Dr. Ako Adjei
One of the Big Six and Minister in the First Republic
In the history of Ghanaian politics Adjei can be said to be the John the Baptist. For it was through hin Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah brought back to Ghana to leai country to Independence. It all happened in the middle of 1947, when at one meeting o UGCC, the view was expressed th time had come for the moveme have a full-time General-Secretary Adjei who had been a pioneer in the formation of the movement was voted by the meeting to take up the pos because he had in mind plans of establishing a chain of newspapers i country as well as looking forward to successful private legal practic declined the offer and instead recommended Kwame Nkrumah, whom h met and worked with at Lincoln University, Philadelphia and in the WAS London, as the best person suited for the post.
That this suggestion by Ako Adjei was most crucial for the country's hist sustained by fact that when Nkrumah came to take over the Seci Generalship of the UGCC, he jolted the movement into action and throug became the foremost leader in the struggles which won independence f country and for many other African countries.
Though Ako Adjei was later incarcerated by Nkrumah, he considered the decision to invite Nkrumah to take up Secretary-Generalship of the UGCC as one of his five proud moments in life. The other four were when he established the African National Times; when he was elected president of WAJ London; when he was appointed a lecturer on colonial policy for the B information during the war; when he won a scholarship in 1938 to Nkrumah and Jones-Quartey at Lincoln University; and when he was called to the Bar on January 27,1947 thus achieving his childhood dream of becoming a lawyer.
Ako Adjei was born in Adjeikrom in Akyem Abuakwa to farming parei June 16, 1916. His father was Samuel Adjei while his mother was Johunna Okailey; both Gas from La. He had many brothers and sisters but he was the last son of his father. The young Ebenezer Ako Adjei began schooling at the Busoso Railway Station Primary School where he walked one and half miles to and from school daily.
He left the village school after two years, and was admitted into cvlass three of the La Presbyterian Junior School. His good performance at the senior school won him a scholarship on completing standard five in December 1932 to enter the Christ Church Grammar School, a private Secondary School which was then on the point of winding up. After just a month at that school, he left and entered Accra Academy in April 1933 and was put in form two. From hishome in La, he walked the four miles to his school at James Town, because he could not afford the bus fare. He completed the Secondary School in December 1936 passing the Cambridge School Certificate with exemption from London Matriculation.
After school, he taught for a while before entering the Civil Service in June 1937 as a Second Division Clerk in the Colonial Secretary's Office which used to be popularly called the Secretariat. All this while he continued writing regularly for Nnamdi Azikiwe's African Morning Post. Azikiwe developed great interest in Ako Adjei's writings and helped him to get a scholarship to Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, USA.
In January 1939, he arrived at the University to the welcome of two Gold Coast students, K.A.B. Jones-Quartey and Francis Nwia Kofi Nkrumah (who later became popularly known as Kwame Nkrumah) there. As he recalled: When I stepped out of my train at Philadelphia, I met two Ghanaians; Jones-Quartey 1 had known in Accra while working on the Africa Morning Post, he introduced his colleague who wax with him. He was Francis Nwia Kofi Nkrumah from Eastern Nzema who had just finished his degree course, obtaining his B.A. degree and was then a student in the seminary doing a course in Divinity. After the introduction they conducted me to the University where I shared room with Jones-Quartey, on the third floor ofHuston H which was for postgraduate students doing Divinity. Nkrumah's room jj adjacent to ours. Being a senior student, his room was nearly two times as as ours. Nkrumah's room therefore became a meeting point for Gold Coast other African students at the University.
According to Ako Adjei, while at the Lincoln University, though Nkrumah was far older in age than him they became very close. Ako Adjei stayed at Lincoln University with Kwame Nkrumah for one and half years. Wher obtained a Phelps Stokes Fund Scholarship, he left to Hampton Instit Virginia (now Hampton University) where he graduated B.Sc. in June IS He won another scholarship to the Graduate School of Journalism, Colun University, New York, where he obtained the M.Sc. in June 1943. Just at time of graduating, Dr. Edwin Smith, a missionary who wrote the i biography of Dr. J.E.K, Aggrey, came from England to establish an Afri Studies Department at Fisk University. Dr. Smith invited Ako Adjei to be Assistant. After working at Fisk for a year, a period within which he saved enough money to realise his childhood ambition of becoming a lawyer, he went to Britain and enro at the Inner Temple in early May 1944.
