Benjamin Mensah, GNA
Accra, July 17, GNA - The Reverend Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye, the Speaker of Parliament, is to deliver Ghana’s 60th independence anniversary lecture, scheduled for Friday, August 4, 2017, at the Accra International Conference Centre, Accra.
The lecture themed “4th August, Ghana’s Day of Destiny,” would chronicle the events of the national liberation struggle from August 4, 1897, to the day of Ghana’s independence on March 6, 1957.
A delegation from the Ghana’s 60th Independence Anniversary Committee, led by the Chairman, Mr Ken Amankwaa, and the Vice Mr Abu Jinapor, on Monday paid a courtesy call on the Speaker to formally invite him to deliver the lecture.
The Speaker accepted the invitation.
Mr Jinapor praised the Speaker, not only for his statesmanship, but also for his pedigree in academia, politics, religion and public service, explaining that the choice for the Speaker was based on those values.
He explained the significance of the date in the struggle for independence, when in the Gold Coast, the name of Ghana in pre-independence, the Aborigines Rights Protection Society (ARPS), led by John Mensah Sarbah, was formed as a conglomerate of different groups of intellectuals in Cape Coast and Southern Ghana, to protect the traditional land tenure practices of the indigenous Gold Coast peoples from being usurped by the colonial government of Britain.
It is on record that The Gold Coast ARPS became a voice for the rights of indigenous peoples by both broadcasting their aims in their own newspaper, Gold Coast Aborigines, and advocating on behalf of indigenous land rights by presenting the reasons for their dissent of the Lands Bill of 1897 in front of the Legislative Council.
Particularly, John Mensah Sarbah, a key member of the Gold Coast ARPS and a lawyer, helped to advocate against the introduction of the Lands Bill of 1897 by arguing that it was no different from a previous, unsuccessful bill in 1894.
Fifty years on, the United Gold Coast Convention was formed, and J B Danquah of the Convention chose the eagle as the emblem of the nation, and it was approved.
Prof Oquaye acknowledged with thanks, the invitation, and said it was an honour to the House.
He praised the courage of the nation’s forebears for resisting the attempts by the colonial British to usurp Ghana’s lands, as the former set out to apply land acquisition policies elsewhere in Africa to the then Gold Coast.
“But in the Gold Coast, we are not people you can easily take advantage of. Mensah Sarbah was quick to protest that Ghana’s costmary land is never waste. No land in Ghana is fallow, no matter bushy,.. It belongs to a family, or an individual, for which the chief is a custodian.
“...The land belongs to the dead, the living and the unborn.
“Any chief who sells land arbitrarily must be de-stooled,” Speaker Oquaye cautioned.
Speaker Oquaye also praised the use of brain power by the forebears in the fight for independence.