The Big Six (Ghana)
The Big Six were six leaders of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), the leading political party in the British colony of the Gold Coast. They were detained by the colonial authorities in 1948 following disturbances that led to the killing of three World War II veterans. They are pictured on the front of the Ghana cedi notes.
The Big SixEdit
- Ebenezer Ako-Adjei – founding member of the UGCC
- Edward Akufo-Addo – founding member of the UGCC and subsequently Chief Justice of Ghana and President of Ghana
- Joseph Boakye Danquah – founding member of the UGCC
- Kwame Nkrumah – Prime Minister of Ghana and first president of Ghana
- Emmanuel Obetsebi-Lamptey – founding member of the UGCC
- William Ofori Atta – founding member of the UGCC
An organized boycott of European imports took place in January 1948. The aim was to get the foreign traders known as the Association of West African Merchants (AWAM) to reduce the prices of their goods. This was followed by a series of riots in early February 1948. The boycotts were scheduled to end on 28 February 1948, a day that has become significant in the history of Ghana. AWAM has become a term synonymous with cheating or profiteering in Ghana.
Christiansborg cross-roads shootingEdit
On 20 February 1948, Dr. Nkrumah and Dr. J. B. Danquah met and addressed World War II veterans who had been agitating for their end-of-service benefits following World War II at the Palladium Cinema, Accra. These veterans had fought with the Gold Coast Regiment of the Royal West African Frontier Force and had not been paid their gratuities on their return home. Nkrumah and Danquah both gave their support and encouraged the veterans in their protest over their post-war neglect.
On 28 February, what became known as the "Christianborg Cross-Roads shooting" occurred. Some of the Second World War veterans marched to the Christianborg Castle, the seat of the colonial government. They intended submitting a petition to the Governor, Sir Gerald Creasy about their poor conditions, unpaid war benefits and neglect. Police Superintendent Colin Imray, a British police officer, ordered the veterans to disperse but they refused. He then ordered his men to open fire on the unarmed soldiers and, when they refused, opened fire himself killing three of them namely, Sergeant Cornelius Frederick Adjetey, Private Odartey Lamptey and Corporal Attipoe. This led to another round of riots and looting in Accra during which foreign (European and Asian) stores were looted. The riots lasted for five days.
Arrest of the Big SixEdit
On the same day, following these disturbances, the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) leaders sent a cable to the Secretary of State in London.
"...unless Colonial Government is changed and a new Government of the people and their Chiefs installed at the centre immediately, the conduct of masses now completely out of control with strikes threatened in Police quarters, and rank and file Police indifferent to orders of Officers, will continue and result in worse violent and irresponsible acts by uncontrolled people.
"Working Committee United Gold Coast Convention declare they are prepared and ready to take over interim Government. We ask in name of oppressed, inarticulate, misruled and misgoverned people and their Chiefs that Special Commissioner be sent out immediately to hand over Government to interim Government of Chief and People and to witness immediate calling of Constituent Assembly."
They also blamed Sir Gerald Creasy (whom they called "Crazy Creasy") for the riots due to how he handled the country's problems.
On 1 March 1948, the Riot Act was read. Thereafter, a Removal Order was issued by Sir Gerald for the arrest of the six leaders of the UGCC who were held in the remote northern part of the Gold Coast following their arrests. A commission of enquiry named the Watson Commission and chaired by Mr Brian Otwerebemah was established to investigate the riots. Members of the Watson commission included Dr Keith Murray, Mr Andrew Dalgleish and Mr E. G. Hanrott.
Following their incarceration, the nationalists became known as the Big Six while their popularity increased.
On 8 March 1948, some teachers and students demonstrated against the detention of the Big Six but these demonstrators were dismissed. Upon his release, Dr. Nkrumah set up a secondary school, Ghana National College in Cape Coast, for the dismissed staff and students.
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