Saturday, December 21st, marks the 124th birthday of Dr. 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 like Paa Grant, they brought on board many others, including Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, to fend off British colonial domination of their homeland.
JB Danquah’s quest for excellence fueled his academic success and eventually made him a man of many talents. J.B, as he is affectionately called, was the first continental African to receive a doctorate in philosophy from the University of London and also became the first president of the West African Students Union, the leading African organization 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.
JB Danquah's was a modest, law-abiding, and a peaceful citizen. His humility would not permit him to take any accolade upon himself or try to impose his image upon others; neither 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 a stated end.
His exuberance and influence in nearly all political activities made him a staunch figure and eventually earned him the title, "the Doyen of Gold Coast politics," by the Watson Commission of Inquiry after the 1948 riots. His entire life was lived out of love, service, and sacrifice to his motherland.
Unfortunately, J.B Danquah paid the ultimate price for his service. On January 8th, 1964, nearly seven years after successfully fighting for Ghana's independence, he was wrongfully arrested, detained, and the details of that experience are history.
Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah is indeed a consummate citizen and Ghanaian. As we celebrate him, we wish to highlight for our generation a cardinal citizenship lesson. 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 JB Danquah, and apply our time in diligent service to Ghana, our motherland.