J B Danquah, lawyer, politician, consummate citizen Featured

By By Richard Ahiagbah December 23, 2019 1232 0

Saturday December 21 marked the 124th birthday of Joseph Boakye Danquah, the illustrious Ghanaian who played an instrumental role in the struggle for political independence for his motherland from colonial rule.

Danquah is remembered not because he was a renowned lawyer, author, politician, a democrat, scholar, historian, or a poet, but for his selflessness, courage and love for his country.

Out of the love and dedication he had for his country, he returned to the then Gold Coast and co-founded the first full-blown nationalist political party, the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC).

He adopted an all-inclusive posture, and with the vision of others such as Paa Grant, brought on board many others, including Dr Kwame Nkrumah, to fend off British colonial domination of their homeland.

Service and sacrifice

J B Danquah’s quest for excellence fuelled his academic success and eventually made him a man of many talents.

JB, as he was and still is affectionately called, was the first continental African to receive a doctorate in philosophy from the University of London. He also became the first president of the West African Students’ Union, the leading UK-based organisation involved in the struggle against imperialism in Africa.

While he worked on his thesis, he entered the Inner Temple and was called to the Bar in 1926.

Danquah was a modest, law-abiding and peaceful citizen. His humility would not permit him to award himself any accolades, or try to impose a cult of his image on others. Nor did he pursue or encourage the use of violence as a political tool. He believed it was better to die ten thousand deaths for what was right than bend the rules to achieve fame or any stated end.

His exuberance and influence in nearly all political activities made him a staunch figure and eventually earned him the title of “Doyen of Gold Coast politics” at the Watson Commission of Inquiry after the 1948 Christiansborg/Accra riots.

His entire life was lived out of love, service and sacrifice to his motherland.

Building a nation

Unfortunately, Danquah paid the ultimate price for his service. On January 8 1964, nearly seven years after his fight for Ghana's independence succeeded, he was wrongfully arrested and detained. The details of that experience are history.

Dr Joseph Boakye Danquah was indeed the consummate citizen and Ghanaian. As we celebrate him, we wish to highlight for our generation a cardinal lesson of citizenship. Citizenship is a responsibility owed, especially to posterity, to participate actively and positively in nation-building.

It is our hope and prayer that we in this generation will emulate J B Danquah, and apply our time in diligent service to Ghana, our motherland.

* Richard Ahiagbah is the executive director of the Danquah Institute. http://danquahinstitute.com

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