Ghana was named after an ancient empire which boasted significant power, wealth and territory. It was called the Ghana empire. The name was adopted at independence because it was believed that the people inhabiting the Gold Coast had a historical connection with the Ghana empire.
The first person to make this suggestion was Rev. J. B. Anaman in his book, The Gold Coast Guide published in 1895. Next and building on this was Lady Luggard, wife of the infamous Lord Luggard who spearheaded what came to be known as indirect rule. Luggard’s book, “A Tropical Dependency” also included the stories of the empires of Mali and Songhai and was used in Achimota in the 1920s.
At the time of his death, the legendary James Kwegir Aggrey was working on a major history thesis to establish the historical connection between the people of Gold Coast and not only Ghana empire, but Mali, Songhai, Egypt and Abyssinia. This was not published because he died before he could finish it.
Rev. W. T. Balmer who used to teach at Mfantsipim also wrote about this connection to Ghana empire in 1926.
These aroused the interest of J. B. Danquah who published his book, Akim-Abuakwa Handbook in 1928, two years after Balmer’s book and 33 years after J. B. Anaman first made the suggestion. However Danquah in his book proposed that the territory should be called “AKANLAND” instead of Gold Coast. This drew sharp criticism and he then suggested “AKAN-GA” as a replacement.
The newspaper, West Africa, again criticised this saying, “it appears Dr. Danquah’s view of nationhood does not extend to the non-Akan population of the Northern Territories”. Upon further deliberations, Danquah then suggested “NEW GHANA”.
Meanwhile in 1948 after the riots and following the arrest of the UGCC leaders, some students and teachers of Mfantsipim and St. Augustine’s College embarked on demonstration to demand their release. These students were dismissed and Kwame Nkrumah founded a school for them called GHANA NATIONAL COLLEGE.
At independence in 1957 the name GHANA was eventually adopted and to quote Nkrumah, “we take pride in the name, not out of romanticism but as an inspiration for the future”.
This is how you became a Ghanaian rather than a Gold Coaster.
Columnist: Hardi Yakubu
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