We are met here this evening to commemorate the life of an extraordinary Ghanaian, a nationalist, selfless patriot, revered chief, eminent statesman, and one of the three founders of the Danquah-Dombo-Busia political tradition, which gave birth to the New Patriotic Party, the ruling party in Ghana. I am, of course, referring to Simon Diedong Dombo, the Duori Na, S.D Dombo of most blessed memory.
We are all aware of the depth of literature and the extent of publications celebrating the lives and works of Dr. J.B. Danquah and Dr. K.A Busia. This is in addition to their own academic writings, which continue to be studied in centres of learning across the world.
Not exactly so with the man I describe as the unsung hero of NPP’s political tradition. Indeed, not many young people in our country, today, know of the considerable contribution made by Dombo towards the sustenance of not only our tradition, but, even more importantly, also of democracy in Ghana.
S.D Dombo was born into a life of struggle, and in struggle did he contribute to the development of the Northern Territories, as the northern part of our country was known in colonial times, the UP tradition, and the entire country.
A lot has been said tonight about the circumstances of his birth in Duori, in the Upper West Region, in 1923. As part of his education, he attended the Tamale Middle Boarding and Government Teacher Training College, also in Tamale. Now, that may sound as simplistic as saying that a student from the Upper West Region, today, attends the Tamale Senior High School. Not so in the time of S.D Dombo. It took the likes of S.D Dombo weeks to trek from the Upper West Region to Tamale to attend school. If that is not a life of struggle, then I do not know what is.
That life of struggle spurred him on to fight to give generations that were to come after him a much more comfortable life. Throughout his life, he was guided by the virtues of selflessness and sacrifice.
At the time, the Government Teacher Training College, in Tamale, was the highest institution of learning in the North, and was a breeding ground for political activism for the new intelligentsia, of which Chief S.D Dombo, Mumuni Bawumia, esteemed father of our current Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, Jato Kaleo, J.A Braimah and Yakubu Tali were the leading lights. Their agitation and leadership, which helped to mobilise political opinion in the then Northern Territories, caught the attention of the colonial British administration. It came as no surprise, therefore, that S.D Dombo, Yakubu Tali and J.A Braimah were subsequently elected onto the Legislative Council of the Gold Coast, on 24th July, 1950.
Dombo, the man from Duori, had arrived on the national political stage.
What he did, in the aftermath, would define him forever in the folklore of Ghanaian history, and secure his place in the pantheon of Ghanaian greats.
It is very difficult to find people in politics who, today, would surrender their legitimate claim of leadership to another person, all in the supreme interest of the general good. Under normal circumstances, Chief Dombo should have been the leader of the United Party, an amalgamation of his Northern Peoples Party and Busia’s Ghana Congress Party. He came into the Alliance with 15 seats from his Northern Peoples Party (NPP), whereas Busia came with just 1 seat. To offer he leadership of the Opposition to Dr. Busia was the clearest act of sacrifice any political party leader could ever make. Unfortunately, not many people, today, are willing to make the most basic of sacrifices to ensure the sustenance of not only political parties, but of governments and nations. S.D Dombo was a man of principle. And that principle has enabled our tradition to survive all the persecutions and harassments that were meant to kill off the tradition.
The Convention Peoples Party (CPP) did not just stop at the passage of the Avoidance of Discrimination Act. Many of the members of the Northern Peoples Party were persuaded, and even compelled, to cross over and join the CPP. Indeed, out of the 15 members of the then Northern Peoples Party, only four remained. Dombo refused and resisted the attempts to induce him to abandon the cause of the UP.
When Dr. Busia fled the country to avoid arrest under the dreaded Preventive Detention Act (PDA), Dombo stepped in to assume the mantle of leadership of the Opposition, until he, himself, was arrested and detained under the infamous PDA.
No monument in his memory, no matter how imposing, can compensate for the sacrifices he made to ensure that we are where we are today. I think it is appropriate, in the circumstances, that the new, impending autonomous University in Wa, the University of Business and Integrated Development Studies, be named after this man who played such a prominent role in mobilising the masses of the northern sector of our country to join the fight for national freedom and independence, a man whose life became synonymous with sacrifice and selflessness.
Chairperson, I was glad to be one of the prime movers in the decision taken by the NPP, in 2009, to place Dombo as the second person within the trinity of the founders of our tradition. Certainly, the ideas of Dr. Danquah are what animate and give our tradition its identity. It was, however, the sacrifice and selflessness of S.D Dombo that ensured its continuity. And, it is the leadership and vision of Dr. Busia that gave the tradition the necessary impetus to survive in the tempestuous waters of Ghanaian politics, where all means necessary were employed to obliterate it.
This Foundation is a fitting tribute to the memory of S.D Dombo, and I am happy to give it my full support. I find myself currently, by the grace of God, at the helm of the leadership of our tradition, and I continue to be guided by the values and principles of its forebears. They sacrificed their all to bring us to where we are now. It is, thus, incumbent on our generation to work hard, and realise the dreams and aspirations of a free and prosperous Ghana that were the inspiration of their work.
I shall continue to do my best to offer selfless service, and take the lead in doing whatever is legitimate to promote the ideals of the Danquah-Dombo-Busia political tradition.
Accordingly, Chairperson, ladies and gentlemen, I have the honour to declare the S.D. Dombo Foundation officially launched.