UGCC born August 4, 1947 – died February 8, 1951 – the day that music died.
The so-called Danquah-Busia-Dombo (NLM/UP/PP/NPP) – DBD Tradition and its spokespeople like Paul Adom Otchere fail to take into account the mass factor in the nationalist movement in the history of Modern Ghana. The adherents of this DBD Tradition tend to present the rise of nationalism in Modern Ghana as the product of the machinations of the educated urban elite (ARPS, WANC, UGCC).
A careful examination of the history of Modern Ghana from the colonial days reveals the single most important factor in the history of the growth and success of Ghanaian nationalism was the mass factor. It was only when the mass of the people moved that the colonial government became seriously concerned and willing to make concessions.
UGCC was formed on August 4, 1947. UGCC leadership invited Nkrumah to return from Britain to organize the UGCC as its secretary. The UGCC leadership were honorable businessmen and lawyers. They needed the youthful Nkrumah (monkey) to work for the UGCC leaders (the baboons) to chop.
Danquah was the legal adviser for the Ex-Servicemen Union. Both Nkrumah and Danquah addressed a rally of the Ex-Servicemen on February 20, 1948. When the Ex-Servicemen’s Union called a march to Christiansborg Castle, on February 28, 1948, both Danquah and Nkrumah were addressing a political meeting outside of Accra at Saltpond.
About 2,000 marchers turned up, but police would not let them proceed. In the confusion, stones were thrown and the police opened fire, killing one ex-serviceman outright and wounding others (two later died). The distraught marchers ran to another section of Accra where people had gathered to conclude a month-long boycott of foreign merchants organized by Nii Kwabena Bonne III, a prominent merchant and UGCC leader. With emotions running high, the crowd turned to violence, looting and burning shops. Police opened fire. A crowd battered down the gate to Ussher Fort Prison in order to let prisoners escape.
As the news spread, rioting broke out in Kumasi where it continued for two weeks. According to British figures, 29 people died and 237 were injured within a month. Nkrumah and Danquah seized the moment, issuing telegrams that argued the riots showed Britain could no longer effectively rule the country and proposed that the UGCC form an interim government to restore order. Several days later, trying to calm the crowds and channel their outrage into more productive political goals, the UGCC leaders addressed a 9,000-strong rally where Nkrumah urged that “people should fight with unity, not guns for independence.” Partly through the guidance of Nkrumah and other leaders, and partly through deeply held values, the future people’s movement for independence for the most part was able to avoid violence.
However, on March 11, 1948, the governor ordered the arrest of six UGCC leaders, including Danquah, Nkrumah, and Nii Kwabena Bonne III. This quickly backfired, raising the popularity of the “Big Six” to national heights.
After being imprisoned with other leaders of the UGCC for supposedly inciting unrest among veterans, workers and farmers in the colony after February 28, 1948 massacre of peaceful petitioners, Nkrumah gained widespread popularity among the people, who responded enthusiastically to his militant and fiery approach to the burgeoning anti-imperialist movement.
After forming the Committee on Youth Organization, which became the best organized segment of the UGCC, Nkrumah was later isolated from the top leadership of the Convention, who objected to his demands for immediate political independence for the Gold Coast. They were prepared to launch a mass struggle for the abolition of British colonial rule over the Gold Coast.
On June 12, 1949, Nkrumah and the CYO formed the Convention People’s Party (CPP) in Accra, Ghana, at a mass gathering of tens of thousands of people. Nkrumah mobilized the mass factor through the Committee on Youth Organization (CYO) to be the youth wing of the UGCC, but the UGCC leadership did not want to have anything to do with the youth (otherwise known as nkwankwaa, mberantee, asafo, verandah boys).
The CPP called for a Positive Action Campaign in January 1950, leading to massive strikes and rebellion throughout the colony. The strikes quickly led to violence, and Nkrumah and other CPP leaders were arrested on 22 January, 1950, and the Evening News was banned. Nkrumah was sentenced to a total of three years in prison for sedition, and he was incarcerated with common criminals in Accra’s Fort James.
In the February 1951 legislative election, the first general election to be held under universal franchise in colonial Africa, the CPP was elected in a landslide. The CPP secured 34 of the 38 seats contested on a party basis (with Nkrumah gaining 22,780 of the 23,122 votes in Accra Central constituency).
The UGCC won three seats (so much for the so-called “founding fathers”), and one was taken by an independent. That was the death knell of the UGCC. UGCC metamorphosed into the Ghana Congress Party for the 1954 national elections and fared no better. That was the day the UGCC music died – February 8, 1951. The UGCC died from REJECTION BY THE PEOPLE.