We are here to commission this beautiful structure in commemoration of the life of one of the most extraordinary persons that the Ghanaian people have ever given to the world.
He hailed from Adadientem, a town not too far from here, but was born at Bepong in Kwahu. He died in the dungeons of Nsawam Medium Security Prison some 53 years ago. In his nearly 70 years of existence, he lived a life truly fulfilled, rich in output and significance, and extensive in reach. Educationist, freedom fighter, historian, journalist, jurist, philosopher, playwright, poet, scholar, statesman, theologian, Joseph Boakye Danquah was a member of the legendary “Big Six”, together with Emmanuel Obetsebi Lamptey, Edward Akufo-Addo, Ebenezer Ako Adjei, William Ofori-Atta and Kwame Nkrumah, who are rightfully acknowledged as the founding fathers of Ghana.
It will not be far-fetched for me to say that Danquah’s memory will continue to live, at least, for as long as this nation of Ghana lives.
He gave our country its name, Ghana, after years of research into the history and traditions of the people of the Gold Coast. He fought, first, for the union of the geographical entity we now call Ghana, and, then, he fought for Ghana to be established as a free, independent state.
Finally, he fought to defend the liberties of the Ghanaian people, by insisting on a democratic system of government, under the rule of law, as the best form of government for independent Ghana. It was in the course of this, the last of his phenomenal labours, that this Ghanaian colossus literally gave his life in cruel imprisonment, without trial, at Nsawam Prison.
Even though Danquah never exercised executive authority in the State, his influence on Ghanaian history has been truly astonishing and can be felt in virtually all areas of our national life – constitutional, cultural, economic, educational, intellectual, moral, political and religious.
Several key institutions of our country owe their inception directly to his work – the Cocoa Marketing Board; the University of Ghana, Legon; the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi; the Bank of Ghana; Ghana Commercial Bank; and Accra Sports Stadium, amongst others.
Despite the passionate controversies that engulfed his life, he remained remarkably free of personal animus and hatreds.
A memorable occasion arose when, soon after his release from his first period of detention in 1962, he decided, much against the advice of family and friends, to present himself, as a founding member of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, at the ceremony marking the award by the then Soviet State of the defunct Lenin Peace Prize to President Kwame Nkrumah.
He found no difficulty in exchanging pleasantries at the event with the man who had, until recently, been his gaoler, because to him the award was an honour for all Ghanaians, and not just Nkrumah. He thought his presence was necessary to make that point, and we need to take a cue from him.
Ladies and gentlemen, this Memorial Centre would provide not only children but also adults, a better insight into the breadth of Dr. Danquah’s achievements. Many assume they know all there is to know about J.B. Danquah, but this Centre, which comprises a fully furnished ICT centre and a library, yet to be stocked with a wide array of books and scholarly articles written by and about him, will show that there is still a lot to learn about him. It is my hope and prayer that everyone who uses this Centre will be inspired by the life of this most remarkable man, who was responsible for so many of the positive things that characterised the origins and development of our nation. The Centre will also provide a platform and springboard for the youth of his native town to leap into the digital world, the world of the 21st century.
We thank the Chinese government for its continuing solidarity with our government and nation, and the Chinese company, Huawei, for this exceptional gesture in memorial and honour of Dr. J.B. Danquah.
I had the great privilege to have had him as my maternal grand uncle, whom I knew and saw a lot in my youth. He certainly inspired me greatly and has turned out to be a most lasting and reliable anchor in my life, in my thoughts, in my values, and in my views. Joseph Kwame Kyeretwere Boakye Danquah, the Ghanaian people, whom you so loved, will never forget you.
Accordingly, I declare the J.B. Danquah Memorial Centre duly commissioned.
May God continue to bless J.B. Danquah, and us all, and may God bless our homeland Ghana, and make her great and strong.
I thank you for your attention.