The Ghanaian founder of Black History Month UK, Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, tells how the 1966 coup brought his own young life, and the future of Ghana and Africa crashing down. "I am still filled with grief when I recollect my personal experience of the coup as I was deflowered by the serial acts of betrayal that followed," he writes.
Like the stirrings of animals before an earthquake or tremor, the signals of hard times were there for opportunists to take advantage of and strike. A student mate and I had a long argument on the general state of things in Ghana the night before the coup. We had secreted ourselves to study late on 23 February but ended up discussing current events in the country.
My mate, Kwabena Banson, was disturbed by the difficulties his mother was having, taking care of the nuclear family of five as the father had died not long ago. He pointed to the rising cost of living and scarcity of essential items. He drove his points home when he drew attention to the apparent declining quality of food at the dining hall of our secondary school. He also observed with such clarity rationing of laboratory equipment and chemicals and even the use of gas in our science classes.
As a uniformed member of the Young Pioneers movement myself, although the realities of our conditions painted and articulated by Kwabena Banson could not escape me, I echoed the reasons given by government leaders and their appeal to patriots to tighten their belts because "imperialists, colonialists and neo-colonialists" were interfering in our national life to the point of lowering cocoa prices and precipitating industrial unrest within key trade unions.
I had resigned myself to accepting the "instigated" hard life and I found it difficult then to understand why Kwabena was complaining and also echoing the critics of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) government that President Nkrumah was sacrificing the needs and rights of his people for his ambitious white elephant and African liberation and unity projects, both at home and abroad. Kwabena wanted Nkrumah to concentrate more on local needs and problems but I kept referring him to Nkrumah's teaching that the independence of Ghana was meaningless unless it was linked up with the noble cause of total political and economic liberation and unification of the African continent under a union government.
Kwabena could not see the benefit of Nkrumah providing scholarship places for other...