While working hard at his studies, Ako Adjei took active interest in politic well and he later became President of the WASU. It was on one of his rou that he ran into Nkrumah who had arrived in London a few weeks earlier was facing a serious accommodation problem. He hosted Nkrumah at No.25 Lauvier Road, until he found accommodation for him at No. 60 Bui Road, near Tufnel Park Tube Station. Nkrumah stayed there until he London in 1947.
According to Ako Adjei, it was he who also introduced Nkrumah to WASU and to Kojo Botsio who later became Nkrumah's right hand man. recounted:
When Nkrumah arrived in London I was then President of the WASU. 11 Nkrumah to WASU Secretariat where I introduced him to Kankam Boadu Joe Appiah, who were other members of the executive committee of WA and to Kojo Botsio who we had then engaged as warden of the stude Hostel, at No. I South Villas, Camden Town, London N. WJ. I must say Nkrumah's arrival and active participation in the.work of WASU invigor; the Union. It was against this background that we organised the Fifth I African Congress which was held in Manchester in 1945 with Geo Padmore and Nkrumah as Joint Secretaries and myself as one of the active
While studying law at the Inner Temple, Ako Adjei enrolled at the London School of Economics and Political Science for his M.Sc. degree programme. His topic for the dissertation, The Dynamics of Social Change was approved, but the course, together with his political activities became so time consuming that he was forced to stop his research. On January 27, 1947 he was called to the Bar at the Inner Temple.
In May 1947, he returned to the Gold Coast, a fully fledged Barrister and holder of B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees from the USA, burning with zeal of nationalism. His first goal was to set up a "chain of newspapers" to continue agitation for self-rule which he had committed himself to while in London. But unable to start the papers because of financial reasons, he entered the chambers of Adumoa-Bossman and Co.
A couple of days after staying in Accra, he visited J.B. Danquah who was then with others discussing the possibility of forming a national political movement. Ako Adjei joined in the discussions, He then became part of the planning committee of the UGCC. When the UGCC was inaugurated at Saltpond on August 4, 1947, he became one of the leading members. And when the Accra branch of the Congress was inaugurated on August 22, 1947 he was elected Secretary, with Akufo-Addo as President.
As the UGCC increased in membership, the desire became high among the leading members to run the organisation like a modem political party, hence a decision was taken to have a full-time general-secretary. None of the professional men in the Convention was ready to give up his career to undertake that duty. When J.B. Danquah suggested Ako Adjei, he, for reasons of running his African National Times and practising alongside, rejected the offer. He, however, suggested Kwame Nkrumah who was then running the West African National Secretariat at 94 Grace Inn. London,
I recommended Kwame Nkrumah because I had grown to know organisational capabilities and that he will be interested in the job. This is because before I left London for Accra he told me " Ako you're going ahead of me. When you get to the Gold Coast and there is a job which you think I can do let me know right away so that I would come and work for sometime; save some money and then return to London to complete my studies in law at Gray's Inn." This of course /promised to do. Thus when I heard of the full General- Secretary job I did not hesitate to recommend him. And fortunately the Convention accepted my suggestion and I wrote to Nkrumah about it and later sent him 100 pounds which was provided by George Alfred Grant, the founder/president and financier of the UGCC for his passage to Accra.
He arrived in December 194? and I introduced him to A. G. Grant, J.B, Danquah, R.S. Blay and other members of the UGCC.
Ako Adjei's belief in the organisational capabilities of Nkrumah was soon vindicated when Nkrumah soon after his assumption of office as General Secretary of the UGCC initiated moves that expanded membership of Convention. The rapid expansion of the UGCC coincided with the boycott campaign led by Nii Kwabena Bonne III, Osu Alata Mantse, which ended in the 28th February crossroad shooting incident. When the Big Six were arrested, Ako Adjei was detained at Navrongo Prisons.
