THIS DAY IN HISTORY: 28th February 1948 – Veterans of world war two, who had fought with the Gold Coast Regiment of the Royal West African Frontier Force, organised a peaceful demonstration marching to Christiansborg Castle, Accra, Gold Coast (Ghana), to hand in a petition to the colonial governor, demanding that they receive end of war benefits and pay which they had been promised.
Before reaching the castle the Veterans were ordered to disperse by the colonial police chief. When they refused he opened fire on them instantly killing three – Sergeant Adjetey, Corporal Attipoe and Private Odartey Lamptey.
Angered by this unwarranted violence, against unarmed men, and continued injustices suffered by the population in general, people in Accra and other towns and cities took to the streets, attacking European and Asian businesses and property. Immediately after the outbreak of these violent disturbances the leadership of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), a political organisation advocating an end to colonialism, sent a cable to the Secretary of State for the Colonies in London expressing their belief that:
“…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.”
The UGCC cable further stated that:
“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”
The people’s protests lasted five days. By 1st March the colonial governor had declared a state of emergency and put in place a new Riot Act. On 12th March the governor ordered the arrest of “The Big Six,” leading members of the UGCC, which included Kwame Nkrumah, as he believed they were responsible for orchestrating the disturbances. The Big Six were incarcerated in remote northern parts of the country.
It was around this time that Nkrumah and the other five began to have significant disagreements over the direction of the movement for independence. By 1949 Nkrumah had broken away from the UGCC to form the Convention People’s Party (CPP) taking the masses of the people with him. The CPP, through a campaign of “Positive Action,” achieved an end to the Gold Coast colony and brought the new dawn of independent Ghana on 6th March 1957: