President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has received the prestigious National Achievement Award instituted by the Africa-America Institute.


The ceremony, held at the New York Public Library, USA—the 33rd Annual Africa-America Institute Gala— was attended by other honourees such as Jim Ovia from Zenith Bank and  Dr. Phumzile Mlambo Ncguka, from United Nations (UN) for their outstanding achievements.


In his acceptance speech, President Akufo-Addo paid tribute to Ghanaian patriots who played invaluable roles in establishing the free, sovereign and democratic Ghana.


President Akufo-Addo mentioned members of the Aborigines Rights Protection Society (ARPS)– Jacob Sey, John Mensah Sarbah, Joseph Casely Hayford, J.P Brown, and their colleagues who forcibly resisted the Crown Lands Bill, instituted by the British colonial authorities to take up lands belonging to the people.


This, he said, was a monumental step towards the making of modern Ghana, adding, "what our history has taught us is that the spirit of the Ghanaian, in his or her quest for peace, progress and prosperity, cannot be quenched. We are a determined lot, who cannot be deterred."


He also paid tribute to the memories of Thomas Hutton-Mills, Kobbina Sekyi, Kojo Thompson and Akilakpa Sawyer, who maintained the momentum of nationalist agitation initiated by the Society.


President Akufo-Addo added that despite the painful historical antecedents of trials and tribulations— slavery, imperialism, colonialism, tyranny and dictatorship —that the people of Ghana had gone through, it was today recognised by the world as a beacon of democracy and stability on the African continent.


The Ghanaian President said though it took a while, consensus on multi-party constitutional, democratic rule had been established in Ghana and that for the third time, in December 2016, the People of Ghana witnessed a peaceful transfer of power from a governing party to an opposition one," adding, "today, we are a country governed by the principles of democratic accountability, respect for individual liberties and human rights, and the rule of law, an aspiring modern nation."


He said democracy should not be subjected to individual's interpretation and/or a negotiation between elites and stakeholders.


According to him, he was not prepared to put his personal ambition before the principles that made him a politician in the first place, adding, "democracy is best established when institutions are trusted, the rules of the game clear and political actors are prepared to win and lose."


"It is for this reason that, in the disputed elections of 2012, my party and I proved that we were willing and able to submerge our individual and partisan preferences for the common good. We demonstrated clearly that it was not the ambitions of Akufo-Addo, or the fortunes of the New Patriotic Party, that we sought to promote", the President emphasized.


President Akufo-Addo said the stability and progress of Ghana and the enhancement of her democracy were the paramount considerations that guided him and his Party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the choices they made.


The President who spoke on some  accounts of Ghana's history expressed Ghanaians gratefulness to the great nationalists, George Alfred “Paa” Grant, Joseph Boakye Danquah, Francis Awoonor-Williams, R. S. Blay, George More, R. S. Wood, J. W. de Graft Johnson, Emmanuel Obetsebi-Lamptey, Ebenezer Ako Adjei, William Ofori-Atta, Edward Akufo-Addo, Cobbina Kesse and Jimmy Quist-Therson, who gathered at Saltpond to inaugurate the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), the first truly nationalist movement of the Gold Coast, to make the first formal demand for the independence of Ghana from British rule.


The inauguration, he said, also set in motion the dramatic events that led to the country's independence.


He noted that the dramatic events including the 1948 Christiansborg Cross-Roads shootings, involving the 3 martyred ex-Servicemen, Sgt Adjetey, Corporal Attipoe and Private Odartey Lamptey, and the subsequent riots that engulfed all of Accra; the arrest of the six UGCC leaders, who had gone down into Ghanaian legend as the Big Six– J B Danquah, Emmanuel Obetsebi Lamptey, William Ofori-Atta, Ebenezer Ako Adjei, Edward Akufo-Addo and Kwame Nkrumah—for their implication in the riots; and the birth of the Convention Peoples Party, under Kwame Nkrumah’s dynamic leadership led to Ghana's independence.


"The Conventions Peoples Party threw up its own stars— Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, Kojo Botsio, Nathaniel Welbeck, Kofi Baako, Dzenkle Dzewu, Krobo Edusei, Atta Mensah, Nana Kobina Nketiah, et al — who were to add their own lustre to the nationalist struggle. They were given powerful support by the great Trades’ Union leaders, Pobee Biney, Vidal Quist and Anthony Woode, whose backing was so critical to the success of Nkrumah’s historic call for positive action," he stated.


"There were others on the side of the Opposition— J B Danquah, Emmanuel Obetsebi Lamptey, William Ofori-Atta, Ebenezer Ako Adjei, Edward Akufo-Addo and Kwame Nkrumah Kofi Abrefa Busia, Baffuor Osei Akoto, Victor Owusu, Joe Appiah, R. R. Amponsah, Modesto Apaloo, S.G. Antor, S.D. Dombo, B. K. Adama, Abayifa Karbo, Ashie Nikoi, Attoh Okine, et al—who were to play their distinctive part in our drive towards freedom", he noted.


President Akufo Addo also paid homage to some others, who were not listed among the forefront fighters for political freedom, but who fought equally hard for Ghana's cultural integrity and identity.


These, he said, were Kwegyir Aggrey, Nana Prempeh I, Nana Ofori Atta I, Yaa Asantewa and Nii Kwabena onne III, iconic traditional leaders; Philip Gbeho, the composer of our National Anthem and Ephraim Amu, composer of our unofficial national anthem; Theodosia Okoh, the designer of our national flag; Amon Kotei, the designer of Ghana's coat of arms; Kofi Antubam, the artist who first put Ghanaian art on the map; Ayi Kwei Armah and Ama Ata Aidoo, outstanding writers who have enriched the literature of the world; E.T. Mensah, King Bruce, Jerry Hansen and others who popularised highlife, which has become an enduring identity of Ghanaian music; Esther Ocloo, pioneer industrialist and entrepreneur, whose food processing enterprises under the Nkulenu label changed Ghanaians habits of food preparation; Evelyn Amarteifio, intrepid social activist and campaigner; Dede Asikisham and Akua Shorshorshor, formidable market queens, who made great contributions to the independence struggle; and other pioneer entrepreneurs like B.M Kufuor, Appenteng Mensah, Mpotima Darko, J.K. Siaw, B.A. Mensah and Kwaku Owusu, amongt others, who showed the way for the emerging Ghanaian private sector.


He commended his predecessor Presidents of Ghana—Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's first President, "who led Ghana with such verve and panache, finally, to the cherished goal of national freedom and independence” Edward Akufo-Addo, Hilla Liman, Jerry John Rawlings, John Agyekum Kufuor, John Evans Atta Mills and John Dramani Mahama— all of whom contributed in their diverse ways, during their respective tenures of office, variously to the Ghana that was being celebrated.


Source: ISD (Rex Mainoo-Yeboah)