The release of the Big Six saw the widening ofthe gap between Nkrumah rest of other members of the UGCC. Nkrumah finally broke away from UGCC and formed his CPP. Though he was very close to Nkrumah, Ako Adjei did not follow Nkrumah into the CPP. For a period he equally became critical of Nkrumah in his newspaper the African National Times and the Daily Echo. One regular contributor to the Daily Echo, Tawiah Adamafio was a particular militant opponent of the CPP. At the 1951 elections, he stood on the tickel the UGCC for the Accra Central Municipal Electoral District seat and obtained only 1,451 votes to come fourth after Nkrumah (CPP-20,780)J Hutton Mills (CPP-19,812), Obetsebi Lamptey (UGCC-1,630). After his p I showing in the polls, he joined others in urging a merger of the oppositi groups, When in May 1952 the Ghana Congress Party was formed, he becai its Secretary. Sometime, however, as a result of criticism against him i bringing Nkrumah to disorganise the UGCC, he refused to attend meetings. In March 1953, succumbing to pressure from his friends, especially E. Quaye, Sonny Provencal and Paul Tagoe, he agreed to join the CPP. At a b rally organised at Arena, Accra, in early March 1953, he was official welcomed into the CPP and he delivered his first speech on the platform of the CPP.
In the 1954 general elections, he stood on the ticket of the CPP at Accra East and won an overwhelming 11,660 votes against 768 by Nai Tete, 471 by Kwamla Armah-Kwarteng and 317 by Nii Kwabena Bonne III. Ako Adjei's impressive record at the polls made it possible for him to be made a member of the Cabinet chosen by Prime Minister Nkrumah on July 28, 1954. Another reason for his appointment was the fact that he belonged to a class under-represented in the CPP the travelled intellectual, staid professional middle class of which he was regarded as a link and hence a magnet to bind and pull them to the CPP.
As Minister of Trade and Labour, he controlled many aspects of the country's life from the Agricultural Produce Marketing Board, the Cocoa Marketing Board, the Industrial Development Corporation, Trade Unions and Cooperatives. As Minister of Labour and Cooperatives, he helped the labour movement of Ghana to form a new structure that has per sisted till today. In a short interregnum after Ghana's attainment of independent status, Ako Adjei had responsibility for the Ministry of the Interior.
In a cabinet reshuffle. Ako Adjei became Minister for Foreign Affairs, a position he held until August 1962 when he was accused of attempting to assassinate President Nkrumah at Kulungugu on August 1,1962. Of that event he said:
I was innocent and I know that my two friends, Tawia Adamafio and Cofie Crabbe were also innocent. What happened was that 1 accompanied Nkrumah in my capacity as Foreign Minister to a miniature summit between President Nkrumah and President Yameogo at Tenkudugu at the northern boundary between Togo, Ghana and Upper Volta on July 31, 1961. On our return journey, I was in the President's party which made an unscheduled stop at a small school at Kulungugu. Within minutes after the President alighted and received a bouquet from a young school boy, a hand grenade was thrown at him. The innocent boy received a direct hit and was killed instantly. Fortunately, the hand grenade missed the President although some pellets found their way to his back. We got the Osagyefo to Bawku where he was later sent to Tamale. Back in Accra everything moved on smoothly. And in the latter part of July 1962, 1 received a note from Dr. Okechuku Ekejeani, a former colleague at Lincoln University and a mutual friend of Nkrumah and myself. He was travelling from London and sent a cablegram on board his ship to the President and myself. When I showed my cable to Nkrumah, he told me to go for him and send him to my house and entertain him on his behalf. I was to bring him the following day to the Flagstaff House for another reception before he left for Lagos in the afternoon.
We were entertaining him him on that Wednesday, August 29, 1962 when I was arrested and taken away. For the next four years, only God knew what happened to me. Ako Adjei and his three colleagues were among the thousands of political detainees released by the NLC a few days after the overthrow of the First Republican Government. Out of prison, Ako Adjei quietly tried to reorganise his profesional, spiritual and family life.
Professionally he succeeded in organising his Teianshi Chambe reputable one with five juniors at one point. His wife, Theodosia (nee Kote-Amon) and three children: Irene, Violet and Linda, also much attention from him as well. According to him they did sup greatly during his period of tribulation, when he was being tried anl and subsequently sentenced to death later commuted to 2 imprisonment.
Ako Adjei is full of praise to God Almighty for protecting him thr period of detention to date. He believes very strongly in God and em as his philosophy of life that God has a purpose for everybody on e controls all affairs. "What every individual must do therefore is to all
Rate this article
This video shows you how to create and publish an article in Vivvo. See how you can format your content, add images to the article's body with ease or set article preferences like status, publishing date or search friendly URL and metadata.