The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, says the new generation of Ghanaian historians and writers have a special responsibility to continue with the work of the late, great historian, Prof. Albert Adu Boahen and his epigones.
President Akufo-Addo was speaking at the re-launch of Prof. Robert Addo-Fening’s book, titled “Akyem Abuakwa, 1700-1943, from Ofori Panin to Sir Ofori Atta”, on Monday, 20th August, 2018, as part of the activities commemorating the 75th anniversary of the death of Nana Ofori Atta I, when he made this known.
Recounting the history of writings on the continent, the President noted that, notwithstanding the massive evidence of 10th century Al-Azhar University in Cairo and 10th century Sankore University in Timbuktu, and their manuscripts, there are several who accepted and believed that there was no written history of Africa.
However, these early writings, some insist, were not set out in a chronological framework, and, at best, provided information on earlier ethnic societies and traditional states.
President Akufo-Addo noted that literary works by such as C.C Reindorf in “The History of the Gold Coast and Ashanti”; John Mensah Sarbah in “Fante Customary Laws”; Joseph Casely-Hayford in “Gold Coast Native Institutions”; and, J.B. Danquah in “Akan Laws and Customs”, amongst others, fell into this category.
“It was, thus, left to the new generation of professionally-trained Ghanaian historians, of the post-independence era, to take up the challenge thrown at their forebears for nearly three centuries,” he added.
The President continued, “Under the direction of the great historian, Professor Adu Boahen, then Head of the Department of History at the University of Ghana, Legon, during the 1960s and 1970s, a coterie of young, enthusiastic undergraduates of history were offered scholarships to undertake post-graduate studies abroad.”
They included K.Y Daaku, author of “Trade and Politics on the Gold Coast 1620-1720”; J.K Fynn, author of “Asante and its Neighbours 1700-1807”; Divine Amenumey, author of “The Ewe unification movement: a political history”; Kofi Afrifah, author of the “Akyem Factor in Ghana’s History”; A.A Iliasu, author of “The origins of the Mossi-Dagomba States”; and Kwamena-Poh, author of “Government and Politics in the Akuapem State”.
Among those who were trained locally, under Adu Boahen’s supervision, were Francis Agbodeka, author of “An Economic History of Ghana from the Earliest Times”, Irene Korkoi Odotei (neé Quaye), author of “External Influences on Ga Society and Culture”, and Robert Addo-Fening.
The re-launch of the book published by Prof. Robert Addo-Fening, “one of Adu Boahen’s most prominent proteges”, President Akufo-Addo noted is the first comprehensive, historical study of the rise and growth of Akyem Abuakwa, originally published twenty-one (21) years ago, in 1997, by the University of Trondheim, in Norway, by Prof. Addo-Fening.
In eight chapters, the author tells the story of Akyem Abuakwa from its origins in 17th century Adanse, through its relocation to Banso, on the backside of the Atewa hill under Nana Ofori Panin, commonly regarded as the founder of the Akyem State, and subsequently to Kyebi, in the valley of the Birim River, after 1727, and also insight into the life of Nana Ofori-Atta, as a traditional ruler, legislator and patriot, amongst others.
Just as Prof. Adu Boahen did for him, President Akufo-Addo was happy to learn that Prof. Addo-Fening is also mentoring young historians, and, thus, awaited eagerly the publication of an M.Phil thesis, titled “Nana Sir Ofori Atta and the Process of Educational Change in the Gold Coast (1912-1943)”, written by Frank Afari, who received supervision from Prof. Addo-Fening.
President Akufo-Addo, therefore, urged young historians and writers to help establish that the great continuum of Ghanaian history defines the determination of the Ghanaian people to build a civilisation founded on the values of liberty, common humanity and solidarity.
“The desirable conclusion of that history is the mobilisation of our immeasurable resources to address our problems, discarding a mindset of aid, dependence, charity and handouts, and creating a self-reliant, prosperous Ghana that will deal with others on the basis of equality and mutual respect,” the President concluded.
Prof Addo-Fening’s study, he added, is a good pointer for the new generation of Ghanaian historians.