Ghana from 31 August 1970 until his government was deposed in the coup d’état on 13 January 1972.

In the most repressive days of the First Republic, the paper became a victim of the clampdown on freedom of expression and ceased publication. It was revived after the February 1966 coup d’état. In 1969 Edward Akufo-Addo became Ghana’s ceremonial president. When dictatorship returned in 1972 with the overthrow of the Second Republic by Colonel Ignatius Kutu Acheampong, it disappeared from the news-stands again.

Even with the advent of the Third Republic in 1979, the Statesman remained out of circulation; Edward Akufo-Addo died in July that year. In May 1992, however, as Ghana prepared to enter the Fourth Republic and return to multiparty democracy, his elder son, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, re-established the paper. Nana Akufo-Addo, an accomplished young lawyer in his own right, was working as campaign manager for Albert Adu Boahen, the 1992 presidential candidate for the newly formed New Patriotic Party, which had become the main opposition in the nascent Fourth Republic. It was natural that the paper was soon the de facto mouthpiece for the NPP.

As the NPP boycotted the 1992 parliamentary election and declared the outcome the “Stolen Verdict”, the Statesman came into its own as the leading forum for dissenting opinion. For four years, the paper was the ‘front-bench microphone’ for the opposition outside Parliament. It was in the front line of the battle to inject the values of liberty and respect for constitutional rule into Ghana’s body politic. Sales of the paper, at a peak of 100,000, reflected its significance.

The Statesman has also had close links with some of the boldest exponents of free enterprise. In 2004 Nana Akufo-Addo sold the paper to Keli Gadzepko and Ken Ofori-Atta of Databank Financial Services. The two US-trained bankers had established their brokerage and asset management company, Databank, in 1990 and turned it into a multimillion-dollar powerhouse. Under their ownership, in June 2006, the Statesman became a daily newspaper.

Mission

The mission of the Statesman is to make a constructive contribution to nation-building and to seek the enhancement of the life of every individual citizen of Ghana by strengthening democracy, leadership, and individual and collective responsibility. It advocates faith in God, belief in the dignity of humankind, and the defence of rights and freedoms of every individual to live peacefully in a multiparty democracy and liberal economy where access to social mobility is open to all. 

Aims

As the Statesman enters its eighth decade, its philosophy remains essentially the same: it strives for the best for Ghana and the Ghanaian citizen through freedom. It is conservative in its respect for conventional law and order and its conviction that our traditional value systems should be the base from which we form our national identity and face the world in the 21st century. These ideals, a high esteem for the liberty of the individual and a desire to give each citizen opportunities to realise his or her full potential are the same as those espoused in the 1940s by Edward Akufo-Addo, J B Danquah, Odarkwei Obetsebi-Lamptey and William Ofori-Atta.

Its alignment to the liberal philosophies of the Danquah-Dombo-Busia tradition holds firm yet it retains its mission to be a platform for free thinking, and thus encourages ideas which offer a constructive challenge to the status quo. 

Past editors/owners

Edward Akufo-Addo

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

Yaw Amfo-Kwakye

Haruna Atta

Frank Agyei-Twum

Asare Otchere-Darko

Meri Nana Ama Danquah

Fortune Alimi

 

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