1948 Accra Riots
The Accra Riots started February 28, 1948 in Accra (now the capital of Ghana), when a peaceful march and protest by ex-servicemen was broken up by police, leaving several members of the group dead. Among the dead was Sergeant Adjetey, one of the group’s leaders, who has since been memorialized in Accra. The ex-servicemen were veterans of World War II. Their march was a peaceful attempt to bring a petition to the Governor of the Gold Coast requesting the dispensation of promised pensions and other compensation for their valiant efforts during the war. The Gold Coast Regiment were some of the most decorated African soldiers from the war, fighting alongside British troops in Burma. They had been promised pensions and jobs; however, when they returned to Ghana, jobs were scarce and their pensions were never disbursed. When the group marched toward the Governor’s residence at Christiansborg Castle, they were stopped and confronted by the colonial police, who refused to let them pass and ultimately shot into the crowd, wounding and killing former soldiers. In response to the violence, the population of Accra broke out in riots in which both African and European-owned stores and businesses were attacked.
The British colonial government set up the Watson Commission, which examined the circumstances surrounding the riots, and the colonial government was forced to pay damages to property owners and businesses for years to come. The aftermath of the riots included the arrest of Kwame Nkrumah and other activists, known as ‘the Big Six’, who were held responsible for the riots. The incident is seen as marking the beginning of the process of independence for the Gold Coast as Ghana – the first African colony to achieve this. While still in jail, Nkrumah was elected the colony’s first African prime minister. The Gold Coast gained its independence in 1957, and was renamed Ghana.The ex-servicemen who were shot were :Private Ordatey,Sergeant Adjetey,Corporal Attipoe and